Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Déjà vu

Some sixth graders in Minneapolis are the voice of reason:
In the Minneapolis public schools, we are supposed to have 15 minutes to eat, which would be bad enough. But realistically we get only 10 to 11 minutes (we have been timing it).

. . .

Teachers always tell us to socialize at lunch and recess, not in the classroom. But we cannot do that if we are scarfing down our lunches in 11 minutes.
. . .

Connor Snowdon, also in our grade, agrees: “We should get a half-hour, and the behavior of other kids shouldn’t take away our time. If you wanted to eat your entire lunch, you wouldn’t have time to talk to your friends.”
Read the whole article. One of the comments on it: “Great and well-written article by these students! Sadly, the lesson they will ultimately learn is that school is not about them, it is about the adults.” Given our experience with the stingy lunch periods here in Iowa City, it’s hard to disagree.

Why is elementary education – even at a public Montessori school! – becoming a rat race? Is there any way to understand that trend other than as a direct result of the laws that make raising standardized test scores the sole goal of education?
.

6 comments:

LAB said...

I'm fascinated by these public Montessori schools. They don't have them where I live, but I know they're in Minneapolis, Milwaukee, and other towns. How much Montessori-style education is really offered? Is there a work cycle in the morning where the children choose their own work and concentrate on it for three uninterrupted hours?

The downside of private Montessori elementary is cost, but also a fear that your Montessori child won't be able to transition well into public middle or high school (with desks, homework, tests, etc.). I'm curious to know if public Montessori is in any way a middle ground between authentic (almost unschool-ish) Montessori elementary and the standard authoritarian public school. I like to think public Montessoris fill this space, but I'm skeptical. Are they that much different from regular public schools? This lunch situation suggests no...although the fact that students took the initiative to write an op-ed for the StarTribune suggests a possible yes.

Rivka said...

I also notice the comment from a public school teacher saying that children need to be able to socialize during lunch because that may be their only opportunity all day.

Chris said...

LAB -- That's a great question. I looked up the school, and it certainly talks the talk about Montessori, including the three-hour uninterrupted work periods. On the other hand, the School Improvement Plan sounds like the usual NCLB-driven gibberish, including schoolwide PBIS. Maybe "public Montessori" necessarily implies some degree of split personality?

The website of a group of parents trying to generate support for a public Montessori school in Iowa City is here. In the sidebar, there are links to about twenty other public Montessoris nationwide.

Chris said...

Rivka -- Yeah, bad sign. But those homeschooled kids lack "socialization"!

Chris said...

An update here. Not very encouraging. The superintendent seems concerned only about the fact that the kids aren't getting their full, measly fifteen minutes -- and we'll have to wait and see whether they even end up getting that.

Chris said...

Two recent commentaries follow up on this story, and the larger issue, here and here.