Lately, one of the participants has been bringing his son, who looks to be about 10 or 11. This morning, though, he didn’t show up with his dad.
“Where is Chuck?” someone asked.
“Oh he has his test on the state capitals today. He’s only up to 28, so he’s studying,” dad said.
Grrrrr. I could feel my stomach start to turn.
“Why do we do that to kids?” I asked. How many of you remember all the state capitals. And why do we need to know them?”
My husband, always the one to push me, said: “It’s good for us!”
Yeah. So here this poor kid is waking up early to memorize state capitals for a test he is taking today. In his book, Confusing Harder with Better, Alfie Kohn says:
”Memorization is a luxury that isn’t used anymore,” he said. ”We have fundamental goals to accomplish with our youngsters today. We have to practice in dealing with ideas so that they can conceptualize and draw conclusions.”
I don’t get it. I suppose there is some value in memorizing short poems and some math concepts, but state capitals? Why? Does anyone have a valid reason for using time in this way?
image credit: By cityyear