Graduates of single-sex education rate themselves much higher in intellectual self-confidence, writing ability, and public speaking ability, all skills that are vital to success in education and beyond.

On Our Minds

On Our Minds October 2017: Letters From Lincoln's Lower School

Maureen Devlin, Head of Lower School, and Suzanne Fogarty, Head of School, share their perspective on all the exciting and innovative initiatives taking place in Nursery–Grade 5. With a combined 55 years of experience in education, from New Mexico to New York City, from Brookline to Brooklyn, we highlight independent school teaching and learning at its best.

At Lincoln’s Lower School, we are much more interested in asking exploratory questions than in knowing the right answers. For children in the Oak Room through Grade 5, this exploration often happens through the important process of play during which inquiry, discovery, and creative problem-solving happen organically. Too often people separate the act of play from the concept of academic learning, but we know this is a false notion.

In truth, play involves a complicated system of observation, discovery, and testing hypotheses from which a child learns to seek knowledge. Boys and girls learn hands-on how to solve problems and face challenges, thus building confidence and resilience. Play’s lessons extend across all domains of development. Cognitively, children practice language, problem solving, creativity, and self regulation. In the social-emotional realm, they build interpersonal skills like negotiating and compromising, as well as practice strategies to cope with their feelings. As they run and jump, draw and build, children form and hone their fine and gross motor skills.  

And our lessons do not start and end inside the bricks and mortar of our Lower School. As a Quaker institution, stewardship of the earth is part of our ethos and using nature as a classroom is as integral to sparking the imagination and understanding the world around us as mathematics. From harvesting carrots with Ms. Calenda in the garden to writing poetry in the Outdoor Classroom, from orienteering in Blackstone Park to examining salt marshes on the Bay, we are playing and learning in nature.

Every day in Lower School, children experience and enjoy play in many forms, but all with the underlying understanding that not only is play important in its own right, it is the foundation of future academic success. “The Power of Play,” a research summary by the Minnesota Children’s Museum, found that the lessons learned through play lead to increased reading comprehension, higher levels of executive functioning, and the development of critical skills like memory, attention, overall intelligence, and morality.

In science, to learn effectively, you need both a lesson to learn and a lab in which to experiment. For younger children, play is the lab in which they come to understand the world around them and come to know themselves as learners. Whether investigating trawls on the bay, turning an opening in the play structure into a pop-up ice cream store, or using pipe cleaners to construct a fantastic flying machine, the spontaneous spirit, creative energy, and fabulous inquisitiveness of our Lower School students are an inspiration to all of us in the Lincoln community.

Looking forward,

Maureen & Suzanne

On Our Minds April 2017: Letters from Lincoln's Lower School

Maureen Devlin, Head of Lower School, and Suzanne Fogarty, Head of School, share their perspective on all the exciting and innovative initiatives taking place in Nursery–Grade 5. With a combined 55 years of experience in education, from New Mexico to New York City, from Brookline to Brooklyn, we highlight independent school teaching and learning at its best.

As you may have read in Suzanne’s March letter to the community, girls as young as six years old in co-educational settings “are less likely than boys to think that female students are ‘really, really smart.’” But that’s not the case in Lincoln’s Lower School. Here we celebrate the way students learn—their successes, their mistakes, their humor, their creativity, and their genius.

One way Lincoln is ahead of the curve is the prescient work we are doing in computational thinking. Recently, the New York Times published Learning to Think Like a Computer, which highlights the logical thinking that happens before you even open your laptop.

The article features Dr. Marina Umaschi Bers, a child development and computer science professor at Tufts University, who visited with us at Lincoln last spring. Dr. Bers, the creator of the Kibo Robot (a favorite with Gingko and Kindergarten students), believes:

Learning the language of machines, [Dr. Bers] said, is as basic as writing is to being proficient in a foreign language. “You are able to write a love poem, you are able to write a birthday card, you are able to use language in many expressive ways,” she said. “You are not just reading; you are producing.”

It’s not often we get to say we scooped the New York Times, but Lincoln has been utilizing computational thinking across grade levels for a number of years, a testament to starting early and empowering students to participate in STEAM disciplines.

As a part of learning the language of machines through coding and computational thinking, Lincoln girls break down problems into manageable parts, recognize patterns, learn abstract general principles, and design step-by-step instructions for solving real world problems.

We believe, like Dr. Bers, that learning the language of computers makes young minds more nimble. Here’s just a peek into how we do this at Lincoln:

  • To cultivate a “maker mindset,” Ginkgo students learn about birds’ nests and then, using the same materials that birds do, create their own. To poke holes in their designs, they test the strength of their nests in a storm with a hair dryer to simulate the wind.
  • In Ginkgo and Kindergarten, the students experiment with the Kibo Robot.
  • Grade 3 students gather recyclable materials to build Rube Goldberg machines: a contraption, invention, device, or apparatus that is deliberately over-engineered to perform a simple task in a complicated fashion.
  • In the Design Thinking class Grades 3–5 create presentations on different aspects of environmental stewardship featuring original songs and student-constructed sets and props.
  • In Grade 5, science students design cars that must operate within a set of parameters, such as being able to travel a specific distance and stop at a specific marker.

These skills, when built on a foundation of mechanical and scientific savvy, position our students to use the power of data to be able to deal confidently with the complex problems of the future.

In this world where technology drives us, even though these young students are years away from graduation, with this foundation of computational thinking, they will also be years ahead of their peers.

Looking forward,

Maureen & Suzanne

Powered by Finalsite