Why I Don't Want My Kids to Sit in Rows at School

Family Matters on 09.20.12
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Photo: cdsessums / Flickr

When I was in first grade, my teacher slapped a big wooden stick on her desk to give us a quick reminder that we better sit up straight in our rows -- our hands and legs neatly crossed. Yikes. No wonder I had a stomach ache every morning.

The Problem With Sitting In Rows Today

Just look into classrooms today: Many of them still sit our kids in rows. This worked well in the industrial revolution, when we needed to train our future workforce to be really good at listening to bells and whistles, be the same as each other, sit neatly in rows and columns, and not stray from that norm. I'm pretty sure that I can speak for most parents: I don't want to prepare my kids for life as a factory worker.

Whether we like to face it or not, our kids are global citizens now. In the 2020's and 2030's, they'll be working with people halfway around the world and laughing at the idea that people in the olden days used to drive to work to meet in a physical space. Their communication skills and ability to work cooperatively in teams alongside people from different cultures will be just two keys to their success.

What to Look For

How our kids' learning environments are set up says a lot about the kinds of skills they're learning. As we face more and more standardization in our schools, I suggest you take a look at their seating assignments. Here are a few things to pay attention to on Back-to-School night this year:

  1. How is your child's learning environment set up? In rows, tables, or desk clusters?
  2. Is the setup conducive to collaboration amongst students?
  3. Will your child get to participate in projects with other kids?
  4. Is your child exposed to working with kids of different ethnicities and backgrounds?

The more aware I became about education environments at my local Colorado schools, both private and public, the better equipped I became to find the right environment for my sons. I found a great public school Montessori that fits my "no rows" mentality. We may have some quibbles in the morning about the long commute to school, but I'll take that complaint over a stomach ache -- any day!

Laura St. John is Chief Mamapreneur at Discovery Kids Puterbugs, the leading provider of innovative technology education programs for kids up to age 8 years old. Enrichment classes are held at over 700 locations around the country by local entrepreneurs, and also available in an  online format on Discovery Kids

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