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! :)


Dustin said...

What kids learn at vacation time? That's an important question for a teacher to think about. I'm a tutor at , and have had a lot of experience teaching. Conducting a summer workshop to improve reading, speaking, listening, and writing skills of the kids would be an interesting idea. The workshop needs to be creative, interesting and engaging. The kids should feel that learning is more like playing, so that they would be more interested to learn anything they need to. When kids are having fun, they tend to forget that they are actually trying to develop vital skills in life. These skills can be taught through different games and activities,
like asking them to read a comic in a group and later having a discussion among themselves, playing a video or an audio and later asking interesting questions based on what they have watched and listened. For developing writing skills, the teacher could show some pictures of cartoon characters
or some sequence of events, and ask the kids to write a story based on that.
The kids just love these ways of learning.

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