One of the most ridiculous excuses from a school official I’ve ever seen was published this week in the Washington Post:
April 25, 2014
Dear Kindergarten Parents and Guardians,
We hope this letter serves to help you better understand how the demands of the 21st century are changing schools, and, more specifically, to clarify, misperceptions about the Kindergarten show. It is most important to keep in mind is [sic] that this issue is not unique to Elwood. Although the movement toward more rigorous learning standards has been in the national news for more than a decade, the changing face of education is beginning to feel unsettling for some people. What and how we teach is changing to meet the demands of a changing world.
The reason for eliminating the Kindergarten show is simple. We are responsible for preparing children for college and career with valuable lifelong skills and know that we can best do that by having them become strong readers, writers, coworkers and problem solvers. Please do not fault us for making professional decisions that we know will never be able to please everyone. But know that we are making these decisions with the interests of all children in mind.
It seems that the kindergarten teachers at Harley Avenue Primary School in Elwood, N.Y. did not want to do yet another kindergarten school play. I can’t say I blame them—herding kindergartners and getting them to perform is a lot of work, and even kindergarten teachers can get burned out on it. But the excuse they use, “preparing children for college and career,” is so ridiculous that it would be regarded as absurd if presented in a play or novel.
Kindergarteners are supposed to be being prepared for elementary school, not for college, and theater is excellent preparation for many careers (any that involve public presentations, for example), anyway.
My son started enjoying acting in preschool and has been on stage (or on film) in about 70 productions since then. The school plays were not as good, generally, as the ones he did in summer or after-school productions, but they were still highly valued parts of his education. His senior year of high school alone has seen 10 different performances, and he still has another improv show and playing Don John in Much Ado to come—and that’s just during the school year, not summer theater.
Theater has gotten him through high-school English classes that he would otherwise had difficulty tolerating—about half his high school English has been dramatic literature classes. Conventional literary analysis irritates him, triggering writer’s block, but he can work on fairly deep analysis to do character development for performance.