John Dewey, Dr. Seuss & a one room schoolhouse in Armenia Colombia
March 2, 2015
A one room rural schoolhouse in Colombia has much to teach us about the schools children need to be successful learners. Nueva Escuela’s curriculum is predicated on the belief that children learn best by doing, rather than being endlessly drilled for national exams.
It is unfortunate and surprising that Escuela Nueva is almost unknown in the United States, even though it has won numerous international awards because so much of the thinking behind the curriculum and its application is closely aligned with the thinking of our very own John Dewey. Dewey, decades ago, asserted that students learn best though experience.
I am quite certain our very own Dr. Seuss, who would be 111 years old today, would be a big fan of Escuela Nueva. Seuss was very much responsible for “killing off the Dick and Jane readers” and changed forever the way children learned to read when he wrote The Cat in the Hat, his first I Can Read Book. Comprised of 1629 words in length, with a vocabulary of only 223 words, the book was written to teach children how to read. He knew that children who were bored by the Dick & Jane readers were not children who would learn to be good readers.
Rachel Lotan, a professor emeritus at Stanford said ‘Doing well on high stakes test scores is what drives the public school and fear of giving students more control of their own education will being down those scores.’
It seems counter productive to ignore evidence that shows students learn best by doing and when they are encouraged to think for themselves and engage in collaborative learning that speaks to their interests.
And we wish Dr Seuss long life in our hearts and minds—
February 25, 2015
Diane was recently in Hong Kong working with Bring Me A Book, the leading advocate for family literacy in Hong Kong. Here is an excerpt from an article in the South China Morning Press “Diane Frankenstein, a child literacy expert, guides parents and teachers in the art of conversational reading as an excellent way to […]
February 19, 2015
While recently working in Hong Kong I learned about a relatively new player in the world of awards for Children books of distinction. The Feng Zikai award, handed out for the first time in 2009, is a biannual awarded aimed at promoting original, quality Chinese children’s books and recognizing the efforts of authors, illustrators and publishers. […]
February 15, 2015
I am continually asked, “Why is reading so important?” Many people believe reading is important for success in school and they are correct. But that reason alone does not adequately speak to the real importance and value that comes from being a reader. We read to know and to understand ourselves and our place in […]
February 12, 2015
Parents the world over want the best for their children. I just returned from working in Hong Kong and I had the good fortune to meet and work with so many parents. One dad in Hong Kong, when asked why he signed up for the Master Class on Conversational Reading said, “I learned that I […]