The Big Lie
No, not that one. I am talking about the myth of "lost learning." The one formally named the "summer slide." There are several reasons for the perpetuation of this falsehood - the largest, in my estimation, is to preserve the notion that schools (and all they represent) are essential for society to progress.
Therein lies the crux of the matter. For the most part, the folks concerned about lost learning stand on the left side of the political spectrum. They use similar manipulative and intimidating tools to propel this false notion, as the folks on the Right do to promote the other Big Lie. The most effective being fear.
"Oh my God, my child has lost an entire year of learning." "They are going to fall behind." "My kid will never catch up; they won't get into college, get a good job, or (fill in the blank)."
Whoa, hold up! Before you head down that bottomless rabbit hole, let me explain a few things about authentic learning:
a) Falling behind, what? Their peers or grade level? These are both artificial measurements. The State has determined grade levels and standards, along with curriculum for convenience. There is no real connection to what children are "capable" of at particular ages. More importantly, every single child develops differently. One may naturally learn to read at the age of four, and their friend may not grasp the concept until they are eight. They can both read anything they want to by the age of twelve or thirteen, and you can not tell who read earlier.
b) Anything that was really learned and understood can not be lost. Yes, it can lay dormant, but it isn't gone. Think about those things that you have learned but don't use every day. For example, starting the generator and switching the inverter to "charging" is a process that I have to think about for a minute before doing it the first time each Fall. For you, it may be long division, converting a fraction into a percentage, or doing your taxes. Once you go back to it, with a bit of prompting, you remember the steps.
c) The most powerful way to learn something is through play and self-led exploration (this is a concept I have touched on before and will again, soon). When you are genuinely interested in something, and it is relevant to your goals and aspirations, even if it is difficult, acquiring the knowledge is fun and enjoyable. Yesterday, I played (was utterly captivated for the entire morning) with Doodly, a software program that creates short animated videos. I wanted to learn how to use this program because it is another incredible tool in my marketing tool belt. (PS - you can watch my first attempt below.)
d) Tangentially related, it takes multiple times longer to learn something through rote memorization or coercive methods, especially when it also meaningless to you at that moment. Yup, this is a tough one for most folks to wrap their heads around. But, but, but - how will kids learn what they need to if we don't compel them to do it? We are all natural learners. Kids will figure out how to access necessary knowledge when they need it to do something that is important to them - full stop.
I ask you to stop and consider that our entire educational design is based upon a conservative ideology - the trickle-down theory. (Yes, even so-called progressive education.) Magnanimous folks, at the top, with all the knowledge, guide their students through that predetermined, finite, and compulsory curriculum by releasing their scholarship in bite-size increments. And then, they assess their understanding by asking them to regurgitate it on standardized examinations. Does this seem like something we should be afraid of losing?
Cultural progress comes from open, curious minds and a willingness to change - not in the preservation of a static, antiquated, coercive system.
Big News! Our physical doors in both Canton and Lawrenceville will open again, April 12th, with our full COVID safety plan in place. To begin, each Center will be in session two days a week. We will retain our remote schedule for the days we are not in person and for all of our Distance Learners. If all goes well, we will return to our full schedule for the month of May. This plan, of course, will be dependent upon COVID numbers remaining low in St. Lawrence County.
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