backpackLast week I spent a few minutes expressing my amazement about the size of my son’s school backpack. Several have commented on the post and, when I went back to review what I wrote, realized that perhaps I didn’t do a good job of making my point.

Today’s Zits cartoon, that of 15 year-old Jeremy and his parents, reinforces what I was thinking when I complained about the backpack from hell.

zits

Twenty pounds of textbooks in a backpack hauled home every night tells me a few things. It tells me that perhaps homework policies need some review. It tells me that perhaps teachers need to do a better job of communicating with one another concerning assignments. It tells me that perhaps we spend too much on books.

But I think one thing it tells me is that the curriculum and instruction in our schools is still too focused on what is contained within textbooks rather than on 21st century problem solving, collaborative learning and authentic learning.

I think 20 pounds of textbooks is too much – not because I don’t want my kid to work hard but because I’m afraid he’s being asked to work hard on things that won’t do him a whole lot of good five, ten and 20 years from now.

So, yes, replacing my son’s backpack three times because the weight of the textbooks ripped them apart bothers me. But what bothers me more is the way in which the books are being used.