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School Has No Grades, Homework Or Tests - Students Decide Rules

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The Straight Story Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-21-06 06:27 PM
Original message
School Has No Grades, Homework Or Tests - Students Decide Rules
School Has No Grades, Homework Or Tests

Students Decide Rules


NEW YORK -- One recent day at the Brooklyn Free School, the "schedule" included the following: filming horror movies, chess, debate and making caves for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Not that the students had to go to any of these sessions. At this school, students don't get grades, don't have homework, don't take tests, and don't even have to go to class - unless they want to.

"You can do basically anything at any time, and it's just a lot more fun because sometimes when you need a break at regular schools you can't get it," said Sophia Bennett Holmes, 12, an aspiring singer-actress-fashion designer. "But here, if you just need to sit down and read and have time to play, then you can do that."
Click here to find out more!

"Free schools," which had their heyday decades ago, operate on the belief that children are naturally curious and learn best when they want to, not when forced to. Today, the approach is getting another look from some parents and students tired of standardized testing, excessive homework, and overly rigid curriculums.

"Every kid here is definitely motivated to learn something, there's no doubt in my mind," said Alan Berger, a former public school assistant principal who founded the Brooklyn school in 2004. "Our belief is that if we let them pursue their passions and desires, they'll be able to get into it deeper. They'll be able to learn more how to learn."

Hundreds of free schools opened in the U.S. and elsewhere in the 1960s and 1970s. Most shut down, but some, such as the Albany Free School and Sudbury Valley School in Massachusetts, have persisted. Overall, it's unknown how many free schools operate today.

http://www.local6.com/spotlight/10369273/detail.html

Now if I can just find a job like this one :)
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IntravenousDemilo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-21-06 06:34 PM
Response to Original message
1. Well, that's a paedagogical disaster just waiting to happen.
Children need structure and learning requires discipline.
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The Straight Story Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-21-06 06:37 PM
Response to Reply #1
3. That's what my mistress told me before spanking me
"learning requires discipline!"
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IntravenousDemilo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-21-06 06:53 PM
Response to Reply #3
10. Well, maybe not THAT kind of discipline.
;)

And of course, by discipline, I don't mean punishment. I mean rigorous application of teaching methods.
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mongo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-21-06 08:00 PM
Response to Reply #3
17. Love that smilie!

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HiFructosePronSyrup Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-21-06 06:47 PM
Response to Reply #1
7. Sure.
It's a timebomb ticking since the 60's, and it's set to go off any decade now.
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Vorta Donating Member (704 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-21-06 06:51 PM
Response to Reply #1
9. Summerhill is being disciplined
Summerhill was founded by A. S. Neill in 1921. Sadly however, Summerhill was recently asked by the government to close down, claiming that the school does not meet European educational standards. They are currently in a court battle for their survival and are requesting assistance in the fight to save their school.
Summerhill is often criticized for being too open, and their lack of educational standards and rules. Sudbury Valley has modified the Summerhill model slightly. The students have a democracy which decides on the rules of the school and a judicial system to deal with behavioral problems. Sudbury Valley provides a list of schools that maintain programs in line with their beliefs. (Another list is provided by the Open Directory Project.) The Sudbury Valley model is a proven, viable alternative. As these lists shows, the number is slowly growing.
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WinkyDink Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-21-06 06:34 PM
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2. Somebody read "Summerhill". I'm not impressed.
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Vorta Donating Member (704 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-21-06 06:48 PM
Response to Reply #2
8. Yeah, that was it. Summerhill Model Schools- The J F Kennedy Foundation sponsored some of them.
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GreenArrow Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-21-06 07:06 PM
Response to Reply #2
16. "Summerhill" impressed me
I think it works, but it's not for everyone.
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DoYouEverWonder Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-21-06 06:38 PM
Response to Original message
4. These were called 'open classrooms'
and there was nothing 'free' about them. No, children did not do whatever they pleased all day. They do work at their own levels and at their own rate, but they are supposed to work. They may have a lot of input on the types of project the class works on but it requires the guidance of a good teacher, to steer them in the right directions or to limit their options, so that you can make sure the kids are learning the skills they need.

I've spoken with teachers who have worked in both in environments and a good 'open classrooms' is a lot more hectic and a lot more work for the teachers then a regular class.



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Mythsaje Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-21-06 06:41 PM
Response to Original message
5. I can't believe I'm saying this
because I think schools generally promote TOO much structure, but I think this goes a little too far in the wrong direction.

Sure makes for an interesting experiment, though.

Actually I've long suggested that younger kids (grade school) should be taught general subjects, math, English, and history, but be given a wider latitude to pursue things that interest them in particular.

That's how I did it, but the schools didn't really appreciate it very much. :evilgrin:
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Vorta Donating Member (704 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-21-06 06:46 PM
Response to Original message
6. My high school was like this
Not completely without rules, but there was no attendance taken in most classes, English classes went to philosophy great books, social studies tended to be very political, but there was a fair amount of hard information as well. These schools were modeled after some school in England. I can't recall the name.

It was basically hippie school. The graduation rate and college admissions rate was very high.
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Schema Thing Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-21-06 06:57 PM
Response to Original message
11. Not unlike homeschool families who "unSchool"
It makes sense, if you believe humans are born curious creatures.
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LeftyMom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-21-06 07:00 PM
Response to Reply #11
14. Very similar concept
I think there's a bit more emphasis in Sudbury schools on kids teaching each other, but that faith in the intelectual curiosity of children is a common thread.
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LeftyMom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-21-06 06:58 PM
Response to Original message
12. We have one here.
If for some reason I ever had to enroll LeftyKid in school (I can't think of a reason short of terminal illness I'd settle for, as I think the worst thing for kids is to model their behavior primarily on that of other kids, but that's really another post) I'd try to get him in there.
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pnorman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-21-06 06:59 PM
Response to Original message
13. Modern School, Stelton NJ
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Ron Green Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-21-06 07:02 PM
Response to Original message
15. My model: Structure in the morning, Free School in the afternoon.
In the morning, the kids wear uniforms, stand when the teacher enters the room, and matriculate the old-fashioned way in math, English and maybe classic languages.

In the afternoon, let them work on whatever project they have chosen, wear what they want, and explore to their heart's content.

The deal is, a student can't come in the afternoon if he missed the morning.
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greatauntoftriplets Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-21-06 08:04 PM
Response to Original message
18. That is SO going to prepare those kids for the wonderful world of work....
Flipping burgers don't take much book-larnin'.
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