My education table of contents

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Maddy Beckmann
January 29, 2013
Table of Contents of my Education

Seven Schools in Thirteen Years

I. School #1: My Montessori Education, All I remember is making bread...
II. School #2: My Co-ed Catholic Education, I am not catholic...
III. School #3: My Public Education: Too many kids in my class...
IV. School #4: My Experiencial Education: Taking Ownership of My Learning...

Standing up at the podium with a hundred people in front of my I opened my mouth to speak. I am the last of my class to speak to the audience. At this point 27 students have gone before me and I know I must try to keep the audience’s attention for just one more speech. I opened my mouth to speak my first speech in front of an audience. It was easy. I spoke about my love for people and for helping them. I spoke about making the world a better place and what I love to do. I finished the speech and was greeted by the first standing ovation of my class.

I remember this moment in time because my words were purely my own. I was almost free to write anything I wanted with the parameters to write a “This I Believe” speech. I wrote about what I loved and felt so passionate about my speech. This was the first instance that I can remember that I felt ownership for my work. My middle school was a school that encouraged me to learn outside of the classroom. We took trips to camp, rock climb, canoe, and learned to work with a group to orienteer in the wilderness. While these were not the “traditional” ways of learning, I realized that learning is not confined to the classroom at an early age. This lesson helped me to engage in learning with what interested me. I was given a sense of freedom for my own learning.
I have worked in non-profits my whole life, even starting one of my own and my middle school accepted that as an “acceptable” way to learn. My experiences in and out of the classroom mattered.  I was encouraged to pick my own topics for writing assignments and pick my own books to do reports on. We also called our teachers by their first names and felt that they were partners in learning, rather than someone with total authority over us.
The  three years I attended my middle school were the greatest three years in my educational career. Here, I developed a love for learning and grew my passions alongside of my school work.  My passions and school work intertwined in a unique way that encouraged me to learn without directly asking me to do so.
The experiences in this setting prepared me for the rest of my educational career. Being able to speak, write and read about the topics that I loved helped me to take ownership for my learning. I remember my speech because it was the first time in my educational career that I was “free” to tell everyone around me what I love to do and why it is just as important as what they are “making us” read and write in school. What mattered to me also mattered to my school.
I wonder here about Dewy’s questions of organization and freedom. My middle school experience was one that provided me a positive experience with my own education. Can this experience be multiplied and used on a grand scale? I only had 28 students in my class, would this idea of freedom work at a national or international level?
This experience to me was the most positive and motivating moments of my life and I can still remember the words of my speech today. I wish that we could value what a student values in the classroom and use it to learn and to teach.

V. All Girls Catholic Education: This was not a huge success...
VI. Co-ed Private High School: The rest of my high school career...
VII. College: Do I really have to take more math and science to graduate...


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