Educational Insights Blog
This blog is a collection of articles, stories, presentations, movies and opinions that give a different look into the world of elementary education.
In the last few years I have seen several articles and interviews about the importance of grit in determining a child’s success later in life. Grit is in fashion at the moment as the missing ingredient for our country’s educational woes. If we only can find a way to bottle it and force feed it to every child, then America will be at the top of the world’s educational rankings and we can all rest easy.
The most recent interview I came across was on WBUR’s On Point radio show heard across the country on NPR radio stations as well as online at www.wbur.org/onpoint. The interview was with Angela Duckworth, professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and author of Grit: The Power and Passion of Perseverance.
One of the things I enjoyed about this interview was that grit, while important, wasn’t portrayed as a perfect quality and that it does have a down side. For example, when grit crosses over into stubbornness, success goes down. You still need qualities like creativity, open-mindedness, vision, social skills, intelligence, etc. to be successful. A very interesting interview that you can listen to here.
Carter Griffin, 2014 Antioch School graduate, made this terrific short film giving the viewer a glimpse into a day at the Antioch School. Carter shot, directed and edited the film. Cheers to Carter for a job well done!
On Monday, April 11, 2016, Chris Graves and Cara Owsley, from the Cincinnati Enquirer, visited The Antioch School to report on Forest kindergarten. The two reporters spent a very cold, very wet morning following and interviewing the kindergartners on their walked through Glen Helen and back to camp. Afterwards, the journalists spent time at the school talking with the teachers and staff. The complete story can be read here. As can be seen above, there was also a short video made by Cara Owsley.
Update: The story published by the Cincinnati Enquirer has been picked up by the Associated Press (AP) and has been distributed to new organizations across the United States, including The Washington Times.
This year a forest kindergarten is underway at The Antioch School. At the beginning of every week, the kindergarteners will spend half a day outside in their classroom in the woods. Their teacher, Lindie, says that her goal is to spend more time outside and allow the children to not only create their own classroom, but everything that goes in it as long as it comes from the outdoors. So far, the forest kindergarten has been a great success, with the children wanting to spend more time in their outdoor classroom than originally planned.
If you would like to learn what some other schools are doing with forest kindergartens, watch the above movie trailer from "School's Out: Lessons From a Forest Kindergarten," a 36 minute documentary directed by Lisa Molomot. The film follows students in an outdoor forest kindergarten in Switzerland and compares their day to a typical American kindergarten in New Haven Connecticut. If you would like more information, check out this article on KQED's web site, Let 'Em Out! The Many Benefits of Outdoor Play in Kindergarten or this article from Wikipedia.
WDTN Channel 2 News came to The Antioch School Tuesday, May 5th, to do a story about the kindergarten inspired building of a straw bale playhouse. Above is a video of the segment that aired on their five o'clock news broadcast.
The news crew interviewed two kindergartners as well as their teacher, Lindie. Several other students from the other groups, who have been helping build the playhouse, can also be seen in the segment. You can follow the construction of the playhouse on Lindie's blog. A big thanks to Channel 2 News for airing this segment.
(Editor's Note: Several times in the segment people refer to hay bales. Though similar, the playhouse is built with bales of straw.)
When I was younger I remember being warned about the evils of eating too much sugar. “It will rot your teeth,” was proven true by my frequent trips to the dentist office. In the last couple of years I have become more aware of sugar’s impact on my overall health as it relates to controlling my weight and the side effects that come from being over weight (cardiovascular disease, diabetes, etc.). What I wasn’t aware of is the health impact eating too much sugar has on my brain.
I recently read an article, This Is What Sugar Does To Your Brain, written by Carolyn Gregoire, on Huffington Post, where she explains how sugar can literally slow down your brain’s ability to function.
Matt Cline, from Cline Cinematography, put together this wonderful movie about The Antioch School. The movie was first shown at the 2014 Silent Auction. A big thanks goes out to Matt for his hard work at creating this movie as well as many of the photographs used on this site.
The educational industrial complex has been flooding the media for the past several years with a scary message about how our schools and our teachers are failing. What they are referring to is the PISA test (Program for International Student Assessment). As compared to other countries, students in the United States preform poorly on the PISA test. Not just poorly, but at or near the bottom of the list of the countries we are competing against. Sounds scary, right? We can't allow those other countries to overtake us! If they do, what does that mean for the future of America?
As Diane Ravitch mentions in her blog post titled, "My View of the PISA Scores," what the educational industrial complex fails to mention is the historical context. 20 years ago, 30, 40, 50 -- actually ever since they started doing international testing, children from the United States have always preformed at or near the bottom of the list of countries we were competing against.
By now though, parents of school aged children in the United States are convinced that there is a problem and they are buying into the educational industrial complex message that the solution to the problem is more testing. So now public and many private schools are focusing on testing and are teaching to the test. Which creates an opportunity cost.
As Diane says:
The more we focus on tests, the more we kill creativity, ingenuity, and the ability to think differently. Students who think differently get lower scores. The more we focus on tests, the more we reward conformity and compliance, getting the right answer.
Creativity, ingenuity, and the ability to think differently -- aren't those the traits that have made America strong? Aren't those the traits you need to solve problems? Aren't those the traits we want our children to have? Instead we are teaching our children to get really good at choosing which circle to color in.
You can read Diane Ravitch's blog post here.
NPR recently aired this story about how researchers are discovering that play helps the brains of children develop better skills for learning. One of the takeaways is that countries with schools that have more recess time tend to have higher academic performance.
Considering that many public schools are cutting recess in order to have more instruction time, maybe they are actually doing more harm than good. This also might help explain why many Antioch School graduates do so well in high school and college even though the Antioch School hasn't followed the push for more and more testing. Listen to the story here.
Seth Godin gave the following talk "Art and Science and Making Things" at World Maker Faire in 2012.
Throughout Seth's talk he touches on the importance of failing. Yet in our culture we tend to ostracize people who fail and discourage taking risks that could lead to failure. As Seth shows, we need to embrace failure and recognize the important role it plays in the process of learning and achieving success.