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Can you remember the world of movement, wonder, and intense sensation that you lived in when you were six years old? Does education mean filling a bucket or does it mean lighting a fire?
In today’s predominant educational environment, where high-stakes testing and anxiety reign, it’s clear that the goal, though implicit, is to fill buckets. Kim Allsup would like us to start lighting fires—to stop treating children like empty buckets. She sees that the vital essence of education has been sucked out of most schools today; that we must strive, above all, to it bring it back; and that the situation is indeed urgent. Yet this book contains no arguments—it is not a change-of-policy proposal, nor is it a polemical treatise.
Kim Allsup is a teacher and a teller of stories, and so this book, to look only at the surface, tells the story of the six years a teacher spent with her class. However, it does much more than that. Funny, poignant, moving, relatable, and finally, life-affirming, and hopeful, this memoir gently shows the way to an educational approach that is worthy of childhood—one rooted in wonder.
Wonder is a challenging word. It has been overused and commercialized and its true definition is perhaps endangered, but it is nevertheless a uniquely human experience, and to stifle or remove it from the lives of our children is to court a barren and dismal future—yet wonder remains alive! We may need only to be reminded of it.
This story is a living reminder of the simple beauty of childhood wonder and our responsibility to the future never to give it up.
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