Written by one of the bloggers at Kitchen Table Math to the superintendent. Excerpts:
Good evening, G.
Christopher tells us he is to “create an artifact” for Social Studies / ELA at the end of the year.
For instance, he could construct a Civil War sword.
Or a Civil War musket.
Next year he will be expected to write a complicated research paper in 8th grade social studies, so this year he is preparing for that challenge by…. constructing an artifact.
I can’t tell you how violently we object to arts and crafts projects at this point.
Arts and crafts projects have nothing to do with college preparation.
In fact, we would go so far as to say that arts and crafts projects are the opposite of college preparation, Howard Gardner notwithstanding.
We know this because one of us — that would be Ed — is a professor at a major research university.
Ed is a historian.
Remarkably, Ed managed to earn a Ph.D., receive an appointment at UCLA, earn tenure, and publish numerous refereed articles, book reviews, and scholarly monographs without constructing a Civil War sword or musket.
Nor has he ever assigned a Civil War sword or musket construction project to his students.
. . .
How about you give us all a break and ask your teachers to stick to reading and writing assignments in reading and writing-based disciplines.
An assignment to construct an artifact isn’t social studies, and it isn’t art.