Saturday, October 27, 2012

Me for the School Board? I'd Bring Back Dodgeball

Someone asked me the other day, “have you considered running for the school board?”  After I excused myself for spitting out my coffee, I calmly answered, “no.”  However, that doesn’t mean I don’t have some ideas just in case I become so delirious that I decide to throw my name on the ballot.

Most school board candidates have impressive and lofty goals about reducing the current budget, working to close the achievement gap, improving school safety, and such things.  Along with all of that, my goals would include developing some of those 21st century skills everyone’s so excited about now – decision making, creativity, working collaboratively, independent thinking - with initiatives such as the following. 
  • Reintroduce games like Tag and Dodgeball. Unfortunately, these old school playground games have been outlawed in many schools because they supposedly attack children’s self-esteem, but are they really that bad?  We want our children to learn to think fast, adjust to changing situations, right?  Identify people who could be a threat, figure out who could be the weakest link in the competition.  Adjust when your ally becomes your enemy.  Think about the thinking skills and physical agility required to not get hit by that red rubber ball or become “it”. 
  • Let kids pick teams.  Granted, those were probably the most anxiety producing 5 minutes of the school day.  Who will get picked last for the kickball/dodgeball/relay/sport-of-the-day team?  Who will get picked first?  What order will everyone else fall into?  But think of the practical life skills we developed.  Assessing others’ skills, deciding whether to choose your friend or the person who was better fit for the job.  Knowing your own level of skill and value to the organization.  And nope, I wasn’t one of the kids who was picked first.  In twelve years of recess and gym class, I don’t think I was ever the first one picked.  I knew I wasn’t an athletic powerhouse, but I learned to cheer on my team and do my best to pay attention from way out in right field (or was it left?  Somewhere out there.) 
  • Put that carousel/merry-go-round thing back on the playground.  Remember that round platform with the handles, you and your classmates would all grab on and run in circles to get it spinning and then jump on it?  Quickly we learned to work as a team (everybody run in the same direction), keep up with the pack (or get trampled), and realize when to hold on tight (or get flung off).  Plus, spinning around, barely hanging on was such a thrilling break from math class.
Speaking of math class…
  • Use times tables and flash cards again.  When did rote memory go out of fashion?  I know there’s always the new math – we went through matrix math (glad they got rid of that) and now there’s decomposing and composing.  Teachers now want kids to understand why they are doing certain steps in computations, something more meaningful than “borrow 1 because the bottom number is smaller than the top”.  Let’s just get them through the basics, then figure out “why” and “how” later.
I’ve got some other thoughts on improving our schools (require cupcakes for birthday celebrations, uniforms for everybody).  If you’d like me to bring these ideas and more to your school district, vote for me as your write-in candidate.

Seriously.... whoever your pick for President and all the offices and questions on the ballot....
(my PSA this election season)

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