I'm going to give a warning here, that I might just be on my soapbox, spouting out questions, and appearing to expect easy answers. I don't believe in easy answers, but I do believe that we need to question the practices and status quo that keep us stuck, that keep us from bringing our learners into a state of flourishing. It's not enough to boast that we have, "raised test scores," but it's vital to know that our children are going forth with the skills, self-awareness, and confidence to make a difference in the world.
So.. I leave you with these questions that recur in my mind as I ponder what kind of school I would want for my own children ( now grown).
- If we know that early experience, attachment, and social learning are so important, then why do we pay those who educate young learners such little pay? We can’t expect those in early childhood education to take lots of classes and continue their learning when we pay them barely enough to live on.
- If we know that movement is key to stimulating the brain and that most children are not getting the exercise they need, then why is school so determined to keep kids in their chairs all day? There are creative ways to get kids moving and some wonderful traditions and rituals that can bring a community together. At the fabulous school, Anastasis Academy, in Colorado started by my talented Twitter friend Kelly Tenkely and her wonderful team, students and staff walk a mile together each morning to begin their day. (yep, on the right foot ;) Couldn't resist that one!
- If we know that kids need safe places in the community to hang out, be with friends, and stay out of trouble by pursuing passions and interests, then why do so many buildings go underutilized? Schools are closed during weekends and summer, but could they be community centers where families, kids gather to continue learning, innovate, support each other?
- If we know that points and pizzas for reading and reading logs and ARquizzes can dampen, if not kill, the passion for reading and that librarians that get to know their students are the magic that sparks a love of reading, why do we cut this critical position from school budgets?
- If we know that teachers are not coming out of teacher preparation/ pre-service programs with the skills and understanding to deal with the complex issues that students face, then why aren’t we changing these programs to include classes that address child development, working with families, and learning theory? ( Ok, so perhaps I am going by my limited experience of many of the teachers I have met who also claim that they were not prepared for the multitude of issues we face daily in the classroom)
I'd love to hear examples of how we are doing things differently. We MUST be making progress in some of these areas across the nation, right?