Peter Gray presented some data about the correlation between anxiety in children and the school calendar in an article in his Freedom to Learn series.
“Kids are people,” Gray writes, “and they respond just as adults do to micromanagement, to severe restrictions on their freedom, and to constant, unsolicited evaluation.”
I thought a chart might make it easier to digest, so I put this one together via Google Sheets.
This looks only at data from the Hartford Connecticut Children’s Mental Center. I’d love to see this on a national scale, for specific cities and regions, and–though I can’t imagine how the data would be collected–from school to school (including homeschoolers and unschoolers).
My kids are always starting businesses. They aren’t often successful businesses, but I love their effort and their indomitable spirit.
The lemonade business has been pretty good, but only when they time it right. The front-yard restaurant was surprisingly successful despite them selling only imaginary food. But the rock business! That one was horrible.
Both my kids love rocks. They don’t love rocks so much that they’d be willing to buy one, but their love for rocks is so strong that they believe other people would gladly pay 50¢ for any one of the small stones they’ve pulled from the creek behind our house.
Two winters ago, when the lemonade business wasn’t really a good option, they set up their rock stand and tried selling to passers-by. Whenever anyone would get close, Alex would shout, “Rocks for sale! Get your cool rocks here!”
Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough foot traffic for them to get any real traction, so they decided to take their game on the road. They bagged up the rocks, and started walking around the neighborhood. I tagged along.
Last week, a handful of parents joined us for an informal discussion about children, schools, and learning. Thank you to those who were able to come, and thanks also to the many more who asked to be informed of future get-togethers. Here are the slides from my brief presentation that evening.
Lately I’ve grown particularly interested in the subject of learning. If you’re interested in a not-so-mainstream take on learning and childhood development, I encourage you to check out the following:
Richard Louv’s Last Child in the Woods, 2008
New York Times: Can the Right Kinds of Play Teach Self-Control, 2009
New York Times: For Forest Kindergartners, Class is Back to Nature, Rain or Shine, 2009
Harper’s Magazine: Against School: How public education cripples our kids, and why, 2003 (here’s a version that doesn’t require subscription)
4 minute video from TED: Gever Tulley teaches life lessons through tinkering, 2009
19 minute video from TED: Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity, 2006
John Taylor Gatto’s The Underground History of American Education, 2001 (I’m about a third of the way into this one, and am growing more concerned with every page)
Next on my reading list is Ivan Illich’s 1971 book Deschooling Society. Clearly, I’m exposing myself to mostly contrarian works. If you have some resources that support more conventional schooling ideas, please share them.
When Zac Sunderland is a hundred years old, that is how he might begin the story he tells his great great grandchildren. But right now, he’s only 17, and at this moment he is in the North Pacific Ocean.