These are the words I heard as I closed the door of my four year old daughter’s bedroom. I could hear the pure joy in her voice as she uttered these words, however as these words sunk in to my mind, I was surprised when I was overcome with a feeling sadness.
Don’t’ get me wrong, I’m thrilled that my girls are loving preschool so much, but Bella’s words made me wonder what her school years beyond preschool would bring. Will she have teachers who value going outside, free choice and making things? Or, will she be a victim of the status quo, the pressure of standardized assessments or an industrial age mindset of learning?
I ran downstairs and wrote down her words so I wouldn’t forget them. As I wrote the words, I began to reflect on my own teaching, my own school and the state of education. Then I started to think about life. I pondered my favorite things to do as an adult? I love to go running…OUTSIDE, I love when I have FREE CHOICE to be in charge of my own learning (that’s why I love twitter so much) and I also love creating and trying new things-you know, that “MAKING something out of nothing feeling”.
What if school was designed around these three simple things…outside, free choice and making things? Imagine if we structured schools in which there was purposeful outside time, free choice (not a free for all) and where we trusted kids to make things. What if teachers really were facilitators of passions? What would our children be able to accomplish? What questions would they answer?
I think we continue to inch closer to this vision of education but why haven’t we completely taken the leap? We need to continue to follow the lead of educators who are not afraid to try something new and believe in kids.
This October, Hilliard City Schools, in partnership with the Columbus Museum of Art, will host its first Cardboard Challenge as part of the World Wide Day of Play. This challenge, inspired by the story of Caine’s Arcade will bring children and families together to create whatever they can imagine from cardboard and tape. What a great way to spark creativity! What a great way to find out where our imaginations can take us.
After we experience this event, my challenge will be to determine how we as educators can bring this kind of learning to our classrooms more often, to create opportunities for purposeful play and creativity. Bella’s words will keep me focused, “My favorite thing about school is outside, free choice and making things.”
I think she speaks for us all.