Goods and Services
I had a bit of a coffee klatch this morning with three of my good friends. We got together to discuss an article in The Atlantic Magazine about edible gardens. As things go, we veered off on the subject of our kids' education. One of us sends her two kids to a rigorous Catholic school, another sends one of her children to the local public school, one to a charter and the third to Catholic school. The third woman sends both of her children to private schools and I have two in a charter school and one in a special education class at a regular public school. Whew. It was complicated even typing it out. I have to say that I'm sick to death of the public/private school debate and I generally want to lay my head down and weep when the topic comes up because the "problems" discussed are inevitably dwarfed by the realities of "educating" my severely disabled daughter. But that's another post entirely...
What I do want to post about is the extraordinary power of my sons' charter school education and how happy we all are to have made the switch from a rigorous, albeit traditional parochial school. The school we now attend has a constructivist approach which in layman's terms can be summed up as an enquiry-based developmental curriculum. Basically, the children are learning the basics but in a very dynamic way. I know that many would dismiss the methods as too loosey-goosey (frankly, I did the same when I first heard about the school), but as we are halfway through our second year, I firmly believe that not only are my boys learning the basics, they are thriving in such an experiential setting.
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When my boys got into the car this afternoon after school, my third grader immediately launched into how he had the best day ever. Despite his older brother's dramatic eye-rolling and audible groans, he chattered on and on about the project they had done that day for their social studies class. Evidently, the class has just begun a segment on economics and worked today on a project where they made a good (in this case a paper bookmark with markers and paper and scissors and tape) and learned about shortage and need and buying and selling and trading. He literally talked about it non-stop until we pulled into the driveway fifteen minutes later and his brother shouted at him to stop. The third-grader is a boy who generally climbs into the car after school with a scowl on his face and a shriek or two about how hungry he is and how I didn't cut up his apple in his lunchbox. I'm sure you know the drill. Even the big brother grudgingly admitted that he had never had that much fun learning about goods and services when he attended a more traditional school. Still chattering, the younger brother followed me into the house and pulled out some of the goods: white bookmarks with smiley faces at the top. He then pulled out his homework sheet and started working on it right away, another shocker that might mean less about the constructivist approach and more about the possibility that I have a son destined to be a merchant. Or a plumber: