Going Local: Activism For Education

Commenting on my recent post “Having Your Cake and Eating it Too” one reader posted a link to an article on the A Good Day Teaching Blog entitled Why Don’t Liberals Really Like Poor Children?. The crux of the linked article can be summed up in one statement.  The author states that liberal parents “believe that the children deserve a good education, they just don’t want poor children sitting next to their kids in a public school.”

I think the key point here is that there is a difference between liberal/progressive values and outright activism.  Advocating school reform is progressive.  Sending my kid to our local public school is activism.  Not only that, it is activism by proxy in that my kid is the one making the commitment to the cause, not me.  I am willing to be an activist for some causes.  I am not willing to donate my child’s education to a cause.  Speaking for myself, this is not about racism.  The biggest problem that I have with most affluent school districts is Read the rest of this entry »

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Wild Waldorf Ride

Wow.  I visited The Waldorf School over the weekend.  It was really a game-altering experience for me.  Their program is like nothing I had ever seen or heard of before.  One of the teachers that I spoke with summed up the uniqueness in their program stating that ‘The most impoverished public school has more in common with the most well-endowed private school than we do.’  It was really true.  Most schools that I have ever been exposed to follow very similar teaching approaches with minor differences.  I am not sure whether the Waldorf philosophy is in any way superior or inferior, but their pedagogical philosophy is certainly very different than any other school I have visited, public or private.

For several reasons, I think that the school itself is not going to work for my family.  [EDIT–Here’s why I am not elaborating on that statement].  Even so, I am very happy that I went to the open house.  I am not an expert on childhood development, learning styles, or pedagogical philosophy. As a lay person, I can’t make an evaluation as to which pedagogical approach is better.  What I can say is that seeing the school and hearing the teachers, students, parents, and administrators discuss their program was eye-opening.  I will no longer hold steadfast to the assumptions I have about how children learn or how a school should be structured.  Even if I never go back to Waldorf, my visit there will make me evaluate schools and pedagogical approaches differently than I ever would have.

What is so different about Waldorf?  Well, I am not an expert in the philosophy, so here are some resources so you can read about it for yourself if you are interested.

MAPN Annual Kindergarten Discussion Group

The Mt. Airy Parents’ Network (MAPN) has been mentioned already on this blog. You should also be familiar with the group’s Annual Kindergarten Discussion Group. For three years, MAPN has sponsored a discussion group for families exploring their education options (despite the name, it’s not just limited to kindergarten discussions). Notices are usually posted on the MAPN discussion board in May, June, and July. Any interested member may join. The discussions take place via email usually between August and November. The direction that the group takes and how active it is depends totally on the make-up of the group. For example, the 2007 and 2009 groups were very active and busy, while the 2008 group really wasn’t. If you’re interested in learning more, please join the MAPN list or leave a comment on this post.

Best of luck!
Catherine Collins
MAPN Moderator & Co-founder

Open House at the Waldorf School

This was posted by a user to the Fairmount Parents Forum.

For those who are interested in finding out about The Waldorf School of Philadelphia, there is an Open House this Saturday, January 30th at 10 AM. You are welcome to come with your family to visit the classrooms, view students’ work, and ask questions of the faculty, staff and parents. During the morning, the faculty will present an overview of the Early Childhood and Grades programs. There will also be a puppet play for the younger children and activities available for older children.

Unique aspects of the school are that they purposefully do not have computers because

By delaying the regular use of television, video games and computers, children develop a strong foundation in using their own capacities and experiences for imagination, research and analytical and critical thinking. (Waldorf Website)

Also, students have the same teachers follow them through their whole academic career there (first through eighth, though they have a preschool and kindergarten).  See more in the NBC-10 video on the school.

Great Resource: PhillySpeaks Forums

By Anonymous

I don’t know whether you ever get on philadelphiaspeaks.com (formerly phillyblog), but there seems to be a post at least every couple weeks about people dealing with school choice issues. Here are some recent discussion threads:

Regarding Henry

I just posted a couple of messages to local email lists and posted a few tweets on the new Twitter account for this blog, and as a result I have gotten a spike in traffic and feedback on and offline.  I hope that I can write insightful enough posts to sustain the interest.  Here’s some things that I have learned thus far.

I reiterated the content of my first post into a blog mission statement.  A lot of the feedback that I have gotten has asked me to go beyond the scope that I have aspired to on the blog.  Take a look at the mission on the right hand side.

Though I am looking for other contributors, there are still no volunteers.  If you are reading this and think that you have something to contribute, then join me!  Contact me if you are interested.

Being a NW Philadelphian, I have been encouraged to look at the Charles W Henry Elementary School in Mount Airy.  More specifically, I was referred to the now defunct, but still wonderfully comprehensive parent blog Knowing Henry.  Reading that blog has helped me not only to learn more about the school, but has also helped me think about how I am framing my research.  More on that in posts to come.

Join the Mount Airy Parents Network

I am always into sharing my own experience with others and learning from others experiences–hence this blog.  If you agree and live in Northwest Philly, I suggest joining the Mt. Airy Parent’s Network.  From their Website:

The Mt. Airy Parents Network (MAPN) is an organization of approximately 350 families in the Northwest neighborhoods of Philadelphia. In addition to notifying members of community events, playgroups, park dates, field trips, and other special events, MAPN provides an online discussion forum on issues related to education, parenting, families, and our wonderful community of Mt. Airy. Membership is free, but only open to parents, grandparents, and legal guardians.

They are also on Facebook.