Posts Tagged ‘pressure’

Photo: Taught by Finland
Taught by Finland promotes a play-centered approach to early education and writes loving posts about “the joyful, illiterate kindergartners of Finland.”

On Facebook, I’ve been following Taught by Finland, which highlights the Finnish approach to education (e.g., lots of playtime for young children) and posts links to related research and stories.

In higher grades, Finns usually outrank American students by a lot on standardized tests. That may have multiple causes, but it seems reasonable to ask what Finland is doing right and what would happen if American schools were to lighten up.

A school in Burlington, Vermont, is beginning to get answers to that question.

Nicole Higgins DeSmet writes at the Burlington Free Press, “Five months after a no-homework policy went into effect, Orchard Elementary parents report that after-school reading is flourishing.

” ‘We have a first grader, and at her age it’s as much a chore for the parents as the kids,’ parent Rani Philip said about homework. ‘Instead we’ve been spending time reading. We don’t have to rush.’

“Philip said her husband was skeptical, but now he’s convinced. Other parents who were surprised by the policy said their children are reading more. …

“[Kindergartner Sean Conway] hid behind his dad’s legs but managed to share that his solo literary conquest was the book ‘Spirit Animals.’

“Teachers at Orchard voted unanimously before the start of the school year to end homework for their kindergarten through fifth-grade students. Instead students are encouraged to read, play games and be kids.

“Orchard Principal Mark Trifilio sent a homework policy survey to parents in November. Of those parents, 254 sent back answers. About 80 percent indicated they agree with the policy.

“Parents reported in the survey concern that their fifth-graders might miss skills that will help them succeed in middle school. …

“Lolly Bliss, a fifth-grade teacher with 25 years experience, said her students will be prepared to accomplish more because they are freed from busywork — which is how she defined some homework.

“She has more time to accomplish academic goals in class because she doesn’t have to spend time on kids’ and parents’ anxieties about missing or incomplete homework.

” ‘We get a lot done in a calm class,’ Bliss said.”

If you read the rest of the story, you’ll see that some parents fear children are missing needed skills. They may not take into account how difficult it is to learn if you are stressed. I hope someone will tell those parents about Finland.

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Lots of creative people need a little push to just sit down and do it.

If I recall writer Anne Lamott’s advice in Bird by Bird correctly, she says that in addition to writing a little every day and embracing terrible first drafts, the most important thing is a group of other creative types with whom you meet on a regular basis to say what you have done since last time.

So it doesn’t surprise me that there are popular musicians who are grateful to be allowed into a songwriting challenge called “The Song Game.”

Acacia Squires wrote about it for National Public Radio: “Bob Schneider finished writing ‘The Effect,’ a song from his latest album, Burden of Proof, in just a few days. That’s how he does it: For 12 years, the Texas musician has beaten back the urge to procrastinate by writing a song once a week, every week. It began casually, just him and a friend sharing their songs with one another. …

“Now it’s grown into an Internet-based, deadline-driven songwriting motivation strategy which Schneider calls ‘The Song Game.’ It’s a game without winners or losers — just productivity. He’s filled five studio albums with songs from the game since 2001, and says he still needs it all these years later.

” ‘There’s the critical voice inside your head and it stops people from writing,’ he says. ‘I try to eliminate that voice by saying, “Look, I’m gonna write a song. I’m gonna try to make it interesting.” ‘ …

“One of the ground rules of the game: fail to submit a song every week, and Schneider will cut you from the invite-only email list. And here’s another rule: the phrase. To keep songwriters from working ahead, he sends a short phrase to the group that has to be in the next week’s song.”

Read more here and see what well-known songs started out with the word of the week from Schneider.

Photo: Chris Miller
Singer and songwriter Bob Schneider, founder of “The Song Game”

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