Today’s article is entitled “Making Education Brain Science,” written by Jenny Anderson and published in the New York Times. You can find the article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/15/nyregion/at-the-blue-school-kindergarten-curriculum-includes-neurology.html?_r=1. This article explores the alternative teaching methods used at an elementary school in Manhattan named the Blue School. This school attempts to use current research related to child development to develop its curriculum and has an increased and intentional focus on emotions and developing social skills.
It was particularly interesting for me to read about the field trip to the aquarium described in the article. The students were going to the aquarium, ostensibly, to learn about sharks. But the article makes it clear that the true focus of that trip was as much on planning the activity, as it was on participating in the activity. It seems that this type of experiential learning could be highly beneficial for children.
I am extremely fortunate that my parents placed such a focus on my education, telling me when I was looking at colleges that money was not an object when it came to my education, despite the fact that I do not come from a wealthy family. And, unquestionably, I received one of the best educations that money can buy.
And while the schools I attended prepared me well for future success in many ways, it would have been helpful to have had classes that were more focused on thinking critically and questioning what we read and hear every day in the news. These are important skills that lead to future success on both a professional, and a social level. In a world full of cable news channels, working round the clock to tell us what we should be thinking and why – it is important to be able to think for oneself when surrounded by all the noise.
I am not a parent, so I have not had to make the difficult choice about where to send my kids to school, but I have observed close friends trying to navigate these complex waters. Of course, school financing for public schools makes this all the more complicated. As wonderful as the Blue School sounds, it costs more than $30,000 per year – and that is just for elementary school.
Some questions that arose for me as I read this article: Have any of you chosen to send your kids to alternative schools? What type of alternative school? Do you think that public schools should have more flexibility to use these types of alternative teaching methods? Do you have concerns that many schools seem to just be “teaching to a test,” and may not have the flexibility to focus on some of the other critical skills that a balanced adult needs to function in society? And how in the world do parents afford to send their kids to school?
As usual, I imagine that those of you reading this will have much more insight into this issue than I, so please feel free to raise other issues that come to mind for you.
Thanks for reading!