Are the students in progressive schools having too much fun?

It is a common misconception that a progressive school is one big playground where kids are just playing all day, not memorizing enough info and are just too free… like wild animals in the jungle. Though it is tempting to make a huge playground for them to play in all day (because what’s wrong with that??), progressive schools defy the old adage that learning is not supposed to be fun.

1. There’s no structure. Every school curriculum has structure. There are class schedules and routines,  scope and sequence charts and developmental checklists. Without these structures, we cannot reach our goals. Why doesn’t it look structured? Because the teachers make sure that the schedules, plans and activities are holistic. There are downtimes, creative times,  and play time… things needed in a child’s school day.

2. The students are too rowdy and noisyI’m all for obedience but Im also all for being opinionated and critical thinking. I like it when my students air out their opinions. My only rule is that they are respectful when they do so. And most of it is probably just the students having fun!

3. They won’t be ready for REAL LIFE if they go on that way. According to Dewey, “Education is not preparation for life but life itself.” The lives my students are leading now ARE their REAL LIVES. Lives that children should be living. They do experience pain, heartache and the burden of work.. and we teach them how to overcome these obstacles and challenges by developing their confidence and self-esteem. But most importantly, their present REAL LIVES should also be defined with a love of learning, enthusiasm in school and enjoyment in the process. The author Haruki Murakami said that “Unfortunately, the most important things in life are not learned in school.” Progressive schools aim to change that.

4. Grades aren’t important to them. Grades are important. But you know what is more important? The love of learning. And you know what’s more important than that? A teachable heart. You don’t believe me? Okay. Here’s a study that proves it (and no, it wasn’t written in the olden days…).

5. They don’t learn anything. They just play all day. Our students learn a lot of things and they enjoy the process in which they learn them. They even review for exams using board games. Why? Why not?! Studies show that experiences make children remember information better. And what’s wrong with play? I’ve listed down life lessons children learn in the playground here.

While writing this post, I spoke to a mom who taught in a very traditional school for many years and the main difference she felt when she observed in a progressive classroom is the high energy level of the children to learn the concepts and the creative ways the teachers plan their lessons. So to answer the question ” Are students in progressive schools having too much fun?”, my answer is YES! Learning is supposed to be fun.

Advertisements

Hello to another journey in 2015!

The journey that was 2014 was long, hard and fruitful for me as a teacher. It opened up a lot of opportunities to be the teacher I always aspired to be. I am thankful enough to sit and list them down to give thanks and appreciation that by the grace of God, I was able to do all these in His name:

1. I think the most mileage I got to spread progressive education and family tips is when I co-anchored “Kapamilya Konek” in DZMM Teleradyo first with friend Maricel Laxa Pangilinan then with broadcaster Jing Castaneda. Now that I’ve decided to move on from the program, I can say that the experience awakened a part of me I never thought was inside me..being a broadcaster! Whoduthunk?! Although my husband always says it was perfect because I usually talked too much (haha), never did I think I would sit behind a booth and speak to thousands of people via radio and TV to talk about family issues!

The Kapamilya Konek team made a heart-warming farewell AVP that summed up my stay in the show 🙂

2. I had my almost TED-talk experience by speaking for HomegrownPH’s Women series. It’s hard to talk when you’re given only 12 minutes to talk about a topic I want to talk about the whole day, How to Educate GIRLS!

3. Our school, Nest, has grown into the progressive school I dreamed of having. Now on its 13th year, I believe our staff of teachers this year is the best we’ve ever had in terms of heart and talent! And this clearly shows in the students and families that they have taught during the year.

4. I, together with some Nest teachers, have been invited my several institutions to train them about progressive education and some have asked for us to help them out in their curriculum development. I’ve always said that I wanted to keep Nest as small as possible to maintain it being progressive and the this opportunity of sharing our knowledge to others was a surprise blessing and opportunity for us to spread the advocacy to other schools instead. Shoot us an email at teachertinazamora (at) gmail (dot) com, if you want us to visit your school or institution.

5. Another collaboration I did with fellow Family Life and Child Development Specialists is a site called Ask Teacher — a child development classroom for PARENTS who want to ask teachers help on their parenting concerns. You should drop by and see!

6. I added “columnist” to my list of descriptions by contributing to the magazine, Celebrity Mom. I write about current parenting and school issues. Faced with word counts and deadlines, my writing entered a whole new level! I think I should set the same minimums for this blog!

Celebrity Mom

7. This website! I have been in and out of this blog for years and yet a lot of visitors have passed and asked a lot of questions about progressive education.. enough to for me to revive it! Thanks for passing by and hope you learn a lot from it!

What’s in store for 2015 for me as a teacher? Hopefully a lot more opportunities like the ones on this list. I have a few projects on the line to become more involved with more schools, more teachers, more parents and of course, more students!

Reader’s Gift: Dewey’s take on Progressive Education

I was reading the thesis of a friend and a regular reader of this blog, Teacher Tanya, and she reminded me of the essence of progressive education by stating John Dewey’s Pedagogic Creed. Dewey is the Father of Progressive Education. He states the following points:

1. “True education comes through the stimulation of the child’s powers by the demands of the social situations in which he finds himself.”

The socio-emotional domain of a child is equally important with his or her cognitive domain. True education therefore is not just intellectual but also how the child reacts to everything and everyone around him or her.

2. “The child’s own instinct and powers furnish the material and give the starting point for all education.”

A progressive curriculum is a child-centered curriculum.

3. “[I] believe that education, therefore, is a process of living and not preparation for future living.”

Amen to this! A lot of schools use a marketing ploy of “Advanced Classes” or “Preparation Classes” to “prepare” their students for success in Big Schools. I just passed by a giant billboard saying “100% Admission Rate to ‘School XYZ’ (obviously invented)!” The purpose of school is the process of the NOW. I admit that there is a social pressure to prepare our students for higher education. However, as Dewey said, the pressure of societal norms (or ab-norms!) is not education. It is the process in which a student learns.

4. “[T]he school life should grow gradually out of the home life…it is the business of the school to deepen and extend the child’s sense of values bound up in his home life.”

The reason why Progressive Pioneers in the Philippines usually come from the Department of Family Life and Child Development in UP is because the Progressive Philosophy is based on understaning the child in his or her home and community setting. Repeatedly, I have declared that 100 % of our behavioral problems from students stem from an issue brewing at home.

5. I believe, finally, that the teacher is engaged, not simply in the training of individuals, but in the formation of a proper social life.

True! The prime responsibility of a progressive teacher is to develop the WHOLE CHILD – social, emotional, creative, cognitive, physical and expressive.