Schooled for Peace, Creativity, Humanity and Prosperity
If I were designing a new school, I would make it as experiential as possible. Maths would include hands-on experiences. Children would learn to add and subtract by making change and algebra and geometry would be taught by application to real situations–building or designing jewelry or figuring out how high a wall must be built to block a neighbor’s view. My own education was good, but I never really knew the real purpose of algebra and geometry, even though I won the school math prize!
Chemistry, also, would be taught by showing its application to everyday life–the chemistry of cooking and cleaning, the effect of different fertilizers and pesticides in the garden as well as chemicals in the house. The interrelation of chemicals and pollution to health and safety would be made common knowledge among students and field trips would be taken to demonstrate the dangers of pollution.
Every student would be taught music and music theory, because I know it has a huge effect on math skills and those skills translate to other subjects as well. All students would be encouraged to try different forms of art–sculpture, clay and graphic design as well as drawing and painting. It is my belief that everyone has some artistic skill if they can just find their own particular medium.
Children would be taught a foreign language beginning in nursery school and both boys and girls would take shop and learn basic elements of electricity, plumbing and building. And, dance.
But the main thing that I would insist be taught is communication skills. In every class, group communication would be stressed, and students would be given grades not only according to their own discussion skills, but also in listening and it being responsible in encouraging others to speak. In small group discussions, students would take turns recording the flow of conversation, recording how many times each person spoke, how many times they asked questions of other students to draw them into the conversation and in listening skills. I actually used this system when I was a teacher and it worked remarkably well. Students developed more respect for each other and there was less bullying when students knew their own grade depended upon including everyone in the conversation and respecting the comments of others.
I believe in incorporating activities that encourage ethics, kindness and a consideration of the needs and values of other people. Schools are currently so tied up in standardized testing and performing to a norm that teachers are somewhat hindered in their creativity and the teaching of subjects not directed toward rote learning and performing to purely academic ends, and I think students suffer by this.
Extracurricular subjects often center around competitive sports, many of which are violent in nature and which teach kids to win at all any cost. Better that they be taught to win at being human beings and to learn to accept the differentness of others. Perhaps this might help to make a more peaceable world or at the least, a peaceable society.
Yes, call me a dreamer, but better dreams than nightmares!
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “The New School.” You get to redesign school as we know it from the ground up. Will you do away with reading, writing, and arithmetic? What skills and knowledge will your school focus on imparting to young minds?
I chose this prompt offered as an alternative to today’s prompt.