Friday, June 19, 2009

John Dewey and the School in Rose Valley

Not all education in comes from books or computers. Preschool education, I believe, is jeopardized by too much paper and not enough people. What children learn about interacting with people, in the early years, will determine their success as adults. Savvy parents -- if they can assemble a peer group for their child -- can create a community for their 2's, 3's, and 4's, but an organized community like a nursery school is the more likely option.

All three of my children had the opportunity to attend progressive nursery schools. The two youngest ones went to the School in Rose Valley, based on John Dewey's ideas, founded in 1929 by Margaret Rawson, a pioneer in the Orton technique for dyslexic readers. It has classes for 3-year-olds through sixth grade. We were not able to keep them at SRV beyond age 4, but the children -- and I -- treasure the SRV experience. If you are not familiar with the John Dewey concepts, see below. Waldorf Schools have similar values. Here is a link to how SRV builds community.

Those early years are so important. "Who takes the child by the hand, takes the mother by the heart."

******below an excerpt from an SRV newsletter

The School in Rose Valley in Moylan, Pa, is built on the Progressive philosophy. The principles that are used in planning curriculum were first named by John Dewey, a founder of the Progressive Education movement in the early 20th century. These principles are as relevant for 21st century learning as they were in their founding. There are seven:

  • Childhood is important in and of itself, children need to be allowed to be children, and school should be child-centered.
  • Learning is based on experience.
  • Learning should be active, engaging children in doing, experimenting, manipulating and constructing their understanding of the world.
  • Learning should capitalize on children's interests, so that they are engaged in the curriculum and motivated to learn.
  • Learning should be purposeful, involving meaningful projects and problems that facilitate the acquisition and retention of knowledge.
  • Learning should be a social activity, because children learn more and develop deeper understandings when they are working and engaging with others.
  • Children must learn to be critical thinkers who will continue to grow intellectually and morally throughout their lives.

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