Gleek’s 5th grade teacher carefully established a classroom economy at the beginning of the school year. About three weeks ago, she started to give the kids taxes. At the same time she started having them memorize the first part of the Declaration of Independence. Then she raised the taxes. She separated the students into patriots and loyalists, then she pulled spelling words from the Declaration of Independence. This week she started levying fines and applying unfair rules. Today the kids were required to recite the Declaration of Independence.
This afternoon the teacher sent around an email saying in essence “Help! Your children are wonderful and obedient. I need them to revolt and declare independence before Christmas break. Please talk to them about unfair dominion and public responsibility.”
Gleek had a hard day in class today. She wants very much to remain a loyalist, but can not help seeing that the rules have become impossible to keep. (For example: You must maintain the quality of work, but I will no longer give you supplies and you are not allowed to bring any supplies from home.) My brave girl sneaked a notebook out onto the playground and wrote a note to the principal. Tomorrow Gleek will arrive at school with a backpack full of school supplies to share. This is in direct opposition to the new “bring no supplies from home” rule. Gleek will share these supplies openly and take whatever consequences come. My little girl is learning about conscientious objection. By the end of the day tomorrow I suspect the newly independent classroom will be ready to start their own constitutional convention.
I admire the courage of this teacher to follow through on such an ambitious educational plan. It is working and these kids will never forget.
Dec 18, 2011 Update: The kids had their revolution the very next day and the unfair taxes were repealed. Gleek loves her teacher again and learning will continue after the Christmas break.
I should also note that while I truly admire this teacher and this method of teaching, it must be handled with great skill and advance forethought. It puts a big strain on both the teacher and the students because the emotions involved are real. It can go very badly. In this case it did not.