Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Reggio Emilia Wednesday: A Little Something to Think About...(Thanks, Alfie)

As I was working on preparing my post for Reggio Emilia Wednesday, happened to come across some You Tube clips of Alfie Kohn. Very interesting to think about what he is saying in his talks.
Here is one that resonates in my soul: Achievement vs. Learning.
Kind of hit home this week, as recently, while we were eating dinner, Big Bro posed the question,"What does A, B,C, D mean"?
Asked him to elaborate a bit, as I did not know if this was his attempt at a joke along the lines of, "Why was 6 afraid of 7?...because 7 8(ate) 9...ha ha ha...or his attempt at a math question, or a reading, he added, "You know, what the kids in public schools get...the letters...does B mean Bad? Or does it mean Better"? at which time, Little Bro chimed in that B cannot mean bad, as there is a B in his name...B must mean better.
Then, Big Bro continued,"What happens if a kid gets one of the letters"?
He was curious bordering on nervous about what these letters would mean.
Was along the lines of his curiosity about what happens when a kid gets chicken pox...
Asked him why he had a sudden interest and he said he heard neighbors talking about the letters at the park and he wanted to know what they mean and why a kid would want a particular letter.
At that very moment, it dawned on me that the boys have absolutely no concept of grades. 
They just learn for the sake of learning, and they love learning for the sake of learning, not for some arbitrary letters. 
The only thing that came close to a concept of grading for Big Bro is that when he went to VPK (preschool for 4 year olds here), back when we still worried about socialization so we thought sending him to VPK would be a good thing for him, right???, his teacher used to put smiley faces on the tops of all of his papers. She also gave all of the "Good Boys & Girls" a Skittles candy every day that they were "Good"...
Big Bro liked that at first but then, since he was getting Smileys & Skittles all of the time, and he finally asked if he could please do something a little more interesting, she brought in a second grade math workbook and started giving him sheet after sheet after sheet from the workbook to keep him busy while the others finished their work...
Big Bro went from being happy doing the math he enjoyed to totally dreading it and actually, when we started homeschooling, he told me that he loved learning about everything but math...
His interest and love for this subject had been sucked right out of him.
It has been so refreshing to see Big Bro come full circle and love math again.
He loves learning for the sake of learning and so does Little Bro.
Homeschooling drawing on inspirations from Reggio Emilia, Montessori, and a few other approaches thrown into the mix has made this a way of life for our family. We work on projects as a family. We see the value in lifelong learning and learning while living.
Experiential learning, not workbooks and skills and drills.
The children look forward to their work, which is largely play based, and get up happy and ready to take on the day.
Well, later in the day, will post some photos our family completing the final steps of the project we have been working on since shortly after Thanksgiving. It has been an awesome, long range project for our whole family and we look forward to sharing it with you...just need a little more time to wrap the last bits of the project up enough for some photos...
Until then, here is the You Tube clip of Alfie Kohn and his very wise two cents regarding achievement vs. learning, plus a little cheer for this wise man:
Go Alfie, Go Alfie...
Go, go, go Alfie!!!

Please feel free to comment on this post, as well as to link up if you have anything related to Reggio Emilia or even something related to Alfie Kohn and Unschooling, as he is more along the lines of Radical Unschooling, but hey...just gotta love the guy for his thoughts on education...and a shout out to a new blog I discovered called Homeschooling Belle. Jenny has a big family and she and her hubby homeschool via un-schooling, and are Radical Unschoolers. Her take on life is very interesting, so be sure to pop by and check out her nice blog and her thoughts about un-schooling. She actually has a different Alfie Kohn clip embedded in her blog, so pop over and hear more from Alfie.
Also, for this week's link ups, though, please just add your links through the comments section, as I have yet to decide whether to continue with Linky for weekly link ups or whether to try out something new like Inlinkz...if you have thoughts on using either link up service, please leave your thoughts about this too:)


Martianne said...

I didn;t see a linkie, so I am just putting my link here -

Thanks for the links to follow re unnschooling and youtube and also for all your Reggio-thoughts and the smile I had thinking about how your boys didn't know what grades were.

Martianne said...

Okay, third time's a charm. I had a kid-induced error and then a computer error while trying to comment here:

Thanks for your links to look at suggestions and for the smile I had when thinking about your boys not knowing about letter grades.

I saw no link up option, so my Reggio link for this week is

Leann @ MontessoriTidbits said...

Goodness, Colleen... I feel such a kindred spirit with you! Aikman has had a ROUGH year this year.... his preschool teacher does not understand his hyperactivity, not does she respect his method of learning. When he started this school year, he often came home telling me he did not like his teacher. Since the beginning of the school year, he has proceeded to get into "the thinking chair" (timeout) EVERY DAY that he attends school. He gets into trouble for "talking too loud in the classroom" or "dealing with others problems" (aka lets another child know that the teacher has called his/her name). He also had a complex because she was 'ahh-ing' over certain students' work, and my son was not one of them -- because he did not follow her directions for coloring. She then proceeded to tell me that he did not get a sticker that day because her directions were to color each boat on the page a different color (they were studying the number 8), and he had colored 2 boats blue. Therefore, he didn't get a sticker. I then informed her that he already knew single digit numbers, was working on recognizing 2 and 3 digit numbers at home, and he really didn't care for coloring. (She had no idea that that he HATES to color, but is quite the artist instead!) She then informed me, "You don't need to be teaching your child at home! He already knows too much and won't learn anything at school." He's still in school; I still teach him at home on his off days, and I can't wait until next year when he'll be homeschooling full-time!

Jennifer said...

We are reviewing a math program for the TOS Homeschool Crew. Both boys love the math program, but were unsure what to make of the tests and the number scores. "What's good?," my nine-year-old asked one dreary afternoon. "Well," I said, not wanting to put the pressure of perfectionism on my kids - I feel enough of that for all of us - and yet not wanting them to take the tests too lightly, "I think if you can honestly say that you've tried your hardest and did your best, then your score is good." Hmmm... don't know if that was the best answer, but it sounded good at the time. After 7 years of working in the public school system, I just came to feel that too much emphasis is put on scores and not enough emphasis on doing your very best and being proud of your performance, even if you've not achieved a perfect score!

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