on link by Jon Bunch, Personal learning enviroments
, March 4, 2013.
Those are really wonderful contemplations.
I've personally been really unhappy with public school (we're in NY) in recent years. The new Core Curriculum Standards coupled with consistently reduced resources for schools has resulted in some really nasty realities for kids. For example, my son is in K and the new standards require him to spell 100 words, name 6 different vertices, and write according to a rigorous and unreasonable handwriting leveling system by the end of the year in order to "pass".
Plus, his teacher now has 16 kids including 3 special needs kids with IEPs, and had her classroom assistant taken away save for 45 minutes in the day, whenever they can "spare" a body, so she can't even plan around it. She was also faced with a $50 YEARLY budget for supplies; the list of supplies sent home totaled $100 and included things like paper towels, dry erase boards, wipes, tissues, crayons, markers... pretty much everything that a teacher should already be providing with her yearly budget.
Because of all of this, there is no time except during a 20 minute recess for the kids to just PLAY. Especially in K, and even into other elementary grades, play is crucial for kids' ability to learn peer social systems and other important life skills like communication, turn-taking, handling situations when someone's feelings are hurt, etc.
My daughter is in 3rd grade and is miserable. There is no time to talk, there are few collaborative projects because of how long they take, and little opportunity for tailoring learning (and I'm not even talking individual - there isn't even much group work by proficiency level!). So she's bored out of her mind, desperately wanting more time to talk about the higher level novels she's reading, wanting to do science projects, wanting to move faster in math.
All of this is keeping our kids in the past. The world is no longer a place which needs humans who are able to sit and do a task they've been told to do. The kids need to learn how to access, share, process, and create information, not simply retain it.
I've been considering putting them into a democratic school (Sudbury) which is 100% student and faculty run. The kids have interests and enlist other students to help them figure something out (how to program a computer game, how to learn Chinese, how to have literary conversations, how to use oil paints, how to create robotics)... there is no limit to what they can learn, because they have the freedom and time to search for information collaboratively.
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