"[I]f I had to live my life again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once every week…The loss of these tastes is a loss of happiness, and may possibly be injurious to the intellect, and more probably to the moral character, by enfeebling the emotional part of our nature." --Charles Darwin

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Authentic learning plans can go too far

Last week, students from Fox Hill Primary School in Sheffield, Yorkshire, England returned from a school holiday to find police tape all around, blood on the floor, furniture in disarray and a teacher with a bandaged head. Happily, no crime took place; the apparent crime scene was part of what was intended as a practical, "authentic-style" problem-solving exercise to figure out "who broke into the school." Incidentally, the exercise continued for four more days.

The problem was that this was an elementary school and a good proportion of the kids were traumatized. Moreover, the community was not warned in advance and this article indicates that at least one autistic child cannot understand the explanations and is afraid to return to school completely.

An important part of growing up is learning to identify the line between pretend and reality. Perhaps school administrators at Fox Hill need to review that.

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