Moving Forward to the 18th Century

by Mr. Hugh Burke

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Our school wants to go forward to the eighteenth century! We are, of course, already caught up to the 21 century, but we seemed to have left some valuable things behind, things that help us to think and act in the world. Let’s begin with a little checklist, to see how our children are doing.

Take a minute and just think about your child, and whether or not he or she can:

• Turn on the TV
• Use a computer
• Use a phone
• Set a table
• Tie their own shoes
• Get dressed well
• Make their own lunch
• Peel potatoes
• Make rice
• Make a bed
• Weed a garden
• Hang a picture
• Boil (or fry) an egg
• Make pasta
• Build a box
• Play a computer game
• Play chess
• Play checkers
• Play cards
• Play by themselves without electronic toys
• Buy an article in a store
• Put on a DVD
• Do their laundry
• Iron clothes
• Paint a picture
• Sweep a floor
• Sew a button onto a shirt
• Use glue to fix something


Now, do they have:

• An electronic game console?
• A television?
• A telephone?
• A stereo?
• A harmonica? Other musical instruments?
• A tool kit?
• A compass (navigation compass)?
• A set of paints?
• A camera?
• A map or globe?
• A bunch of DVD’s?
• A bunch of books?

 Which ones get used most often? Why?

Here is an interesting thing: children learn by doing things. If most of what they learn is by pushing buttons, they do not learn much…they only seem to do so. Real understanding of sand comes from playing in sand; real understanding of physics comes from using objects in the world, not just watching video clips and reading. Real reading comes from reading text on a page; reading from a screen is very different, and has different effects.  A real understanding of responsibility comes from being responsible.

Our school is going to parallel our teaching of the digital world with much more engagement in the real world. We want to strongly enhance our experiential education, making it even stronger than our digital program. Sometimes, the best technology is older technology. That is why we are going to build a woodworking shop at the same time as we buy more computers for primary kids.

But the best engagement is through the home, when a child learns to get up,  get dressed, make the bed, make lunch,  help around the house,  answer the phone properly,  set the table, and even learn to cook a little. Television has many good qualities, and so does the internet and telephones and stereos; but our kids should also love to read, and talk around a dinner table, and build things, and create some art, and play games with others, and sing and dance, and ….well, enjoy their world.  

How will Meadowridge help parents instill these things?  Next blog: Woodshop, gardening, neuroplasticity, and Design/Technology courses.