Learning by Doing: No Matter Where

When I was in 4th grade my class took a field trip to a local state park. We studied the wildlife and discussed the ecosystems… at least I think we did. If I’m honest I don’t remember what we were supposed to learn from the trip, what I recall so vividly is how cold the water can be in October. I remember the excitement of moss covered rocks beneath my feet and watching minnows rush by in the clear water. I remember how brave some of my peers were to go out beyond knee-depth and I remember riding the bus home feeling invigorated and full of questions. How do species adapt to their surroundings? How can we protect our watersheds? Why was it SO cold?! My curiosity had been piqued and this quote was proven true. “Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.”

This week on various social media outlets you might see a phrase like this, “If the schools are all closed, how will the children learn?” The good news is that this flame kindling does not need a school building to take place. Young heroes have a natural curiosity and are constantly learning. This takes place through the Village School’s experiential learning. We see this in our quests or project time. It also occurs through our emergent curriculum that follows the interests of the child.

The most seemingly ordinary things can be new discoveries and engaging, joyous challenges. This includes the everyday routines and practices of life. We see this in our studio when heroes work on sewing projects, tying shoes, or studio maintenance. At home heroes may learn through experiences like meal planning and preparations or taking care of plants and pets. These activities are complicated, multi-step processes that pave the way for a problem-solving mindset and a fulfilling experience.

Often learning looks differently than what traditional academics might suggest. In many cases, it looks like play. Playing with loose parts give our heroes experiences with numeration, patterns, and problem- solving. In games with rules our heroes learn strategy and they also build resilience and self regulation as they experience losing. In physical play heroes learn about risk- taking and what they are capable of.

In our weekly reflection Spark Heroes pointed out the work they were proud of this week. One shared the tower they built even though it was a challenge to decide where the horses fit best. Other heroes painted vibrant rainbows or carefully traced cursive letters. Heroes discovered how white blood cells protect us by using play dough they modeled to capture “germ” beads. Although they aren’t currently spending physical time in school I feel assured that Spark Heroes are continuing to learn every day!

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