As Spring Break draws to a close, GOT has a confession to make. He is a horrible teacher. He did nothing over the last seven days to get the children ready for the TEST. He sent home no Spring Break math packet. He didn’t do it for Winter break, either, a/k/a known as Christmas.

GOT didn’t do it last year, either.

The horror! But every year scores have gone up. (As if that mattered, but when winning at the game, it’s hard for folks to argue.)

The coffee break is a time-honored provision of workplaces as a means of increasing productivity. Surprisingly, by a few minutes of stopping work, the overall output of the work increases greatly. This was measured by researchers at M.I.T., who found that after running a maze, the rats that took a break replayed the experience in their brains to solidify what they had learned.

The same is true of vacations, including student vacations. A break from learning gives the brain a rest. But while students play, their brains work on the subconscious level processing learning.

GOT has observed this many times in the course of his career. A fall unit of middle school algebra goes poorly. Rather than regrind and reteach endlessly, a move ahead in the curriculum produces better results. Somehow, in the Spring, when the class returns to that algebra unit, they do much better.

My geometry classes are wrapping up the third quarter, which contains the hardest topics for geometry students: right triangles and circles. Assessments revealed the usual struggle.

Rather than grind brains and souls to dust, GOT decided to take a break. Let the children have some time off. When we return, the children will be refreshed and ready to tackle anew the math.

We push children too hard these days. We forget development stages and other things in our drive to improve thinking (a/k/a known as reading, but that’s another post) and math skills. We force children to do things before they are ready to the frustration of all.

Often, GOT wonders sarcastically why we don’t teach calculus in third grade?

We push too hard and children do not have the time they need for deep thinking and processing. We include too much in a year of curriculum and children are rushed through important ideas. We fall behind and give out vacation packets of worksheets, create web-based computer assignments, and must-do projects.

We ignore what we know about learning because we are driven by the tests, the standards, and the curriculum that includes too much.

It’s time for a break. Take one now.

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