Building the Chicago Free School
(Read part I of this post here.)
In my quest to become a different kind of educator and to find joy and satisfaction in teaching again, I spent the 2012-2013 school year teaching at the Free School in Albany, NY. Founded in 1969, the Free School is the epitome of a school that really values the voices of students in directing their own learning. Without grades or required classes, each student at the Free School pursues an individualized course of learning based on their own interests and following their own trajectory of development. Students take ownership of their learning and can request classes and activities on the subjects and topics they are most excited about. Learning math, for example, can take the form of a small-group class, an independent study guided by a teacher, an impromptu lesson in fractions while doubling a cake recipe in the kitchen, or a group of peers getting together to practice arithmetic.
Building the Chicago Free School
As we work to build the Chicago Free School, a democratic school where the curriculum is driven by students’ choices and interests, we speak frequently to parents who are frustrated that their children are unhappy in school. From a child in a gifted kindergarten who felt anxious because he was “behind” his peers in reading, to a girl whose creative pursuits in the humanities were finding less space as her middle-school curriculum became increasingly rigid, to an energetic boy bursting with questions who didn’t seem to quite fit the mold of traditional school, these bright, curious kids need a voice in school – they need a school experience suited to their unique strengths and passions, a place where their intrinsic motivation is celebrated rather than being seen as a disruption to the schedule.
How do we capture the voices of children? In their forthcoming edition, Issue #14 Kids!, AREA Chicago looks at what it means to grow up as a child in Chicago. Contributors to this issue will discuss how we write about children and with them. What roles are cast for children –as others, counterparts, recipients, or ingénues—by differing approaches to capturing their voices? How do the ways that we write children reflect, propel, or resist broader societal understandings of what childhood is, and of who is considered a child?
In the library (Photo credit: YLev)
If you’ve stopped in the library lately or gotten an email from them, you’ve might have noticed some changes. Here are just a few:
photo credit: Teffecx Co.
Architect and urban planner Marshall Brown moving forward in re-envisioning open spaces in neighborhoods like Washington Park. Just presented on Chicago Tonight.
Razing Chicago | Chicago Tonight | WTTW.
Brown presented for the Despres Lecture Series in February 2013 in “Designing Community – Washington Park: Garden City.
How cool is this! And you thought libraries were only about books! They’re really about ideas! Congratulations Chicago Public Library’s Maker Lab on winning the 2013 Social Innovator’s Award! They’re hosting a Maker Share Tuesday, November 12th, 6-8 pm in the Maker Lab, 400 S. State St. Share your creations and meet others in this growing maker community.
photo credit – Teffecx Co.
Paul Durica and Bill Savage led a fun and informative evening about the 1893 World’s Fair. Their reading brought to life the time and atmosphere that surrounded the opening of the fair. They read about the many entertainment businesses that arose in anticipation of the crowds that would pass through, many which closed even before the Fair ended because of a major economic depression in the country. Still, almost 28 million visited the Fair, many of whom visited the places mentioned in Chicago by Day and Night.
For more observations of the 120th anniversary of this historic event, check out: Continue reading