Tuesday, May 27, 2014

School is a lot like summer camp

When children are interested in learning for learning's sake, you know something is going right in their schooling.  Rewarding students for taking intellectual risks helps them develop a mastery mindset, where motivation and engagement are high, and performance anxiety is low.  Kind of like summer camp.

This article in Mind Shift, What Schools Can Learn from Summer Camps hits the mark on something I like to think about: how at Parker we try to make school a lot like camp.  Camp is fun and spirited.  Kids pick things they are interested in: rockets, outdoor survival, LEGO robotics, cool chemistry, or cartooning to name just a few.  They sing together and play in the woods.  They bond with friends and counselors.  They love camp!

At its best, school is like that, too.  Exciting and interesting - a place where you can take on something you're not sure you can do.  Friendships are forged in the throes of shared experiences, working out conflicts, and when teams figure out how to work together.  Students find out that taking a risk has huge rewards, whether they are successful or not.

At Parker, we are so fortunate that the natural elements are in place: the creeks and woods, the pond and meadows.  We have developed a program that turns those features into benefits: capitalizing on the natural world to help children develop their tolerance for risk-taking, life-long curiosity and the courage and confidence to explore.

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