Why school projects should be banned [rant]

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Why school projects should be banned [rant] Listen to this article

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I think my mom is the Queen of Science projects. At my house I’ve been struggling with getting my son’s science fair project completed by next week. I’m probably the least creative person at thinking up new and interesting ways to test how fast a matchbox car can run down a wooden ramp. Leave it to my Mom to an interesting way to complete the project in one emailed suggestion that my son build the cars from the kits he received for Christmas (thanks mom!) and then test each by adding weight.

I suddenly realized that my Mom wasn’t born with this science project talent. Rather she developed it by doing all my projects throughout elementary school. Is this the real reason that we have projects? So parents can learn how to do projects for their kids. Science fair night at Buttonball School in Glastonbury will likely be nothing more than three dozen parent’s all looking at the projects and seeing who’s the most talented parent. Which started me thinking about some school projects that I’d like to do…

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Here are some science projects that I’d like to see:

How quickly would the schools stop assigning independent projects if, as parents, we came up with some real life projects. The type of project that actually sheds light on how parent’s are responsible for almost all projects – and NOT their kids.

These could also be projects that are “fun” for parents.

Teacher and Administrator Pay Analysis: Compute the true value of teacher pay by annualizing it with vacations, summers off, half days and shortened days factored in. Most of this information is freely available from the town. Imagine the look on the face of your child’s teacher as he walks by your display and spots his annualized salary – increased for time off, in service, summer vacations – on display for all to see.

Sure, teachers have tough jobs. So do most of us. Too bad I don’t get out of work on a regular basis at 1:05. How cool would this science project be?

Mr. Smith’s Annual Salary – $50,000

Mr. Smith’s Annual Salary $50,000 + value of early dismissals $10,000 + summer vacation $20,000 + school vacations $2,0000 = $82,000

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Are photocopied lesson plans really teaching?: I’m sure creating a lesson plan is tough. My kids are in the 4th grade.

Most of their lesson plans are “(c) McGraw-Hill”. Whatever happened to the “good old days” when teachers created their own lesson plans and course curriculum?

For this project I’d take a collection of the last half billion blurry photocopied assignments that my kids brought home crumpled in the bottom of their backpack and compare them with a sample hand created lesson (that you can actually read and understand).

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These two projects are probably a little too far out there to realistically be displayed at a school science fair. You have to admit they would “liven” up the science fair a little bit!

Are schools really this stupid to think that projects their students show up with are truly done by them?

Next year I promise that we’re doing two projects in my home – one project totally done by my son – then I’ll create a project on my own (titled – “as done by Dad”) and march into the science fair dressed in a suit and with my own display board.

Might make for interesting conversations in the teacher staff room…

Update 3-3-09 – Buttonball School’s Science Fair is tonight and I’m bringing along this “Bingo Card” to keep me sane. I’ll mark off one space very time I see them item that is described.

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About the Author

Wayne Schulz
Wayne is a diehard Android user and consultant specializing in Sage 100 ERP Accounting Software. He lives in Glastonbury CT with his two children. When not helping them with their homework or pushing the latest school fundraiser off on his co-workers, he is active hiking and investigating all manner of technology.