It isn’t hard to find people debating the relative value or authenticity of various school work activities.
Some think the focus should be on higher level skills. You might find people disparaging “rote memorization” or “regurgitation” or complaints about learning “mere facts.” You might find people devaluing spending time on learning anything that could be done with a calculator or looked up with a Google search.
Some think having an audience matters; that anything that hasn’t been tweeted, blogged, presented to the city council, or Skyped to children in another country is a waste of time.
Some think the measure is whether it looks like something adults would do in the real world. As in, I don’t take multiple choice exams at work so children shouldn’t take them at school. Or I would never be asked to calculate where a train leaving station A at 60 miles per hour would meet a train leaving station B at 48 miles per hour, so children shouldn’t be asked to do that either.
These conversations seem to me to be focused on the wrong things. The work of a child is physical, intellectual, and social development. Any work that aids the child’s development is worth doing, even if it is basic, even if it is done without an audience, and even if adults wouldn’t do it in the real world. It’s the work that doesn’t aid the child’s development that is a waste of time, no matter how high tech, higher order, or relevant to the real world it appears to be.