Saturday, January 30, 2010

Weekend Web Roundup

Sorry for the delay, but Weekend Web Roundup has good alliteration so it's all for the best....

Documenting Children's Work: Pre-Project - This post on the Camp Creek Blog describes the process of observing children, determining their interests and ensuring accurate data collection

State of US Kids: 2010 - The AERO blog gives the highlights of a report issued by TIME kids and

How to be an Anti-Racist Ally - More tips from New Demographic, posted on their Love Isn't Enough blog, on how to raise anti-racist children

Peyton Manning Can Call Audibles, Can You? - Ecology of Education explores standardization in schools

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Commitment to Community

It's been hard for me to get the blog for the past few days. My four and a half year old daughter has come down with her first bad cold, and I've been busy making soup and mopping her feverish brow with a damp washcloth.

The kind of nice thing about it, though, has been the chance I've had to spend a couple of focused days with her. Usually we're so busy going about our lives, and I am busy chasing her toddler brother, that I don't get to spend much time just hanging out with her, talking. It's been nice to snuggle on the couch, reading books and telling stories.

I've gotten the chance to really see how much she's learned, grown and matured over the past several months. When reading books, I can see the buds of literacy starting to peek through, as she begins to recognize letters and words and interacts with stories in ways she never did before. Her math skills are growing as well, as she is beginning to be interested in simple addition, subtraction and fractions. Even her awareness of the world is starting to shift - as we sat this morning watching the snow fall, she explained to me the phases of matter, and how the flakes don't really disappear but change from ice to water.

I don't know how she would be developing intellectually and academically if she were in a different school environment, but there's something else that I am confident is unique to Wellspring. Even though she has been up all night with a nasty cough and a fever of over 102 degrees, she was desperately trying to convince me that she was healthy enough to go to school. She feels a responsibility to her friends and a commitment to her community, and she wants to be at school. She loves being at school. She feels like she belongs there, and the importance of that cannot be overstated.

So, I'm off to do more soup-making and brow-mopping so I can get my daughter back to her friends as soon as possible!


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

What's for Lunch Wednesday - Dangerism in the Kitchen

I just read this post on the Tinkering School blog, which is about "dangerism", or the way a culture decides what is and is not dangerous. For example, in our culture suburban parents will put their children in the car and drive them to a park or vacant lot to ride their bicycles, when statistically speaking driving a car is much more dangerous than riding a bicycle around the neighborhood. Reading this post made reminded me of making Stone Soup in school for lunch last week.

For those who have not read the story, Stone Soup is about a community who comes together to make soup after many years of the people being isolated from each other. There are several versions of the story from different cultures. In school last week, the children read a couple of versions of the story over a couple of days, and then they each brought in a contribution to add to the pot of soup that we shared. of the primary students really wanted to cut up the potatoes that Anne had brought so they could be added to the soup. Personally, that is something that I would never permit my four-year-old to do because I would be afraid she would cut herself; potato cutting requires quite a bit of strength and a sharp knife. However, the student (who will remain nameless in case his or her mother is reading) was insistent that cutting potatoes was entirely appropriate, and I had to take a step back and decide whether my reluctance was about the student's safety or my fear. I decided that it was reasonable for a student of that age to cut potatoes within certain parameters: only one student at a time could have hands on the table while potatoes were being cut, and once the cutter's attention started to wander the potato cutting was over (which it did not, by the way). In the end, all three potatoes were safely cut and added to the soup without incident.

Many things are different at Wellspring from what I would ordinarily do at home. The children eat on regular (not plastic) plates, and pour their own water from a ceramic pitcher. A candle is lit during the midday meal, and children cut potatoes by themselves. And I've realized over the past few months that children are capable of much more than I ordinarily give them credit for. Plates almost never break, and no one ever sets themselves or the school on fire (knocking on wood). I've learned that if we give children the freedom to try things that scare us, we may learn that there really isn't anything to be scared of.
(Photo by flickr user Adventures of Pam & Frank courtesy of a Creative Commons license)

Monday, January 25, 2010

LEARN [sic] Act

Earlier in the 2009 - 2010 session of Congress, the Literacy Education for All, Results for the Nation (LEARN) Act was introduced in both the House and the Senate. This bill offers competitive grants to states and subgrants to local education agencies to implement comprehensive literacy plans.

Money for education? Comprehensive literacy plans? How can you go wrong?

I absolutely concur that literacy is vital and should be given much attention. However, I have to wonder about a program that creates generalized mandates and "comprehensive literacy plans" instead of leaving implementation in the hands of the people best equipped to judge the needs of students - namely, their teachers. I also find it difficult to imagine that Washington can create a plan that will work for all students.

As a holistic educator, I believe that each child is an individual - sorry to state the obvious! Furthermore, as an individual, each child has unique needs that cannot be adequately addressed through any one-size-fits-all curriculum. Literacy is more than decoding and vocabulary. It is about learning to interact with words, to understand their deeper meanings and think carefully about what a writer is trying to say even if she hasn't explicitly said it. It is about incorporating new ideas and gradually expanding your world-view through the things you read, hear, see and learn. This sort of intellectual development requires a certain degree of trust and a strong relationship between student and teacher, which is difficult to develop in most educational situations. The question really isn't whether or not children will learn to read, but will they learn to think about what they read, to form a meaningful relationship with words and ideas that will help them to be successful, informed individuals?

Perhaps comprehension is more difficult to measure than decoding and vocabulary skills. In our current corporate culture that is so focused on predictable and measurable results, people are reluctant to talk about the more obscure skills that don't lend themselves to testing, such as curiosity, critical thinking and creativity. Certainly, people are reluctant to grant money unless they can come away with a number that tells them whether or not their money was well-spent. However, we cannot educate our children based on our desire to measure their progress. We need to educate them to have the skills they will need to be knowledgeable and happy people who have a valuable contribution to make to the world. We continue to try to come up with different ideas that will make schools more successful at giving children the academic skills we think they need, but perhaps what we really need is nothing short of a paradigm shift.

Read another perspective here.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday Web Roundup

A couple of interesting articles from the NJ Star Ledger this week -

Higher NJ standards lead to lower scores on annual tests - Statewide, about 37% of 4th graders tested below proficiency in language arts this year. That's more than one in three, people!

Technology use up in kids, parents losing ground - A new study shows that children ages 8 to 18 spend an average of 7 hours, 38 minutes a day consuming media for fun.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Krishnamurti Says...

I really like the television program Bones. I watch very little television, but that is one show that I will make a point to watch if I have enough energy to stay awake past 8 pm. Anyway....there was one episode recently when the character, Dr. Brennan, has her second cousin over for Christmas dinner. The cousin is constantly quoting Benjamin Franklin, and in fact never says anything of her own.

Kind of strange, right? Except I am reading Education and the Significance of Life by J. Krishnamurti, and I am wondering if maybe I might develop the same annoying habit of constantly quoting a particular authority. It's a really short book, about 100 pages, and I'm only about a quarter of the way through, but already I have three pages of notes.

Here's my favorite quote so far:

"Any form of education that concerns itself with a part and not with the whole of man [sic] inevitably leads to increasing conflict and suffering."
Oh, and I like this one too:
"Conformity leads to mediocrity."
I'm off to keep reading....

Monday, January 18, 2010

Embracing Diversity

My daughter loves to get books on CD from the library that come with the actual book so she can follow along with the pictures and turn the pages as she listens. This weekend, I saw a book called The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson and was intrigued by it. It is a story about a white girl and an African American girl who live on opposite sides of a fence in a segregated community. Their mothers forbid them to go over the fence because "that's the way it's always been" but they become friends anyway.

Ordinarily, I would refrain from getting a book for my 4 year old with this type of content. However, some of the research I've been doing regarding parenting and how to combat racism has me thinking twice about sheltering her from discussions of prejudice, and I've also been reading about comprehension strategy for literacy instruction, and wanted to try out some of the techniques I've been learning. So we got the book and listened to it once straight through, and then on the second listening I paused the recording a few times to ask my daughter about the story. The prejudice angle went right over her head, and she thought the mothers didn't want the girls to be friends simply because it wasn't safe for them to climb over the fence. I am not sure if her naivite about issues of racism are due to her age and innocence, or a failure on my part to adequately discuss these difficult topics with her. Either way, I am grateful in a way that she lives a life free of prejudice (or at least free of an awareness of it), and in another way I am sorry we live in such a diversity-free community and worry that she may continue to be unaware of the realities of the world.

The diversity education organization New Demographic offers the following tips on Being an Anti-Racist Parent:

1. Step outside your comfort zone. If something is making you uncomfortable, look closely at it and figure out where your own biases are.

2. Being anti-racist is a journey, not a destination. The topic of racism is not a one-time conversation. Racism is a difficult subject that must be looked at closely and talked about in relationship to real life.

3. Seek out professionals of color. If possible, find a physician, attorney, dentist, artist, etc. of color and do business with them so that your child does not assume that people of color only do certain types of job (often low-paying, low-prestige ones).

4. Never stop dismantling your own racist beliefs. We all have them, and we need to look at them carefully and frequently.

5. Speak truthfully and proudly. Answer questions in a straightforward way without making excuses or acting as if the subject of race is taboo.

6. Make conversations about racism relaxed and frequent. You want your children to be comfortable coming to you with questions, concerns and stories.

7. Lead by example. I don’t think this one requires any additional explanation.

8. Don’t let others decide your child’s ethnicity for them. If your child is of a minority ethnic group, don’t be afraid to describe her ethnicity in any way you choose.

9. Have an answer prepared. This is always better than being caught off guard.

10. Your children will face racism, so prepare them for it. It does you, and your children, no good to pretend that racism does not exist, so it is best to prepare them ahead of time rather than allowing them to get caught unprepared in a difficult situation.


Friday, January 15, 2010

Friday Web Roundup

Readers' Photos: Families, One and All: Simply a beautiful collection of photos on the New York Times visual jounalism blog.

In Defense of Reading...Which Should Need No Defense: Camp Creek blog asks why kids can't play Wii AND read.

We are Hardwired to Care and Connect: David Korten shares on the Eartheasy blog that all we need to be happy is to do what comes naturally - connect with community.

What if Schools Had Solutionary Teams: Zoe Weil wonders why schools offer (require?) debate teams but not chances for students to work together toward solutions?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Book Review: The Apple Pip Princess

I wish I could remember where I heard about this book so I could offer credit where it is due. (I think it might have been from The Amelia Bloomer Project, but I'm not sure. Either way, I'm happy to give a shout out to a great blog.) The Apple Pip Princess, written and illustrated by Jane Ray, is a delightful story of a king who needs to decide which of his three daughters will rule his kingdom after he is gone. One of his daughters decided to build the tallest tower in the kingdom to impress her father and took all the townspeople's wood to do it. The second daughter, who was very vain, built a tower out of shiny metal, also collected from the villagers. The youngest daughter decided to use the treasures left to her by her late mother to recall the former beauty of the kingdom. I'm sure you can guess the rest, but if you can't I won't ruin it for you.

There are a couple of things that set this fairy tale apart from most of the others that I've read. One is that the girl does not play a damsel in distress but a strong, confident, wise and insightful protagonist of the story. The other is the illustrations. The princesses and their father all have dark skin and dark curly hair that suggests they are of African descent. The parched dry land of the kingdom and the ramshackle cottages of the people could easily be in Africa as well. The princess' efforts to restore the lush greenness of the land is reminiscent of the Green Belt Movement started by 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai. I love that this story expands the diversity of characters and settings beyond what is traditionally found between the covers of most picture books.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

What's for Lunch Wednesday - Un-Hummus

When my now 4 year old daughter was a new eater, she ate everything. Everything! I congratulated myself on sidestepping the landmine of pickiness - what an amazing parent I must be, much better than parents with kids who only eat chicken fingers and cheese sticks.

So naive, I was back then. My daughter's eating repertoire has slowly dwindled down to nearly nothing, and I prepare meal after meal having no idea if what I am making is something she will be interested in eating at that particular moment in time. One thing I can always count on her to eat is hummus, and I've made it a personal project of mine to figure out 101 ways to serve it. But really - how much hummus can one mom be expected to make?

So it was with great excitement that I recently tested a recipe I found in Living Without magazine for Creamy White Bean Dip (aka Un-Hummus, in our house). It was a hit!

1 15-ounce can white cannellini beans
1 15-ounce can artichoke hearts, packed in water or marinated
2 cloves garlic, roasted
2 tablespoons dried parsley plus more for garnish
1/4 cup pine nuts, optional
2-5 drops Tabasco sauce
salt and pepper to taste
paprika for garnish

Drain and rinse beans and artichokes. Combine all ingredients, except paprika, in a food processor and puree until very smooth. Place dip in a bowl and garnish with a dash of paprika and extra parsley.
(Photo courtesy of Flickr user net_efekt courtesy of a Creative Commons license)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Book Review: Black Ants and Buddhists

I have had the book Black Ants and Buddhists: Thinking Critically and Teaching Differently in the Primary Grades by Mary Cowhey on my To Read list for quite some time now. I haven't had the chance to get to it for one reason or another, but over the holiday I was finally able to get my hands on a copy and read it. Cowhey is an activist-turned-public schoolteacher, and from the sounds of it, she runs a remarkable classroom.

Some of the activities she has organized in her Peace Class include a food drive for a local shelter, a voter registration drive during a Presidential election year, and a number of letter writing campaigns and projects. She discusses the way she approaches a number of complicated issues, such as philosophy and non-traditional families, with her first- and second-grade students. She has done exhaustive research on many different topics, and there is an enormous amount of thought and sensitivity behind her treatment of difficult subjects.

As impressed as I am with what Cowhey accomplishes in her classroom, I did find myself feeling a little queasy at some of the things she tackles. For example, she devotes a large part of the book to a description of the way she teaches the exploration of the "New World" and the colonization of the western hemisphere. I can't help but agree with her in some ways: if, as a public school teacher, she is required to teach these topics in first or second grade, she owes it to her students to give them a critical, complete and thorough presentation. She would be doing them a disservice if she were to present the traditional, glossed-over story of Columbus sailing the ocean blue in fourteen hundred ninety two.

However, I am not sure I am entirely comfortable with the idea of engaging young children in a discussion of genocide, and I found myself wanting to be a fly in Cowhey's classroom so I could hear just how she addresses the destruction of native North American cultures by the European settlers. From my perspective, I am having trouble imagining how such a complicated and, frankly, upsetting historical reality could possibly be addressed without giving children nightmares. While I agree that the Europeans, who took many of the native people as slaves and destroyed many of the remaining people through disease and violence, acted in a way that is morally reprehensible, I also think that presenting the nuances and details of the story could easily be lost on a young child.

I am all for engaging children in community service and teaching them about their civic responsibility. Young people must be empowered so that they feel prepared to act when they see injustice in the world. I believe that children are capable of understanding and doing more than they are commonly given credit for. Perhaps, in Cowhey's suburban district, so many of her children experience social inequities first-hand that talking about them in school is necessary. That said, I wonder if it wouldn't be more appropriate to spend the early grades covering topics that are a little less charged. Either way, Cowhey's commitment to her students and their development as engaged, educated critical thinkers is nothing short of heroic.


Monday, January 11, 2010

Solve for "X"

“Two plus two is four. Four plus four is eight. Eight plus eight is sixteen. Sixteen plus sixteen is 32 . . .” This is the lunchtime refrain. As the Olders visit and chew, they lob math problems back and forth, reciting what they’ve memorized and often venturing into competitions. The Youngers listen with rapt attention, sometimes repeating what they’ve heard recited so many times before. The Youngers are thrilled when they can answer a math problem posed by an Older, and often appear dejected when they do not know the answers that seem to come so easily to their older classmates. I will often help reframe the problem so that it might make sense to them; “if you had two olives, and I gave you two more, how many would you have?” I might casually hold up fingers for them to count, and the triumphant shout of “Four!! It’s four!!” can be heard from across the street.

Now that we are several months into the school year, the Olders have stepped up their game. Recently, the lunchtime math chatter turned to talk of “x.” One of the boys had mastered the skill of figuring out simple algebraic problems. He quickly explained it to a peer, and they delighted in stumping the other children with new math problems involving the elusive “x.” Some of the interested Youngers looked to me in confusion. X? What in the world could they be talking about? We discussed the fact that x is called a “variable,” a number that we aren’t sure of, a “mystery number.” This, the Youngers could understand. Of course, they wanted to know how to solve this mystery! A younger sibling, C (5 years old), was particularly determined to figure out what “x” was. This was the exchange that took place as we cleaned up from lunch:

Me: Give me two numbers. X plus something equals something else.
C: X plus 19 equals 9.
Me: Well, we need the last number to be the biggest, because we’re saying that the mystery number, x, plus something, equals something else, so the ending number has to be biggest.
C: Ok, x plus 9 equals 19.
Me: That’ll work. So, mystery number, added to 9, will give us 19. (I hold up my hands in front of him to count with my fingers). If we start at 9, how many will we have to count to get to 19? Start with the number that comes after 9, and stop me when we get to 19. What comes after 9?C: Ten.
Me: Right. Keep going. (I hold up a finger for each number he ticks off).
C: 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 . . . STOP!
Me: (holding 10 fingers in front of him) Ok, how many did it take us to get from 9 to 19? (he counts each of my fingers)
C: Ten.
Me: So what plus 9 equals 19?
C: Ten.Me: So x is what?
C: TEN!! (runs over to P and B) It’s 10! X is 10!!

The older boys congratulate him on solving the problem, and C is ecstatic. He tells 4 year old S, “I know what x is! X is 10!” She’s clearly happy to have this information with which to impress her brother. The Olders then give them another problem: X+45=90.

C and S announce in unison, “x is 10!” and the Olders laugh. The Youngers look to me, the air gone from their sails. I break the news:

"X was 10 in the problem we did. But guess what? X is not always 10. X changes when the other numbers change. The good news is, if you know two of the numbers, you can always figure out X. Do you want to try some?” They sure did. We made our way over to the chalkboard as the rest of the students were getting dressed to go outside. The paddock would have to wait for this small group! The Olders wanted to give the Youngers some problems. We started out with smaller numbers, to make things easier.

B: Ok, 5 plus x equals 8. (writes it on chalkboard) So, what you do is, you subtract the same thing from both sides and that will give you x.

S and C look completely confused. I explain the strategy we used to solve the first problem.

Me: We started with the number we knew, then counted how many it took to get to the ‘equals number,’ and that’s how we found x. That might be easier for them to understand than subtraction.

P: Ok, so what do you have to add to 5 to get 8?
Me: Try showing them with something, it will help them see it.
B: (makes tally marks on chalkboard) 6, 7, 8. So what is x?
C looks to me, unsure.
Me: How many did it take to get from 5 to 8? Count them.
C: 1, 2, 3.Me: So x is?
C: Three!!
Me: You just did algebra!
C: (to S) I did algebra! I know it! (turns to me) If I learn all the algebra now, by the time I get to college, I’ll know all the algebra already, and it’ll be easier!

C runs to get dressed for outside, leaving S with me, studying the chalkboard. I ask if she wants to try one, and she enthusiastically says yes.

Me: Let’s try this one. X plus 8 equals 10. (I write it on the board). If we have 8, how many will it take us to get to 10?(S doesn’t seem to know where to begin, so I pull out the basket of chalk pieces). We know we start with 8, so show me 8.(S counts out and lines up 8 pieces of chalk on the rug). So now that we have 8, how many more will we need to get to 10?
S: Two.
Me: Are you sure? Show me. (She takes out two more pieces of chalk, adds them to the lineup).
S: Nine, ten.
Me: So what plus 8 equals 10?
S: Two.
Me: So x is what, in this problem?
S: TWO!!!

She fills in the number 2 on the chalkboard, then runs to the cubbies to D-R-A-G Anne over to see her work. She beams as she shows Anne the equation on the board, and the chalk pieces on the floor that prove her skill. “I did algebra!” she says with a smile, and runs to join C to share the news.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Friday Web Roundup

The Case for NOT Packing Away! - Childhood 101's Christie makes a compelling case against cleanup. Apparently her tolerance for disorder is much higher than mine! :)

10 Questions to Encourage Engaged Parenting in 2010 - Megan at simplemom gives parents a starting point for setting parenting goals for the upcoming year

Why Don't Children Like School? - Children don't like school because they love freedom, says Peter Gray on the AERO blog

How to Grow Organic Food Indoors - For those who simply cannot wait for spring to start gardening, Healthy Child Healthy World has some suggestions

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Visiting Artists at Wellspring

We encourage parents, other relatives and friends, and community members to share their interests and talents with our students through our Visiting Artists program. Some of the people who have joined us so far during this school year include:

Mark Zimmermann taught us about fencing

Audrey Collins shared fingerknitting

Dave Mack shared a Hannukah story and craft

Douglas Economy as the traditional German Weihnachtsmann

Parvathi Kumar explaining the Hindu festival Pancha Ganapati

If you have a skill and/or passion you'd like to share with our students, please contact us to schedule a visit!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

What's for Lunch Wednesday - Make it From Scratch

I don't know about you, but plastic packaging is a big pet peeve of mine. Especially since we made a concerted effort during this past October's Eco Challenge (sponsored by the Northwest Earth Institute) to reduce our trash output, I've become especially aware of how much of our garbage is simply the things we use to carry other things home from the store (and, of course, to make those things attractive enough to make me want to buy them in the first place).
One solution to this problem - make it from scratch! Not as intimidating as it sounds, I promise. Here's a couple of resources to get you started:

Make Your Own Brown Sugar at The Green Phone Booth (one of my top five fave blogs, BTW)

Happy Making, as my four-year-old would say!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Beating School Stress

I really like the blog Zen Family Habits and read it religiously. A recent post listed ways to "Help Your Kids Beat These Five Sources of School Stress": fatigue, boredom, grades, peers and authority.

I couldn't help but wonder, instead of giving parents tips on how to minimize the effects of school stress on children, what if we were to look at the way schools are set up and try to minimize the stress felt by children in the first place? As a former researcher who studied the effects of stress on learning, I know that stress compromises a person's ability to learn complex tasks and ideas. When our stress response is turned on, we are more likely to be in survival mode, paying attention to cues that signal the onset of more stress and trying to figure out ways to minimize its unpleasant effects. We certainly are not giving our full attention to solving for "x" or the use of allegory in Renaissance literature.

Clearly, some stress is inevitible, even useful. All interpersonal interactions are marked by a certain degree of conflict. It is our responsibility as parents to give our children the tools to learn how to manage their time to allow for adequate rest, to deal with other people, to overcome disappointment and frustration, to take responsibility for their own learning, to find solutions for difficult situations. However, I think we do all children a disservice when we fail to acknowledge the fact that most schools are set up as places where stressors can quickly become overwhelming.

Children often receive so much homework that adequate rest is impossible, especially when extracurricular activities are included in the schedule. Teachers are expected to cover certain predetermined curriculum in a given amount of time, regardless of the number and abilities of the students in a class. Children may be unable to receive extra help if they are behind, or enrichment if they are ahead, for a number of reasons. Instead of offering instruction on how to solve conflicts, disagreements among children often lead to punishment if they are addressed by adults at all. Teachers are seen as authorities and purveyors of knowledge, grades, and status, not as students' friends. Given these conditions, it's no wonder that students are stressed!

Holistic education asks how we can help children develop academically within an environment that also supports their personal, social and spiritual growth. Each child is met and nurtured as an individual by adults who see themselves as allies and aides of the students. Relationships are viewed as being at least as important as classwork, and significant time is devoted to teaching children how to be together in kindness and community. Surely, there is still conflict and stress, but this is dealt with as a matter of course. Instead of seeing life and school as separate, holistic facilitators and parents work together to provide a continuous network of support that helps children to navigate the murky and confusing roads of growth and maturity.


Monday, January 4, 2010

Local Gem - New Jersey Children's Museum

One of our favorite places to visit, especially when the weather is too cold (or too hot) to have much fun playing outside, is the New Jersey Children's Museum in Paramus. This year another Wellspring family joined us on our annual holiday week visit, and the kids had a great time playing together. From the youngest at twenty months, to the oldest at six years, they all found something fun to do, though it is probably best suited for toddlers and preschoolers. It is rarely very crowded, and there are activities such as puppet shows, story time, and arts & crafts held throughout the day so you can easily pass a few hours at the museum.
The children were able to spend the day trying on different identities, including paleontologist, ambulance driver, fire fighter, Medieval royalty, and musician, but far and away their favorite was construction worker. This museum has over thirty different play areas so there is sure to be something for children of every interest. There is no food permitted in the museum, but it is conveniently located near Route 17 and the Paramus Park Mall, so if you wish to brave the Bergen County roads system you will find a wealth of food choices. The museum frequently holds special events, which are always reasonably priced and lots of fun, including princess and pirate breakfasts and holiday events.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Holistic Education, An Introduction - Part 5

In order to allow for family time during this vacation week, instead of our usual variety of postings we will share an introduction to the ideas behind Holistic Education from Holistic Education, Inc.

What About Other Pressing Issues?

Many people today feel that there are concerns which are so pressing that these concerns must be solved before any others (like developing alternative forms of education) are addressed. Such people will say that one can not discuss philosophy with someone starving - feed the person first, and then one can give time and energy to philosophy.

Holistic education has seen the situation a bit differently, and thinks this metaphor is inadequate. Let us assume that a person is starving unnecessarily because that person has some fundamentally mistaken notions. Perhaps one needs to feed the person initially, but no amount of just feeding the person will help; simply giving them food will only mean they end up starving again later. Holistic education has long maintained that mis-education or inadequate education lies at the roots of our modern problems, and a different kind of education has a real chance of solving them.