As I set myself up to go back to school to earn (another) Master’s Degree, this one in Special Education, I find myself strangely attracted to the unconventional learning that our friend and frequent commentator Sean holds dear. Today the Washington Post printed an article (on Page A1, above the fold, no less) about the Fairhaven School in Prince George’s County, MD. Sean, having applied to work at this school, is likely more capable of writing about it, but I found the article staring me in the face at 5:30 this morning when I left for work.
Students follow no curriculum other than curiosity and whim. Sometimes they seek out a class or workshop, but they are not compelled to take English, geometry or any other subject. Often they just hang.
But the point is that at this school, like at all other Sudbury schools, students get to choose what they learn and when.
Isn’t this the purest form of education? I have always tried to model my teaching method in a way such that students make their own discoveries. Which is better? Being told about something in a lecture or actually going out and experiencing it? Most educational theorists will tell you that it is the latter.
The biggest drawback, IMHO, of Sudbury schools is that students do not (necessarily) fulfill all state requirements for education. Of course, you can make the argument that the requirements are pointless, too, but getting into college after attending one of these schools usually requires something more…
Students at Fairhaven earn no course credits toward a state-recognized high school diploma. Without conventional transcripts, graduates who aim for college rely on SAT scores, essays, letters of recommendation and interviews.
I’m going to step back for a while and let other folks comment … I’m really trying not to preach here on the main page…