And just who is Joel Westheimer and to tell us to scrap all those worksheets coming into homes everywhere during these hunkered down, shuttered schools, Twilight Zone-like days? A man in the know, that’s who.
Professor Westheimer is University Research Chair in Democracy and Education at the University of Ottawa, an education columnist for the CBC’s Ottawa Morning and Ontario Today shows, and an author, too. His most recent book is, What Kind of Citizen: Educating Our Children for the Common Good.
Such credentials speak for themselves, so give a listen to these article excerpts:
Stop worrying about the vague and evidence-less idea of children ‘falling behind’ or ‘catching up.’ This is a world-wide pause in life-as-usual. We’ve spent the last 25 years over-scheduling kids, over-testing kids, putting undue pressure on them to achieve more and more and play less and less. The result? Several generations of children and young people who are stressed-out, medicated, alienated, and depressed.
This is not a time for worksheets. This is an opportunity (for those of us lucky enough to be at home and not in hospitals or driving buses or keeping our grocery store shelves stocked) to spend meaningful time with our children to the extent it is possible in any given family. Parents shouldn’t be thinking about how to keep their kids caught up with the curriculum or about how they can recreate school at home or how many worksheets they should have their children complete. They should bake a cake together. Make soup. Grow something in the garden. Take up family music playing. And neither school personnel nor parents should be focusing on how quickly or slowly children will return to school because none of us know. We should be focusing on ensuring that teachers are afforded the conditions they need to best support their students—now when school is out and later when school is back in…
What are my recommendations for what to do with your children at home when they are missing school? Stop the homework (unless you and your children are enjoying it). Stop the worksheets. Stop trying to turn your kitchen into Jaime Escalante’s AP math class. But do help your children structure their day. Help them process what is going on around them. Help them engage in activities that do not take place on a screen. Help them maintain physical activities whether that means running around the block, running up and down the stairs, or running around the kitchen. Help them be creative. Give them—to the extent possible in your household—the gift of time and attention…
With thanks, amen to that. ~ Carol