Saturday, May 08, 2021

learning family style...

Our lower elementary school teacher Rigdon, has a chart on the white board in his room on which his students have listed the various things they're good at. The idea is in part that when they finish their work, instead of insisting on starting something new and that their teacher provide that for them, they can offer their skills to assist others, and those who may need help know to which fellow student they might turn. That's the way things work in families. And that's the way things worked in Pestalozzi's novel Leonard and Gertrude, centered on the life of Gertrude, a mother who taught her own children in a manner that caught the attention of the local duke. 

The success of Pestalozzi's novel brought him fame through which he attempted to build a series of demonstration schools of his own. His book, How Gertrude Teaches Her Children was his attempt to revolutionize schooling, particularly for the poor.

So what was so important about Gertrude's method? Think for a moment or longer of the one room school house with children of various ages and abilities, each responsible to the teacher and also to the success and well-being of every other child in the room. Two of the mistakes made in schooling are the division of students by age into classes, and the division of what they are supposed to learn by proposed grade level. These leads to a rushing through, with some kids leaping ahead and some left behind scratching their heads.

At the Clear Spring School we have powers unavailable to more conventional schools, and the pandemic has provided both inspiration and opportunity for us to leap ahead and be bold in ways most schools would not dare. In June we're planning a return to the one room school house concept, dividing the student body in three with each third being a multi-age group in which, as in a family, each child will assist the learning needs and development of each other.

I'm excited about this new and very old development in education, as I know Pestalozzi would be also as we are poised to offer the revolution Pestalozzi had in mind.

The photo shows my student Grady with his expanding sloyd trivet. Grady says, that as the son of a carpenter he has "woodworking in his blood," so he's one I'll be counting on to help others.

Make, fix and create. Assist others in learning lifewise.

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