Wednesday, March 27, 2019

What Makes A Classroom State-Of-The-Art?

Yesterday, my friends at Fairy Dust Teaching, started a discussion on their Facebook page with a prompt:

Honoring Children . . . 

-is not about whether you have plastic or eliminate plastic from your classroom

-is not about how aesthetically pleasing your classroom is or is not

-is about the children in your classroom being co-constructors in their education process

-is about your view of the children as having rights as a full member of the classroom, school, and larger community

What would you add?

There was a time when I felt that our facilities were inadequate, that we would never be a state-of-the-art preschool. I would look at the pictures of other schools, at their matching furniture, at their orderly shelves, at their larger rooms or "better" toys or more idyllic settings, and worry that this meant that we were somehow providing something less. The whole issue of plastic toys is one that really nagged at me. Of course, wood and metal is better, but not only could we never afford to throw out the all the plastic stuff our school has collected since 1977, I couldn't bring myself to toss perfectly good playthings. Indeed, the children at Woodland Park play every day on our playground with plastic things that are well over 20 years old, while our wood toys have rotted or rusted. 

Of course, I would prefer a purpose-built classroom, with out-of-sight storage instead of the jumble re-purposed furniture we've collected over the years via donations. Of course, I'd rather have a space with better flow from here to there or more quite spaces or a prettier entryway. There are songs we sing, sensory materials we use, and traditions we cherish that always remind me that there are those prepared to sit in judgement. I was even sometimes ashamed to allow colleagues to visit, fearing that they would consider us inadequate because we didn't live up to the latest ideas and theories, but those days are gone. Naturally, we are always looking for inspiration to improve, but it is a process, often a long process, of evolution, and I can today safely say that we will never be entirely rid of plastic, which I mean here as a metaphor for all of those "shoulds" and "should nots" that the self-proclaimed experts assert.

I've now had the opportunity to visit hundreds of fantastic schools all over the world. They are all different, they are all doing it "wrong," but they are all nevertheless fantastic because at bottom, they honor the children as fully formed, fully enfranchised, fully capable human beings. And in the end, that is all that matters: that's what makes a classroom state-of-the-art.

If you or someone you know is interested in joining the Woodland Park Cooperative School in Seattle, we are currently enrolling for the 2019-20 school year. Click here for information. There are still spots available for 2-5 year olds.

I've published a book! If you are interested in ordering Teacher Tom's First Book, click here. Thank you!

I put a lot of time and effort into this blog. If you'd like to support me please consider a small contribution to the cause. Thank you!
Bookmark and Share

No comments: