SOUTH BRONX SCHOOL: School's Out For Summer. Let Kids Be Kids

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

School's Out For Summer. Let Kids Be Kids

So it's that time of year. School is out. The students have no more teachers, no more books, no more teacher's dirty looks. Camps are open and welcoming campers all over the New York metropolitan area. Of course that doesn't include those students at KIPP and Success Academy, charter schools, or even kids forced into a DOE gulag to make up some flawed exam that are not allowed to have summer fun and are forced to endure summer hour after summer hour in a classroom looking out a window wondering why they can't be a child.

Why is that? What is it that KIPP and Success, and the other charters (and the DOE Summer Schools), think they will eek out of a student during the hot summer months? Isn't camp a learning experience? Isn't camp, especially sleep away camp, a place that is not only a great place to learn, but to have fun learning and to learn to have fun?

I remember being at day camp and sleep away camp and going to the nature hut and truly learning about science. The woods, the lake, and the sky were all a learning laboratory for us. What a wonderful way to learn about the life cycle of a lake, the living things in a lake, and the water. I remember going in the woods and seeing and learning about plants, insects, and animals that I had never seen before. Better than seeing was the touching. Holding a frog in my hand. Having a snake slip through my hands. Or who remembers this? Picking up a rock and looking underneath. Yuck.

Know what else is science/nature? Building a fire. I learned how to do that when I was 11 years old. Is that not science? It is certainly hands on learning. Would it not be a great lesson to explain to a kid why there is a blue flame when that marshmallow is ablaze? But sadly, it can't be taught from a classroom with no air conditioning when a TFA drone is blabbering on.

I can go on and on about how art and making macaroni art is is mathematics. But there are many things more important than being in a school during the hot summer months.

It is the experience of being on your own, the experience of doing something different that these kids are missing out on, certainly in going to sleep away camp. Yes, I know many of the students can't afford sleep away camp. And there are other reasons why they can't go. But wouldn't it be nice if all this money that was being pissed away by corporations and governments to fund tests, crappy curriculums, and  the pockets of relatives and cronies, be used to send inner city youth to such camps for at least a week would do so much to alleviate so much crap.

Friendships will be made. Friendships that can last a lifetime. More important, the self esteem, the independence that a camp, sleep away or day camp, that can stay with a kid will last a life time.

Kids should be out chasing butterflies, fireflies, their dreams and fantasies during the summer. Learning how to work together in color wars, capture the flag, or the performing arts are all parts of the building blocks of childhood that we learn from.

You keep a kid in to learn during the summer the moment will be fleeting. You let a kid be a kid and experience something new the moment will be forever.

1 comment:

Jamie said...

This article assumes that all students have the means to attend the sort of camp that you went to. My students do not attend camp. They mostly spend their summers hanging out in the Bronx, bored and anxious for school to start. That's why we have kids enrolled in the summer school classes that don't even need to make up any credits or exams. They just want a place to hang out. Oh, and I'm sure the fact that we have AC helps. I wish all kids had the chance to spend their summers being kids, but unless you know of any way for all kids to get to go to camp for free, I think summer school is the best option most kids have now. At least it gets them out of the house and keeps their brains sharp.