In my last newsletter, I wrote about the differences between fitting in and belonging and the challenge that we, as a community, are faced with in building a caring, warm, and accepting environment that supports student differences and empowers their voice.
Earlier this week, Bonnie Kuo recommended that I listen to a podcast entitled Kinder-Gardening. The host interviewed Alison Gopnik a psychology and philosophy professor at Cal who wrote, The Gardner and the Carpenter. *You can listen to the podcast here http://n.pr/2yiG7ta .
Alison had a number of compelling things to say about parenting…and the history of parenting, two comments stood out. First, around 22:50 she mentions that young children learn through play. We recognize and wholeheartedly agree with this statement. She then dropped a powerful statement and said that older kids learn best through apprenticeships. And I think this deserves some further research on our part. It is unclear what age she is referring to for apprenticeships, so I’ll read her book and get back to you shortly.
Earlier this week, David Patton stopped by to share the NY Times article, ‘Bringing in Risk’ to Build Resilience. If you haven’t already read it, it’s worth a few minutes of your time and I’ve attached a link to the article here (http://nyti.ms/2pbk4CP ). It may amuse you to look at the pictures because I immediately noticed similarities between these “new” practices in England, Australia, and Canada that have long been a part of student experience. “The shift to seeing some benefit in risk, advocates say, signals the end of a decades-long drift toward overprotecting children.”
What is even more interesting to me is how this article aligns so nicely with the podcast. As Alison shares, “I think the science suggests that being a caregiver for human beings is…much more about providing a protected space in which unexpected things can happen than it is like shaping a child into a particular [king? Should this be kind?] of desirable adult.”
In addition to supporting students with risk taking in the classroom and on campus, it was interesting to watch students who chose to participate in today’s walkout for 17 minutes. What began as a conversation in the 8th grade, grew into in class conversations, led by the 8th grade students. They differentiated the topics depending on the age of the kids, and covered topics from honoring the 17 students who were killed to creating safe school environments for everyone.
Some students chose to leave their classrooms and walk around the block in a peaceful act of civil disobedience, while others decided to stay. Parents and teachers were on hand to support the students and ensure that they were safe. And across the board all students voices were heard and honored both by the adults and students.
Frankly, this is one of the many reasons why I am so grateful to be part of our community. We endeavor to provide a safe space for students to explore and try new things, behaviors and ideas that fosters creativity and supports difference. This in and of itself is risky and consistent with what we believe in giving our students every opportunity to grow and learn so it’s nice to hear that our practice has the added benefit of furthering resilience in children. And hopefully sends a message that they are important and that they can make a difference.
— See a problem. Do something about it.