Friday, July 23, 2010

It All Goes Back to a Lack of Woods

So we're getting into the time of summer when kids are coming in Mongal hords to come and check out the stack of books that they have been assigned to read over the summer. Most of them are checked out, and of course, it all will lead, in the end, to someone (usually either me or the mother) saying, "Shouldn't you have started this two months ago?"

But it's gotten me thinking. What's the point of school summer reading assignments? To stimulate thought and mental activity when school is not in session?
To get children to read when they're not being forced to do so? To keep them out of trouble? To start the school year with some of the work done?

I think educators will say that it's a combination of all those answers, but really when it comes down to it, I think the reason for summer assignments is thus: A: to make the job easier on the English teacher in the fall, and B: to ensure that the children are not bored.

But what's the big deal about being bored? BORED children climb trees. They build treehouses. They explore the great unknowns of their backyards. They rig booby traps for their neighborhood rivals. They write dark and vampant poetry. They take bike rides and go for walks. They draw and paint. They build mud pies and make flower jelly. They sort rocks and collect flowers and steal from beehives. And they read books of THEIR OWN CHOOSING.

I could go on here, but...well...My friend M would say that it all goes back to the fact that kids are no longer playing in trees anymore.

And because they aren't bored.

1 comment:

Kelly said...

I couldn't agree more. Boredom is not such a bad thing. We live in a helmet-and-knee-pad society, though, and everything has to be structured and protected at all times. I was telling a coworker just now that I went for a run in my neighborhood last night, and she was horrified that I went running alone. The thing is that I'm fortunate enough to be living in one of the few places left in America where 8-year-olds are still riding their bikes down the middle of the road at sunset. They still have some of that freedom to explore and take (relatively) safe risks to learn and grow.