Wow -- I'm really getting lax on my posting here. Sorry.
Just read an idea from a fellow blogging educator. He suggests that one day a month, schools should schedule a "Man-Made Delayed Opening". For the first hour and half (or so) of a day, kids are allowed to go to whatever room in the school they want, work with whichever teacher they want and explore whatever learning topic they would like for that time. The idea is to give kids an opportunity to participate in learning where they are genuinely engaged. Call it Exploration Day, or something.
Sounds good, I suppose. My concern is that I bet there would be scads of kids -- maybe even the majority of students -- who would not be able to come up with anything they would like to explore or study.
That, in itself, is sad. Think about your typical 5-year-old. They're curious about the whole world. They explore everything. An ant crawling across the sidewalk. The inside of a marshmallow. The contents of the bathroom cabinet. Kindergarteners love school. So do most first-graders. By the end of elementary school, however, most kids will tell you that their favorite "subject" in school is recess.
What a tremendous failure of our society that we manage to squelch that innate sense of wonder and curiosity long before our children reach the point of having the intellectual wherewithal to completely satisfy it -- or make use of it for the betterment of society!
Seriously, folks. That's a travesty. We've got to do something about that.