Saturday, August 20, 2016

Snow in the city in the school

At Caroline Pratt’s City and Country School, seven-year-olds built and rebuilt and ran a “play city,” with roads, waterways, “little people” (wooden figures), and buildings made of blocks. And the children sometimes staged performances:

One of the most charming I remember was nothing more than the representation of a snowstorm in the city. There were two scenes with backdrops painted by the children on large sheets of brown wrapping paper. The first showed the New York waterfront without snow; the second reproduced the same scene, but covered now with deep white drifts. In the first scene the children were snowflakes, improvising their own dance and finally falling to the ground. In the second scene, workmen came with snowplows and opened up the streets by pushing the fallen snowflakes aside. That was all there was to it!
Caroline Pratt, I Learn from Children: An Adventure in Progressive Education . 1948. (New York: Grove, 2014).

A few days ago I was reading about adolescents finding their city far more educational than their school. And now I’m reading about children whose schoolwork is to build a city of their own.

Also from Caroline Pratt
Art criticism
Caroline Pratt on waste in education

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