It’s November – you know that time of year.. no, not holidays – but that time of year when the first big break from school starts happening – and parents begin assessing their child’s education and/or start pressuring others about their child’s education. It’s enough to give you an ulcer.
So last year I began a series on Progressive Education and invited different kinds of authors to present their experiences on progressive education. I’m going to reblog them.
And here’s the update, we are still at the same school. My ‘5th’ grader/Mid Level son is now in his first year of Jr High. I was a bit worried – there was community service volunteering to be done, more classes, more work, more participation, some essays and a final project. Would he be able to do all that? Would he actually choose to go to classes?
Frankly, I was blown away. He’s got his project underway, has completed half his community service volunteering and has ‘exceeded’ expectations of all his teachers. I keep wondering if it’s just temporary or I’m dreaming… but so far so good. This kid is growing up…and he’s engaged in his education – that’s all I can ask for.
So without further ado… please enjoy
A Leap of Faith – A Series on Progressive Education ~
Jumping Across the Abyss to Progressive Education
“We destroy the … love of learning in children, which is so strong when they are small, by encouraging and compelling them to work for petty and contemptible rewards–gold stars, or papers marked 100 and tacked to the wall, or A’s on report cards, or honor rolls, or dean’s lists, or Phi Beta Kappa keys — in short, for the ignoble satisfaction of feeling that they are better than someone else.”
– Alfie Kohh, Author, Speaker & Educator
It starts around late November, that niggling feeling that I might have made the wrong decision. I listen to the chatter around the Thanksgiving table. My stomach lurches.
- My child has made the honor roll again – so I bought her a new iPad
- My child is in the gifted program
- My child has 3 hours of tutoring every day after school, then martial arts…
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Rutabaga! Long time no see. How’s it going? i read your post and watched the presentation with interest. Personally I think you are right on on all aspects. Divergent thinking is the way to go and how you are bringing up your kids is perfect as far as I am concerned. I would make one suggestion and I’ll explain. why. The suggestion is this: if you haven’t done so already, have this discussion with your son. make sure he knows why he is being educated this way and what the alternatives are and what kind of outcome these alternatives produce in your experience..
This type of divergent decision making creates a serious push-back from those who are not trained this way and who will never understand why it is important – for, by definition, they cannot see the advatanges. I am trained in business and, before that training, I already believed in divergence In fact I have given it a huge amount of thought. Anyway, as a manager, as i grew (in experience) i managed more and more this way. In the case of business, the targets have to be made clear up front and then the employess have to be put in the driver’s seat to maximize their own efficiency and productiviuty. As a manager in this situation, i act as a resource person, helping to represent the employee needs to upper management, working to remove roadblocks from their way, encouraging them and, most importantly communicate, communicate, communicate 24/7. This communication includes rewards, recognition and reinforcement, statistics (you would be amazed how eager employees are to see real metrics and the evolving progress of those metrics – they will shatter every record you have) and involvement. Anyway the results of all of this is an amazing increase in productivity and efficiencies and moral.
Then there is the downside – and it is critical and cruel. All those who are not participating – i.e. other managers, other employees, upper management,, etc. will not and do not understand. They see that your employees ar treated differently without really understanding why. They will complain to their bosses, they will complain to you they will complain to the upper mgmt, and they will attack you (verbally) and fear you. Towards the end (I got promoted) I spent about 75% of my time defending my team. That was easy to do to upper mgnt with statistics – 250% percent increase in productivity, zero turnover, zero acccidents – to the point where our company received money back from the gov’t workers safety board, frigging scary low absenteeism, increased moral, increased safety and awards, decreased machine maintenance, etc, etc. It was for that that i got promoted. But they still didn’t undersatnd. I was constantly under barrage from other operations managers for supposed violations by my crew. stupid stuff like ” Where is Jim?” me: “I don’t know, why?” Them :’What do you mean you don’t know,, it is your job to know.” Me: ” No it isn’t, he could be anywhere in this warehouse and he has business to be there. My job is to get the job done and he is doing it the best way.” Them: ‘”You are a failure if you do not know where your employees are.” Conversations like that were common over every tiny detail.
Anyway, i could go on forever with examples (some very funny – like “Why is Jeff siting at the desk with his feet up and eyes closed? ” Me: “He is planning his work for the shift. He is thinking” Them: “That is lazy and disrespectful and you are doing nothing about it” They never mention the fact that Jeff consistently and daily outperformed his counterparts by a factor of two – and that once he settled on a plan and starrted to work he was like the Tasmanian devil – nothing stopped him. ha! My boss’s boss knew i was right, had seen the statistics and knew the reasons and still worried about the image and would whine; “Oh, for god’s sake paul, can’t he think with his eyes open and his feet on the floor?” Bwahahaha!
Anyway, your son will run into this for sure as he moves into the general population for specialized education and working. He may already be getting a hint of it and forewarned is forearmed. Just sayin’
Great post Rutabaga and super job in your kids educaion.
Thank you for that great insight on the importance of understanding the WHYs –
What a PIA for you to deal with all those other ‘doubting Thomas’ people stuck in an ‘old way’ of thinking. I work in a great company that allows us to be our own person as well and it makes us all work that much harder to make sure we work together and get things done without being prodded so we don’t lose those privileges.
My son understands that there are a lot of kids that come from public schools with some really harsh tales to tell – and I try to impress upon him what a unique opportunity he has in going there. But what really brought it home for him was when his class visited another school’s class (they were pen pals with this class) and he was floored that the kids had to sit at desks and couldn’t go to the bathroom unless it was a designated time etc… he was not impressed at all 🙂
I remember this series. I gotta be honest, I wouldn’t have gone to the classes and I doubt my kids would either.
That’s what all parents say – but you’d be surprised at what kids do once they get the “I’m going to skip all my classes” out of their systems. Doing nothing for 6 hours is boring.
My kid is not a ‘go getter’ and I am amazed at how he’s changing.
True. Boredom is even worse.
Ditching is really only fun when there’s an element of ‘danger’ to it – ‘getting caught’….
That was a great series you did. Glad to hear your son is doing so well!
Thanks Carrie! What’s up with you???
Not much. Conferences, writing, getting ready for Thanksgiving. Hope all is well with you. Have a great holiday!
you too! Seems we’re doing the thing… but I’m getting my coworkers ready for conferences —
Great news about your son!
Thanks! How’s it going with you? I’m so disconnected with everyone. I’ve sorta lost that blogging feeling as of late…
I’m good! Life is unbelievably settled at the moment, but I’m going to rectify that by getting a motorcycle next spring (hopefully).
Other than that, I’m writing more fiction, and still looking for things to jump off of.
I’m writing fiction (for a book) and working on some house projects.
A motorcycle eh? How’s that going over with the spouse? hee hee… Have fun with it! Can’t ride so much in the city like you can upstate…lots of country roads.
We came to an understanding about a bike, thanks goodness.
Of course, I’ll also be more padded than the Michelin Man when I ride, but that’s ok.