Saturday, May 23, 2015

Jesus, the Radical Rabbi

When we read the scriptures, we realize that Jesus was an unschooler.  He was a supporter of the Sudbury method.  He was a radical unschooler.  He was always doing things outside of the box.  He taught using the fig tree, fishing, and water from the well.  He encouraged the respect of children (remember "suffer the little children to come unto me?? or "Let no man despise thy youth"?).  He taught by living (remember when he washed the disciples feet or when he taught them how to pray?).  God believes in the power of children (remember "from the mouths of babes, God has ordained perfect praise" or when he called Jeremiah, Daniel, Joseph, David, and Samuel who were all just young boys?  Even Mary the mother of Jesus was a little girl.).  All of these are examples of how we feel non-traditional teaching, unschooling or even the Sudbury model are not against scripture.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Wait for it...Wait for it...

I can understand why people are so hesitant about letting children think for themselves. Trying something like the Sudbury model in the child's school and home takes a lot of time and patience. It is natural for us to have this apprehension waiting for the light bulb to turn on in a child. Why? We would rather teach them to memorize a whole bunch of stuff so we can quickly move them through the various stages of school instead of taking the time to cultivate their ability... to think for themselves. We would rather just tell them what to do (or do it for them) so we can go on with our lives. When you start creating a school environment or home environment that encourages children to think and be responsible, caring human beings, you lose a lot of time waiting for them to get there. HOWEVER, every time you give a child's mind a chance to expand through making their own decisions, teaching themselves, thinking for themselves, their brain advances a zillion steps and soon they can learn and understand so much information in a short amount of time. And every time you give a child's heart and soul time to care about others within a community you expand their heart a trillion sizes. We just have to learn to be patient while this process takes place...It's different for every child and you cannot compare one child against another. How many of you are willing to be patient as your child or student works through this process? How many of you are willing to NOT be insecure when your friends brag about how much their child has memorized or how well their child did on a standardized test? How many of you are willing to not let family members put you down for allowing the child to develop at the pace God programed into them at conception? How many of you are willing to make "Love your neighbor as thyself" just as or even more important than the learning of math, science, reading, writing?

Friday, May 1, 2015

A Glimpse of Sudbury in a Christian Environment

Today was an example of how the Sudbury Model would look in a Christian environment. Even though I currently teach in a traditional Christian school, today I was able to get a glimpse of what The Living Water School would look like. It was Free Friday, where I try to implement the Sudbury Model as much as possible. Here's a run down of my day:
*3 girls decided to make a solar system and the whole time they understood that God designed it. They presented it to some 1st a...nd 2nd graders and they wondered how they knew so much.
*a few students wanted to sit with me and read The Magicians Nephew together. We read and discussed it. No grading just pure enjoyment.
*A group of kids wanted to sing God's Not Dead by the Newsboys. So they started singing it and we sang along. We then ran to the computer and watched the video. Kids started dancing and praising around the room.
*This morning they asked if we could watch a video about Jesus and his disciples. Everyone wanted to, so we did. Then kids decided to create art projects that told the story.
*Some kids wanted to go to the school library so I let them. Others followed.
*They then decided they wanted to go on the computer. Most worked in pairs, but one child wanted to work alone, so I let him.

*Then back in the classroom some students did a word find on my kindle and started cheering when they found all the words, others were playing the recorder, some decided to read a book to each other.
These were random happenings...the schedule and activities totally developed by the students. They worked alone, in groups as a whole class...whatever they wanted. All within a Christian environment and it was glorious. It is not perfect, but it gave me a glimpse. We've been doing this for a while, ever since I visited Fairhaven School and fell in love with this model. I've been teaching for 20 years...have 3 masters in education and finishing a PhD and feel this is probably one of the most cutting edge, yet effective ways to have kids learn. A 1st grader and a 2nd grader asked me why my students (who are in kindergarten) know so much. A teacher told me, "your kids are such leaders...they like to tell others what to do." They are confident in themselves. Another teacher tells me "Your kindergarteners are really thinkers...they can actually read and comprehend..." I felt good. I am excited. It's hard to trust and believe that this can happen. But it can happen! Trust the child...don't stifle the child. Counting down. September 2015!

Upcoming Info Session!

The Living Water School is a new school opening in Temple Hills, MD for the 2015 school year! We follow the Sudbury model within a Christian environment. Within a Christian school culture, students are free to design their educational journey. Our next information session is Sunday, May 3, 2015 from 3 pm to 4 pm at the National Golf Club (300 Saint Andrews Drive Fort Washington, MD 20744). Now enrolling ages 4 to 12 (ages 13-19 coming in 2016)! We also offer homeschool supervision for ALL homeschoolers, even those who follow more non traditional philosophies like unschooling.