Yes you read that headline correctly.
Don’t get me wrong. I had some fantastic teachers and took excellent classes and I got a great education at Staples. I just got a better education at summer camp.
At camp, you don’t learn the formula for kinetic energy (KE=0.5mv2), what an antithesis is (the contrasting of ideas), how to take the antiderivative of 3×2 (6x) or that 60 Senators are needed for the approval of a law.
Instead one learns skills that will help you regardless of whether you decide to become an engineer, a politician, an accountant or a journalist.
The great thing about camp is that you learn without knowing you’re learning.
The Partnership for 21st Skills identified the five most important “skills critical to success” – written communication, oral communication, collaboration, critical thinking and work ethic.
And with the exception of written communication, I improved those skills more at camp than I did at school.
Think about it: how did following the Westport 2025 lens actually improve your critical thinking skills?
At camp I had to critically think when dealing with homesick campers – deciding what’s best to say to them, what will be a Band-Aid and what will be a solution, while being responsible for another 11 campers in 105 degree heat (did I mention I go to camp down in Texas?).
That’s a lot more of a skill-builder then trying to write compare and contrast and make connections in essays or Socratic seminars.
Sure I worked on my skills as a collaborator at school with group projects – but how many of those projects ended up falling under the category of “divide and conquer?”
At camp, children have to work together to figure out how to clean up their cabin in order to pass an inspection.
And if we’re talking work ethic, does procrastinating and staying up till past midnight to finish essays improves one’s work ethic?
Working my butt off to learn how to facilitate a rock wall to get the priceless reward of seeing a child having fun climbing or helping them conquer their fear of heights or seeing them proud of the accomplishment of reaching the top did wonders for my work ethic.
If you’re reading this and think I’m crazy, to be blunt, it is because the magic – yes magic – of camp really can’t be explained in words.
In the real world, I can simply whip out my iPhone and tell you those answers. Schools are teaching knowledge, not the application of knowledge.
So instead of implementing SBAC and Common Core, our nation’s educational system could benefit from taking a page out of camp’s playbook.
That way students can improve their written communication, oral communication, collaboration, critical thinking and work ethic instead of becoming better at filling out Scantrons.
Children need to learn skills, other than test taking ones.