Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Viva la (Educational) Revolution! (And Start with Kindergarten)

Further to Sir Ken's feeling that education needs a radical transformation to meet the needs of today's learner in today's world, I am excited by some of the changes that are happening in my little district.

The whole "Think Globally, Act Locally" mantra springs to light here.  Trying to change the whole world by yourself can be daunting (and not just in footwear fashion), but trying small things yourself is more manageable and you can begin to see and feel the changes yourself.  It is also inspiring to see teachers around me innovating and creating.  When you see it happening in the next classroom or the next school, you think, "Yeah, I can do that!" or even, "Hmmm, that won't work for me."  There are lots of things happening in my district from which I have the luxury of picking and choosing.

The implementation of full-day kindergarten has been an interesting journey.  It sparked lofty debate about whether such young people should be in school that long, or at all; the parents had more immediate concerns such as, "Who is going to supervise my kid when he's out on the playground with the other hundreds of kids?"  But despite the controversial beginnings, full-day kindergarten has forces my district to look carefully at what it does and why we do things.  Instead of merely doubling the kindergarten curriculum or extending downward the grade 1 curriculum, my district has explored different ways of doing things, such as: individualized learning, learning through play, and project based learning.  Granted these kinds of things existed before, but only in pockets, and usually from individual teacher's (or school's) experimentation.  We've never come out and said before, "This is the way we're going to do things.  This is the basis of our new system." 

I find that really exciting.  Of course, one of the changes that the new kindergarten rooms is making is the change in classroom atmosphere.  They are using a less structured, less industrial, more organic approach that for obvious reasons, appeals to me.  This is not change for the sake of change, in terms of just mere window dressing.  We're talking about a radical change in how we do things.  This is not your father's model of education.  It should look different.

Below, there are some pictures that show what some of these new kindergarten classes look like:

My transformation of education (seemingly) started with the physical, the classroom space.  I say seemingly because I've been wanting to change the way I teach and have tried lots of different things, but this beginning seems to be the most accessible to me.  For kids, the classroom setup is more obvious to them that things are changing, and they have responded positively to those changes.

My revolution will continue.

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