Blogging from #FrischShiriyah

This post will not be about technology. At least not directly. I am staying late at my school's Shiriyah, our annual week long tournament between the grades that is more than just a Color War. There is song, stomp, stop motion video, art, minute to win it, family feud, hallways to transform into virtual wonderlands. The energy is overwhelming with most students coming in on Sunday, their day off, and staying late into the night every night throughout the week. It's already past 8PM and the place is still hopping.

Yes, there is some technology too. We are live streaming Shiriyah once again from our newly redesigned We have once again created Facebook Groups and Twitter feeds so our Shiriyah can invade the world of social media. But that is not what Shiriyah is about.

Shiriyah is about an entire grade of 135+ students coming together to work on a cause. If you think about this in the context of a school this is quite revolutionary. I pointed this out to my daughter as she described all of the drama in her grade on the first day of Shiriyah. (She was the one who told me to blog about this.) In school mostly we reward individual achievement. Students get good grades by working alone and surpassing their classmates. When kids collaborate on assessments it is called "cheating" or they are only allowed to work together on a special "project", not a regular part of the curriculum.

But this is not the way life is. In most of life, reward comes to those who can work together whether it be in family life or in the work force. Modern workers collaborate in teams working on projects as a regular part of their experience. Yes, their individual expertise and accomplishments matter but only if they can also further the achievements of the group. Shouldn't schools run more this way? Yes, many teachers try to promote collaboration and the model of self directed, project based learning is gaining adherents. But this not the norm.

This is why I think every school should have a week like Shiriyah. During Shiriyah, every student is given the chance to excel in a creative area that is her passion but more importantly students learn that the key to success as a group is the ability to work together. I have seen much drama already this Shiriyah but also much to be proud of as kids learn to disagree respectfully, work out their differences, and utilize their differing talents to make a greater whole. I cannot wait to see what this week will bring.