Monday, May 17, 2010

Did we put Emma up to speaking? Was she telling the truth?

Albert Einstein said, "The aim (of education) must be the training of independently acting and thinking individuals who, however, can see in the service to the community their highest life achievement."

Paul and I are very proud of Emma for speaking at the Board of Education meeting on May 12, 2010.  

Emma wrote her own remarks, speaking her own mind - and from the start, she wanted to make a difference by participating at the Board of Education meeting.  There she stood, not yet even 12 years old, a critical thinker speaking up for what she believes in a room full of adults; not a peer in sight.  If we aren't educating children for that very act, then what -- truly-- is the point?

According to those present, there was confusion about Emma's statements.  It may have been suggested her remarks bore no merit because 6th grade does not use a ticket/token/reward/incentive program when in fact, class rewards are most definitely used in 6th grade gym, music and art. 

In addition, Emma was speaking about her experience in general with the ticket/reward program that was in place in her grade 5 class as well as the school-wide ticket program put in place sometime during her 4th or 5th grade year at BCS.  Children were "caught being good," given tickets, and then names were drawn to win prizes.  She talked about how that made her feel.

Of particular note: Emma was also speaking about the truly positive learning environments she has experienced at BCS in 4th grade and 6th grade.  And, that's the real kicker... 

She so astutely has observed that the classes she has had with the least or no rewards, were the best environments.  She clearly sees that when students work together, have a teacher who takes the time to get to know them and provides opportunities for interesting, engaging learning, and choice -- the behavior problems either do not exist or are minor enough in nature that a skilled teacher can use humor to redirect a misbehaving student. 

In choosing to get hung up on whether or not Emma's statement was accurate, it appears the wisdom she spoke was lost on this group of adults charged with educating our children.  

Emma stood up with the intention of making a difference for the younger students she'll leave behind as she graduates to Amity Middle School.  She spoke her truth, which happened to also be THE TRUTH.  You can read her remarks here.  I think Einstein would have been proud too.