My older son is in second grade in a good local public school. He is getting strong Language Arts training — he can identify parts of speech with far more ease than I can — and a fine Chicago Everyday Math program. But his classroom has no — and I mean zero — social studies content and only a smattering of science. Now why is that? And — here is where you can help me — how typical is this? In the "why" column I have heard it said that the pressure of NCLB testing in third grade makes first and second grade teachers emphasize language arts and math. Is that true? Is there less content than there used to be? I know the theory that a child’s interests in the world should begin with himself, his family, home, neighborhood. So Social Studies might blur into activities that I don’t recognize as content. But, tell me, how universal is this terrible imbalance?
Two days ago, CNN had that videoclip of the first-ever showing of King Tut’s mummy: http://edition.cnn.com/2007/TECH/science/11/04/king.tut.ap/index.html It was a bit grim, I grant you. But how many seven year old boys would love to see it, and swing from that into a unitl on mummification, King Tut, etc. And there is plenty of vocabulary any good teacher could derive from such a lesson. Kids, second graders, boys, like learning about Egypt, and dead kings, why deprive them of that and insist they only study language separate from content? Why confine their school focus to the local — what could possibly be as interesting as a mummy?
So, please, explain the (il)logic of what we teach second graders, tell me what is going on around the country, help me to understand why we are not stimulating the curiousity of young people instead of stiffling it?