One hallmark of a Parker education is that our students are prepared. We were reminded of that during a recent visit from a 2019 alumni, who stopped by to relate that his first days of ninth grade were going well. He laughed, recalling how his new school had told the ninth graders that they would be writing a thesis paper as one of their assignments this year. “Thesis paper?” our graduate quipped, “I’ve already done that!” His amusement and confidence were palpable.
In looking at our eight grade thesis, it is important to realize that the purpose of this project is not to prove that our eighth graders can do “advanced work.” Our thesis project is emblematic of our understanding of adolescents. We know that this is an age when students can deeply commit to causes. We also know that exercising choice in learning is a powerful motivator, encouraging students to bring out their best efforts because they are engaged and enthusiastic about their studies. We provide plenty of time for students to research and write, and we provide guidance and support so that every student succeeds to the best of their ability. It would be more accurate to say that the challenge of the thesis is advancing , rather than “advanced.” We know that it will prepare our students for high school, but we also know that it is developmentally appropriate for them to have this opportunity in our middle school.
By contrast, we recently heard from the parent of a Kindergartener who is not at Parker. The student reported home that they are required to sit for so long that their “bottom hurts.” The teacher apparently tells her class that they are practicing sitting so that they will be ready for first grade. Sitting still in order to prepare for future academic work is not “advanced work”. There is no evidence that practicing sitting at age five means you learn better the next year in school. Kindergarten students deserve to be active! In fact, we know that movement, time outside , and collaborative, creative projects make for the best outcomes — not only academically but also in fostering a positive disposition to learn. Parker structures its educational experience around what we know about children. We believe that “preparing” a child for the next grade involves advancing skills in inquiry, critical thinking, and social-emotional regulation. This “advanced” work fosters a desire to learn more and enjoy school, and it is the best way to prepare students for their next years of learning.
An Apple a Day Makes for Happy PreK!
Today the PreK celebrated an annual tradition with their first field trip of the year to the apple orchard. The class was treated to a hay ride tour of the orchard and fields. Each child had the opportunity pick their own bag full of apples, and they finished the day with a picnic lunch, donuts, and cider. A huge thank you to the Samascott family for making this joyful gathering possible!