I never imagined myself back in an Elementary (Primary) classroom, but life has a funny way of taking us to places we least expect. An invitation to teach using only the Socratic method and model respect for individual rights seemed like a Utopic vision from my own childhood. My interest piqued, I followed what I hoped was not the proverbial ball of yarn down an educational labyrinth. After a week in an intensive think tank environment, I stepped out dazed. The school’s mission is to create independent thinkers who question everything and use rational and logical thought to arrive at well-formulated answers. Teachers create fast paced lessons and lead by example.
Discipline is taught with the goal of instilling self-regulation, not fear and manipulation. A child’s toy may not be taken away and given at the end of the day for misbehaving. The natural consequence of missing homework isn’t missed Recess rather a questioning of poor choices. The curriculum is accelerated with Latin and Greek roots and affixes taught to eight-year-olds so they may play with spellings and not memorize by rote. As a linguist, this approach to teaching language is music to my ears and I am immediately won over. I sign the dotted lines, accept a “barely at the Poverty Line” salary and join the noble profession of guiding a generation of children away from self-centered behavior. The scope of how life transforming all of this is does not escape me. I walked to the school I was assigned yesterday with some trepidation and excitement.
As I was given the keys to my classroom I saw a pair of hawks playing near the large tree overlooking the room. The custodian informed me this family of hawks had taken residence many years ago and everyone kept a respectful distance, allowing the birds to nest. The children were particularly protective of the birds and would sometimes play at the far end of the playground so as not to disturb them. I couldn’t help but smile. A Bucolic environment where the fundamental respect for life was observed was a winning combination. This I believe will prove to be a magical year and I look forward to taking my fellow bloggers on a journey into childhood memories. Now I must be excused as I clean a dusty room and find a desk that isn’t balanced on its last leg.