We at grumpy rumblings are pro-learning. There it is. We came out and admitted it. We think learning things is great!
We also think that in many cases K-12 schooling does not actually promote learning. Especially for kids who are different from the average (or perhaps, different from the lowest common denominator in class, depending on where the teacher and school are aiming their instruction).
We are pro-learning-outside-of-school using whatever means necessary. If you’ve got money and time, we’re pro-traveling out of state. If you’ve got money and no time, we’re pro- summer camp and classes. If you’ve got time and no money, we’re pro-whatever you can scrape together.
The current trend in the media these days is a back-lash against “over-scheduling” whatever that means. (In the interest of giving us “opportunities they never had,” my parents had us highly scheduled… yet, we still managed to watch a lot of tv and read mountains upon mountains of books.)
I’m pro-summer activities. I’m pro-me-working during the summer (more pro- getting paid for not-working, but so far no takers), and I’d rather DC be doing something organized (even something enriching!) than, say, playing with the power tools in the shed, which would also be enriching but dangerous.
My parents valued enrichment activities over stuff, so I took a lot of fun kids classes over the summer at the local community college. They probably kept my interest up in learning since most of my K-8 so-called education was mind-numbingly boring. I was usually the only girl and often one of the youngest in the math and science-related classes.
I wonder what kind of activities the other girls were doing. Or if they were just learning to do chores. I learned how to do chores too, even with piano lessons and swimming lessons and summer classes and softball and ballet and gymnastics and the play etc.
Even with the scheduling I had crazy amounts of free time. I started and (sometimes) completed so many crafts. How many pot-holders does a person need? Weaving and bead weaving and friendship bracelets and those things you make with yarn that look like carpets and embroidery and knitting and sculpy and shellacing and quilting and goodness knows what else. Possibly good for my small-motor skills, but did not translate into anything I can do today. Although being able to mend is still a useful skill, as is cooking.
DH, of course, was learning how to do things like computer programming in his copious unscheduled free time.
There was also the kind of stuff we could do back 20-30 years ago but can’t do without adult supervision today. Hanging out with the neighborhood kids, bike riding, tadpole catching, exploring, going to the park alone etc.
The best part of free time, of course, is visiting the library and reading. Mmmm books. After I ran out of children’s fiction I discovered the humor section upstairs in adult. Then folk-lore. Then fantasy, and that changed everything.
So, bottom line: we think scheduled activities mainly suck for the parent doing the driving. Kids are mostly still left with plenty of free time to goof off. There’s probably some line where there’s too many activities but one probably only hits that after adding in a sport on top of everything else (or one goes to a challenging school that isn’t afraid of offending parents with homework). We also worry that there’s differential opportunities, both scheduled and unscheduled, by gender.
Do you think kids today are too overscheduled? Too underscheduled? Where do you fall on the debate? And do you think the gender divide is important? If so, in what way?
Disclaimer: DC is not currently scheduled to do anything because hir parents are lazy and the small town doesn’t have year round swimming lessons. One of these days we’ll get a piano or a keyboard or something.