The vanishing worksheet

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In a time when we substitute “negative patient outcome” for dead, we can be reassured that the lowly worksheet has not bought any farms, and is not kicking buckets in its free time. No, the worksheet remains alive and well. Students are still plotting points that turn into pumpkins. But teachers are creating euphemisms for that worksheet. We provide “class work” or “activity sheets.” We supply “guided practice” or “independent practice.” If possible, we group kids so that they can work on the “reinforcement activity” together, helping to further disguise the nature of that piece of foolscap which happens to be covered with math problems or worse — perhaps even spelling or grammar exercises. It’s getting harder to defend teaching grammar and ridiculously hard to stand up in favor of spelling, unless you couch spelling in terms of providing practice with Greek and Latin affixes. It’s also getting harder to prevent cheating if you classify shared work done by groups in that category.

Eduhonesty: Worksheets are old-fashioned, we are told. Students need to be “engaged” and worksheets do not inspire them. All I can say is, when today’s students find those bosses who want to engage and inspire them, while those students decide whether or not doing actual work is worth their time, I hope they’ll Facebook me so that I can quit and join the firm.