Monday, February 09, 2009

TNS Tuesday - The Abandonment

It's been a long time since I've written about my kids school TNS. When this subject came up I thought it the perfect blogging opportunity.

If you've read posts I've written about my kids school in the past, I'm sure you've come to understand that a democratic education is anything but traditional. While you CAN learn the basics at TNS, you can bet your going to be challenged on things you wouldn't get with most educations.

For example, my son attends a bi-weekly class titled 'Boy Class'... It's a simple title for a complex class. A typical 'Boy Class' might involve a discussion on Honesty, Self-Reliance, Sexuality or How to treat a girl respectfully. The 'Boy Class' is made up of roughly eight guys and always involves an open discussion and sharing of thoughts and ideas. So it's my understanding that the group came up with the idea of 'The Abandonment' together and the list of rules which accompany the exercise.

The Abandonment is exactly that... The members of the class were paired off into teams, which were chosen by drawing straws. The teams were then told they needed to be prepared for their 'Abandonment' at any time, for they couldn't be sure which day their team would be drawn from the hat.

The Abandonment entails being blind-folded with your partner and driven to a undisclosed location (A State Park) and well, Abandoned. The object is for the team to find their way to a location where they can purchase a balanced meal, featuring the four food groups, with the twenty dollars they have been provided. The team is given a GPS and a cell phone. They're instructed to use the GPS only if they feel they're hopelessly lost and the phone only when they've achieved their goal and are ready to be picked up or in case of emergency. It's kind of 'Orienteering' but without maps and control points.

After each group has had their opportunity to be 'Abandoned' the members would meet and discuss who best achieved the goal of finding civilization and aquiring a healthy meal. I'm sure each group will have their own methods of interpreting how well they did. BUT judging from the report my son gave, I think he and his partner won. Here's how it went down...

The first duo was dropped at a state park roughly 12 miles from the school. The two boys had their blindfolds removed, eventually found a map in the state park and made their way towards the school. They walked roughly 11 miles, made their way to a diner and ate what some might consider a healthy meal, but others might disagree. Eggs, bacon, toast, home fries and for the veggie a pickle. The other meal consisted of a cheese-steak, with catsup and the veggie. I don't know about the health benefits of catsup? But the real clincher was, if they'd only walked 1/4 mile in the opposite direction they would've found a place much closer to acquire food.

Another pair who asked to be really challenged, were dropped at a state park roughly 25 miles from the school. They were fortunate (or maybe not so fortunate) to run into a park maintnance worker of whom they inquired where they might find food. He asked them why they were lost and they explained. They were then asked if they did so willingly, which I'm sure was a relief to the maintnance guy. They weren't however, thrilled to find out that the 'food source' he suggested turned out to be a liquor store. Eventually they were able to acquire food but healthy food pickin's were scarce at a gas station mini-mart. They're four food group lunch consisted of a sardine sandwich (the sardines we're told, resembled minnow bits more than whole sardines... I know, Eeeewwwww!), Spam on bread, canned green beans they opened with a can opener they puchased. Each guy also had a can of fruit juice, a muffin and a pastry. But they did TRY to cover the four food groups.

My son and his partner Mike were the last group chosen. The day they were taken out was bright and sunny but quite cold. There was still a lot of snow on the ground and when Mike had his blindfold removed he immediately became snow blind. My son Zak, was careful to look at his dark colored jacket while his eyes adjusted to the bright light. Now I know it sounds like my son was the hero in this telling but you have to understand, he really is a bright kid but he was also the one reiterating the story.

So anyway, once the blindfolds came off and they were left to their own devices, Mike suggested they head east because he had the distinct feeling they were in Pennsylvania. Zak decided that was too impulsive and they should climb a nearby hill to see if they could get a better idea of where they were. Once they reached the top of the hill they were able to see a water tower and a cell phone tower and determined that would lead to civilization. Eventually they found a state park map and realized they were near a road they recognized. In fact, not only did they recognize it, Mike lives on that road. So in under 45 minutes they figured out where they were and made their way to Mike's house where they enjoyed a healthy lunch which consisted of ham & cheese sandwiches, milk, celery sticks and clementine oranges... Not only did they not spend any of their alotted money BUT they ate healthy too. So in my opinion, I think they won... But maybe I'm partial.

So the guys haven't had their follow up meeting yet, where they vote on who they believe most successfully carried out the rules of 'The Abondonment' but I think they all learned how to depend on eachother, be resourceful, understand they're capable... Each of these things in maybe a small way but definitely in ways that make an impression on what they're able to achieve when they put their mind to something. And that's just a little peek of what sort of challenges there are at The New School.

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Blogger lime said...

that is an interesting lesson indeed. congrats to zak and his pal for doing so well.

9:27 AM, February 10, 2009  

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