Elementary School Principal's Blog

Schoolness - How Does It Matter?

Posted on September 4, 2022

by Dr. Edna Hussey on September 4, 2022

Iʻve been observing preschoolers and kindergartners from the time theyʻre dropped off in morning autoline, in the classroom, at recess, and the return home in the afternoon autoline. I wonder about their experience of school. What schema of school is formed in the early years and does it change over time? And why does their theory of schoolness matter?

As you glance through these three Google images, what schema of school is outlined?

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As these images suggest, an aspect of school is to socialize students through skills and behaviors so that they can function with purpose and manage their own behaviors in daily routines. There is a sense of community when students accept responsibility for the management and organization of the classroom (class jobs). And then there are the artifacts associated with schoolness (books, pencils, backpacks, and iPads!).

These aspects are important in schools but only a small part of what school needs to be in the 21st century. We are nearly 25 years into the 21st century with over two hundred years of education history in the U.S. and schools directly impacted by the economy, politics, exponential change in technology and science. The invention of writing, the printing press, the internet, and artificial intelligence, currently, have pushed schools forward, and schools are struggling to keep up with these revolutions. The fourth revolution is the rapid change to technology, industries, and processes due to global interconnectivity and smart automation now possible. The wrist watch that Dick Tracy spoke into or the communicator that Captain Kirk wore on his chest is no longer a figment of the imagination. It was innovation, and itʻs innovation and creativity that need to be the thinking skills and learning process in schools today.

So when you and I ponder this idea of schoolness, we cannot turn a blind eye to the landscape of changes our students are living in. In addition to learning the "basics" of reading (decoding, encoding), writing (sentences, grammar, punctuation), math (computation, algorithms, geometry, algebra), science (facts and theories), school needs to stretch, grow, and change to be in sync with the world beyond the classroom walls.

Learning in schools should look different from when I attended school. We must spend more time in the realm of inquiry thinking together in different "languages" of the arts, discussing studentsʻ assumptions about the world, working with our hands and bodies, connecting schoolness with the learning that can be readily found in the local and global community. Signs of intellectual prowess should be more than an emphasis on correctness but on thinking processes and the ability to work with others (collaboration). The faculty and I acknowledge that the curriculum right now across all of our classrooms is learning how to work with others. We are practicing daily Mid-Pacificʻs core value of valuing relationships in a community characterized by trust, respect and a safe space for learning, growing, and taking risks.

When your child is dropped off each morning, expect your childʻs experience of school to be both challenge and opportunity. Your child is engaged in deeper learning. Their growing theory of schoolness matters because everything they learn in the community of school shapes their view of how they will navigate the world beyond school.

E Kūlia Kākou! Letʻs strive and aspire together!

For our children,

Edna L. Hussey, Ed.D.