What is normal?

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “The New School.”

I really like this idea. We all have ideas about what the ‘perfect’ school looks like. Some are all excited about academic pursuits. Some about artistic. Even further, some are excited to all students ‘be who they are’. I think for me, the New school should be about all of that.

I’ve got 3 children and each is so drastically different from the other. My oldest is gregarious and academically minded. She also enjoys music. My middle child is more inclined toward athletic and energetic pursuits. My youngest is all about service. Having such a small sample size inclines me to believe that school should be about teaching all of our kids the same thing. Every child needs to learn how to learn. It shouldn’t be about rote memorization or even solely experiential. It should be a combination of all the learning styles.

I personally do well learning by a combination of reading and doing. I’ve learned my best lessons by failing. Our current academic system is set up to teach by comparison. You are in the 98th percentile or you are in the 48th percentile, etc. It is measured by tests that by various standards have shown that all children may not be on equal footing just in the way the tests are designed. If we truly want our children to succeed, we need to allow them the freedom to fail.

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I think another important thing to do is also allow children to explore. Exploration takes a couple of different routes. I explored my world through literature. Surround the children with books. Let them read and learn and escape. Additionally, they also need places to experiment safely. Give them space and materials to learn how the world works. And then places to play. Play with colors and toys and each other. Exploration in our current school system is prescribed and focused on pre-determined outcomes to determine if children can follow rules. We lose out on so much creativity when kids don’t get to explore with only limited rules for safety. We teach our children to be obedient, rather than innovative.

I suppose that’s my two cents worth. We shouldn’t be about creating normal people. If we truly want to excel in this world, we need to teach our children to be who they are.

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