OUR VIEWS: Encourage creative education

Jun 21, 2012


It probably started with sitting at your assigned desk among the rows of your fellow elementary school students. Then the teacher would talk the majority of the day while you were expected to pay attention and retain some information.

In later elementary years, you crammed right before a test with hopes of answering a majority of the questions correctly.

This inferior method of memorization and regurgitation is something repeated all too often in classrooms everywhere.

Yes, we’ve done this for decades. Yes, the teachers are doing what’s expected. Yes, the teachers care and want their students to learn.

But it could be better than this. Let’s step outside the box and explore alternative methods that are better for both students and teachers.

Luckily, we have two area schools that are doing just that. Rosy Mound and Ferry elementary schools have stepped outside that stifling box of traditional education.

Rosy Mound plans to implement some non-traditional classrooms this fall. They will merge first and second grades into the same classroom. Mixed classrooms allow children more learning and teaching opportunities so they can naturally excel.

Ferry offers the Voyager program, which has been in existence since 1973. This fall, it will expand to include elementary and middle school students.

These Voyagers experience Reggio-inspired teaching. It’s based on the principles of respect, responsibility and community through exploration and discovery. It’s done in a supportive and enriching environment based on the interests of the children through a self-guided curriculum.

This allows children to learn through actual experience with interesting and varied delivery of material.

Gasp! You mean they don’t sit silently in rows while their teacher rambles on for hours at a steady pace, regardless of students who are either struggling to keep up or downright bored?

Oh yes, that’s exactly what it means. They actually learn for life, not just temporarily for the next test. These students enjoy learning. Sometimes they don’t even realize they’re learning, because they’re experiencing.

With systems such as this, the teachers have the freedom to do what they love — teach and watch the children learn naturally.

Embrace these alternative methods, support them and encourage your schools to look outside the box as these schools have. There’s nothing to lose — only knowledge to be gained.

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Kevin Collier and Liz Stuck. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to news@grandhaventribune.com or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.



Sounds like a nice idea to try out, and I hope it works for the better. The truth is, children don't all learn the same way. While these new methods work much better for some, there are still students who learn better with traditional methods that provide more structure. There are so many factors that play into academic success for a student. Our kids don't all come from the same mold and, therefore, you can't expect them all to fit in the same box.


More than this being a nice idea to try out...as the article states, the Voyager School (formerly known as The Open Classroom) has been part of Grand Haven Area Public Schools since 1973! The Reggio approach to education began following World War II when the community of Reggio Emilia, Italy realized the importance of investing in their children during a time of rebuilding. Since that time the Reggio approach to education has been used all over the world, with the approach being adapted to each individual community. Thank you to the Grand Haven Tribune for a great article on the importance of encouraging creative education in schools and thank you to Grand Haven Area Public Schools for continuing to offer this choice to all families in our community and for recognizing the importance of investing in our children!


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