Saturday, December 29, 2012

California Dreaming on Such a Winter's Day

We are experiencing some rather wintry weather out there today.  There is much I should be doing while off from school, but housework is a chore I choose to run from if given the opportunity.  Sadly, running isn't an option with the wintry mix falling outside my window.  So, do I buckle down and whip this place into shape?  Ummmm, no- I daydream.
Our school system has officially moved to a balanced calendar.  This looks like two weeks off in fall, two for Christmas, and two for spring, with only six weeks in summer.  I know this creates quite a predicament concerning childcare for some folks.  Our educational system itself has presented quite a predicament as well, only I fear parents aren't aware of it, or don't know what to do about it.  In shaping our children's days for the soul purpose of increasing standardized test scores, we've left out teaching children how to think, how to question, how to jump off or jump on, how to take what they've learned and move on.  I believe personal gifts are so neglected, everyone must excel at everything, or we've all failed.
Interestingly, just received this from a friend long retired from full time teaching, but continues to bring lots of exciting learning experiences to my lucky classroom.
I've been so blessed to have worked for administrators who know teaching kids to think is the right path.  What's so endlessly frustrating about the attitude of the state are my own students standardized scores, that show big growth,  year after year in fourth grade.  If you teach them to think and give them the basics, the rest falls into place.  So, I have had that opportunity where I teach with 10 to 26 kiddos, depending on the year. The problem- after kindergarten it seems, my gramerlings don't have a me. Ever it pinches and pokes.
So, I daydream. About starting camps during those off times. Camps where children are encouraged to think, question, dream, play, explore.  Where reading is something you do for the love of it.  Where math patterns are discovered everywhere.  Where you might actually have the skill to sew on a button, instead of throwing your shirt away. Where you might find that you have a knack for the dramatic, songwriting, creating rhythms and on and on.

Fear comes creeping along to cast a dim shadow over those dreams.  Where would I do such a thing?  Could I really find good help I'd need?   Are there enough parents to care about such things and want their children to have such experiences?   While God has gifted me with a creative flair for hands-on, experimental learning, I have  a serious deficit in the business/financial part of the plan.  We (Handy Man and I), you know, like to eat.

I am not much of a risk taker, however the passion for such teaching and learning is there in spades.  Will that be enough?  I don't know, however I know I'm growing weary of the pokes and pinches and don't you think the deep midwinter was created for daydreaming?


  1. My hat is off to the gentleman and his integrity. It is very scary. I am so glad that Amara is lucky enough to live in a good public school district and that she has had such great teachers. It helps that her parents are so involved (and that includes me!)

  2. Your winter pictures are beautiful. As a Floridian, I am drawn to autumn leaves and snow, but I know I would long for sun and warmth before too long. I think your camps would be wonderful. My kids and I have had the same dream for a long time. I would love to buy a summer camp on a lake and house my various family members and friends in cabins within walking distance of each other. I would like to use the camp for events such as weddings, camp fires and singalongs, 12 step meetings, lectures and concerts and, yes, outings for children who might not have that opportunity. I knew this was my dream, but I was surprised when each of my children confided a similar wish on separate occasions. It is nice to dream.