An idea for a Private School?

Makalakumu

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I'm not sure where to post this, but I've been thinking about my career and some things that I've learned about education and about what I would do if I chose to stay in this field.

For some background information, John Taylor Gatto sums it up in this book.

So, here is one idea I've had among many.

Makala Kula
(Liberty School)

Ethos

If it harm none, do what thou wilt. This shall be the whole of the law.

Pathos

1. Freedom of Inner Self through creative play, through imagination, through story, through art, through sport, through music.
2. Freedom of Intellect through strong reading, writing, and arithmetic skills. through philosophic education, through rhetoric education, through logical analysis.
3. Freedom of Finances through currency education, through positive entrepreneurship, through economics education, through international finance education.
4. Freedom of Health through fitness, through dietary education, through health emergency education, through human biology education.
5. Freedom of Religion through story, through mythology, through comparative religious education, through comparative ethics education.
6. Freedom of Outer Self through environmental awareness, through outdoor skills, through martial arts instruction.
7. Freedom of Inquiry through science education, through critical problem solving, through research.
8. Freedom of Society through character education, through civics, through geography, through cultural education, through travel.
9. Freedom of Hope through positive social action, through community service, through service learning.
10. Freedom of Individuality through dreaming, through goal setting, through positive planning for the future.

School Mission

The Makala Kula is designed to provide a student with an education that will allow a sovereign individual to grow and pursue his or her individual desires. This education will prepare the mind with sufficient skills so that it can adapt to the varying social and physical environments of this planet and thrive. This education would prepare a student to choose their own destiny to the greatest extent possible and it would provide many of the tools to pursue it.

Thoughts?
 

Thesemindz

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It would seem from what I've seen you write on subjects such as this, such as your discussion of currency and having mentioned Gatto, that you are probably at least reasonably well versed with some of the various approaches to this subject. So I assume you are familiar with freeschooling? In some ways, what you propose here is similar to the concepts outlined by many freeschoolers.

The problem with the approach is that it gives the student broad latitude in deciding their own curriculum, which can lead to a lack of skill growth if the student makes irresponsible choices. Of course, proponents of freeschooling would say that you get the same end result when you force a student to attend math classes against his will.

Ultimately, I like the general road you are on as a basic educational structure. The administrator of such a program would have to decide what basic skills he or she wanted all students to attain, and then set goals for students to attain specific benchmarks.

For instance, a student could choose to major in nintendo, but doing so wouldn't give him an education in economics. In order to accomplish that, he'd have to take x number of courses from this category, and x number from another. Much like our current university model.

In fact, I think that all education beyond the most basic skills of reading, writing, and simple arithmetic should be offered in a selective and elective manner. Once a student achieves a baseline of functionality, he should be guided, but not forced, into an educational model that represents his talents and goals.

That doesn't mean you let him run wild, but you don't force him either. Instead you encourage, challenge, and guide him towards ever increasing, and ever more specific goals.

So you'd have to decide which studies you think are baseline necessities, and which you see as elective. I would say reading, writing, and arithmetic are the only truly necessary baselines, but you seem to have far more. Do you consider them all baseline important, or do you see them all more as possible fields of study?


-Rob
 
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Makalakumu

Makalakumu

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I tried to put in all of the categories I thought were important and then slide the pieces that would grow skill in those areas.

My idea for this school is skill based, not test based. I would want my students to be able to do something with what they learned, not just test well. In fact, I probably would ban tests and grades altogether and demand that students produce something useful.

That said, I would start at an early age teaching children about money, about seeing needs and filling them, and about business. I would like my students to be able to use my school as a launching platform for their ideas and I'd like to teach them how to measure their own success based on their results.

There's a lot more that needs to be worked out. A lot more.
 
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Makalakumu

Makalakumu

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It would seem from what I've seen you write on subjects such as this, such as your discussion of currency and having mentioned Gatto, that you are probably at least reasonably well versed with some of the various approaches to this subject. So I assume you are familiar with freeschooling? In some ways, what you propose here is similar to the concepts outlined by many freeschoolers.

I like the idea of freeschool, but I think there is also room for guidance. If you think about it, that's what parents do. They guide children to grow in the way they feel best. The thing about schools that I'm learning is that the ability to choose makes a huge difference. If parents and children choose the "product" I'm offering, then a lot of the problems with compulsory education are avoided. I'm working at a private school now and the difference between that and the public schools I used to work in are Night and Day.

In the end, my goal is to be my own boss though.
 
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Makalakumu

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Would all those areas be required? Or just encouraged?


-Rob

That's a good question and the devil is in the details. My initial thought would be to make the school pathos mandatory, but I think that it could be approached in a variety of ways so that it becomes useful for the child.

The key is useful. I see all of these things as being useful.
 
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Makalakumu

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In fact, I think that all education beyond the most basic skills of reading, writing, and simple arithmetic should be offered in a selective and elective manner. Once a student achieves a baseline of functionality, he should be guided, but not forced, into an educational model that represents his talents and goals.

There's more to life then just learning the three Rs and I think that a program can be designed that gets to the heart of those things without wasting time in a classroom. I agree that a student should be forced. In fact, I'd like to have teachers working for me whose employment is based on how well they are drawing students with the quality skills they have to teach. As a student approaches adulthood, they really should be designing their own ways to meet certain benchmarks. They should be learning how to self assess and progress.
 

Thesemindz

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One thing I find interesting is that each of your specific areas seem to also correlate to possible future career paths.

1. Freedom of Inner Self Artists, Poets, Musicians
2. Freedom of Intellect Educators, Philosophers,
3. Freedom of Finances Financiers, Accountants,
4. Freedom of Health Doctors, Physical Therapists, Naturopaths
5. Freedom of Religion Religious Leaders, Spiritual Leaders
6. Freedom of Outer Self Nature Guides, Physical Trainers,
7. Freedom of Inquiry Scientists, Inventors
8. Freedom of Society Community Organizers, Non For Profit Organizers
9. Freedom of Hope Aid Workers, Volunteer Organizers
10. Freedom of Individuality Life Coaches, Mentors

I found this interesting, because in this kind of school setting, a student could choose to explore the areas of his interest, or focus specifically on the subjects which led him to his future career.

You will find resistance to any kind of religious or spiritual education you offer from many circles, including those who feel that spiritual education is the purvue of the church, and those who feel that any religious education is wrong.

I like your idea of teaching children about currencies and economics at a young age, but I would feel that these lessons should be taught gradually over time, and in an age specific fashion.

I would also begin by teaching children non-violent problem solving. To my mind, it is the basis of all just societies, in politics, economics, and every other area.


-Rob
 

Thesemindz

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There's more to life then just learning the three Rs and I think that a program can be designed that gets to the heart of those things without wasting time in a classroom. I agree that a student should be forced. In fact, I'd like to have teachers working for me whose employment is based on how well they are drawing students with the quality skills they have to teach. As a student approaches adulthood, they really should be designing their own ways to meet certain benchmarks. They should be learning how to self assess and progress.

I think you mean they "should not be forced." Right?

I also agree that there is more than the three Rs, but I think that they must be taught as the basis of all other learning. You can't be a poet, or an economist, or a spiritual leader, or a doctor, or an inventor, if you don't first learn the three Rs.

Once they are taught however, I think students can begin, slowly at first, to form their own learning path. This process should begin with a few choices, and expand over time, until the student is completely responsible for the direction of his education towards the end.

Once we leave school, we are all completely responsible for the direction of our education. Some of us full stop, others trudge on, and still others go in directions they could never have predicted. But there comes a time when the choice is ours. Schools should prepare us for that time, instead of force feeding us information which we may or may not care about anyway, which may or may not apply to our lives, which we may or may not actually learn.


-Rob
 

Thesemindz

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I would begin a program with reading, writing, and arithmetic. After the student has learned the rudiments of these skills, I would offer him the opportunity to select two internal, and two external courses of study. While he was learning those skills, the skills he had learned earlier would be consistently reinforced.

The next step would be for the student to decide whether he would like to focus on internal studies, such as math, science, or economics, or external studies, such as art, physical expression, or community service. Once he, with the help of his instructors and advisors, had decided where his tastes and talents lie he could focus more specifically on those areas.

Over time, his instruction would become increasingly more specific, guiding him towards specialization. But that would not be necessary. If he chose instead to gain general proficiency in a variety of areas, that would be his call.

There is also no need for there to be a specific end point for his education. In my model, it would of course be privately funded, so as long as he chooses to continue, he can. If at some point he specialized beyond the schools ability to educate him further, he could either move on to another, more specialized school, or continue his education in another area.

The end result would resemble the branches of a tree, with each successive evolution in the educational process resulting in more specialization, and fewer fellow students. It is far more student focused, and would require more effort on the part of the educators, but in the end, I believe it would result in a far greater product.


-Rob
 
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Makalakumu

Makalakumu

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One thing I find interesting is that each of your specific areas seem to also correlate to possible future career paths.

1. Freedom of Inner Self Artists, Poets, Musicians
2. Freedom of Intellect Educators, Philosophers,
3. Freedom of Finances Financiers, Accountants,
4. Freedom of Health Doctors, Physical Therapists, Naturopaths
5. Freedom of Religion Religious Leaders, Spiritual Leaders
6. Freedom of Outer Self Nature Guides, Physical Trainers,
7. Freedom of Inquiry Scientists, Inventors
8. Freedom of Society Community Organizers, Non For Profit Organizers
9. Freedom of Hope Aid Workers, Volunteer Organizers
10. Freedom of Individuality Life Coaches, Mentors

I found this interesting, because in this kind of school setting, a student could choose to explore the areas of his interest, or focus specifically on the subjects which led him to his future career.

That was my thought in the matter and I'd like to include some technical training in this as well. I think that apprenticeships and mentorships with business leaders in the later years should also be required. Students should have the skills to pursue this with guidance.

You will find resistance to any kind of religious or spiritual education you offer from many circles, including those who feel that spiritual education is the purvue of the church, and those who feel that any religious education is wrong.

My way around this is to invite clerics, clergy and/or various wizards to teach. I'd required the teacher to make connections in the community and offer to pay them if the person understands that they are educators and not prostetilyzers.

I like your idea of teaching children about currencies and economics at a young age, but I would feel that these lessons should be taught gradually over time, and in an age specific fashion.

Yes. Kids should learn how to use money at a young age. It could be used as an aid to learn basic math. I'd like to see seven and eight year old kids trying their hands at simple businesses. I'd like the older kids to start developing skills that they think would help them fill needs they see in their communities.

I would also begin by teaching children non-violent problem solving. To my mind, it is the basis of all just societies, in politics, economics, and every other area.

Absolutely. This is why rhetoric, logic, philosophical, ethics, and various flavors of morality are important subjects to be covered.
 

Thesemindz

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I'm right there with you.

I also appreciate your inclusion of trade instruction and apprenticeship. While everyone will benefit from an education in philosophy, not everyone will become a philosopher when they grow up. Some people will be welders, or cosmetologists, or chefs, and those trades need to be taught somewhere.

I think a combination of the modern liberal arts model and the traditional technical education model would result in a balanced approach. Again, it would be the choices of the student which would decide the path they take.


-Rob
 
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Makalakumu

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I also agree that there is more than the three Rs, but I think that they must be taught as the basis of all other learning. You can't be a poet, or an economist, or a spiritual leader, or a doctor, or an inventor, if you don't first learn the three Rs.

Yes, it has to be taught and students should develop strong skills here, but it doesn't have to be done right away and probably shouldn't be done right away. I'd rather see students develop their imaginations and inner voices before really pursuing a path of basic academics. This period of development could then be used to motivate students to learn basic skills as a way to take their musings further.

Learning to read, write and do mathematics should be something that naturally flows from their own interests.

This approach is successful and is already done here.

Once they are taught however, I think students can begin, slowly at first, to form their own learning path. This process should begin with a few choices, and expand over time, until the student is completely responsible for the direction of his education towards the end.

Absolutely!

Once we leave school, we are all completely responsible for the direction of our education. Some of us full stop, others trudge on, and still others go in directions they could never have predicted. But there comes a time when the choice is ours. Schools should prepare us for that time, instead of force feeding us information which we may or may not care about anyway, which may or may not apply to our lives, which we may or may not actually learn.

The track record of the latter approach is abysmal. In my Masters program, I studied retention rates and was completely disgusted when only 10% on average was retained by students six months after the class was over. I realized then that school, as it was in the form it was, was a complete waste of time. Then I found Gatto's work and discovered the junk that we all suspected anyway. Kids don't go to school to learn, they go for other reasons.
 
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Makalakumu

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I would begin a program with reading, writing, and arithmetic. After the student has learned the rudiments of these skills, I would offer him the opportunity to select two internal, and two external courses of study. While he was learning those skills, the skills he had learned earlier would be consistently reinforced.

The next step would be for the student to decide whether he would like to focus on internal studies, such as math, science, or economics, or external studies, such as art, physical expression, or community service. Once he, with the help of his instructors and advisors, had decided where his tastes and talents lie he could focus more specifically on those areas.

Over time, his instruction would become increasingly more specific, guiding him towards specialization. But that would not be necessary. If he chose instead to gain general proficiency in a variety of areas, that would be his call.

More or less, this is also how I see it. I have a few more details and I might change some verbiage, but the basic idea is there.

There is also no need for there to be a specific end point for his education. In my model, it would of course be privately funded, so as long as he chooses to continue, he can. If at some point he specialized beyond the schools ability to educate him further, he could either move on to another, more specialized school, or continue his education in another area.

The end result would resemble the branches of a tree, with each successive evolution in the educational process resulting in more specialization, and fewer fellow students. It is far more student focused, and would require more effort on the part of the educators, but in the end, I believe it would result in a far greater product.

That's also how I see and I'd like to see this model spread throughout society. I think we are coming to a point where people are going to shed the old factory schools if they are given the freedom to do so. There is room for innovation.
 

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I think though that only the wealthy can afford for their children to be educated in such a way? Working class children need to go out and earn a living so apart from the fact their parents won't be able to afford private education, the children will need to get standard school/college qualifications to enable them to get jobs.
 
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Makalakumu

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I think though that only the wealthy can afford for their children to be educated in such a way? Working class children need to go out and earn a living so apart from the fact their parents won't be able to afford private education, the children will need to get standard school/college qualifications to enable them to get jobs.

Why would you think that you wouldn't be able earn a living after being educated in this manner? What the research shows is that through service learning and experiential education, students perform BETTER then kids who park their butts in classrooms 24/7.

Entrance to collage isn't just based on testing data anymore. Even if it was, I wouldn't be worried because the not only can you prepare yourself to take those tests with specific courses, students will perform better on them when they learn skills in the above fashion.

None of this is really new. All I want to do is pull together best practice from everywhere and put it in one spot. When I tried to do this in the public schools, you wouldn't believe the resistance that was inherit in the bureaucracy. You could change the curtains in the room, but the same underlying structure would always be there.
 

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I think what Tez was saying, Mauna is that despite the clear positives inherent in the educational style you propose, employers nearly always use as a first 'hurdle' the requirement for certain standardised qualifications i.e. she was asking how your students would be able to overcome that hurdle to get to the point where they could show their superior quality and breadth of skills.
 

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Sorry Mauna I think you have missed my point entirely. I'm not saying children educated this way couldn't get jobs, I'm positive they could and they'd be well educated at that. My point is that poor parents aren't going to be able to afford private education. A private school here charges about 瞿2000 a term and we have four terms a year, the great pulbic schools like Eton, Harrow, Marlborough etc you are looking at 瞿10,000 a term plus.
Children of poor parents are under pressure to get the standard school/college certification to get jobs. To go on to further education here as well as many jobs you need to have good grade GCEs.
My point was merely that you would be teaching a very good system only to an elite, those that can afford it, the poor, the people who would really need a good education are going to be left with the inferior educaton. It's not your students I was talking about having to get standard qualifications.
 
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Makalakumu

Makalakumu

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Sorry Mauna I think you have missed my point entirely. I'm not saying children educated this way couldn't get jobs, I'm positive they could and they'd be well educated at that. My point is that poor parents aren't going to be able to afford private education. A private school here charges about 瞿2000 a term and we have four terms a year, the great pulbic schools like Eton, Harrow, Marlborough etc you are looking at 瞿10,000 a term plus.

Children of poor parents are under pressure to get the standard school/college certification to get jobs. To go on to further education here as well as many jobs you need to have good grade GCEs.

My point was merely that you would be teaching a very good system only to an elite, those that can afford it, the poor, the people who would really need a good education are going to be left with the inferior educaton. It's not your students I was talking about having to get standard qualifications.

I read you, now and I have no idea how to solve that problem. I wish I could change the system, but I can't. I could beat my head against the wall for years trying to upend an establishment that filled with people who have been brainwashed for too many years or I could try and do something positive?

There's so many things in this society that I don't agree with and wish I could change, I could spend the rest of my life fighting. I don't want to fight and tear down, I'd rather build something up.

Hopefully, if I decide to get this going, I could offer some scholarships. Politically, I support vouchers. There are so many good programs out there, so many good options for kids that if you really care about providing opportunity for all, vouchers are a big way to make that happen.
 

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