Mar 29, 2010

Progressive Schools 2.0

Oh... the end of March. Tomorrow I will have my last PTC (Parent Teacher Conference) for the 2009-2010 school year. Chicha is done with nursery. Bear's prep days are over. If you ask them, they'll tell you they had a lot of fun. Yes, school was fun.

The year she grew her first monggo plant.

Cloud, sun, house. Having fun with tangrams.

Their school directress Teacher Didi highlighted the word fun in her end of the school year address to parents. Definitely the kids had fun, she says, but she reminded us that in the process they learned... and learned a lot... and learned skills that are relevant to their lives and their futures. Literacy, check. Math, check. Science, check. Most importantly, she reminded us how the kids tucked in another year's experience in collaboration and another year of finding joy in learning -- and finding fulfillment in their work. In essence those were Teacher Didi's words, but unfortunately I have no verbatim transcript of her year-end speeches.

Cashiers of Bili Ka Bigas Ko. Name of bigasan their own idea.

The cutest tinderas in town.

Fortunately, I found this op-ed piece from the New York Times written by Susan Engel, Senior Psychology Lecturer and Director of the Program in Teaching at William's College. She wonderfully echoes the words of Teacher Didi. Any parent and teacher should read it as it highlights what developmental experts have known for so long about effective, authentic learning for children. Here's a snippet from Playing to Learn by Susan Engel....

In order to design a curriculum that teaches what truly matters, educators should remember a basic precept of modern developmental science: developmental precursors don’t always resemble the skill to which they are leading. For example, saying the alphabet does not particularly help children learn to read. But having extended and complex conversations during toddlerhood does. Simply put, what children need to do in elementary school is not to cram for high school or college, but to develop ways of thinking and behaving that will lead to valuable knowledge and skills later on.

Engel succinctly and eloquently explains why we had decided to put our kids in progressive schools like Explorations and Keys. So much gratitude goes to Chicha's Teachers Thrina, Aiza and Grace as well as Bear's Teachers Joy, Mandy and Timmy.

Teacher Aiza tries on her feathery hair clips.

Teacher Thrina borrows her pearls.

Thank you teachers for the rich conversations, for letting them use their imaginations, for allowing them to find the patterns and connections themselves, for obliging them their million-and-one questions. Thank you for those experiences you set up so that they constructed knowledge as opposed to just swallowing it -- just as Engel prescribes.

Keys Prep Days. Happy Days.

I mock-complained to Teacher Mandy when I had to skip eating rice for two entire days as part of Bear's "human experiment"... crazy teachers and your wild homework ideas! But really, this is what we love about you. You can bet he learned a lot during their theme investigation on rice. And he had fun.

As Bear read me his teachers' goodbye notes for him, longingly he said, very cuddly-bear-like... "I'm going to miss my teachers"... with lips curling downward and a tinge of sadness.

Chicha had asked me for the nth time "Do I have school tomorrow?" I explained -- again -- that she's on summer vacation. Her response: "this vacation is taking too long." That was just days into the summer break! That we were having a leisurely day at the mall involving a carousel ride and Golden Spoon yogurt when we had this conversation didn't matter... she was still thinking about how she missed school.

Yes my dearies, school was wonderfully fun. We're grateful because that's how it should be.


Cely said...

Aww! Wish I was a kid again! Your children are very lucky to have such dedicated teachers and a warm learning environment!

Oh, and by the way, what beautiful pics!

Nona said...

Thanks Cely : ) Happy for them. Hope you and Emma are well!