Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The longer school day.

There is a national debate about the effectiveness of a longer school day. If it makes room for recess it might not be such a bad idea. But educators might want to look more seriously at Finland. In the international PISA testing, the students of Finland have regularly thrashed American students, and they have far more recess time and less time in school than do the students in the US.

The following is from an editorial by Finnish educator Pasi Sahlberg describing how Finnish schools differ from American schooling.
" constitutes a significant part of individual growth and learning in Finnish schools. Every class must be followed by a 15-minute recess break so children can spend time outside on their own activities. Schooldays are also shorter in Finland than in the United States, and primary schools keep the homework load to a minimum so students have time for their own hobbies and friends when school is over."
Perhaps instead of lengthening the school day, we should look at a more comprehensive approach. We know that the things we've each learned that had maximum and lasting impact on our understanding were those things we learned hands-on. Can we not use that idea to reinvigorate all schooling?

Yesterday at Clear Spring School, the 4th, 5th and 6th grade students formed a solar system on the school playground. Even serious schooling can take the form of play. Each student was assigned the role of a planet. And when they were organized began to orbit.

Today at Clear Spring School, my first, second and third grade students will whittle pens and begin making boxes.

Make, fix, and create...

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