During today's Socratic seminar, each student responded to the New York Times article, The Child, The Tablet, and the Developing Mind they read earlier in the week and explored the effect today's technology is having on interpersonal relationships and communication. I video taped parts of the seminar and am working to upload them to the site.
We launched our study of American history this week by reviewing a few important events, topics, and big questions: the Asiatic migration of peoples to the Americas; Colonial America (why people emigrate?); and factors leading to the American Revolution [what causes conflict and why would a colony (teenager) want to separate from the "mother" country (parents)]. We also examined the Battle of Lexington and Concord through primary sources--engravings and personal accounts.
In art today, Kara explained many of the colonists were not educated in art schools as was the case with most European artists. The colonist's inspiration came from their rural way of life and objects and animals that were an integral part of their day.
John passed an invitation on to attend psychologist Peter Gray's talk about his book, Free to Learn, and the importance of free play. The talk takes place on January 16th at Alpine Valley School in Wheat Ridge, a Sudbury school. In this approach, children are given the freedom to use their time as they wish, mix freely with children of different ages, and be members of a school that is run democratically. At Sudbury schools, students explore the world freely at their own pace and in their own unique ways. Students set their own educational paths, making their education meaningful and relevant.
This model has always intrigued me and what turned into a question for Hope turned into a fifteen minute long conversation with John and Hope about where Horizons fits between the spectrum of the demands of adopting standards like Common Core and an approach like Alpine Valley School. It's always important to revisit the opportunities of self-directed and independent learning our students have.
Peter Gray's states that "central thesis is that children come into the world exquisitely designed, and strongly motivated, to educate themselves. They don’t need to be forced to learn; in fact, coercion undermines their natural desire to learn. What they do need is opportunity. My argument to society at large is that we need to stop thinking about educating children and start thinking about how to provide the conditions that maximize each child’s ability to educate himself or herself. That is what children are biologically designed to do, but to do it well they need conditions that are very, very different from the coercive, deprived conditions of our standard schools."
I received this link to Kim John Payne's webinar and found it thought-provoking and worth sharing.