Showing posts from July, 2010

Music, Art and Democratic Education

Education is a social process; education is growth; education is not a preparation for life but is life itself.

This year, our school-wide (pre-school through 8th grade) intention, or umbrella project, will have to do with music and sound. Today I went to a meeting to discuss this topic, which is always a sticky one for me, a former punk rocker, collector of absurd songs and lover of all things rock and roll.

I might be totally wrong about this, but my question about music in school always goes back to democratic education. What I see in music in school is a preoccupation with "fine" music, and an exclusion of other music children really listen to at home, on the radio or on the music players they have. In choosing certain folk songs, 'children's music', etc.., aren't we giving a message that only some music is good enough for school? Often when pop music is played at school, it is something like the Beatles, which seems to be our pop equivalent of classical …


I have been reading "In Dialogue with Reggio Emilia: Listening, Researching and Learning (Contesting Early Childhood)" this week. It is one of those books that I pick up and read for a while, then have to put aside, because it is so rich with ideas. One of the phrases that got me thinking was from the Translator; 
"in Italian, we use the word formazione, or formation in English, for professional development, as well as the more general formation of the person." Like so many Italian words, this one seems to have a much broader and truer meaning that the ones we use. 

As I have been ending my school year, which brings lots of reflecting on what went well and what I could change, I have enjoyed reading other teachers end of year reflections as well, like this one from Allie; bakersandastronauts/sketchbook-reflection
During this process of ending the school year, I am often filled with self-doubt and the feeling of failure. So many things slipped through the cracks, so ma…

Bad Choices

During summer camp, which was held in the old, walled garden, nestled between the buildings and woods of Sabot at Stony Point, a bad thing happened. There has been talk of copperheads on the property, which is surrounded by woods, which in turn are getting squeezed by construction all around. Teachers are vigilant, and students who go to the school know what to look for. On Thursday a copperhead took shelter in this hole in the wall. Owen, an eagle-eyed pre-schooler, and Sarah Anne, a teacher, spotted it. The camp teachers knew what to do, and quickly blocked off the area so the children wouldn't go near. Then we watched and debated, confirmed that it was a copperhead and not a corn snake, conferred, and finally decided what should be done. Now I love reptiles, and am usually the one trying to pick snakes up, catch frogs and toads, salamanders and skinks. But this was a copperhead (you can tell by the eliptical eyes), and despite the fact that we know he was there for good snake rea…

How Things Work

Nora told Gracie, "I know about the brain. My brain helps me think of stuff.
It helps us think of EVERYTHING.
It helps us think of the world, and
then, it comes here! 
And then, we stand on it!
Did you know we're on the Earth?"

Oliver was sitting at the table too, and said "We're IN the earth, not on it."
Nora pointed down to the legs of the stool she was sitting on, and said "No, because this stool is on the Earth"

Then Henry added, "If you can see the blue sky and clouds, then you are on the Earth, and if you can't, you must be in it."

Life and Death at summer Camp

Eloise brought it to me, saying "Anna, we found a lizard. Maybe some of the children would like to draw it. I think it's asleep" (I love the culture of drawing at our school -that this would be one of the first things a child thinks of.)  The children were all talking at once, compiling information on this lizard. "It might be dead." "It is a salamander. " "It's a blue tailed skink." "It is asleep."  "It is not moving." "I think it is the one we caught yesterday." "It is alive."  "There are a lot of them in this garden."
We set the skink in a box, and Eloise, Afton, Henry and Jaya began drawing it. The little lizard stayed in the box for a long time, under the tent where we make things. Eventually the children decided to help it. They got a bug box and went looking for things for it to eat. They caught a big grasshopper but thought it might be too much, so they found a smaller grasshopper. E…

Scenes from 'Like Summers Used to Be' Camp

Our summer camp is simple and fun, filled with bulding, water play, exploring
and an open studio for making things.
This year, despite 3 digit temperatures, we had a great time.
Children created a jangling sound garden, found a blue-tailed skink, watched a Turkey Vulture in a tree,
painted, played soccer and created an involved star wars game which lasted several days.
The first week was a dream of summer and friends and play.

Summertime and camp

One of the nicest things about the summer is that my own children can help at summer camp.
It is such a pleasure to have them at school and to see them getting to know the children I work with (and vice versa!)  It is really one of my favorite parts of my job.