Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Workbook Agita

Another school year has ended, and once again I am having agita (cool word from a book I am reading, blogger says no such word, but I like it)....anyway having agita as I go through my daughter's big bag of workbooks.
Here are my issues-
1. The workbooks are expensive. Parents are required to buy a workbook for every subject, including a series of workbooks for Hebrew.
2. The workbooks are by-and-large unused. Some of them have only a few pages that have been used.
3. I would prefer for my child to use more authentic tools and materials to learn many of the skills presented in these workbooks. (Boy it took a lot of restraint for me to write that nice sentence. I wanted to just write "Workbooks suck" but I held back.)
4. I hate waste. The books are just used enough that it's hard to find an incoming 3rd grade student who would take them. I certainly don't think my daughter will want to spend her summer answering contrived workbook questions about random paragraphs. I might as well just throw some dollar bills into the recycling bin at the start of each school year, and skip the whole charade.

Every year now I have questioned the reasoning behind having parents spend a lot of money buying workbooks that won't be used. I have not yet received an acceptable answer.
I wish the teachers would have the courage to order only the one or two workbooks they really plan to use. I am ok with my daughter practicing D'Nealian handwriting with a workbook (one of the only books that got used). Who knows if cursive writing will be of use to her in the future, but she enjoys it, and that is fine with me.

If each parent took half the money they would normally spend on workbooks and donated it to a class fund, the teacher could buy lots of real books for children to read and lots of other useful and authentic materials for the classroom.
After 3 years of buying school books, I have spent almost as much money as it would cost to buy my child a macbook, which she would love and could use for a long time, something that would kill those workbooks.

Our school seems to be moving in a new direction. We will be reading Curriculum 21 as a staff this summer and working on upgrading our content, curriculum and assessments. I particularly don't understand the decision to make parents purchase these wasteful and expensive books, year after year. We must not only talk the talk, we must walk the walk. We must take time, at the end of each day and the end of each year, to ask what is working and what is not?
We must have the courage to be real, to let go of the old and to change. If not now, when?

1 comment:

Lisa Parisi said...

In my district, as in most I believe, the teachers purchase workbooks with budget money. You should be happy they are rarely used. It is the first step toward eliminating them. We no longer purchase workbooks because we found we bought them, used a few pages, and that was it.

BTW...agita is a word that has been used around my house my whole life. It was what my grandparents used to say when we kept begging for something they said no to - "Stop! You're giving me agita."