“Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” ~ John Dewey
Making Education Real
Collaboration, communication and meetings are all ways that corporate America and even small companies, do business today. With this in mind, LRA strives to prepare our students for the real world.
At Living Rock Academy we make education real. Starting at kindergarten, students learn by doing.
In the elementary classes , students learn how to work together to solve problems. For example, in social studies our 3rd and 4th graders learned about the three branches of government and how the Constitution provides for a balance of power. Our judicial system is based on courts and judgments brought down at the local, state and national level. At the same time, we studied the genre of traditional fairy tales. Our class read The Three Little Pigs as well as Little Red Riding Hood. We then looked at how the stories would change if written from the wolf’s point of view. We worked on and performed a Readers Theater piece titled The Trial of Alexander T. Wolf for parents and elementary students. Not only did the students learn about the difference between narrative and dramatic writing, but they learned to project their voices and speak with confidence. This particular play was staged in a courtroom where the wolf was acting as his own defense because he was accused of killing two of the three pigs. As the students practiced for the play, they learned about our judicial system. The students played the parts of the judge, jury, attorneys and witnesses. The students enjoyed themselves while learning important vocabulary that they will some day need as citizens who may some day serve on a jury.
In math 3rd and 4th graders work on addition and multiplication facts. Even though we practice to commit these to memory, we also expect the students to use these facts in real world situations. Students are fairly passive learners when asked to solve word problems from the math book. However, when we brought in Christmas flyers from Toys-R-Us and Walmart filled with toys galore, their eyes lit up. Each child cut out pictures of toys from the flyers and created word problems to purchase toys using multiplication skills. They then found the total cost. Once that was accomplished, they finished the process by paying for the items with currency and calculating the change they would receive. This active real world math allows for creativity and choices, two things that are often missing from a typical math curriculum.
In English class our LRA students worked on letter writing skills. Using a workbook page to write a pretend letter to a friend seemed a little stale. Why use a pretend letter when you have the opportunity to compose the real thing? So our students wrote to actual companies: Starbucks, Pepsi, HEB, Tom’s Soap Company, etc. The students chose companies that they recognized and created a letter with the appropriate heading, greeting, body, closing and signature. They composed individual letters telling the companies how much they enjoyed their products. We wanted to see if any of the companies would respond to our communications. It took some time, but just as the students had forgotten about the assignment, several received letters in return. One little girl even received a five foot tall stuffed unicorn because the person in charge of customer service was so impressed with her letter. That was an exciting day for her when she brought her “gift” up to school to show to the class. The students now appreciate the power of words as well as the importance of our US postal system.
By the time they get to secondary, LRA students have grown to realize that learning can be fun. At this point, students learn that education never stops.
Through active learning LRA students learn to
- persevere through tough issues that a project might offer
- use the world around them to solve a problem
- see themselves learning every day in all aspects of life to be lifelong learners
- collaborate with others to bring a project to a successful conclusion
- successfully take on a project by themselves and see it through to the end
- be creative in the way they use the world around them to find answers to their questions
- speak, write and read well
- problem-solve and think critically
Field trips at LRA are planned with educational goals in mind. Concrete goals and certain facts are taught before the students leave for a field trip. In that way, students have a working knowledge of what they are experiencing on the real-world field trip.
With hands-on learning, students can touch and see what they have learned through books in the classroom. For example, it’s one thing to explain and talk about seining for specimen in the ocean. It’s quite another thing for students to feel the net and learn how to hold tight to it in the ocean current.
Students learn best from experimenting and experiencing education first hand. A study of Romeo and Juliet can lead to extended study of characterization when students write their own script and then act out a modern version of Romeo and Juliet.
It has been said that if a person lives to be 70 years old, he spends only 9% of his time in school. The majority of his life (91%) is spent learning in the real world. Our goal at Living Rock is to help our students learn how to use the resources around them and to think for themselves to find the answers to their own problems.