I spent more than 5 years in public school classrooms, both urban and suburban, and while I saw a lot of educators working their behinds off and engaging kids in valuable, essential learning, I also saw a lot of kids that were disenchanted by what school had to offer. After years in the public school system, many of the students that need school the worst had been taught one irrevocable truth: learning was not for them. And not just because school was too hard or too easy, but because it was often at odds with their interests and desires.
And then, in just the past few months, I’ve had my eyes opened to the world of schooling that happens beyond the walls of the traditional brick and mortar education. Suddenly, I saw living rooms, parks, co-ops, libraries, churches, and community centers as steady, stimulating learning environments. I saw parents confidently addressing the educational needs of their children without necessarily having the formal training to do so (my good friend, Becky, is among them). I saw how certain learning methods and perspectives could yield the type of student that regularly scores above the national average on an array of standardized tests and feels empowered as a lifelong learner. But what exactly were these families able to do that was so different? And what could we as public educators borrow from these homeschool classrooms–or any non-traditional or informal learning environment–that would be of benefit in our own? Here are the five things that stand out.
Via John Evans