What a School Should Teach
Beatrice came home from Randolph School a few weeks ago with a ball of yarn bouncing behind her and a long woven… something, hanging from her fingers. She explained how she had learned to knit this object using only her fingers as a loom, and then proceeded to spend hours upon hours of the next few weeks finger knitting, creating more and more woven objects that grew longer and longer on each try. She totally owned this activity- She felt competent at it, she could see tangible results, and it totally engaged her.
At the same time I also realized that on the Upstairs playground she had suddenly gone from a monkey-bar novice (like her dad) to a full on, upside-down-hanging, twisting-arounding, back-and-forthing, fearless monkey-bar machine. She was making up tricks. She was doing one-handed things. She was closing her eyes. She was going backwards on purpose. She felt really, really good about herself.
While finger-knitting and monkey bars don’t normally find their way into conversations about education, it seems to me that these are the most vital things for my child to be learning at school right now. When a child applies themselves to these type of activities, their whole presence starts to seem bigger. Their focus tightens and their confidence jumps. They seem more able to occupy their time more constructively, and they start seeking out challenges all around them. They learn, for themselves, that trying hard and practising bring positive results. It is a growth of spirit that cannot be fed simply by teaching the “three R’s”, and that cannot be tested or evaluated on paper.
What do you think is important for children to learn in school? Right now, finger-knitting and monkey-bars are at the top of my list.