Marcia Cobb: Experiences needed

Marcia Cobb: Experiences needed

Kids need to experience the real world. This isn’t just a statement, it’s a fact backed by more than 50 years of research on the importance of child development and multi-sensory interaction with the real world. Real-life experiences were integral to my educational success, and the importance of this type of learning is something I observe each day as I watch my son Nicholas grow.

Nicholas, who is now in third grade, is an engineer. He loves building things — figuring out by taking them apart and putting them back together and learning how things work. This is why he is happiest when he’s in his dad’s shop, immersed in an interactive, educational world that allows him to touch, smell, hear and see the results of his labor. These are the things that speak to him and inspire him to learn more.

Unfortunately, these are the things we are losing in our schools due to overcrowding and a lack of dedicated spaces for art, music, physical education, technology, shop and alternative learning methods.

While volunteering at Soda Creek Elementary library, I have seen how these spaces have been lost. For example, kids are taking classes in unsecured modulars and taking classes in hallways. I commend the teachers at the schools who are doing what they can to try and make it work. They, and the students, deserve much better.

We have a chance to change that. Part of what the new school bond will pay for is recapturing and/or creating these kinds of collaborative work environments, makerspaces — where technology, art and mechanics come together — dedicated art and music rooms and space for the types of career and technical programs all students need to link curiosity and book learning.

Yampa Valley High School will also get a new home with labs and hands-on learning centers so every child in our schools has the opportunity to achieve success.

Nicholas Wyman wrote in a recent Forbes magazine article on the importance of career and technical education, “People have a huge and diverse range of different skills and learning styles. Not everyone is good at math, biology, history and other traditional subject. Not everyone is fascinated by Greek mythology, or enamored with Victorian literature, or enraptured by classical music. Some students are mechanical; others are artistic. Some focus best in a lecture hall or classroom; still others learn best by doing, and would thrive in the studio, workshop or shop floor.”

When I read that line, I remembered my own high school experience — I was a graduate of my school’s alternative high school — and I thought of Nicholas and countless others like him who need this kind of hands-on learning to thrive.

This is the type of education the rest of the world has embraced, and I could not be happier the professionals in our school district are focused on individual students and their potential. Having this experience in my teens enabled me to become a successful adult who contributes to the community.

If we want every child to succeed, then we need to ensure these types of learning opportunities are being taught alongside the three Rs: reading, writing and arithmetic. The children who need more of these types of programs are not transients, as Stephanie Smith called them — called me — during the election forum last week. To say that is the case is ludicrous.

As said above, kids need to experience the real world, and the school district has a plan to provide this. All we have to do is vote for it. Vote yes on 3A and 3B.

Marcia Cobb
Parent and Owner of Steamboat Snowmobile Tours, High Mountain Snowmobile Tours, and Steamboat Zipline Adventures

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