pre-year 0 – the situation – kb ben

story people are stressed

a story stress

share stress why


Our leadership class had a chat with a district employee the other day . The district was seeking input fromstakeholders. Admirable for sure – that he’s taking time to come to school. When asked what would be good ways to improve… one student said – this.. you coming and listening to us as opposed to a 30 question poll with the same 5 choices for each answer.

So I applaud our kool beans district… and many others… who value listening to kids first.

Anyway… all of the questions were on how to improve school. And as expected, these brilliant minds had many great suggestions:

…..incorporate community service into every class

…..don’t buy in bulk, ie: make purchases per individual, or class, or school, that is intending to use it, —-textbooks, laptops, calculators, promethean boards, etc.

… students more toward future goals – careers – and colleges, help with scholarships and apps

…..train more at a younger age – especially foreign language

…..value clubs and all sports


The comment that resonated the most with me was from Ben.

{Ben is the one who gifted us with the kool beans phrase.}

 So Ben’s suggestion was… to make the days longer and to make school year round. 

You could tell Ben was speaking from the heart and forming his words as they came out. He added, so then school would be – well – life.

Of course – more groans than not… but I was onto Ben.

He continued -after having to hush all his ney sayers –  no no no – it wouldn’t be more school, it would be more relaxed, we’re always in such a hurry. School would be all that you do.

chess club, basketball practice, piano lessons, dance, theatre, robotics, community service, …

music theory and composition…

All of the above – after hours and no credit…

Ben’s idea would change that.

Maybe school would become more humane… not to be dreaded each day… it’s just your life, it’s what you do. Learning becomes a natural reaction of curiosity, or not, either way – it just fits in the day.

Now in order for others to buy in … many rules and mandates would be lifted, I’m sure that’s the piece Ben was seeing and others weren’t.

The 7 hour in seat time – would merge into the outside of class time. That late night project would blend into sleep the next morning. Responsibility and respect would negate the slacker. Shhhh….believe for a sec…just this once.

Ben wants to slow down. He wants to play more. But Ben’s not a slacker.

Ben is the last to leave any activity created for our student body. He’s the last to pick up, he won’t leave till the job’s done. Ben does the dirty work. Ben is mastering a great work ethic. Isn’t that learning? Shouldn’t that be school?

Every Thursday at lunch, Ben hosts a Harry Potter Club. Their conversations are exhilarating. Crazy – yes. But brilliantly exhilarating. Kids are discussing books they read. They are comparing impressions they have, debating the intent of the author. Isn’t that learning? Shouldn’t that be school?

We connected with Capetown teachers in July. Finally connected with students a few weeks ago. We connected at 6:30 am because of time zones. An obvious connection in that first interaction was music. Check it out..

A pleasantly unexpected connection – was Jackson’s inquiry about J.K. Rowling.

Ben now gets to expand the Harry Potter Club from room 168, to Cape Town. Ben is networking, he’s creating groups and connecting with people per passion. Isn’t that learning? Shouldn’t that be school?

Accountability?.. yeah – i know.  No standardized test for such things as yet. Seth Godin’s Linchpin says that if it can be mapped out, standardized, it’s not art. Art (the ability to do things that haven’t been done) is what is going to make our students indispensable in their future.

And – I’m a firm believer in  – if you let them build it – more will come… maybe they won’t all come… but more than are coming now. And with more gusto, more ownership, more results..that’s art.

I like Ben’s thinking.

We should try to capture some of it… as much as our spoken and unspoken laws will allow – for now.

Ben likes life.

Ben embraces each day.

Ben CC skiis to school.

Ben is an artist. He is and will be indispensable.

Seth’s post today fits that as well … maybe if we let more Ben’s determine how school goes… we’d have less people going to work each day and more living life 24/7.


on listening to kids.. here’s a compilation of SLA kids ideas of how school should be..


back to storyboard [findings abstract]

or story past