A couple of weeks ago, my first-grader brought home a green sheet of paper with the title “St. Patrick’s Day Homework!” emblazoned across the top. Seriously? Homework for St. Patrick’s Day – a silly, minor holiday? The body of the note instructed students to make a “leprechaun trap” to bring to class the following week to “present.” “Be creative!” it said. It further stated that parents should have their child do the work. And then it advised that ideas for leprechaun traps could be found on the internet. I don’t know about you, but my six-year old doesn’t go on the internet by herself. Clearly, this project would require parent participation and direction. Surprise, surprise.
For the life of me, I could not come up with a single thing about this project that had educational value. It’s an art project. Why wasn’t it being done in class? And who came up with this, anyway? As Kristen so eloquently lays out on her blog, schools are losing their minds over every stupid holiday now, and we parents are suffering the fallout. My kids never even heard of leprechauns before their kindergarten teachers informed them – but up until this year, the whole leprechaun trap thing was at least limited to kindergarten: the teacher (and only the teacher) would go out into the kindergarten play yard with a trap, while this kids watched through the windows from inside, and she would wow the kids by attempting to catch a leprechaun who, of course, always got away.
Now leprechaun traps are all the rage in all the lower grades, and every kid is expected to have his or her own, made lovingly at home with parental help. It’s ridiculous. We don’t have the resources for new text books, but we’re out catching leprechauns? I understand the need to make school fun and memorable for children, but there are some areas in which it’s just gone too far. In some ways, it seems like teachers have become as competitive as mommies with regard to who can be the most creative, who can come up with the best activities and projects. It’s a Pinterest-ruled world now.
My daughter’s leprechaun trap, for what it’s worth, ended up being an empty tissue box covered in tin foil and plastered with four-leaf clover stickers. The end. I was not about to exhibit creative prowess, just on principle.
This brings up, however, the fact that schools seem to be rife with pointless projects like this. Another of my (not) favorites is the Dress the Paper Turkey in Ethnic Clothing project, and the Dress the Little Foam Rubber Pig As a Famous Person project, both projects that all second-graders at our school get assigned. What is the point of these? What educational value do they have? I can absolutely see learning about one’s ethnic heritage, and choosing a famous, influential person and studying him or her. But what is the point of dressing an animal?
Here’s another pointless project I read about recently: Make a Pinata for Spanish Class.
What are some of the pointless projects your kids have been assigned?