Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Learning Is Messy

Brian Crosby asks: Your Child's Dream Best School Day - What Does It Look Like? What Should It Be? He's been listening to the buzz on problem/project-based learning and throwing out a challenge to see what a real day of learning in a school setting would like like.
"If you are reading this you probably have some opinions, probably strong opinions about this, but have you ever thought about or planned a whole “typical” day? Here’s your challenge. Take your thoughts and biases and ideas and opinions and learning and experience and conversations and put them all together. Make it a comment here, or make it a post on your blog."
I'm only a few weeks away from sending my oldest daughter off to Kindergarten, so I have been thinking about these things. My challenge right now is more in accepting of what is, rather than spending time and energy envisioning better ways. Overall, it sounds like Kindergarten might be a better model for schooling than the grades that follow it, which lessens my anxiety about the coming year somewhat:
  • provide an environment with different kinds of learning areas or stations in the room, with lots of rich resources
  • provide lots of time where kids can choose which stations they want to spend time at, who they want to hang out with
  • have caring grown-ups available for resources and guidance, and to help guide behaviour when necessary
  • focus on personal expression and the arts, with lots of music and drawing
  • a focus on practical life skills (tying your shoes, telling time) and interpersonal skills (playing and working in groups)
  • have the kids in class two-and-a-half days a week, not five
The parts I'd like to change:
  • ringing the bell every 45 minutes to change to some new arbitrary task
  • starting at a set time every day -- why not start arrive and commence learning when it suits?
  • age segregation -- why not have more mixing of ages and abilities?
  • lessons paced to the slowest learners -- why force a five-year-old who is already writing her own stories to sit through "today, we're learning the letter D!" lessons?
So, I guess I've diverged a bit from Brian's original challenge...but I'm enjoying thinking about this one.

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