On a Southwest Airlines flight in August, I read an article in their magazine Spirit by Jennifer Miller about an intriguing new idea that some teachers and schools are bold enough to try called the flipped classroom. “Flipped Out” is mostly a story about one admirable teacher who noticed that both his students and he were suffering from boredom. He decided it was time to do something about it. He researched, investigated, experimented, observed, adjusted, & refined the “flipped” classroom. You can read the article here: http://www.spiritmag.com/features/article/flipped_out/ I wrote Spirit magazine a letter to tell them I enjoyed the article. They wrote back to say they wanted to feature my letter in the October issue. If you fly Southwest, take a peek on page 24. Spirit magazine titled my letter “Life Flip” and they included their own note at the end:
What a great idea to give the kids a sabbatical. Now we at Spirit are thinking how we can do that…
I might have to follow-up with a note to ask them: do they mean how can they (workers at Spirit magazine) take a sabbatical or how can can their kids take a sabbatical?
Anyway, here’s my published letter:
Marc Seigel was wise to pay attention to his boredom after teaching the traditional way for 10 years. He was bold and brave to figure out ways to cure the boredom by trying something different: the flipped classroom. During our daughter’s seventh and eighth grade years, our family decided to flip not just a classroom, but our lives. We took a two-year break from the traditional classroom for reasons cited in this article: too much testing, too much irrelevant homework, an over-reliance on textbooks, etc. You could call what we did homeschooling, but because one of us is a professor, we called it a sabbatical. What does one do during a sabbatical? Behave like Marc Seigel. There were no tests and no textbooks, but lots of reading, writing and conversations. We hiked, biked, danced, and walked. We planted a garden. After two years, all three of us — not just our daughter — felt smarter, healthier, and happier. A remark our daughter made in the sixth grade rings true: “You know, there’s a certain part about getting good at something that involves loving it.” Learning (and teaching) is all about loving. — Pamela Beere Briggs
P.S. That Marc Seigel continues to observe, ask himself questions, and refine his teaching methods is what I admire most. His students are learning so much by watching him! The idea with a sabbatical is to Re-think, Refresh, Revise, and Re-focus, in order to gain new wisdom and greater clarity. As educator-storytellers, we are constantly brainstorming ways to ignite lifelong learning, which we call thriving (vs. surviving).