Monday, July 15, 2013

Breaking the mold

On Friday I was witness to a wild game of Spartans vs Romans as kids ran through the woods between two gigantic fallen trees with spear-like sticks in hand.  "We are the Spartans and we are on the attack!"  A fleet of running children streamed into the Roman's tree when suddenly the cry rang out "Retreat!"

The utter joy and the crazy and spontaneous changes in the direction of runners, abandoned stand-offs, and altering fortunes of both sides made for thrilling viewing.  It reminded me of days in the (distant) past when I was a kid racing through backyards with abandon in the ever evolving games of a neighborhood throng.

In reading this article in MindShift, Breaking the Mold: School Fosters Design and Discovery I remembered what I love at Parker: the freedom to make school be about discovery, excitement and fun.  These past weeks at camp, kids have built shelters, gone tearing through the woods in "Capture the Chicken", labored through many iterations of design and programming to make a LEGO robotic dog's tail wag, and designed troll huts and fairy houses by the creek.  Everyone's imagination is sparked and everyone is participating and pushing themselves in some way.

The school year has more structure for sure, but the elements of choice within a theme and freedom within the structure remain.  Learning is richly full of questioning and imagination, with skill-building layered within to give students the tools to explore further.  Learning has a distinct purpose.

Education speaker Will Richardson says "We don't need schools to be better, we need schools to be really, really different."  Camp is a great model for how different  - and how exciting - learning can be.

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