Thoughts from Emmy Midtown!
Last week I went to some trainings with Danny, and having him explain the importance of Neighborhood Time was something that I really wanted to share! This time is meant to replace the lost neighborhood experience where all of the kids from the ‘block’ would get together and play. Kids learned and gained valuable skills from their peers without adult supervision. They had to be self sufficient, work together and well with others, learn that when they scraped their knee, their leg wasn’t going to fall off, use their imaginations, be respectful, and all sorts of wonderful skills. With all of the fear-mongering in today’s society, that life changing experience has been lost for so many kids. They are shuffled into tracked and gifted programs, sheltered by scared to death parents, protected from confrontation…and they are missing out on learning how to become productive, confident people.
That neighborhood is what we try to recreate here. An experience where kids can be safe to run, fall, and get back up. Where they can effectively communicate and deal with confrontation with their peers without parents interfering and taking over. We provide the facility; the “safe place,” but we want our learning and play to be student centered and based on creativity, exploration, failing and learning how to make it work ON THEIR OWN.
The example that Danny gave was comparing and contrasting a pick-up game of baseball, and a Little League game of baseball. Think about the answer to these questions:
Who runs a pick-up game of base ball? Who makes the rules? How does any conflict get handled?
What about a Little League game? Who runs the show? Who decides the rules?
Who can play in a pick up game? A little league game?
If you think about the answers, you can see where this is going. Adults decide the rules and how to enforce them for a little league game, so all that kids who play little league learn is how to play baseball. How to behave and conform to a set of rules and ideas. Only kids who’s parents can afford little league can play, they all have uniforms and look the same, and the kids who don’t fit in, ship out.
In a pick up game, the kids run the show. They decide the rules. Usually, the bigger kids have to help and explain the rules to the younger kids. If you don’t want to be a team player, you don’t get invited next time. Any conflicts have to be handled by the kids who are playing. Kids may learn baseball, but they learn a lot more about how to try new things, play in a team setting, conflict resolution.,…and I could go on and on.
WE WANT TO BE THE PICK UP GAME! We want all of the kids. We take and listen to all ideas. We encourage and expect our students to be able to have the confidence to solve their own problems, and if they aren’t there yet, we help them get there, but by facilitating, not controlling. We want our kids to have disagreements so that they can learn how to correctly handle conflict. We want them to fail so that they can use their creativity and problem solving skills.
I just wanted to pass this information along, because it made me so excited to work in a place that views education in that light. Where not just anything, but EVERYTHING is possible.