Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Human Scale Education

A fancy phrase that means educating on a more personal level, more micro than macro, in order to develop and nuture relationships that matter (and are healthy and continue).

Somehow, in the push to develop the assembly line in the early 20th century, we lost all concept of the idea of uniqueness. Generally, uniqueness is rewarded with a funny look and/or a label, at least when it comes to school. The idea of craftsmanship went the way of the dodo when the first car rolled off the assembly line, and the same thing happened with schools. As the factory model was refined in education (with standardized testing and assessments and lockstep curriculum), teachers lost their sense of responsibility for the craftsmanship and the art of teaching. This is a huge generalization, but we are living in a time when most teachers only have time and energy (and mandate) to get their kids to pass the test. Keep your head down, and get your kids through the test - there isn't time for much else.

As a teacher, I stepped off the wheel in 2010 so I could focus on the craftsmanship of education. My school is on a human scale, smaller to enable relationships that matter to form, smaller so I can provide the kind of personalization that only occurs when one knows one's students. HoneyFern will never have a higher student/teacher ratio than 10-1, and students will be with the same teacher for their career at HoneyFern. This hearkens back to the idea of working with the same master builder or potter to learn their skill; those masters are heavily invested in the success of the student (not just delivering information and moving them on).

I feel a tremendous sense of responsibility for the success of my students not just as students but as human beings; I actually miss then when they are gone on breaks and through the summer, and we all tend to get together at least a couple times over the summer. Will they be academically prepared for college? Absolutely. But I will also honor them and their interests by getting to know them on a personal level and actually caring about them as human beings, not as test scores

This is education on a human scale. And it is the way it should be.

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