And we’re off!

It has been an amazing two weeks! We have spent most of our time getting to know each other and becoming accustomed to the flow of our day. It has taken us some time to get into the groove of our schedule, but we are settling in, transitions are going smoothly, and we are excited to delve deeper into our exploration of the arc theme, “Connections”. We started this school year with the understanding that our plans would adapt to meet the needs of our group and we knew that this might take some time. Our school will always be a masterpiece in progress. Thank you for being so supportive and patient with us!

Some of you have asked me why our children spend so much time “doing art.”  At IDEA School, we strongly believe that our kids want to do meaningful, creative, and authentic work. In the K-3 years especially, children’s projects are hands-on and over time become more and more detailed and elaborate.

Our children are learning to use many different creative tools, not just paint brushes and clay; but, most recently, pvc pipe and wire! Children who are pre-literate use their art as a means to express themselves. We model for them the practice of adding text to their work. Our older children’s projects require more sustained focus and complex calculation. We assist them in researching, measuring, calculating, and documenting their work. We are constantly planning authentic provocations, relevant experiences, and posing meaningful problems. There is a Fred Roger’s quote that states that play is the work of children.  We believe you can say the same about creative expression and experimentation.

This is quite a contrast to the traditional school classroom where creative pursuits are isolated to a short time period once a week and in many schools may not even happen at all! Inspiration and exploration is offered in the form of worksheets and textbooks. Children are expected to write on topics chosen by the teacher and math is taught like a foreign language, without any consideration for its applicability to real life problems. Many teachers use the short amount of outside time as bait to get students to finish their work and, as a result, learning becomes a means to an end. My first couple of years teaching were spent working diligently to mass produce copies of  teacher or publisher generated literacy and math activities for the children in my class. Even then, I was aware of the fact that most of the work students spent their time on was more entertainment than engagement.

Our children are creating their own curriculum. They are getting to know each other in authentic ways by interacting and collaborating. Have you seen them lately? Their fires have been lit and they’re ready to learn.