‘IF you are having fun, you are not learning.”

‘So says a motto above a grade-school chalkboard in “Matilda,” one of my 7-year-old daughter’s favorite movies. And it summarizes one persistent back-to-school worry, at least in certain orderly suburban towns. When school begins tomorrow in much of the state, many parents will be fretting that their kids are stuck at desks, saddled with too much homework and too little art, taught with an eye toward standardized tests – learning too much, in a sense. Or at least too joylessly.

‘Meanwhile, in urban districts, there will be equal concern that kids aren’t learning enough – that we haven’t erased the achievement gap that led to standardized testing in the first place. There will be hyped-up charter schools, movements to purge bad teachers, searches for some magic bullet to make schools work better…’

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