Building a mini-locker for a seventh-grade Spanish class project got her 12-year-old son excited, writes mother Ann Bradley, an Education Week editor, on Motivation Matters. But she discovered most of his grade would be based on writing sentences in Spanish describing the locker contents.
My son, who desperately wants to do well in school but is still learning that effort equals outcome, was thrilled to get this creative assignment and determined to do his best. He spent hours turning a Nike box into a miniature locker. He spray-painted it blue, made a lock out of tin foil, and filled it with a tiny bulletin board (made by ripping a corner off the one in his room) complete with a tiny note written in Spanish stuck on with a pushpin. He even got our 5-year-old in on the act, who lent him a tiny SpongeBob backpack to hang in the locker.
. . . Being a Type A Mom, of course, I couldn’t help but point out to my son that all of his labors would only yield 10 points, and that he’d better get cracking on his sentences. It was awful to have to “shut down” his creative energies that way, although I do understand that this is a language class, not an art class.
Mom wants more creative assignments that will turn on her son. But where’s the Spanish learning in designing a locker? Maybe he should drop Spanish and take shop instead. Only I’ll bet that’s not an option.
My daughter did a lot of arts and crafts — mostly poster design — all through school in various subjects. Some of it was fun for her. She’s an artsy type. Very little taught her the subject she was supposed to be learning.