Steve Nelson: A Bill of Educational Rights
Steve Nelson substacks at First Do No Harm, where he recently published this short, sweet draft of a bill of education rights.
Parents and concerned citizens should demand the following things from every school. Consider it a Bill of Educational Rights. Turn this list into a petition and circulate it among all the families in your child’s school. Send it to the school board, the principal, local legislators.
The undersigned insist that our school(s) and all teachers:
- Recognize the broad consensus that early childhood education should be primarily dedicated to free, imaginative play;
- Provide arts programming, recognizing that the arts are critical to all learning and to understanding the human experience;
- Provide ample physical movement, both in physical education classes and in other ways, recognizing that exercise enhances learning for all children;
- Exhibit, in structure and practice, awareness that children develop at different rates and in different ways; that strict age- or grade-level standards and expectations are meaningless and damaging;
- Acknowledge the large body of evidence that long hours of homework are unnecessary and detract from children’s (and families’) quality of life;
- Exhibit genuine affection and respect for all children;
- Honor a wide range of personalities and temperaments;
- Encourage curiosity, risk-taking and creativity;
- Cultivate and sustain intrinsic motivation rather than relying on elaborate extrinsic systems of rewards and punishment;
- Understand that brain research supports active learning, engaging all the senses;
- Understand that children are intelligent in multiple ways and that all these intelligences should be honored and developed;
- Listen to each child’s voice, give them real experience in democratic processes, and allow them to express their individuality;
- Know each child well, appreciate the unique mix of qualities each child brings, and never demean, discourage or humiliate any child.