Monday, December 6, 2010

No teachers, no homework: Students set own agenda at private school in Davie

Based on information readily available on the internet, children in the U.S. are falling behind many countries when it comes to the effectiveness of our education system. Much of this can be blamed on the centralization of decision making at the Federal level and also control of our local systems by the teachers' unions that care more about their union dues than education results.

Throughout the country, unique and experimental methods of teaching are popping up in the strangest places. This one is in Florida. It's worth a test.

"In traditional schools there are so many students that kids are not allowed to talk to each other during their school day,'' said staffer Idelma Quintana, whose son attends the school. "Our kids here are learning how to get along with other kids and negotiate conflict.''

As public schools adopt tougher standards and emphasize standardized tests, alternative schools have become more popular.

"The regular public school system and even some private schools tend to operate under the paradigm that kids are lazy and need to be forced to learn,'' said Jerry Mintz, director of the New York-based Alternative Education Resource Organization. "We take a diametrically different approach that starts with the assumption that kids are natural learners."

Veezie Bowden, whose 4-year-old son Julian attends the school, said she thought he'd spend most of his day playing. Instead he developed an interest in writing after mingling with his peers.

She admits she had reservations in the beginning.

"It's not easy grappling with the idea that your kid is not going to get a traditional high school diploma or take the FCAT,'' said Bowden. "But at the end of the day, I saw what graduates of Sudbury schools were doing with their lives. They were eloquent, responsible and mature.

"My feeling was that if I could have that for my children, all of the other stuff doesn't matter.''

Read full Sun Sentinel article here.

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