Everything we taught as children is a lie. Well, maybe not everything, but at least these eight things.
If you hold your face like that, it’ll get stuck that way.
At least, that’s what your elementary school teacher probably told you. (Also, why were you pulling so many goofy faces when you were supposed to be focusing on the math lesson?)
As an adult, of course, you see how ridiculous that claim turned out to be—unless you’re one of the few people whose faces did stay that way, in which case we are sorry, and recommend medical attention…. Continue reading
“You can cut the arts all you want, sooner or later these kids won’t have anything to read or write about.” ~ Richard Dreyfuss (Mr. Holland’s Opus)
Most schools are letting out for the summer, and it’s the time that many decide to make budget cuts for the upcoming year. Hopefully music does not get cut in your area, as learning music teaches so much more than just notes on a page!!
I cry a little every time I hear about a school cutting arts.
Perfectly Preserved Lessons Provide Rare Look Into Past
Classrooms at Emerson High School in Oklahoma City were getting a routine face lift when renovators accidentally uncovered an incredible glimpse into the history of American education.
Construction workers were removing chalkboards– taking them down to replace them with new Smart Boards– when they stumbled upon some older chalkboards underneath. Continue reading
Dr. Brené Brown has become famous for her speaking and writing about vulnerability, worthiness, shame and the other important emotions running underneath daily life all the time. One theme she returns to over and over is the importance of cultivating empathy, a very different reaction than sympathy. Continue reading
Oklahoma Wesleyan University
This past week, I actually had a student come forward after a university chapel service and complain because he felt “victimized” by a sermon on the topic of 1 Corinthians 13. It appears this young scholar felt offended because a homily on love made him feel bad for not showing love. In his mind, the speaker was wrong for making him, and his peers, feel uncomfortable.
I’m not making this up. Our culture has actually taught our kids to be this self-absorbed and narcissistic. Any time their feelings are hurt, they are the victims. Anyone who dares challenge them and, thus, makes them “feel bad” about themselves, is a “hater,” a “bigot,” an “oppressor,” and a “victimizer.” Continue reading
Children need art and stories and poems and music as much as they need love and food and fresh air and play. If you don’t give a child food, the damage quickly becomes visible. If you don’t let a child have fresh air and play, the damage is also visible, but not so quickly. If you don’t give a child love, the damage might not be seen for some years, but it’s permanent.
But if you don’t give a child art and stories and poems and music, the damage is not so easy to see. It’s there, though. Their bodies are healthy enough; they can run and jump and swim and eat hungrily and make lots of noise, as children have always done, but something is missing. Continue reading
“You can tell a Benchmark kid. They love their country – they know why it’s special.” I asked Carole Challoner, one of the founders of this public charter school in Phoenix, how she teaches patriotism to her elementary students. The teachers do it by inspiring the kids with opportunities for gratitude, service, and patriotism. Carole explained how Benchmark does it in ten easy steps. Continue reading
Do you remember sentence-diagramming in school? I do. It was the onerous process of breaking apart individual sentences into their component parts and identifying those parts, like the subject, the verb, the modifiers, and so on.
By the time sentence-diagramming was introduced in elementary school, I had learned how to play the game of school. I had learned that obedience, memorization, and regurgitation of exactly what the teacher wants is the key to school success. I played it well. Looking back, and witnessing how my own unschooled children learn how to write, I realize how arbitrary and artificial learning in school was. Continue reading
Recently, I was asked whether I had written any stories appropriate for the second grade block in a Waldorf school or homeschool that features tales about exemplary people. I wrote this story and told it before the November festival of Martinmas which is a time when the year turns toward outer darkness and we are reminded of the importance of sharing the inner light of compassion. This story could be told, however, at any time of year. In fact, as I add this to the Growing Children blog in 2018, we have just experienced a great March Storm here on Cape Cod complete with 90 mile an hour winds and high seas that poured into our seaside villages. It is at such difficult times that we can be inspired by the best in people. ~ Kim
Waldkindergartens, an all-outdoor kindergarten in Switzerland/Rona RIchter
For the typical American kindergartner, unstructured free play during the school day consists of 20 to 30 minutes of recess, and perhaps some time at indoor “stations” — perhaps creating with building blocks, costumes, or musical instruments. But what if there was more? What if the answer to “what did you do in school today?” was, “I climbed a tree, played in the mud, built a fire”?
That is exactly the kind of learning going on in the Swiss Waldkindergartens, or forest kindergartens, where children ages four to seven spend all of their school days playing outdoors, no matter the weather. With no explicit math or literacy taught until first grade, the Swiss have no set goals for kindergartners beyond a few measurements, like using scissors and writing one’s own name. They instead have chosen to focus on the social interaction and emotional well-being found in free play. Continue reading
Does photosynthesis work the same in underwater plants as land plants?
This perceptive query about photosynthesis asked in a fifth grade botany class led to one of those moments when curiosity electrified our classroom. When I admitted I didn’t know the answer yet, my students gave me an assignment.
“Will you find out and tell us?” Continue reading
There are days in this insane world when one is completely uplifted with the gift of life. This marvelous teacher will be a beacon of light across the years for her students. She will be remembered. ~ Ed.
It’s the second year in a row I’ve brought a white dress to school and my students have filled it with their artwork. This is one of my favorite things to do in my class! #thewearyteacher
This is something I’d seen on Pinterest a few years ago and I fell in love with the idea. I think every teacher should do this! It’s a great project and an even better keepsake.
“It was as if my long-term students and I were taking a long journey by ship and it was my fault that, in the parlance of the controversial education law, William was being left behind.”
Eugène Delacroix: Demosthenes Declaiming by the Seashore
A single event can awaken within us a stranger totally unknown to us. To live is to be slowly born. ~ Antione de Saint-Exupery
Chapter 21 ~ Awakening
I couldn’t help smiling as I watched my new student, twelve-year-old William, running laps around the school field, one hand clutching his baggy pants to keep them from slipping inexorably toward his feet. This ten minute run was the energetic beginning of the two-hour class we called main lesson.
In spite of his trim, athletic physique, William ran in a lopsided and lackadaisical manner that, together with his ridiculously low-slung pants, had initially led me toward the admittedly judgmental conclusion that William’s sloppiness in appearance probably meant carelessness in his character. But, I reassessed my initial impression after talking with his mother who revealed surprising details about William’s morning ablutions and his painstaking selection of jeans and tee shirts. Continue reading
What if there were a better way to do early childhood education?
It’s a common complaint among teachers as well as parents in the U.S. these days: kindergarten has become the new first grade and the unintended casualty of that is preschool, which has consequently become the new kindergarten. Many early childhood experts consider physical activity and unstructured play the two main pillars for learning and a healthy development for preschoolers. Both are often lacking at American preschools, where play is typically directed by the adults and the students are more likely to be found cooped up indoors, filling out worksheets and tracing letters. Not to mention kindergarten, where students are expected to sit still at their desks for the majority of the day. Continue reading
My teaching bag of tricks is full of stories, lots of stories— biographies that are a window into history, stories to teach the alphabet, stories that break down the complexity of a math process and metaphoric stories such as parables and fables that spark thinking.
My students are used to stories that take them on a journey that appears to bring them far away from our main theme, into a tale that is not so much a segue as a secret route to the heart of the topic.
Stories can be especially effective when students are stuck, when a concept is difficult or complex, when the kids just don’t get it. At this moment in our culture we are collectively stuck when it comes to making decisions about the future of education. My perspective as a teacher is that most people just don’t get why standards and testing wastes the talent, inspiration and joy that our nations teachers are ready and able to bring to children while teaching them well. Continue reading
Some of these things could end up being a service to young people, if only someone would just tell them. Joe Raedle/Getty Images
To maintain order in the classroom — and to keep their jobs — there are some things teachers just can’t tell their students, even if they want to, but some of these things, while perhaps controversial, could end up being a service to young people, if only someone would just tell them. Continue reading