A Triumph of Form over Function

The weather we've had three times this winter has placed the local school systems in a bind. They missed six days, and most of the school districts had either two or three allowed for the snow. So they're facing three or four makeup days. Several of the districts floated the idea of adding 30 minutes per day to cover the time without cutting into breaks or extending the school year. Today the Oklahoma Board of Education nixed that proposal. The law says 175 days in school, and that's what they're sticking to.

This misses the point, and it does so in a very instructive way. The focus is on, not just time in the classroom, but days in the classroom. There is no apparent or expressed concern with learning. They're so intent on enforcing the law as written that they're missing the purpose for the law. Teach the kids what they need to know. The rest is details. Bill Oncken once wrote, "Not only is there more than one way to skin a cat, but looking at a professionaly-skinned cat after the fact, you can't tell which method was used."

More attention to result over process would go a long way toward improving the educational output. It's easier to measure days in class than actual learning. It's also far less important.

Oh yeah, just one more reason we homeschooled our kids all the way through.


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