News-in-Transition

15 August 2017

 - The anti-homework trend is growing. It started with the teacher from Texas who banned homework from her second grade class, encouraging families to spend time reading, playing, and eating together instead.

It spread to a New Jersey elementary school, where the principal and his teaching staff voted to be homework free for the 2016-2017 school year.

And now, according to Valerie Strauss in The Washington Post, homework is headed for the dumpster bin in an entire school district:

“Elementary school students in one Florida school district are going to find a welcome new — but controversial — policy when they return to school for the 2017-2018 school year next month: no traditional homework.

They are being asked to do one thing to help them academically: Read for 20 minutes a night.

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14 August 2017

 - Few middle schoolers are as clued in to their mathematical strengths and weakness as Moheeb Kaied. Now a seventh grader at Brooklyn’s Middle School 442, he can easily rattle off his computational profile.

“Let’s see,” he said one morning this spring. “I can find the area and perimeter of a polygon. I can solve mathematical and real-world problems using a coordinate plane. I still need to get better at dividing multiple-digit numbers, which means I should probably practice that more.”

Moheeb is part of a new program that is challenging the way teachers and students think about academic accomplishments, and his school is one of hundreds that have done away with traditional letter grades inside their classrooms. At M.S. 442, students are encouraged to focus instead on mastering a set of grade-level skills, like writing a scientific hypothesis or identifying themes in a story, moving to the next set of skills when they have demonstrated that they are ready. In these schools, there is no such thing as a C or a D for a lazily written term paper. There is no failing. The only goal is to learn the material, sooner or later.

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22 July 2017

 - Compelling research shows that when children are allowed to learn naturally, without top-down instruction and coercion, the learning is deeper and much more creative than when children are passively taught. University of California at Berkeley professor Alison Gopnik finds in her studies with four-year-olds, as well as similar studies out of MIT, that self-directed learning – not forced instruction – elevates both learning outcomes and creativity.

Gopnik’s research involved young children learning how to manipulate a specific toy that would make certain sounds or exhibit certain features in certain sequences. She found that when children were directly taught how to use the toy they were able to replicate the results and quickly get to the “right answer” on their own by loosely mimicking what the teacher demonstrated.

But when the children were instead allowed to learn without direct instruction – to play with the toy, explore its features, and discover its capabilities on their own – they were able to get to the “right answer” in fewer steps than the taught children. The self-directed children also revealed other parts of the toy that could do interesting things – which the taught children did not discover.

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2 July 2017

 - As parents during this intense and exciting time on Earth, we accepted and/or chose an extremely important job. We are guiding the next caretakers of the Earth and evolution of humanity.

Our children are growing up in a world where they are faced with challenges unlike those we have ever seen. The world is literally at their fingertips, and although this has great opportunity when applied correctly, it also brings constant distraction and stimulation, therefore pulling them away from connecting with Nature and looking inward and knowing who they are.

Not only this, but with climate change, a contaminated food chain, toxic water, questionable vaccines and out dated school programs, it has never been more important for us as parents to be “awake.”

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2 June 2017

 - Are children scheduled to the max these days? Are there any waking moments that give children the freedom to express themselves in unstructured environments? Children should be allowed to get bored so they can develop their innate ability to be creative, an education expert says.

Deschoolers maintain that a child's learning should be curiosity-driven rather than dictated by teachers and textbooks, and that forcing kids to adhere to curricula quashes their natural inclination to explore and ask questions because childrne think differently.

Dr Teresa Belton says cultural expectations that children should be constantly active could hamper the development of their imagination.

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11 May 2017

 - Those coming of age today will face some of the greatest obstacles ever encountered by young people.

They will find themselves overtaxed, burdened with excessive college debt, and struggling to find worthwhile employment in a debt-ridden economy on the brink of implosion. Their privacy will be eviscerated by the surveillance state. They will be the subjects of a military empire constantly waging war against shadowy enemies and government agents armed to the teeth ready and able to lock down the country at a moment’s notice.

As such, they will find themselves forced to march in lockstep with a government that no longer exists to serve the people but which demands they be obedient slaves or suffer the consequences.

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12 March 2017

 - Late last summer, Texas teacher Brandy Young made internet waves when she sent a note about homework to the parents of her students.

Instead of the normal spend-30-minutes-a-day-on-homework command that parents normally hear, Mrs. Young’s note informed them that she would not be giving homework at all. Instead, she asked families to spend more time reading, eating dinner, and playing outside, all factors which research has found to contribute to greater student success.

But Mrs. Young was not the only educator to get on the no homework bandwagon. An entire elementary school in Vermont did the same. And according to The Washington Post, that decision seems to be turning out just fine for the students, parents, and teachers of Orchard School:

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2 February 2017

 - It is a disappointing thing to see new playgrounds developed in city spaces sit there empty each day, or to walk in the park and hear no laughter. What is missing here is not the children per se, but materials and environments that create challenge, imagination, and creativity that make children want to play outdoors. The absence of such play environments is not only influencing the quantity and quality of children’s play, but also affecting children’s health and well-being.

As adults, we need to support children in learning to enjoy what unstructured free play in the outdoors has to offer. We need to inspire imaginations, creative minds, and capable bodies. To do this, we can look toward two simple things: nature and adventure.

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25 January 2017

 - While many adults are currently looking at how to grow their own food, the future may already be in front of our eyes: One school aims to teach kids how to grown their own food as part of a nursery!

A few clever Italians have come up with an amazing proposal, and their design of an innovative nursery school just won them the AWR International Ideas Competition award. Their project, titled “Nursery Fields Forever,” reimagines what nurseries and daycares might look like if their core, central concept was farming and sustainable agriculture.

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13 November 2016

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 - Finland’s education system is considered one of the best in the world. In international ratings, it’s always in the top ten. However, the authorities there aren’t ready to rest on their laurels, and they’ve decided to carry through a real revolution in their school system.

Finnish officials want to remove school subjects from the curriculum. There will no longer be any classes in physics, math, literature, history, or geography.

Instead of individual subjects, students will study events and phenomena in an interdisciplinary format. For example, the Second World War will be examined from the perspective of history, geography, and math. And by taking the course ”Working in a Cafe,” students will absorb a whole body of knowledge about the English language, economics, and communication skills.

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1 March 2016

 - A new preschool is teaching children gardening and urban farming, and many of their classes are hands-on, working on an actual farm.

Edoardo Capuzzo Dolcetta and a team of other designers have been working to bring children closer to nature during their studies and teach them skills that they will actually need in the real world.

“We think that kids should enjoy nature. So we designed this strange school: No classrooms, but open spaces where vegetables grow inside and animals can come in too. It’s a mixing of the two things, school and nature,” Dolcetta said.

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27 June 2014

- A group of teachers in Seattle is denouncing education reform measures they say have been an attack on public education and let corporate interests and high-stakes testing trump real student learning.

The target of their protest: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, whom the teachers say has used its monetary power to push corporate reforms and is symbolic of measures—like Common Core Standards and over-testing—that don't let educators be the decision makers of education policies.

Gates has been pushing "magical, silver bullets" to solve problems in education but leave them "unable to be critical thinkers, problem solvers, and not at all certain where they fit in the world."

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Calendar of Events

Group healing events for the remainder of 2017:

22 September - Equinox

21 December - Solstice

Boycott Israeli Goods