Monday, September 12, 2011

Fall Out

I have a five year old friend who has been in school for about a week now. When I asked him how school is going, he reported, "I had a great day today. I learned something which I forget, and had outdoor recess." He captures it, doesn't he? Not just the one day, but the entire experience. When I look back at my entire educational experience, like Tom, I can say honestly, "I had a great educational experience, I learned somethings which I have forgotten, and had outdoor recess"--I played with friends at sports and in co-curricular activities, we ate animated lunches together discussing the latest liaisons, we receded from the academic grind into crisp fall days, and slushy New York winters, and bright spring afternoons.
Undoubtedly there is an accumulation of learning and knowledge which persist despite the memory gaps in the particulars of every math or science or history class. What I think Tom's response calls attention to is the fact that from the student's side of the school experience, as distinct from the adult's side, the real energy, the part that sticks with you, is what happens "outside" explicit learning experiences--in the interactions between teachers and students, over lunch with some students, inside a football or soccer stadium when students see their teachers supporting something they love to do. In a sense, everything not directly curricular is co-curricular and has the potential to engage students in meaningful ways. This is the "fall out" of having the privilege of interacting with young people for six or seven hours every day.  
When you consider your busy week ahead, what time can you give to a recess outside--literally and figuratively?

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