Recently, my husband told me all about his first elementary school. And I just thought he had the most unusual experience, so I have to share it on this blog.
His first elementary school was a private school that he attended for two years before he had to switch to a regular public school for financial reasons. The typical classroom that everyone envisions with kids sitting at their desks, or all around the room, was not a part of his school. All the kids had their own "cubicle-like" space and taught themselves! They called on the teacher when they needed help or needed to ask a question by placing a little flag on top of their cubicle! I cant stop putting all these exclamation points because that is how shocked I felt when I heard about this. Its gets even more interesting... the learning was self-directed, in the sense that the kids set goals for themselves, due dates for when they wanted their goals accomplished, and if they failed at meeting their own timeline they got "demerits" . When they accumulated good points for meeting goals, they got "merits" and were able to get things for free at the school store. This sounds like a very business-oriented school. I think its kind of funny that today, my husband is in the business field.
I simply do not understand how it was possible to sit down a bunch of seven year olds and make them learn alone, without having the teacher standing there and constantly explaining everything. How do you make them pay attention and not slack off? The way this worked is simply beyond me. But apparently it did, because my husband taught himself how to read and write and everything else a "normal" kid his age was supposed to know how to do. He was even learning English! (This was in Ukraine). He did say though that when he switched to the regular school his math skills were a little low and he had to catch up a bit. I guess he should have set higher goals. Still, the fact that this kind of learning was as successful as it was really surprises me. If anyone would have told me that seven years olds could teach themselves sitting in cubicles I would have thought they were crazy.