Wednesday, April 23, 2008

How Do...

Today my children discovered what the library is really supposed to be for. Answering questions! In the past, I have decided it was time to go to the library, I have picked the books (and usually not liked them) and the whole experience has been so adult driven and not kid initiated and I have been so frustrated by the quality of the books, the staff, and the physical environment that we had completely gone off public libraries for a long while. Today on our Nature walk Rebecca asked me How do ants carry their food? And I thought to myself, I don't know the answer to this question. They can't carry it in their legs since they use all 6 to walk. Do they carry it on their backs? So after we got Natalie from school we headed up to the north end of the county to try out a new library and give it a chance. As it turns out, they had a wonderful librarian who found three ant books for us. And then Leah in the car asked me another good question that we could go to the library to research, which was How do insects hide from the woodpecker? (One of the trees we saw on our walk was simply riddled with woodpecker holes.)

Natalie asked me the other day How does a planet stay up in the air and not fall down?

(Like I know the answer to that!!!!!) In real life I'm not sure I do but I know how to explain it to a six year old in a Waldorf way... which is, I wonder... But some questions I do want them to research the answer to and I think the ant question and woodpecker question were very appropriate. And to know that the library is the place to find answers is a good beginning to research skills.

We visited a school on Monday as part of Tidewater's research into Montessori-inspired middle school curriculum and I was stunned about the attitude of the students towards research. Apparently, it is fine to copy and paste from wikipedia as long as you put in a sources page at the end of your report listing all the URLs in it. How is that not still plagiarism????? These kids aren't thinking for themselves. Add to it a stolen online photograph on your cover page and some pretty fonts and it looks great but where is the substance. The whole thing reminds me of a Twinkie. You think, oh, this will be something nice and then you dig in and it just tastes like mucus and sawdust.

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