Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Salad Spinner

Grand baby West is 4 today!

Last Friday, in the middle of his play day, he marched into the kitchen and asked if he could have the salad spinner. His dad passed it to him, West retired to the living room, and we could hear the whir of the spinner as it wound up and down. A peek around the corner revealed the little guy poised over the tool, head bent to see the interior. A minute later he returns to the kitchen, and places the spinner on the table around which we are seated. He can now see the spinner at eye level. So can we. What West has done is place his three favorite "Match-Box" cars in the spinner, locked down the lid, and pumped them up into a fair simulation of the Metrodrome, Wall of Death. We are mightily impressed.

Another little guy getting ready:

I ask West if he has a paddle ball. He rummages around the toy chest and produces one. I hold the rubber band 4 inches or so above the ball and ask him to watch closely. I slowly start to spin the ball and sure enough the ball rises to orbit around my finger. "Now look at my mouth West. Say centrifugal force." He does and runs to repeat to his father, "centrifugal force".

West will start kindergarten next September. When he does he will be locked into a space with a bunch of other 4 year olds, and one adult. Where did that madness come from? Bonnie Moen in her excellent paper; "Multi-age Education -- Time for a Change" sets out the history. Horace Mann imported the concept from Prussia in the 1840's and it has been the norm ever since. This practice interrupted thousands of years of successful multi-age education.

Later that day West was drawing on the side walk. We asked him what he was drawing. "The Planets" he said.


  1. HOME SCHOOL that child!!!

  2. It goes almost without saying that the two foremost goals of most schooling are the least acknowledged: To passively indoctrinate children into the structured world where rules apply and society is segmented, and to allow their parents to punch the time clock.

    It’s been interesting to me to see that in the multi-age format of pre-school one of the key benefits is that there are older kids to look up to, and younger ones to care for. The kids seem to do this very well, and to gain a lot from the experience. I assume (though I have zero experience in this) that this is similar to what happens on sports teams in schools, where there are older kids and better kids are the starters and younger kids are playing along with them, getting better by practicing with them.

    School should not be confused with education; education happens everywhere. Of course, if it happened only at home, kids would rarely learn that centrifugal force, while certainly used in the above context, doesn’t actually exist. What you were really showing him was the centripetal acceleration of an object in rotation towards the axis.

  3. Ahhh, what I meant to say was Reactive centrifugal force. West, look at your daddy....

  4. Max, might want to look at the Sudbury Valley School, Framingham MA. Its about "what you said" re education. I fiercely support your view. L

  5. I think it important to note that while I, too, agree that West is a brilliant child, he generally is not required to protect his brain with a helmet while drawing on the sidewalk.

    Thanks for the thought provoking blog.