Being an elementary teacher for the past 35 years, I believe Ms Diamond made some excellent observations and now there is research that backs what many elementary schools profess and practice: learning and play and joy are all necessary to encourage and challenge a child's learning. We can't control what goes on at home, but we can give wonderful opportunities for children to learn.
Much of what is done in elementary school is inquiry based, which means the attempt is made to fully engage a student. Rarely do kids sit for long periods of time listening (being the passenger), they are active (drivers) who are allowed to explore together and alone and reflect and share their thoughts.
My hope is during my lifetime that the secondary schools will embrace the elementary model of learning and start to really question why they do what they do in classrooms. Is it for the kids' benefit to explore and learn or to get some sort of number or grade on a piece of paper that explains what?
The biggest boon and bust in the US has been No Child Left behind. Developed by elected officials and underfunded and poorly thought out, it stresses content knowledge over skills and process. It's easier to get numbers when one is trying to figure how much someone knows rather than how much someone can do. MCLB is the United States' Titantic. As other countries fly past us, we, unfortunately sit and pat ourselves on the back and compare scores. The iceberg is looming ahead...
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