Letter to Cleveland.com: Cleveland schools could improve by using studies on how children learn and develop best

Cleveland schools could improve by using studies on how children learn and develop best
By Other Voices. October 08, 2009, 4:17AM http://tiny.cc/n9dAT

As recent Plain Dealer articles indicate, Cleveland schools chief Eugene Sanders is seeking ideas to improve the schools.

Here’s a novel idea: Develop schools based on how children learn and develop best.

1) Learn why traditional factory-style schooling is guaranteed to create widespread learning, motivational and behavioral problems.

2) Abandon factory schooling and study democratic learning approaches, which consistently work better for the goals we value most.

3) Design schools to meet children’s basic needs for safety, psychological security, belonging, enjoyment, power, freedom and competence. Hint: Nothing works over the long-term without Step 3.

4) Base much of each day on kids’ exploration, play, and questions about the real world, not on “academics.”

5) Assess based on real-world performances, not filling in ovals.

6) Run schools democratically. This is America; kids need practice.

The benefits? Fewer behavior problems and dropouts. It’s cheaper. Better understanding, real-world competence, maturity, problem-solving, creativity, people skills, and love of learning.

Karl Wheatley, Lakewood. Associate professor of Early Childhood Education and coordinator of Early Childhood Teacher Education in the Department of Teacher Education at Cleveland State University.

Good to hear Karl! Why not take this a little further and abandon the outdated school concept and introduce invitational, all-age community learning centres?

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