FULL PERMISSION LEARNING - UPDATE

Six months ago, I posted a piece called "FULL PERMISSION LEARNING" in which I described the dramatic effect on our then 10 year old son after attending the orientation week at the Brooklyn Free School.

I wrote last June:

"BUT... after just one day at the Free School - ONE DAY! - B was like a different kid. Not only was he relaxed, smiling and bright-eyed after his day (at SCHOOL!!), he was standing taller! That was the truly remarkable thing. And I got it - he felt respected. He'd spent a day with adults who respected him for who he was, adults who cared about what HE was interested in learning about, instead of adults who tried to force information down his throat and conveyed his inadequacy if he didn't spit it back properly in a timely fashion. Now, after a week at the Free School, miracle of all miracles, given a chance to take today off from school or go in, B chose to go. He wanted to go to school!"

Well, now, as we approach the end of 2008 and the holiday break, and after a full three months of "B" - now eleven - attending the Free School, I can report that the remarkable experiment continues with remarkable results. Not only are the awful memories of stressful nights and conflict-ridden mornings fading, but B is able to walk the streets of Brooklyn with a friend, go to stores and manage money, and observe with interest the goings on in the world. The other evening at yet another stress-free dinnertime, B was talking about Iran. Surprised, I asked him how he knew anything about Iran? Did he study it in school? "No," he said, "but now that I'm not worried all the time, I listen to the news when you and Mom are watching it and I pick things up."

Wow! Did I have to fight back the tears! A kid learning from the world around him, without being stressed out or force-fed information. B has even taken an interest in watching Jon Stewart with us lately, and recently he had the patience to sit through my story from high school physics class about the "Vandegraff machine," used to make static electricity. Oh, yeah, and he came home from school one day and showed me how to play "power chords" on guitar, surprised to find out that I'd ever heard of Deep Purple and even knew the song, "Smoke on the Water!"

Trust and availability, that's what the Brooklyn Free School is all about. Trust that children all bring gifts to bear in this world if they would just be allowed to explore themselves and find the room for self-expression in their own time. Availability, adults just being there, without the needs of their egos, when the kids need guidance or mentoring on their journey.

It's a beautiful thing! I'll keep you posted.

1 comment:

scolthorp said...

Wow. This is a great story!

 

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