Alliteration’s a lovely thing, and the point is still valid, if you take “chalk” to mean “inspiration.”
Of course, fewer and fewer classrooms use actual chalk today. In that respect this quote is becoming an anachonism. The transition, first to whiteboards and then to smartboards, started decades ago.
But teaching has been around a lot longer than smartboards, or even books or chalkboards. The bigger, older, more universal point is what a difference a teacher can make.
Nearly everyone has had that teacher. The one who paid attention, the one who took the extra time, the one who cared. The one we never forget. We’d like to think every child has at least one of those teachers, but the sad truth is that not everyone does.
We’re starting a new school year, so everyone involved in our schools has a new chance, either to get–or to BE–that teacher. Will this be the year?
IMAGE: Many thanks to SantaBanta for this image and quote.
Sometimes there’s no substitute for getting your hands dirty and learning from the ground up.
A parent volunteer with gardening experience works with children of all ages at the Oak Hill school, and helps teachers build lesson plans around their experiences in the garden.
This little video gives a glimpse of the massive potential for tying lessons to life experiences with the Teaching Garden at a Fairfax, VA elementary school.
Oak Hill is clearly a fairly upscale neighborhood (note: they still have the Teaching Garden in the 2016-2017 school year), but schools from all different parts of the country, and all different socio-economic levels, have adopted similar programs in the last two decades.
Unless they grow up on a farm, nearly all children lack understanding about where their food comes from. This goes double for children who live in food deserts.
Lincoln Park in Duluth, MN is a classic food desert: their last full-service grocery store closed more than 30 years ago. Read more about it here.
Food deserts, as you may know, are areas where healthy, affordable food is far away and hard to come by, especially if residents do not have convenient transportation. Food deserts all-too-frequently occur in minority communities, and can happen in both rural and urban environments. Food insecurity is everywhere.
Learning/teaching gardens have many lessons to teach in a variety of STEM disciplines.
Educators favor teaching gardens for other reasons, too. There’s much emphasis right now on the so-called STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) disciplines, and yes–there are guides for teaching STEM in learning gardens. Personally, I think STEM is incomplete without STEAM (add the arts), but that’s a topic for another post.
The Montessori approach of the educators fits well with the open classrooms and the children’s freedom of movement.
One favorite activity at Fuji School is climbing on the tree with the cargo nets.
This play area was built after the school was completed in 2007, but uses many compatible ideas.
The deck is a prominent part of the school’s design. The kids love to run there, but the government did require protective railings–no, school officials were told, they couldn’t put up nets around the edges instead.
Here’s a glimpse of the open classroom design of the school. Architect Tezuka asserts that the noise is healthy for small children. As a teacher who’s had to teach in noisy conditions, I’m less sure about that (of course, I was teaching high school, so that may be different).
“We must break the long-held expectation that schools exist to mold and manage kids,” he said in a CNN interview. “In today’s world, expecting every child’s education to be the same, progress at the same rate and be measured against the same narrow standards of performances is not just outdated, it’s a disservice to young people and the educators who dedicate their lives to helping them.”
This month we’ll look at some of the ways innovative schools and educators are trying to break out of that old-fashioned paradigm.