"I don't yet (and I may never) know exactly what I think of standards and their progeny, the prescribed unit plans and bubble sheet tests and workshop models, but the more I see of curricula, the more I become convinced that they need to be dramatically reduced if not eliminated altogether. where is the joy in visiting each of nearly two hundred destinations on a map for only forty-five minutes each?This is the kind of teacher I want for my daughters. She's an advocate for kids who is obviously passionate about teaching, she's web-savvy and writes wonderfully, and I'm sure she makes the best of a difficult situation in New York's public school system.
in my classroom we have a policy that any question about science may be asked at any time, and depending on a number of factors we will either save it for later, when it can get the attention it properly deserves, or I will derail the entire class so that we can talk about something else that we are deeply interested in. the curriculum says I have to visit each of several dozen topics in turn. but I want my kids to ask questions, to explore, to pick up the rocks and sift through the mud below, to really get their hands dirty"
But I can't help but try a little utopian thought experiment. Imagine her in the opposite learning environment of where she is right now -- set her loose for three or four months with:
- a dozen interested kids of different ages
- no curriculum except a flexible focus on science as an organizing principle
- the freedom to explore interesting places and environments where science can be experienced and seen in action
- no pressure to switch topics or disciplines every hour
- the freedom to follow ideas and trains of thought as far as they're interesting
- access to great equipment and technology, letting her kids reflect and learn as part of a network of interested people
- license to have fun