Thursday, September 6, 2007

763 Classrooms without walls

Message no. 763[Branch from no. 757] Posted by Thomas Culhane (1311520071) on Wednesday, April 4, 2007 4:51pm Subject: Re: Varshawn....Relational Summary

I share your disaffection for open classrooms, Varshawn. When I was in the 7th grade they demolished our beloved old Middle School in Dobbs Ferry and built a monstrosity such as you described -- a fortress without windows or skylights, ugly orange carpets and harsh fluorescent lighting, concrete block exterior walls and only thin movable partitions for inner separators. It was hell to spend 8th grade in, and my performance suffered. Years later, when I began my career as a teacher I actually taught in my old middle school. It was even more hell as a teacher. To get away from it, I took the kids on a field trip across the aqueduct to the Mercy Woods (at that time they hadn't been destroyed by "The Landing" and the Fireman's housing project off of Cedar Street). In the woods we saw deer and raccoons and skunks and mushrooms and squirrels and rapids and rocks and hundred year old trees! We learned about how native americans hunted and gathered. When I returned to the school I got in deep trouble from the Principal for "taking the children off school grounds into an unpoliced and dangerous area." I was told I must never do that again. Instead, I could show films about nature. Now most of that woods -- the density of it, that made you feel you were truly in the forest, is gone. So I guess films is all kids will get.


When I think of classrooms without walls, I think of taking kids outside the walls of the classroom and into the world. I hope other generations of kids will get that chance.

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