Today I have quotes and comments on articles about letting kids play on snow days (I know, a repeat topic, but it's good to keep talking about this), ways that teachers can make school more enjoyable for kids, and what preschoolers need from grownups that they aren't getting (more playful learning, among other things).
Scott Wiley: "I fear our system has moved into a dangerous direction. Are we are more concerned about kids forgetting something that they "learned" in school because they are playing in the snow than encouraging them to enjoy what's happening outside their own doors? (Side note: If they forget it that quickly, did they really learn it?) We seem to be emphasizing knowing things over living life. Hmm. Not what I hope for the future leaders of our society."
Me: What can I say? Scott is echoing my own beliefs on this topic. Kids learn by playing. A snow day is the perfect opportunity to relax and let that happen. I wrote about this topic here.
Justin Minkel: "I often have a more modest goal for myself as a teacher, focused less on the future than the present. As a baseline, minimum requirement: Make sure school doesn’t suck...Our students don’t have that choice (of being there or not). They’re in class because they have to be. Let’s fill their days with as much joy, laughter, and purposeful work as possible. Let’s convey to the children in our class that we care about their lives, we’re interested in their ideas, and we enjoy their company."
Me: In this rather blunt piece, Minkel posits that while there are many less than fun things about school that teachers can't change, they can do three things to help: 1) leave recess alone; 2) talk less and listen more; and 3) stop yelling. I especially liked Minkel's point that taking away recess, especially for kids who are in school for a full day, is counter-productive.
Erika Christakis: "When you look at how kids learn, they learn when something is meaningful to them, when they have a chance to learn through relationships — and that, of course, happens through play. But a lot of our curriculum is organized around different principles. It's organized around the comfort and benefit of adults and also reflexive... I think the No. 1 thing is that children need (to foster in preschool is) to feel secure in their relationships because, again, we're social animals. And children learn through others. So I think the No. 1 thing is for kids to have a chance to play, to make friends, to learn limits, to learn to take their turn."
Me: I enjoyed this interview, and am interested to read Christakis's book: The Importance of Being Little. In the article, I particularly appreciated Christakis's defense of kids having plenty of unscheduled time. This is something that I KNOW my daughter thrives on, but the older she gets, the harder it is to protect that time.
For what it's worth, I also think that it's unfortunate that Christakis resigned from her teaching post at Yale (see the NPR article for details if you are not familiar with this controversy). I respect her choice, but I think that the students could have learned a lot from her.
Thanks for reading! I welcome your feedback on these and other topics related to growing more joyful learners.