Sweden <--> Ohio: Student

Friday, March 23, 2007

I've visited the most controversial primary school in Vaxjo, Sweden and had a great time. Since I spent most of my time with 6yo kids in 1st grade and their time was similar to what I remember doing in first grade, it wasn't too exciting for me.

In contrast, I watched slightly older kids learning multiplication tables... in a music class.

Music? Multiplication? How?

They sang little songs composed by their music teacher that were catchy lists of numbers (they didn't even *realize* that they were learning math!) - I didn't hear any students asking why, as they were enjoying the singing and not concerned with the reason they were singing 'the threes' or 'the twos'!

The class ended with a spontaneous dance with a handful of boys doing the robot, the teacher doing a modified 'walk like an egyption', several girls marching in place, another girl taking large steps back and forth to the rhythm of the music, some kids clapping their hands, etc.

I also watched fight between two six-year-olds. I was shocked by their maturity, self-control, and calm. One boy teased another boy (I forgot the insult), the boy retaliated by drawing a green marker line on the other boy's hand, and the first boy hit the second boy (lightly). The second boy ran to tell the teacher (calmly, without yelling). She said OK, called the second boy, asked for his version of events (standing next to each other), told them they were both wrong, and that they should go back and behave.

They walked away calmly, the event apparently forgotten, to the other room where they painted and drew with other students without incident. The teacher continued to sit on a couch in an adjacent room, speaking quietly and casually with the few students left in the room. She was utterly unconcerned with the room full of students painting, drawing, writing, and reading going on in the room behind her.

This is not to suggest that she was lazy (for sitting down or for not observing the kids visually at all times), but that Swedish kids, even at a very young age, are expected to be independent. And they are.

In addition, while I expected this unsupervised activity to gradually increase in noise-level, chaos, and off-topic activity... I was quite wrong. The noise level remained steady (quiet!), the kids put on and took off painting shirts, hanging them up *and cleaning up after themselves* all without reminder, direction, or observation by the teacher.

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Blogger Lin said...

This sounds similar to a small school in S.E. Mi, USA called Smith Road Elementary. The ideal goal of of the educators at SRE was for the students to follow their natural curiosity. The enlightened educators facilitated learning and encouraged independence, by offering lessons that were interesting and fun. Throgh hours of preperation, and goals of saintlike patience, and respect, the educators believed in children's talents. It is an ongoing experiment.

11:01 PM

Blogger Lin said...

This is in response to your observations of the controversial early childhood education visit. The post about SRE was and is controversial also. Not all the teachers were successful in facilitating learning in this atmosphere. Not every child of parent matched this style. When it worked "correctly" children flurished at their own pace. I had always hoped it would be studied further and expanded.

11:10 PM

Blogger Crystal (clstal) said...

Lin, please email me! My username at gmail.com. Thanks!

12:18 AM


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