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News Link • Education: Government Schools

Why I No Longer Ask Kids How They are Doing in School

• by Kevin Currie-Knight

Recently, my wife and I took a trip to see family and friends, several of whom have school-age children. I noticed that when adults interact with children, one of the first questions they pose is "How are you doing in school?" or some variation ("So, keeping your grades up?").

I also notice that if the child answers that they are anything other really well, the adult responds as if this is a bad thing, "Well, I'm sure you'll do better next quarter." Perhaps most revealingly, children – even engaging in small-talk – rarely, if ever, ask each other this question. I can only assume that they know better.

Doing School

They found strategies to succeed in school without having to do much deep learning.?I am a professor in a College of Education who studies schools and how they work as part of my living. On the basis of that research, I have become more and more uncomfortable with asking kids how they are doing in school, largely because it sends the message that how they are doing in school is, to me, one of the most important things about them. I think adults ask children this, at least partly, because we assume that "how are you doing in school?" is a proxy for "what are you learning?" My own study of schools convinces me that this is a very bad assumption.

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