Sunday, August 3, 2008

Unless Someone Cares

"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not." ~The Lorax, Dr. Suess
It's been a good day. My youngest niece, Emily, played Sour Kangaroo with enthusiasm in Auburn Little Theater's production of Seussical Jr. Community theater is magical . . . and this performance was no exception. The idea of gathering a diverse group of people, assigning roles, learning skills, practicing, and working as a team to create a performance to delight an audience is the essence of good project-based education.

Shouldn't schools be doing more of it?

"Is there a common denominator that transcends the millenium -- that will survive the amazing technological revolution that we are in? All the technology, programs, buildings, and other resources that we have, will not have the life-changing power of one caring person"

"The Common Denominator is you."

~ Dr. Mark Eastman

Essential Question: In the end, what is most important?

Character at LIM Resources


Process Skills at LIM Resources

Wisdom of Dr. Seuss


Dave Burke said...

They certainly should, Jim. I'm glad you enjoyed the show.

As the "Sour Kangaroo's" Dad, I have seen first hand the power of project-based education, such as theatre. This recent production blended seasoned veterans (as much a 12 year old can be!) with kids who have never walked on a stage before. (in fact, some had never been to a theatre before, period.) They all helped and encouraged each other. In addition to "teaching" by the Director, Musical Director, and Choreographer, the kids were constantly giving constructive advice to each other. In addition, there was extensive meaningful community involvement from the parents, ranging from everything to costuming, publicity, etc., to working with their children on their parts. I wish schools could do so well. Other than fundraising for the local PTO, I've found schools to be unreceptive to parental opinions concerning the actual curriculums and learning methods used in our schools. Basically, we're shooed away until another fundraiser is needed to buy something. A lot of potential parental involvement in education is thwarted through this attitude.

All too often, Arts are the first place cut when funding issues exist in the school department.

I've been a pain in the butt to the Principal at our local school regarding enrichment activities. There have been a few bright spots, but one "enrichment" activity that occurred not once, but twice was roller skating. Huh? I suppose physical activity is nice, but it was essentially an unstructured activity that most students could do anytime. Why bother?

I thank Emily's wonderful third grade teacher, Mrs. Allen, for taking the initiative herself to have her class put on a play this year. The kids all worked together, helped with costumes, and took ownership. You could feel the pride they had in their production, which they presented in front of the entire school. It was a great start. Perhaps this year they can involve the entire school, and present it at night when more parents can attend.

Great things happen through theatre - far more than rote memorization of facts (is this still really necessary in the new Internet era?) and strict confines of the classroom.

In fact, the workforce required in many of todays corporate confines requires "gathering a diverse group of people, assigning roles, learning skills, practicing, and working as a team".

What better way to prepare students than through a project-based education? I don't think there is a better way.

Jim Burke said...

Dave, thanks for your insights, as a parent and as a person who works in the corporate world, on project-based learning. Today I'll download the pictures I took at the performance and send 'em your way.