Monday, September 28, 2009

disruptive learning continues

Today in the Clear Spring school yard, we made rock hound hammers to use in the student study of rocks and minerals. Next week we will finish the sieves and make chisels.

We did our work in the school yard this morning because our van is in the shop getting the transmission fixed. It is a disruption. So we shift gears and figure out other ways to keep going and maybe learn just a bit more in the process.

Last week the kids arrived at the wood shop asking me whether I liked meerkats or weasels best. It was a discussion that the kids were very excited about and that they had been engaged in on the van ride from the lower campus to the woodshop. I didn't understand what they were talking about until today and to understand the question, meerkat or weasel, you would have to know just a bit about disruptive learning.

In many schools, they will tell you that they have a "zero tolerance policy" for "disruption." Last week the 4th 5th and 6th were supposed to study charts, analysis and comparison of data during their math time and the teacher was prepared for that lesson. The discussion that the kids started amongst themselves over which they loved most, meerkats or weasels fit right in. While most teachers would be required to follow the prescribed curriculum, at Clear Spring, the teacher is free to make use of the small disruptions that arise, making what the kids learn relevant to their world and world view. Not only did the kids get their lesson in math, utilizing the love of meerkats and weasels to make the lesson relevant to them, they also pursued their interests in the two animals and found that they are distantly related. So what do the kids really learn from all this besides zoology and math? That their own interests matter. That lesson plans are not so sacred as to override individual learning interests and enthusiasm.

The small disruptions that lead to successful learning prevent the large disruptions of kids leaving school uneducated and disinterested. The photo above is of the kids being silly with their rock hound hammers.


  1. Anonymous5:23 AM

    The kids in the picture were having a Three Stooges moment! And by the way, is it meerkats or weasels for you?


  2. Meerkats or weasels is a very tough choice. On the one hand, meerkats are very cute. On the other, weasels are much better known in literature. The Redwall series of books is one that comes in at that age and is well read by CSS students. Weasels are villainous participants in those great books, very much like pirates. and who doesn't like pirates?