In the New York Times story on Washington state’s math meltdown, a mother discovers her high-achieving sixth grader hasn’t been taught long division. A teacher explains, “We don’t teach long division; it stifles their creativity.”
Erin O’Connor, a Penn English prof, warns parents to be vigilant about reading and writing skills too.
Are they learning grammar? Can they spell? Punctuate? Understand what they are reading? Most of the Ivy League English majors whose writing I grade have trouble in these areas, which suggests to me that most everyone their age does. I tend to assume that the students I see are among the most linguistically competent students of their generation — but there are still a lot of issues with things such as run-on sentences, comma splices, murky phrasing, limited vocabulary, dangling modifiers, spelling, and so on.
O’Connor taught high school English at a boarding school and “found that a great many students there had abysmal language skills.”
Some bordered on functional illiteracy. When I asked whether the school taught grammar at any point, the head of school told me that teaching grammar thwarted students’ creativity and stifled their interest in reading.
Creativity is overrated.