The Ideal School
Enlighten Education Co-op consulting services intends to help catalyze changes and integrate systems that would move public schools toward a shared vision of what they might be. This vision may include all or parts of our idea of the ideal school.
1. At a general assembly, we would have the principal (s) announce, “No more testing!” After the riotous applause died down and everyone was in a much better mood, including especially the teachers… She or he would announce…
2. “No more class designations!” After looks of wonderment and a chorus of “huh”s, the principal would explain: “We understand that you all learn at different speeds. Some take to math quickly, others are not so much. Some read easily, others, not so well. So we will have classes to teach you those skills at the level you are, regardless of your age. We are not going to try to put you into the same box. We are not going to embarrass you if you are a little slow learning a particular skill. We are not going to hold you back, if you catch onto something really quickly. You are here to learn at the pace that is good for you, and that may vary. Some of you may be with older kids in some areas, and at other times you may be with younger kids. But we are going to leave it up to you to discover where you belong. The teachers and their assistants will help you do that.”
3. “And teachers, you will not have to worry about some children being bored while others just don’t get it. All your students will be at approximately the same stage regardless of their age. There will be no shaming allowed if someone is older and learning with someone who is younger. What is important is that they are learning, and you are teaching them skill appropriate material, not so-called age/grade appropriate materials.”
4. Principals would have the authority and autonomy to direct more resources, human and financial, to the classroom in the form of teacher assistants, recognizing and respecting seniority of teachers and their tenure status. Non-teaching duties are minimized so teachers are free to do what they were trained for and that is to teach, not to be clerks for the bureaucracy.
5. We would limit formal class room time to four periods a day: two before lunch, and two after lunch. There would be flex time for students and teachers before 10 am and after 3pm. Lunch time would be a full hour and include recess before or after lunch depending on the lunch room capacity.
6. Teachers would be identified by the subjects they have mastery of and the skill levels at which they teach with less emphasis on age/grade level concerns. Flex time will be used to place children with the appropriate teacher for their level in a particular subject. Flex time will also be used for tutoring and mentoring and students teaching other students. Formal class time would be limited to for periods per day.
7. Parents/guardians are informed that their child can arrive at school anytime between opening and 10am. And may leave anytime between 3pm and closing. They are encouraged to help their children get to school and spend time with them or alternatively take full advantage of the extended time and services offered by the school.
8. Opening and closing hours will be determined by the principal and staff and be contingent on a reorganized transportation system to accommodate the above changes. School buses also may be used by adults if seats are available and merged into the public transportation system.
9. Curriculum will be expanded to include art, music, dance, and other courses designed to encourage imagination and creativity.
10. Ingenuity in terms of learning methods are encouraged in both students and teachers and students are expected to fully engage in their learning process. Any standardized testing is voluntary and not part of the school curriculum.