Sunday, March 29, 2009

My Ideal School

My ideal school
Is part of an ideal community
People aren’t separated by wealth and poverty
The richest have a little extra, the poorest still have what they need
People aren’t pulled apart by race
And they’ve learned to respect the glory of differences
If gender differences still exist, the ones who don’t fit are celebrated
They all mix together in a public school that they,
Neighborhood by neighborhood, control

My ideal school
Is close to home
The kids can visit whenever they want
Perhaps a dedicated mentor lives there
(Can’t say teacher, it makes the wrong image)

My ideal school
Has a garden and a kitchen and hot yummy food
And a beautiful place to sit and eat together
(Is it calm? Or is the excitement of the children too much for ‘calm’?)

My ideal school
Is full of resources that draw the kids’ interest
Is staffed with adults who know
That children have their own ways of thinking
That each child moves through learning in their own way
That there must be safety, both physical and emotional
That there must be affection and loving and hugs

In my ideal school
The children see adults learning
They see adults getting stuck, and then getting it, frustration and joy
Here is a woman learning cello
Here is a man learning to knit
Here are 3 grown-ups talking about a book

My ideal school has traditions
They go camping in September
They make Stone Soup together in January
Each day begins with music, someone is playing guitar and many are singing
Most everyone gathers together at lunch time and shares their food
The day and the year both have a rhythm

At my ideal school
When two kids fight
Bigger kids come help them to use words to solve their problems
The big kids help to build a deck or a chicken house, or a new classroom,
trek through the mountains and fix bikes,
take responsibility for the gardens, chickens, and maybe a sheep or a goat

My ideal school
Is part of a network of schools
That crisscross the community like a spiderweb
And each is different
So each family can find
A haven for their children
That resonates with their values.

My ideal school might not be called a school
We need a break from the past, we need a new word for a new place
Maybe it’s the Children’s Center
Except there are lots of grownups there, too,
Learning as much as the kids


  1. I think I wrote this about a year ago, in response to some contest for essays on our ideal school. I never sent it in. I'd call this a rough draft...

  2. Love this. I think there's hope for a future of such Children's Centers and other learning communities. We seem to be in the stage of hardening opinions and ever more rigid clinging to useless ways, which to me is a sign that times are changing.

  3. This is such a powerful vision. I think what excites me most about it--and what challenges many of my own visions--is how it imagines learning happening not in a relegated and regulated ghetto, but all the time, involving every part and every member of the community. The dissolving of the traditional "school" back into the hands and needs of the people who comprise it is so beautiful and empowering. I have a lot to learn from this. Thank you so much for sharing it with me!

  4. Oh, you are too sweet. I loved what you said in your piece, too. (Wait, now I've got to find it, so I can link from here...) Here.

    I don't see a way to contact you. My email is mathanthologyeditor on gmail. I'd like to chat.

  5. Sue,

    This is a great picture of what school could look like.


  6. Thanks, Mike. I like how this feels elementary oriented, and yours feels high school oriented.

  7. Thanks for your information and thoughts... I am educating my children, not according to any set curriculum but to what they can handle. My daughter and son are very right brained individuals, but, they are also developing their left brain, because we must use them both in conjunction with one another. Using just one or the other is why our society is far from balanced... perhaps moreso than ever on this planet.

    Many people don't know, and are not told, intentionally, that all the greatest mathematicians also studied the 'occult' or mysticism, or whatever one wants to call it. Math is meaningless without creativity (or creative wonder/thought) and will never manifest into something meaningful.

    I'd like to see in schooling, various ages, POVs, and the like; whether it be parents coming in, or alternate theorists being invited at an early age and not only at collegiate level academics. Also, challenges to the prevailing thoughts (theories that are being taught as truths) should be encouraged, not shut down as they often are.

    My son is reading Bernay's "Propaganda" (which everyone should read if they want an insider's POV regarding the real workings of life among the masses) over Shakespeare because one is truly valuable to life, and the other, while interesting and is a form of writing that one might enjoy, is absolutely meaningless in terms of understanding of the world around us and how it is absolutely run. He has already read "Sacred Geometry" and now sees the world differently.

    I didn't really like Shakespeare's works and I don't believe it should be forced upon the masses as if is part of life... as an elective, sure, great, but it is not essential to the growth of the mind.

    Sorry for the long note.. I could make it much longer. :)

    Thanks, again.


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