Building Schools Around Students
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Building Schools Around Students

Our current public education model is like the Wright brother’s airplane — dangerous, not for everyone, and a relic of the past. In the one-size-fits-all, cookie-cutter K-12 system, children are squeezed into a system which fails to set them up for life after graduation.

Age segregation, “multiple guess” multiple choice testing, and forcing them to succeed in academic areas they have no use for forces them to submit and conform to a system driving them mad instead of driving them towards success.

At an alternative school called the Academy of Thought and Industry (ATI), students typically came from a traditional classroom setting where they didn’t conform or feel comfortable. Annie Holmquist, at Intellectual Takeout, describes the success students are achieving at ATI:

Every morning begins with a Socratic dialogue in which students presumably debate and discuss the ideas they have read in assigned texts. These texts apparently aren’t a walk in the park, either, as one photo from the site pictures students reading Dante. According to an article on the ATI website, the school believes in challenging its students with high-level texts in order to prepare them interaction with the deep ideas of the world.

Socratic dialogue, in which students informally debate ideas and are allowed to form and justify their own opinions, goes against the standardized structure most traditional school curriculums try to enforce. Some public school teachers believe in the benefit of encouraging civil, academic dialogue on such topics, but they don’t have the time. Most feel pressured to simply prepare students to do well on arcane standardized testing.

At ATI however, this one aspect isn’t just a tool in which to facilitate learning, but an extension of their overall philosophy. According to ATI faculty, “If students read, think about, and learn how to understand very sophisticated and complex texts, in addition to the obvious benefits of simply building these skills for the sake of being a more discerning reader and writer, they will do well on … [the critical reading and writing] portion of the SAT exam.”

In a nation where national standardized tests have been plummeting for decades, ATI has shown they aren’t afraid to bet on their students instead of force-feeding them material that won’t help them grow as people.

Schools like ATI show that there is more than one way to help our students grow, thrive, and succeed outside of the outdated public education system, which has been proven repeatedly to fail by every standard.

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