To the Editor:
Alfie Kohn once again provides a glimmer of sanity in a world gone mad. His (“Getting-Hit-on-the-Head Lessons,”Commentary, Sept. 7, 2005), gives a refreshing insight to the “life is hard and then you die” crowd that puts students through mindless yet painful tasks under the guise of preparing them for the future.
Years ago, a superintendent for whom I was consulting asked me, “Why aren’t the students singing? Why aren’t they dancing?” Why indeed.
If we truly want to prepare young people for the future, we need to take seriously the concept that learning can be a joyous lifelong activity. To prepare young people for a presumed life of drudgery is to place our nation and its economy at risk. Mr. Kohn correctly highlights the danger of the “better get used to it” argument preserving the abuses of the No Child Left Behind Act, and he lights a path out of this morass.
It is up to each of us to follow this path to the light of an education environment that honors the integrity and learning capacity of all children—and does so with grace and joy.
Director of Global Operations
Lake Barrington, Ill.
A version of this article appeared in the September 28, 2005 edition of Education Week as Teaching Learning as a ‘Joyous Lifelong Activity’