School in the Back Yard-treehouses, forts and very deep holes

thinking about school in summer… camp or the backyard?

Kids don’t get to build treehouses and forts much any more around here. You can get a fine treehouse at Costco and an adult can put it up for you in a day. These kinds of treehouses come pre cut and finished and all you have to do is pick a spot and follow the directions in the box. You can also get forts at Toy r Us..big plastic ones that are supposed to look like logs but they actually look like plastic. They are tidy.

One of the reasons my classroom will always have dirt and sand and mud and water and gardens that are home to bugs and birds is because…..

I remember the smell of the fort that kids in my neighborhood worked on for weeks….it smelled like dirt, wood and wet newspaper.


What they did was get shovels and dig the deepest hole in America right…

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Hey You Are the Boss of All That Stuff

a reblog for the graduates…with respect and great affection

You Are the Boss.

Finding your voice is probably the most important thing you can ever do. Ever.

I passed by the imageold Pacific Oaks campus on my way to the pool this morning. I remembered walking the walk on graduation day under the old oak on the front lawn. I remembered my professors laughing and throwing confetti at all of us as we walked by.

But I was sad that day. I didn’t want to leave my school.

Funny… in a way I haven’t.

My heart lives wherever it wants to.

I am so happy about all of you who are walking this year… I loved every minute with you… all of it… the hard minutes too.

Keep on doing all that brave learning… you are some pretty wonderful and courageous people. And whatever you do…don’t be afraid to let your heart live wherever it wants to.

You are…

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Are You Complicit in “Soul Murder”?

I would add that damage is being done in a variety of settings that teachers and children inhabit..not just the public school gulag.

read this. it needs to be read and thought about

Are You Complicit in “Soul Murder”?.

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Look for the grime of exploration


universe or salty primordial sea ?

Beware the Jargoneers…  as per previous post…but here is a great chart from Mr Kohn on what to look for in a solid progressive classroom.

Further..these things should be present throughout the grades..not just in Early Childhood ( to eight years old) Classrooms.

And..if you ask about the 6-8  year olds working in reading or math workbooks and you are told it is fun for them.. they like it… and if it is added (particularly by an administrator) that teachers are confused or not practiced in  how to teach the subject deeply (how to teach math) … so the  workbook program (with the workbooks) is being used as an interim guide…  this is not solid  progressive pedagogy.


Experienced and qualified  progressive leaders understand that respect for  faculty (and students) begins with giving folks time, opportunity and space to collaborate, make a mess, stumble, make mistakes, learn and grow together.

Oh..if the teacher tells you that the children get to play with blocks only one or two hours a week because they are busy writing  and/or  going off to scheduled specialty classes, you are not in a solid progressive school.

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Beware the Jargoneers

10258372_339346602936052_2804938151728144356_oAlfie Kohn talked about the dangers of jargon last night and why he attempts to avoid using it at all costs.

He was intense and sharply hilarious , jumping on and off the stage….engaging the audience in questions. I was smitten.

What do I think? Jargon gobbledygook is spoken by folks who have no deep understanding of children, teachers or theory–(but they passed the short answer tests)

Piaget has written that @ 80% of people have not had the benefit of growing past the stage of concrete operations.

(I have often thought that this could be the case…  and how cool is that? stumble on his notes  and find our conclusions are pretty darn similar?)

That’s how the jargoneers confuse us. Cause we often give them the benefit of the doubt.

Stop doing that.


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Vermont: The Heavy Fist of the Federal Government Demands Testing!

Disturbing is a mild term  to describe what is happening to school… read this
Vermont: The Heavy Fist of the Federal Government Demands Testing!

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12 Reasons to Refuse PARCC

Thank you Diane Ravitch for making this clear. Refuse and resist.

Diane Ravitch's blog

Activist parents and educators who belong to SaveOurSchoolsNJ helpfully assembled a dozen reasons to refuse the Common Core PARCC test.

1. PARCC is poorly designed & confusing

“For many of the sample released questions, there is, arguably, no answer among the answer choices that is correct or more than one answer that is correct, or the question simply is not, arguably, actually answerable as written.”


“The tests consist largely of objective-format items (multiple-choice and EBSR). These item types are most appropriate for testing very low-level skills (e.g., recall of factual detail). However, on these tests, such item formats are pressed into a kind of service for which they are, generally, not appropriate. They are used to test “higher-order thinking.” The test questions therefore tend to be tricky and convoluted. The test makers insist on answer choices all being “reasonable.” So, the questions are supposed to deal with higher-order thinking…

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I am always suspicious, when I visit a school claiming to be “progressive” , if I do not see classroom pets, large garbage cans..paintbrushes in the sink, blocks and other materials put away the kid way, (a bit crooked)-and if it is easy to find the teacher looming about.. and if there is clean clean designer carpeting on the floors.if there is an immaculate and controlled garden ..and/or stacks of iPads or whatnot (“oh imagine if we had one for each child” silliness…)

Sugatra Mitra only needed one computer….one…. to demonstrate how groups of people can learn meaningful things from each other by sharing the use of technology………… His finding was NOT that people do not need guidance in terms of teacher/facilitators, btw…
In case you were thinking in those terms…

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The Doctor is in

“Your Majesty, please… I don’t like to complain,
But down here below, we are feeling great pain.
I know, up on top you are seeing great sights,
But down here at the bottom we, too, should have rights.

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Democracy in the Garden? Quick thoughts..

This gallery contains 8 photos.

It is tricky for educators and parents (adults) to find effective ways  to facilitate compassionate, democratic school classroom communities. Facilitate means guide. Guide. Not dictate. Not exert “power over” but instead practice “power with”. And what’s the point? Why do…

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