“You should play the time you want to play….” 13

Paintings by Little C

I asked my 7-year old son a simple #blog4reform question: If you could change school so that you’d love to be there, what would you do?

Here’s what he said before going back to drawing:

  1. Don’t tell people how long they should write their sentences. Let them pick out what they want to write so they might have longer sentences.
  2. Let people read for the time they want to read.
  3. Let kids choose how many sheets of homework they have to do.
  4. You should play the time you want to play and be nice to the other people.
  5. Art is fun, so we should learn more at school.
  6. People should pick the reading groups they want to go to and go to a different one next time.
  7. People should use Legos. You could teach with them. You could put magnets on them and teach about North and South by building things.
  8. Kids should be able to draw when they want to draw. I draw all the time on my tests when I’m bored.
  9. Kids should be able to get in groups and write books on the topic they want. They could do a comic.
  10. You shouldn’t send kids to the principal’s office. You should give them more chances to say sorry, and if sorry doesn’t work you should do whatever to help the person you hurt so that they aren’t sad and they don’t hurt you.

Sign me up; evaluate me against this.

13 thoughts on ““You should play the time you want to play….”

  1. Reply David Britten Dec 31, 2010 10:24 am

    Outstanding! Thank you very much for contributing some really good ideas.

  2. Pingback: Blog 4 Real Education Reform – The Sequel « Cooperative Catalyst

  3. Reply Lara Dec 31, 2010 5:41 pm

    How fantastic. I wonder more and more how to make schools like this, as in like places where children really want to be and coming from how learning works for them rather than from what someone in a position if power thinks they should do.

    It can’t just be a fantasy can it?

    • Reply Chad Dec 31, 2010 6:19 pm

      My son says:

      “Thank you. You could run a school system and convince the head teachers to take your idea and tell them what you think you want to have happen to the school system. I think my idea is pretty good. You could tell them that if you want.”

  4. Reply JoAnnJ68 Jan 1, 2011 4:38 pm

    Thank you! First discussion of the New Year! Seven was my favorite year & I still value what all kids have to say. It’s their education, it’s their time, let them have it.

  5. Reply Alyssa Jan 8, 2011 12:41 am

    i love the wisdom of children.

  6. Reply Rachelle Jan 9, 2011 9:14 am

    I’m your newest follower! Your son is lucky to have you for a dad. His thoughts and reflections remind me of the student-driven learning environment of Sudbury Valley School in Massachusetts. Schools should spend less time assessing children and more time listening to them.

    • Reply Chad Jan 9, 2011 10:52 am

      Rachelle, Alyssa, and Jo Ann – thank you so much for your comments! My son says, “Awesome.”

      Rachelle, I very much like the Sudbury model – in particular, I’m drawn to the way it supports reading instruction by embedding it in students’ interests. Reading isn’t first taught as a decontextualized end at a break-neck pace to meet annual benchmarks; instead it’s taught as a means to help a students desirous of reading about their interests. Over at the Coöp we’ve done a lot of thinking about Sudbury schools, democratic education, and home-/unschooling as they relate to and provide models for all learners, as well as for public schools.

      Thanks again to all of you for sharing your responses with my son – he’s thrilled to read them!

      All the best,

  7. Reply Brad Jan 28, 2011 12:36 am

    Love it, how much can I use in a high school class that is hell bent on standardized testing.

    • Reply Chad Jan 29, 2011 9:45 am

      Brad, what I always ask myself is, “How much am I willing to do?”

      My answers vary over time, with experience, and in proximity to testing season.

      I keep looking for other people to answer that question for me – to acknowledge my work or permit me my freedoms – but such answers are a long time coming and few and far between.

      I might start with negotiating with students – what do they want to learn, how are they willing to get feedback, and how are they willing to demonstrate their learning? If the steps you agree on at any of those sdtages can address your curriculum, it might be worth letting go of our adult testing anxiety to see what happens.

      I feel your question deeply and thank you for it.

      all the best,

  8. Reply Amy Jan 28, 2011 11:46 am

    I homeschool my kids until at least age 9. Some have stayed home until as late as 14.

    Why? So that they can write what they want to write, draw when they want to draw, play when they want to play and be nice, use Legos, change books and book groups, and otherwise figure out who they are and how they’ll stay who they are once they get out into “the real world.”

    As I work this morning, my 4yo has been drawing, getting herself water, playing tic tac toe (she hasn’t figured out 3 in a row yet and thinks the winner is the one with the most pieces, and she always goes first). My 7yo has been asking me to write words in cursive so she can copy them. My 12yo is preparing to enter a Performing Arts Magnet School next year, so she’s pushing herself through Key To math books, through finishing a 6th grade Language Arts program, and reading as much (fiction, history and science) as she can before she “doesn’t have time for that anymore.”

    Yesterday they used a Flip camera to make movies. All day long. They edited, added background music, did a little color correction, added titles and credits, and made sure that their story made sense and was engaging.

    • Reply Chad Jan 29, 2011 9:48 am

      Public schools have so much to learn from home-schooling. There is no practical reason we could not offer kids such control over their learning; the political and philosophical reasons against letting go of adult control over _kids’_ learning are sad.

      I’m totally enthused and inspired again to teach differently by how clearly your kids demonstrate their love of learning and willingness to be responsible for the freedoms they want to have, such as attending a specialized school.

      Thank you for sharing, Amy.

      All the best,

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