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  • Writer's pictureChristina Sbarra

Sleep for Homework!

Have you heard of the Atlantic Rim Collaboratory? I hadn’t either. The California Board of Education is a founding member.

The Atlantic Rim Collaboratory (ARC) is an educational partnership formed in 2016 between the Ministries of Education of Scotland, Iceland, Ireland, Finland, Aruba, Sweden, Wales, the Canadian province of Ontario, and two states: Vermont and California.

That is a very intriguing group, but I’m not sure exactly what impact they are having. As an educator and a parent in California, I’m very curious.

Their 3rd annual summit, a very small, invitation-only affair, took place in Los Angeles just a few weeks ago, September 8-11, 2018. Speakers included the widely-respected educational researcher Sir Ken Robinson as well as Finish educator, author and scholar Pasi Sahlberg.

After browsing their website, I am still not sure what they are doing beyond holding summits. However, I do agree with the ideas put forth in the 2018 videos already posted on the site, and I highly recommend viewing them. Given that the California Board of Education is a member, any citizen of California could certainly encourage their local schools to take up these ideas.

Here are some very worthwhile ‘calls to action’ as well as some shocking statistics from the 2018 talks:

Ken Robinson:

  1. Treat parents as partners in the enterprise of education, not as clients.

  2. Let children play, ‘real play’ that is, not little league, not adult-directed, but rough-and-tumble, physically active, imaginative play. Let them play outdoors.

  3. Recognize that schools are eco-systems, not mechanisms. Everything is interdependent.

  4. The real role of leaders in human eco-systems is not to command and control but to create a climate of possibility.

Pasi Sahlberg encourages educators to adopt his 5-step plan to promote well-being among children:

  1. Help children sleep more. (Teenagers need 9-11 hours per day). Give sleep as homework!

  2. Limit screen time, but do not put a total ban on it. Teach them the difference between good and bad screen time.

  3. Make sure they get plenty of time to play outside, physical play outdoors. (In the US today, high-risk security prisoners spend more time outside than primary school children.)

  4. Encourage them to read more, actual books not tablets. Especially boys.

  5. Have them write a letter to someone they love, an old-fashioned hand-written letter, once a week.

Amanda Datnow speaks about the importance of collaboration among teachers, collaboration aimed at coherence not conformity. She points out that in order for that to happen, teachers need more time together, not in meaningless meetings but free to experience their own deep learning along with colleagues. And they need more professional respect.

Pedro Noguera points out that we need to cultivate in students a mindset capable of changing society not just reproducing it. He suggests an important way to initiate change is by asking the right questions, for example, do not ask ‘What improves performance?”… but rather ask, “What gets kids motivated and excited?”

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