A Review of a Fine, Fine School
How good is good enough in terms of being a gardener? With the supply of ample irrigation, full sunshine and fresh air, supported with organic fertilizers, the seedlings you are taking care of will supposedly grow more successfully. And this golden rule could be applied also to education, doesn’t it? What if the situation goes against your assumption? This book A Fine, Fine School may provide you some solutions to the contradiction.
In this book, the elementary children in the fine, fine school were happy about learning. Besides the basic literary training, they joined multifarious and cross-cultural activities, such as making dinosaur models, dancing to the latest music, playing with the Japanese drum, etc. They acquired multidisciplinary knowledge, including colors in art, shapes in geology, numbers in math, letters in language, etc. Both the teachers and the students had fun in teaching and learning. Mr. Keene, the devoted principal, felt so proud of such a fine learning environment in the fine, fine school that he tried very hard to make it even “finer.” So he announced continuously to have school first on Saturdays, then on Sundays, then on holidays and even on every single day to the extreme. Although feeling overloaded, all the teachers and students did not know how to reject the well-meant principal. Tille, a fifth-grader, struggled to take courage to tell him the truth that, in fact, not everyone was learning! ”With such a tight schedule at school, I have no time to learn to climb high in my tree, no chance to tell my little brother how to jump rope in a row and ,in the end, no mood for showing my doggie how to do clever tricks. And that’s why not everyone is learning.” Feeling shocked by Tille, he decided to observe the fact instead of yelling at the little girl. After the careful observation, the fine, fine principal made a sensible decision – NO school on weekends, holidays or even vacations!
As the American educator R. Hutchins said: “The purpose of educator is to prepare the young to educate themselves throughout their lives.” Too many nutrients can be a problem for plants to absorb. Likewise, too much work makes students dull because they are not allowed free time to think and to organize their lives. It is actually a myth for many educators, even parents, to stuff children’s time as much as possible. Like plants, children need large space to spread and fresh air to breathe. Isn’t cultivating students’ independent thinking ability one of our educational objectives? If so, why don’t we return students the time belonging to them and encourage them to learn to be an efficient time managers? Give them a chance to design their own timetable, make a decision and take the responsibility for it.
A classroom is not the only place where learning happens. A textbook is not the only resource providing learning materials. Being educators, we had better avoid being the so-called helicopter teachers, hanging over students all the time. Trust them and give them enough time and roomy space to regulate their own lives. In the process of regulating, they must learn a lot!