The Teacher Tom blog is authored by Tom Hobson, the sole teacher at the Woodland Park Cooperative Preschool in Seattle, Washington. Writing a personal blog that is separate from but inspired by his daily activities at the preschool, Tom writes about “teaching and learning from preschoolers.”1
As a preschool teacher since 2002 and a blogger since 2005, Tom's nearly daily blogs cover a wide range of learning and playing topics. Besides discussions of teaching, education reform, multi-age classrooms, parenting, community, conflict, and traditions, he also has covered various types of play and learning such as songs, stories and storytelling, construction and tinkering, art, circle time, science, sensory stimulation, dramatic play, superhero play, and outdoor play.
Tom's blogs reflect his belief that “schools should be a place for children to prepare themselves for the bigger world by experimenting with friendships and society, exploring emotions, and ultimately discovering her or his own power within the community.” He promotes a cooperative, play-based curriculum because “children learn best when given the opportunity to freely engage with the world around them, pursuing their own passions and curiosities in a community setting.”2
When defining play, Tom expounds on how it is open-ended, freely chosen, a way to satisfy curiosity, and a way to be actively engaged with the real world. He includes science, exploration, invention, and discovery in play as well as “taking risks, challenging authority, thinking critically, and questioning the status quo... Play is how we learn about the link between failure, perseverance, and success.”3
In what he calls a “battle between ideology and reality,” Tom contrasts play-based education with the growing trend of rote-based education that promotes longer days, larger classes, and a curriculum designed to improve test scores and produce students able to “compete economically with the Chinese.” Acknowledging the “vital centrality of play,” Tom calls for a stand for play-based education because it “encompasses everything worth knowing.” In fact, he personally concluded, “I know I still have a lot to learn, because that's the most important thing play teaches us.”4
- 1. “Teacher Tom.” < teachertomsblog.blogspot.com > 30 Jan. 2013.
- 2. “Welcome to Woodland Park Cooperative Preschool!” < woodlandparkcoop.wordpress.com/tag/teacher-tom/ > 30 Jan. 2013.
- 3. “Let's Define Play.” Sunday, June 10, 2012. teacher tom. < http://teachertomsblog.blogspot.com/2012/06/lets-define-play.html > 30 Jan. 2013.
- 4. Ibid.