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Learning outside of school

I realized that I have done a lot of learning outside of school as a kid. Here are some examples.

  • I took apart almost every piece of electronics we owned (except the television as I was told this was dangerous) and then put it back together, most of the time.
  • I explored every inch of the island I grew up on within 5 kilometres of our house, usually on bike, often with my dog.
  • We had a library of many hundreds of books in our house, and I read most of them.
  • I taught myself how to program, and I created a computer game in grade 10.
  • I (re)discovered the sum of triangular numbers formula, and the quadratic formula on my own.
  • I planned a trip to Mars in as much detail as I could, right down to where the bathrooms would be located on my rotating space-ship.
  • I collected a sample of every different kind of grass I could find on my island. I ended up with over 50 different types.
  • I played a lot of games, including Dungeons and Dragons and many exciting computer games.
  • I watched way too much television (with a strong preference for science fiction). I don't know how valuable a learning experience this was, but in the interest of being honest, I thought I should include it.
  • I went for regular jogs around town. One time I finished my run, wasn't tired enough, and so I went for another loop.
  • I wrote poetry, sometimes in the middle of the night.

I'm not offering this list to brag about my childhood, but simply to suggest that there are plenty of ways kids can learn outside of school, but they must have the time, space, and support to do so.

About David

David is a Formative Assessment Specialist for Mathematics at New Visions for Public Schools in NYC. He has been teaching since 2002, and has worked in Brooklyn, London, Bangkok, and Vancouver before moving back to the United States. He has his Masters degree in Educational Technology from UBC, and is the co-author of a mathematics textbook. He has been published in ISTE's Leading and Learning, Educational Technology Solutions, The Software Developers Journal, The Bangkok Post and Edutopia. He blogs with the Cooperative Catalyst, and is the Assessment group facilitator for Edutopia. He has also helped organize the first Edcamp in Canada, and TEDxKIDS@BC.

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