I am a board of ed member in [a Chicago suburb], and am wondering where the current craze for having students spend an inordinate amount of their time making posters came from. I appreciate the fact that some small percentage of them will become graphic artists, but I question the value for just about everyone else. I recall last year an 8th grade poster my son had to do for a book he’d read. The requirement was to think of 8 different phrases that would describe one of the main characters in the book, and then find those words in magazines (of course, newspapers were not allowed because the print isn’t “shiny”), and place them on the poster. The rubric was that the letters had to be of a certain size, so that people in the back could still read them. They had to be of complimentary colors, to produce an overall esthetic effect. They had to be of different styles, so one wouldn’t become bored seeing the poster. I could go on and on…..
I had no problem with reading a book, obviously. I had no problem with finding key words or phrases to describe one of the characters. I did have a problem with sitting on Mother’s Day all day on the floor helping my son find these particular words in magazines. The net effect, other than a very sore back and a short temper, was that the posters ended up looking like ransom letters. I should have complained on the fact that that may promote violence amongst the student population.
I find that each class, be it Language Arts, Social Studies or Spanish, promote posters as a major component of the grade. Perhaps this is why I elected to send my son to boarding school for high school. If no parents are there to purchase the poster board, etc., they can’t assign them.
Even more appalling was a friend of mine’s 9th grade child, who was assigned the task of renting a period costume for Social Studies (an Elizabethan dress and hat). I called my friend one morning, well after the first period had begun, but she couldn’t talk as she was dressing her daughter. I responded by saying school started over an hour ago. Yes, that was true, but she had to get her in the costume, and do her hair to fit in with the hat, and she couldn’t go to her first two periods dressed that way, so she was going in late. Of course, the period after she missed as well to “undress”. The lesson learned here? That mommy can drop $80 and untold hours going into the city to rent the costume, and that the student can miss three other classes for the 10 minute demonstration of an Elizabethan costume. Forgive me, but other than that, I fail to see what was learned that a photo couldn’t have accomplished in less time and with less money.
These nutty ideas that teachers get while missing school to attend the so-called “seminars” continue to irritate me. Do they use any common sense at all? If some self-acclaimed “expert” tells them that posters are a good idea, how do they become the main component of the class grade overnight? Or am I the crazy one?