A Middle Schoolgirl's Voice

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Joined: 14 Dec 2004
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Location: Virginia, USA

PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2007 9:33 pm
PostPost subject: A Middle Schoolgirl's Voice
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Read this front page article in last week's New York Times.

For decades articles like this one have appeared in newspapers repeatedly. Ask yourself why the drum keeps drumming but little changes.

There is an emotional component to our school culture that goes unrecognized. The culture is neutralized. Even warm, nurturing teachers, like nurses in an overcrowded hospital, cannot help the situation. Middle school students, just like elementary schoolers, want and need to play in some form or another. If the primary caring adults whom children spend their time with mainly push and march them through the day without a sense of joy and shared laughter, then the model we are using is that of the modern factory farm. Today's classroom, however well outfitted, cannot fool most kids, but it is rare that a student can find the words to nail it down.

Raechelle Ellison’s words, “Being in middle school is just like a bird being kicked out of its nest by its mother” are as accurate as they are tragic. Just like Raechelle’s words (if we choose to listen to them), the predictable and unconditional response to play-based communication tells us that all children—middle school children included—need adults willing to create tools and experiences that shape learning in the image of children, and not some adult agenda. It’s not about changing school so much as it is about recognizing that ‘students’ are children who have basic needs and requirements for their developing brains. If brain scientists can recognize that play provides the emotive propulsion essential for learning and heightened communication, and Raechelle Ellison knows when her classroom is void of warmth and security, then perhaps we must ask why we all generally accept a school culture held captive by ham-fisted laws and bureaucratic controls that deny children these birthrights.
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