Doogie Howser, MD-freeschool student

Last week, while talking to a friend and fellow parent from BFS, it was mentioned that one of our students, David J. aged 14, was interning with a pediatrician this summer.

Now it has been quiet lately and I have not found a handle on what to write about. The summer has been rather pleasant, so my level of ranting and reacting to ordinary public education was on holiday. But the mention of this idea, that one of our students was expressing an interest in medicine, totally on his own inclinations became a new point of interest.

The main point of this blog is to dialogue with others who share this philosophy or even for those who find it questionable. It is my constant inquiry as to how students develop in an atmosphere where they are allowed to pursue the things they are interested in, to play freely, to not to be burdened by homework and tests. Many who are outside of our system always question how our students learn in such an atmosphere. How will they get on after leaving the safe haven of our walls. Will they be able to go to college, or function in the “real world”.

And here it is. A 14 year old, voluntarily pursuing an interest in medicine, to the degree that he would accept a 1 month internship with a medical doctor in a hospital environment. David would arrive at Mount Sinai Hospital at 8:30 am to go on “rounds” with the other medical students. Asking questions of patients and then shadowing the doctor for the rest of the shift. David told me that this is something he always wanted to do, and by doing it, his interest is fed, and his interest remains.

I wish I had this opportunity when I was young. But the adults around me were not paying attention. They did not have a larger view of things, and therefore could not see the possibilities for a young artist and how to help me get a jump start on what was so clearly my main interest in life.

I am proud of David for taking the initiative. I am proud of our school for making that initiative possible. I would only hope that others could understand how valuable this type of educational environment is to our world. We truly need people who can find their place in the community in a natural way. Not one that is imposed through competitiveness, tracking, and stressing out students through testing, homework, and compulsive attendance which has no clear point in real learning. It is by encouraging the act of learning in itself, that our community, our society, our world, will be served.

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