Let’s stop pretending:
That children don’t know what they want and that they can’t be trusted. Children are born to learn and do know what they want to learn about. Why can’t we let them follow their passions? Is it because we don’t trust them? Do we think they will play video games or do something else we judge as not worthy. I wonder if traditional school models create conditions that encourage poor behaviour because we are trying to control the behaviour of other human beings through “classroom management”. Is it possible to be more democratic; can management of behaviour in schools be collaborative? Democratic schools exist all over the world and they work. Maybe we can learn from them. For those who argue that democratic schools only work for the privileged read this.
That we need to group children by age into distinct classrooms with one adult. Why? Because it’s convenient and easier. Why can’t we have a space where children can roam from place to place. From the garden outside to the science lab to the maker space to the computer lab. Why can’t we have cosy nooks for reading and day-dreaming. There is so much possibility if we would only trust.
That we don’t need to have more interventions by true specialists for reading. Are guided reading and short-term withdrawal really enough for students with learning disabilities? Would it be possible to give them on-going, consistent, individualised interventions on a daily basis for years? That can’t be done in a classroom or when a school with hundreds of children and only a few SERTS but can we change the ratio somehow? See how Kenneth Gordon Maplewood school in North Vancouver works. Why shouldn’t public school children have access to such effective interventions?
We need to stop pretending that we know what is important for students to learn. Is content really that important? Are problem-solving, critical-thinking, communicating and interacting positively with others are more important content knowledge?
That schools don’t play a role in creating bullying situations. Is there something about our wider culture and school cultures that set a stage for bullying situations and behaviour? Is there something we can do about that within a school? What is it? Perhaps more study on these issues is warranted withing the school setting?
Most of all, we need to stop pretending that we can’t do all of this in public education. Public education is important. If we change the system will people stop opting out? In order to do that we need to communicate how things can be different with others. All citizens need to work together to make it work because it will be messy. Change is messy. Learning is messy. Life is messy. But life also has the potential to be wondrous.
I want my girls to continue to love learning every day their childhood years (and lives). Let’s work together to change things so that our children continue to love learning.