January 26, 2021

Memories of Learning as a Young Child

Lately I have been thinking about how much I loved school as a child and wondering why most kids today routinely say --- “School? Oh, it’s ok.” Why? Why did I love it and why do so many of today’s kids give it only a passing grade, at best? (My own kids included). I feel sooo lucky! What fond memories! And when my childhood friends and I get together, these same joyful memories are echoed again and again!  

Let me give you a look at what it is that I’m so gushy about. Here’s a peak at how I learned and what made school so much fun when I was young --- 

  • Being friends with everyone in the class --- with all 25 or 30 of my peers in  elementary through high school. There were only 45 seniors in the graduating class. 
  • Class projects --- in the fourth grade I wrote and directed a class play. (No need to rush out and purchase tickets! But I did manage to get a hardy round of applause from all in attendance.) Then in the 5th grade I put together a Scottish folk dance group and we went on to place third in the state competition. Not bad! And it was great fun except for the budget stuff! But I definitely learned what a budget was! Then there was making toothpaste with my best friend when we were in high school. (Sorry! It’s not on the market anymore!)
  • Going with my best friend to our first-grade teacher’s house to bake cookies. 
  • Teaching the younger kids in the school to play kickball or do jump rope routines --- or to read! 
  • Working on the Don’t Be A Litterbug Campaign with the other third graders; we made some dynamite posters! We thought we were absolutely brilliant!
  • Creating the “French Club” with the other 6th grade girls so we could speak French in the lunchroom. 
  • Choreographing a dance so I could remember all the US presidents --- I think I can still remember most of that choreography. The whole class begged to learn it too, even Steve and Barrett!
  • Hearing the stories the kids living on farms told when they returned after missing school to help with the harvest. Some of them wrote these stories down and we “town kids” were allowed to help illustrate them. Then we collected stories and illustrations and created books so everyone in the school could have a copy. 
  • Talking to a classmate who had a serious illness and could not come to school. She connected to our class remotely via a newly developed, loudspeaker telephone-device. We all hung on every word she said; it was like magic!
  • Driving all around my state with my parents so I could actually visit the county seat of each county and to collect materials for my 7th grade State Book
  • My mother was captain of her high school debating team. Need I say more!
  • (I am definitely leaving the ridiculous uniforms we had to wear in freshman PE off this list!!) 

This was our version of person-centered learning, project-based learning and learning in the real world, way back in the 1950’s. Imagine! Too bad kids don’t have the opportunity to learn like this today! 

I’m so sad that today’s teachers are told they must present the same thing to be learned to every child in the same way and at the same time! This makes no sense to me! 

I’m so sad that kids today are bored with, not interested in and not excited about what’s happening during their school day. How awful to throw away so much time --- in the name of standard operating procedures

Do you think our experiences with learning during the current pandemic might just help us think through schools in a new way? My fingers are crossed that they will!

Many thanks for listening to my walk down memory lane!

PS: No! I did not walk to and from school, uphill both ways!!