I was talking to my mom recently (we live in the same house, so talking happens from time to time) about education, public school, wisdom, and growing up and she shared a memory she had from one of the years that I spent in what was referred to as an “Open School” system — the local parents in my school district advocated for changes in the school system, and the Open School was the resultant experiment.

When I was in either third and fourth grade, somewhere in that nebulous age range from seven to nine years old, I was in this school program where the parents came in to participate in the education of the children in the classroom, and we had the most eclectic mix of experiences and lessons throughout those two years, which included recreations of historical events, field trips, and all sorts of interesting things.

I remember when we learned how to write checks, address letters, alphabetize files and folders (and other various filing techniques), count out change, design board games (our class split into groups to play them, too!), and as a class we did a recreation of the California gold rush, took a field trip to a place where early settlers panned for gold, and simulated various professions (grocers, bankers, assayers, etc.).

I remember those years were pretty chaotic, and some things that happened in that time stick out more in my memory than others, but I remember I learned a lot and I have some great memories. In particular I remember returning to the public school system in fifth and sixth grade and being bewildered by how boring and regulated everything was. Oh, how my grades suffered the next eight years as I struggled to fit in with everyone else…