Thursday, December 27, 2007

What we learn at vacation time

I am sad that most kids, even in my "alternative" school, were eagerly looking forward to vacation from school. They cited things like sleeping in, hanging out, and getting presents, as reasons for this phenomenon.

I would like to be working in a school where kids were comfortable, where the schedule would fit around their needs. When I was homeschooling and bringing my kids to "Twin Cities Unschool" (now extinct), they eagerly looked forward to going there and seeing their friends. I know most kids in truly democratic schools like Sudbury Valley School actually don't like vacations, because they view it as deprivation from seeing their friends and having fun!

I have toyed with starting a democratic school in Minnesota. Maybe I would like to do that someday. I once tried to start a charter school like that here, but, being publicly funded, the potential sponsors were all for testing and measuring "growth" as if all kids "grow" at the same rates (or should do that, at any rate). I refused to set our school up for failure by trying to attain some measurement like that, so the school didn't happen. I wonder if I made the right decision?

I know there are schools that have since found ways around the testing-as-God ideals they were asking of us. But I also know of schools that closed or changed significantly after they agreed to "measure growth" this way.

I hope someday to see what I can do in this arena. For now, I'm enjoying my own vacation, writing my book and my blog, taking time to breathe that I don't have on normal school days. I'll see what I can do about scheduling breathing time then too! :)

Monday, October 15, 2007

Environmental Blogging day

Today is blog action day, to talk about environment. I feel pretty sad about the environmental spiral we are in as a globe. Here are my contributions, plus and minus:
I work online, so I don't commute
I turn off things when not using them
I am considering moving someplace so nobody in the house would need to commute
I use conserving lightbulbs (at least I've started)
I contribute to Sierra Club monthly
I help students who are interested in environment to do projects on the topic and learn more
I recycle
I drive a Civic
I write e-mails in support of environmental causes
I own a pool and use chemicals!
House insulation needs work, as do windows
Our house is too big for the number of people who live here, so I should downsize
I'm not very active in environmental causes, and I don't concentrate on this field very well

What are your contributions? Maybe you could give me some ideas!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Learning What's Important

This summer I'm learning lots of things- how to write a book (get up and write first thing, for me- that's when I'm freshest), how to lift weights (girls didn't do this when I was young), and how to pace myself and mix fun things with "must do" things. Kids learn lots in the summer too, about friendship, and relaxation, and work relationships, and Harry Potter/magic/growing up and seeing adults as fallable (all involved in the last Harry Potter book).

Now compare those lessons with the ones we'll learn this year in school- about the capital of Bosnia, or the formula for the surface area of a sphere, and how to write a research paper with the right kind of footnotes.

Which ones are lifelong lessons? Which ones get our attention and keep it? Why are schools not about real learning?

Just imagine unleashing the creativity and knowhow of our teachers and students on real problems around them. Making their city safer, helping poor people to earn more money, dealing with the drug problem.

This year I will help students (and myself) find and help solve real problems. I think this is a worthy goal, and one that will help to improve the world around me.