New York High School Students Receive Third-Grade Lessons on Goldilocks
These high school students receive a “bear bone” education.
Juniors taking classes in American Literature at Brooklyn’s highly regarded Edward R. Murrow High School were given a series of rudimentary assignments based on fables and childhood fairy tales – third-grade class work. year that has stunned critics and parents called “educational neglect”.
After reading “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” and “The Tortoise and the Hare” this semester, 11th grade general education students were then tasked with answering simple questions, such as “Who? ” “What?” “When?” and why?” according to students who provided copies of the lessons to The Post.
For an answer to “What?” in “Goldilocks”, a student replied, “eating bear food + sleeping in beds”. The “Why” was “hungry + tired”.
They were then asked to write a summary sentence of “literature”.
Pupils at Midwood School were at first as surprised as Little Bear by his missing porridge – when they saw how simple the homework was. But they were savvy enough to realize a good thing when they saw one.
“I was confused why we had it at first, but I was like ‘F–k, this is an easy task.’ I’m not complaining,” shrugged a junior outside of school this week.
Another student called American Literature “the easiest class I’ve had” and speculated that the “Turtle and the Hare” worksheet would make up 10% of her grade.
A third student showed an instruction sheet on writing summary sentences that she received a few weeks ago, with “Goldilocks” as an example.
“It was just a start to see what you could do. Just to see if you could do it first and then we were going to move on to something harder,” the student noted.
A fourth student reported receiving both “elementary style” assignments.
“Besides grading a lot, we’re not really doing what I would call Grade 11 work,” he said.
The homework sheet with the bear story was accompanied by a version of the story from the British Council’s ‘LearnEnglish Kids’ program which says it aims to teach children the language.
A fifth junior said he didn’t feel the classes were challenging enough and had received an equally easy lesson in a world classics class.
“I feel like they’re literally getting in our way,” the student said. “I don’t find my lessons difficult. I find that most of the work given to us distracts us from what is really important.
The Literature class falls under the school’s Communication Arts department, which maintains that its primary goal is “to improve your ability to think critically and communicate effectively in writing and speaking.”
The department’s website notes that famed broadcaster Murrow had a statement from Henry David Thoreau in his office that read, “It takes two to tell the truth – one to speak and one to hear.”
Department of Education spokesman Nathaniel Styer did not respond directly to questions from the Post. Instead, he posted a lengthy defense on Twitter claiming the lesson will help prepare students for a similar, more difficult assignment involving Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter,” which is more age-appropriate for high school students.
“This is what educators call ‘scaffolding,'” he tweeted. “You introduce a topic, have the students practice it on something easy, before having them work on something complex.”
But one of Murrow’s juniors said his class was only instructed to read a seven-page summary of “The Scarlet Letter,” not the full 272-page classic.
“We never read full chapters of ‘The Scarlet Letter’ and we never read the book itself in any way,” the student said.
The child-themed lessons have infuriated some educators and advocates, especially given the reputation of the school, which has been attended by the likes of famed artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, actress Marisa Tomei, Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys and “Black Swan” director Darren. Aronofsky.
“It’s horrible to hear,” said an English teacher at another public high school in New York. “Using the ‘Turtle and the Hare’ or ‘Goldilocks and the Three Bears’ as a modified scaffolding technique undermines where a child should be in the 11e to note. It looks like educational neglect.
A 2015 article in the journal Instructional Science examined 768 students aged 12 to 15 in the European Union and found that scaffolding is not a panacea. “Scaffolding…is not unequivocally effective; its effectiveness depends, among other things, on the independent work time of the groups and the work effort of the students.
Chien Kwok, a parent leader and member of Manhattan’s District 2 Community Education Council, said the state is continually lowering standards.
“Using a five-page synopsis of ‘The Scarlet Letter’ rather than asking students to read the entire book confirms how low standards are at DOE,” said Kwok, co-founder of PLACE NYC. , a parent-led education advocacy group. .
Murrow has about 3,600 students and a solid academic reputation with an 86% graduation rate in 2021. Only 8% of students are considered English language learners, but about 47% of new eighth-graders did not meet state standards for English. 2019-20, the last year available.
“I am appalled that a teacher or a secondary school thinks it would be appropriate to start the children at a third grade reading level for a grade 11 English class,” said a parent who did not. no children in Murrow. “It’s also shocking that they read an abridged version of ‘The Scarlet Letter’ and not the full book.”
“The DOE does not systematically teach children at all levels. Murrow is supposed to be a good school. He has a solid reputation,” the parent added.
When a lawyer tweeted about Tortoise’s story, an incredulous person replied, “It’s 2nd or 3rd grade material…in Phoenix.”
Allen Barge, Murrow’s manager, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Additional reporting by Rich Calder
New York Post