Think Tank

IF not now, then when? If not us, then who?

Two of my Littles do not march to the beat of the school drum. In other words, the daily goings on of school does not capture the depths of their attention and it has been this way since preschool. They are often found daydreaming or off task. They are often intrigued by other things in the class like how fast can I tap my pencil or can you make something out of the erasers. And then there are times when they are actively engaged in the lesson, they share their out of the box thinking (that does not appears to be connected to the lesson), and no one responds to their thinking.

These Littles want more than school says they should want.

I worry about these two (and all the other Littles who are just like them). I don’t want them to get lost or labeled in the system because they didn’t march to the beat of the school drum. So I’m on a quest to think about ways to teach all children regardless of the drumbeat they march to. I’m not looking to start a special school because that would be a form of segregation (they are different so let’s create a school just for kids like this). Additionally, I know that in order for my Littles to be successful, they have to learn to work with everyone, not just others who think like they do. What I want to do is to re-imagine, re-envision the current school system. So my questions are how can we re-imagine school so that my two Littles can participate in a learning environment that notices, values, and honors what they have to offer wherever they live? How can this learning environment be replicated in all schools? How can school notice, value, and honor the talents that each child brings to the school? One of the things I know kids love to do is play. But play has no role in school. Why? What if teaching and learning happened while playing? Could a school be designed around play? What would it look like? Feel like? Sound like? Would you want to be in that environment everyday?

I’m not sure if these are “the questions” we should be trying to answer but I’m hoping that by just posing these questions it will slow us down, allow us to step back, and try to shift our perspective in order to clearly examine what is happening in schools. I know there isn’t one right answer to this issue but I’m hoping that by engaging others to think about it collectively we may be able to come up with ideas that might work in our unique situations that will help us do school so that the Littles do not slip through the cracks.

There are schools already doing these things. However, there are not enough schools engaging children in learning in ways that notice, value, and honor who children are. What are they doing that we want to happen in all schools? So I’m calling all makers, educators, students, parents, and anyone who reads this, to weigh in. Share your thinking and your questions. How can schools create environments where all students are noticed, valued, and honored? How can tapping into the talents children bring to school support the children as they develop into productive citizens? What will happen if we give them the space to just be?

If you choose to engage in the conversation around this idea, there are a few conditions I ask that you consider before posting:
• Suspending judgment allows us to do the work of problem solving.
• This discussion is focused on trying to solve a problem that impacts every neighborhood, community, city, state, the country and the world.
• This is about the Littles in your life!

Here are some other questions I have on this issue:

• How do you feel about the conditions of learning at your school?
• How do you explain the conditions of learning to your children?
• How are you preparing your children to address the conditions of learning?
• Why are so many children disengaging with school?
• How do schools re-engage children?

Let’s start the movement for a better tomorrow for our Littles! If not now, then when? If not US, then who?

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