|No Lemming Left Behind (2009)|
I was driving a car full of kids today who asked me would I consider opening a "home schooling classroom" (their phrase, not mine). When I asked them why, they offered these reasons:
- I won't get detention for reading ahead in a book.
- We can game.
- We can go on lots of field trips (to NYC, to the shore, to the lake) and hike, look at tide pools, just go outside.
- I wouldn't have to sit at a desk.
- I wouldn't have to sit still.
- I might learn to read. It's hard for me now and I don't like it.
- I could stay on one thing for awhile and really learn it.
- I could study history and travel around and write about it.
- We could skype with other kids, like the ones we game with now. (They named gamers from three continents).
- I wouldn't get in trouble for talking.
- Instead of just reading about something I could make stuff.
- No stupid homework.
- I could make animated films.
- I could do real chemistry.
- I could bring my iPad to school and use it.
- You won't take my phone away if you see it & give me a detention.
- No test packs.
- Sometimes I want to do the teaching.
- I could make mistakes and not get an F or be threatened with getting an F.
- We could have fog days*.
I thought a lot about their responses and realized that it wouldn't take much to build the type of school (or home schooling classroom:) that would honor their rather meager requests. Embedded in the different ideas expressed was the idea of choice. It seemed to be most paramount and I know that it is a necessity for learning deeply. Choice matters and we should honor it in schools. I also thought about their desire to experience the world more directly. Is it really such a foreign concept to want to experience the world and remake it through various forms; to connect with others within and beyond our national borders; to be able to use the technologies they use everyday freely while learning?
I know some classrooms (in public schools) that approach these ideas, but no schools that fully embrace experiential learning and choice. Nonetheless, it seems only a matter of will to make such a school with kids.
*Fog days is a family euphemism that means playing hookey from school in order to make photographs because it is such a great fog day to shoot.