Tuesday, October 11, 2011

When is a Contract Not a Contract?

When you choose not to honor it, of course!

It is hard not to slip into Grumpy Old Man mode these days. My heart is in this school. My whole being bends towards the success of my students. It is all-consuming.

This is perhaps a problem.


This is also a business. There are contracts involved. Yes, they are, in fact, legally binding and enforceable. I am not trying to get rich (if you are trying to get rich in education, you must be in the standardized testing business), but I am trying to keep the lights on and the mortgage paid. And yes, there is more work that goes into one student here than in any other setting, as their curriculum is researched and designed with only them in mind. The money you pay is for that expertise in design, for my time, and I sign the contract with a promise that I will do everything in my power to help your student achieve at the highest level possible.

So why is it then okay to not honor your contract when I have honored mine?

It is not.

HoneyFern is going to be doing some re-calculating over the next eight months. This year, which started so optimistically, has seen parents using the school as a temporary stop, a transition from one thing back into public school. We are not that. We are not a stand-in for public school, we don't aspire to be, and we are not interested in the philosophy, behavior or style of public school.

"It’s absurd and anti-life to be part of a system that compels you to sit in confinement with people of exactly the same age and social class. That system effectively cuts you off from the immense diversity of life and the synergy of variety;  indeed it cuts you off from your own past and future, sealing you in a continuous present much the same way television does..." ~John Taylor Gatto

Nor, for that matter, do we emulate private school; yes, there should be competitiveness and accountability, but our focus is on learning and discovery for each individual student. We lean more towards a homeschool style, fieldtrip and experience-heavy curriculum with a healthy dose of student input into their own leanring.

Not everyone is ready for this. Some students and their parents are so institutionalized that they require a worksheet and a grade for every activity in order to feel that their child is learning. Some students are not ready to express what they would like to learn, what they are passionate about, and they just want to melt into the back of the classroom. That is not possible (or desireable) here. Students (and parents) are held accountable for their actions.

It is, you could say, a contractual relationship in all senses of the word. I honor my contract with students and their families. I had hoped to have families and students who would do the same.

We will see what happens.

No comments:

Post a Comment