Friday, December 19, 2008

Cultivating Independent Problem Solvers at Home and at School

The MAKE Magazine blog recently shared the idea of cultivating "free range" kids, helping them learn to ask questions, solve problems, and be able to do a lot more for themselves (thereby preparing them better for the real world).

Teachers never stop reading about or dealing with "helicopter" parents, but we rarely stop to think about how our classrooms, schools and districts are engaging in "helicopter education". Even in my independent, relatively forward-thinking charter school, we sometimes take the idea of providing "structure" to mean regulating everything down to the smallest detail. We provide great freedom in terms of the humanities and elective courses available, but students are told what, when and how to do almost everything. In doing so, we often fall into some of the same pitfalls as your average public school. We certainly do many things better, but I can't shake the feeling that our "helicopter" ways often backfire on us.

In any case, MAKE Magazine is a great resource, absolutely worth having in your classroom library to encourage creative thinking. It's on the expensive end of magazines, and I haven't found any deals to get a free/cheap subscription, but it's worth putting on your holiday wish list!