What an Eighth Grader Can Do

CHRIS WEAVER, DIRECTOR OF CURRICULUM AND FACULTY DEVELOPMENT:

Here’s a question — if you gave an eighth grader a chance to design a class, something individually meaningful and big enough to stretch across a year, what would happen?  How would it turn out?

We asked this question here at Peck, and it resonated immediately with a couple of things that we feel strongly about.

It’s a time in life that seems to call out for trying something big.

The first is that eighth graders can do more than most people expect. As a K-8 school, these are our oldest students, the ones we’ve watched grow up, and the ones we depend on now to be our school leaders. Probably we’re a little biased, but to us there is something special about eighth grade —  a time that contains so many of the parts of being a kid and so many of the parts of being an adult, all swirled together. It’s a time in life that seems to call out for trying something big.

The second has to do with growth. We want our students to be self-starters and problem-solvers, we want them to have a sense of agency around their future, and a sense of grit in pursuing their passions. But to develop these skills, to grow into them, we also know that our students need meaningful opportunities to practice, to try and fail, and to find their own way forward.

So, here’s what we did.

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The Challenges of Raising a Digital Native

JENNIFER GARVEY, LOWER SCHOOL TECHNOLOGY INTEGRATOR: Most children today are considered digital natives.  They seem to be born knowing how to operate a smartphone.  Many of them have likely FaceTimed with long-distance relatives before they could walk.  Their coloring books often pair with apps that bring their pictures to life.  With the ubiquitous nature of mobile technology, children are connected like never before.

Does all of this technology create a void in empathy?

But, we worry about the impact of screen time and social media on our children and we have many questions.  How much screen time is too much? What is the right age to give a cell phone?  Should I allow my child access to social media?  Are they getting enough face-to-face time to develop appropriate social skills?  Does all of this technology create a void in empathy?

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