stephanie jones

Reinventing Summer Camp and Schools…

In classism, creativity, high-stakes tests, justice, teacher education resources on June 4, 2009 at 3:16 am

Here’s a great piece about a super summer program offered at UGA and other places around the country that was published in the Athens Banner-Herald

And my response to the editor (let’s hope it gets published!):

“Reinventing Summer Camp – Reinventing Schools”

Yesterday I walked through crowds of children at Camp Invention held at UGA who were smiling, pondering, laughing, and talking as they worked at difficult challenges and pushed themselves and others to perform beyond what they could do alone.

In stark contrast, I had a conversation with a first grader today who is attending summer school because of low CRCT scores. His chin quivered and tears welled up in his eyes – he doesn’t want to go tomorrow; they’re doing stuff he already knows; he’s tired of school; he wishes school was at a park where he could learn fun stuff. I could only listen and say I was sorry, but I’m more than sorry. I’m angry about the disparities of educational opportunities offered to students who are assumed to be “creative” and those assumed to need “remediation.”

What if all summer school programs could build on decades of research that inform the premise of Camp Invention? How might this child feel different about attending school? Would he be smiling, pondering, laughing, talking, and working at difficult challenges with others that he couldn’t do alone?

I imagine he would.

Thankfully Clarke County is opening J.J. Harris Elementary School in the fall – a school promising to immerse all students in instruction typically reserved for those labeled  “gifted.” I hope, for the sake of this one child and thousands of others, that surrounding schools will take notice and reconsider their summer and academic year programs.

Let’s start reinventing schools too.

Stephanie Jones
Education Professor
University of Georgia

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