Think Outside the School Box

With all the news about schools opening or going back to online learning I am thankful that my child is old enough to control her own learning. I feel for my friends and family with younger children who are still faced with the uncertainty that the fall will bring.

I got to thinking about how the fall semester could be something exciting and different rather than the same old curriculum forced into an awkward way of learning. What if you just didn’t worry about traditional subjects and used real life as the tool for learning this year. Kids can still keep up with math and reading, just in different, practical ways.

What if you and your child learned how to do every adult thing you need to learn to survive; how to do your own tax returns, repair a dish washer, change the oil in a lawn mower and sharpen the blades, cook a soufflé, hem a pair of pants and sew on a button, read a balance sheet and evaluate stocks, research political candidates stances on issues, grow vegetables, make and can homemade strawberry preserves, create a budget and live on it, learn to code, refinish furniture, paint a room, learn how to answer the phone and carry on a conversation, interview an older person about their childhood, learn how to make change, how to put the chain back on a bicycle, how to take someone’s temperature with an old fashioned thermometer, how to do CPR, how to service a vacuum, change the air filters in the house, how to stop a leaking faucet, make a family tree with a description of each person, debone a chicken, read music, do the laundry including removing stains, read a paper map, navigate with a compass, identify trees, learn every bone and organ in the body, do calligraphy and the list goes no forever.

If your child has a passion for something they could do a deep dive into one subject and really master it. They could build a one room building, or make a documentary, write a cookbook and test every recipe or design and sew a wardrobe. With you tube there are experts out there you can teach you anything you want to know. For kids they would develop good research skills. As long as they treat the time like a job and work at whatever they do for a good portion of everyday.

Another idea to flip learning on its head for older kids would be for them to read the 100 great books. They might not have time to read and discuss all of them, so maybe read ten of the greatest books a month.

It seems like we could also harness regular TV to teach kids. Rather than having thousands of math teachers trying to do Algebra instruction over zoom, we could get a couple of the greatest to make TV programs and show it on regular broadcast TV which almost everyone has access too.

It seems like there are a lot of things educators could do differently in this different time. I know it all sounds like a lot of work, but just don’t stress and learn anything. If there is an issue that kids might be missing out on a grade specific skill they should be mastering this year just plan now on repeating that grade next year. Since everyone is in the same situation it won’t really matter. If there is one thing this year has taught us it is that life is not a race. It is OK to adjust your plan to suit the situation. I bet that kids of every age would remember and use what they learned during the pandemic for their whole life if they change up what they are learning.

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