A few weeks ago, the New York Times published an opinion piece by Kim Brooks titled We Have Ruined Childhood. It is one of those articles that you can read and walk away feeling defeated, but in this case, it made me proud of the work we do here at Saklan. In many ways, as I read the article, I saw the Saklan approach as an antidote to what ails children and adolescents these days.
Brooks talks about the fact that “kids today have fewer opportunities to practice social-emotional skills… they don’t learn how to start a friendship, how to start a relationship, what to do when someone’s bothering you, how to solve a problem.” Which I find can be true in our overprotective culture. Yet here at Saklan, a focus of our approach is to get students to learn those vital social skills. We work hard through our Responsive Classroom approach, Middle School Advisory, and SOS classes to give kids the tools they need to grow as humans, deal with adversity and persist.
The article references the fact that an overabundance of testing, and all the “drilling” that goes with it, have taken away time from recess, lunch, Art and Music. This regimented approach to school increases stress and decreases learning (not to mention kills any love for learning). Taking a look at the Saklan curriculum, you will find that students are not shortchanged of Music, Art or some recess. And while we do use standardized testing, we limit it to focus on the individual growth of a student.
The fact is that less testing and more emphasis on the Arts, Social Emotional Learning, and giving kids some time and space leads to not only happier kids, but stronger academics. Does that seem counterintuitive? Probably. Does the research bear it out? Yes. Is Saklan saving childhood? I think so.