The longer this goes, the more we will need to think about engagement versus accountability.
In the best of situations, we would be able to have both. But we already know we aren’t in the best of situations.
Holding kids accountable now means we are assigning work that needs to be completed. We are collecting and grading that work so that kids know it’s important to complete work even when they are stuck at home.
It is simply about compliance. Kids are doing work because they are supposed to be doing work. They need to be completing work. Even if it is busywork.
I would ask a simple question. If we didn’t assign work to our kids right now, what would they do? How would they begin to fill their time? My own children have been baking, learning how to play an instrument, drawing, reading, and writing. Lots of drawing, reading, and writing. And all of those activities have been OK with me. They’ve been self-chosen activities. They’ve been engaging activities, and learning has taken place.
I didn’t force them to take part in any of those activities. I did force them to do their assigned remote learning work, to which they complained and asked if they could be done. “When you are done,” I told them, “you can work on whatever you want!” When they were done, they did exactly that. They worked on activities they were engaged in. Sitting at a desk and writing a book. Standing at the counter and baking a cake from scratch. Laying on the floor and reading.
As this goes longer, we will need to think critically about accountability versus engagement. I know I’ll be thinking about it, both as a parent, and an educator. I don’t know what the answer is, but I certainly want to think about the question. What will our kids be working on?