Back-to-school night this year in Mr. G’s sixth-grade classroom felt a bit like an inquisition. Teacher Matthew Gudenius, a boyish, 36-year-old computer whiz who runs his class like a preteen tech startup, had prepared 26 PowerPoint slides filled with facts and footnotes to deflect the concerns of parents. But time was short, the worries were many, and it didn’t take long for the venting to begin.
“I like a paper book. I don’t like an e-book,” one father told him, as about 30 adults squeezed into a room for 22 students. Another dad said he could no longer help his son with homework because all the assignments were online. “I’m now kind of taken out of the routine,” he complained. Rushing to finish, Gudenius passed a slide about the debate over teaching cursive, mumbling, “We don’t care about handwriting.” In a flash, a mother objected: “Yeah, we do.”
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