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Sunday, July 26, 2015

Why can't school be more like camp?

My grandson Milo (age 9) camp back from four weeks of summer camp last week. He was not happy. He loved camp and didn’t want to leave. He said now all he had to look forward to is another year of boring stuff until camp starts next summer.

I asked him what he did in camp that was so much fun. He loved playing around with a whole new set of friends. And he loved the activities. He loved that he could choose to do whatever interested him. He loved the freedom. What interested him? Water skiing, archery, crafts, and the various all camp competitions in a variety of sports. He told me that when you choose an activity they set goals for you. He told me he got to level 3 in radio. I asked what that meant. He said he learned to operate the equipment, make a jingle, and put together a music show. He was very proud of himself.

I asked if they set goals for him in school. He said “school is a lot of test prep.” “Camp is more free.” At camp he is active. “School is more strict.”

Finally he said: “We need to do something other than sitting around and test prep. Most of the year is test prep.
What we learn is how to prepare for the test.”

Congratulations New York City School System. You have taken a child who is bright and eager to learn and made him into someone who would do anything to avoid the boredom and absurdity of school. What a great way to educate people.

(I might point out that Milo learned about communication, writing, physics, mechanics, and a range of other “school subjects” while learning to achieve his goals in camp.)


Jon Barber said...

I agree with so much of this. When will the "people in charge" recognize that tests and test prep aren't learning?

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Erik H said...

Which camp? Sounds like a good one! As I'm sure you've heard or experienced... day camps that are more than just babysitting can be hard to find.

Some less-than-great ones I've seen have:
1. Kids lining up to do stuff but hardly getting a chance (e.g. archery -- "3 shots each")
2. No age-mixing
3. Adults leading activities
4. Required swim classes (freezing water, mostly waiting not swimming)
5. No choice in activities

Easier to find good overnight camps perhaps...

laserblue said...

Many canadian Universities and a local polytechnical institute in Calgary Alberta, Canada have summer camps for kids that could be used as pilots for the education system but aren't. Maybe you could look into getting the Alternative Learning Place curricula into the camps.

Do you think Chefs learn something from the experiences at Camp Cuthroat on food network television?
Camp Cuthroat on Food Network