Have you ever considered how important to the community the public school is? As a homeschooler, I would love to say that it is not important at all, but that is just not true. While living in rural Alabama, we discovered that the opportunities for getting to know your neighbors were pretty slim if you did not attend the local public school. Churches and the public school seem to be the main social outlets in the small towns across the country, and, to a lesser extent, that is the case for the city also.
In my article Valid Reasons for Homeschooling I include a quote by Michael Farris (HSLDA) on this very idea. At the time I wrote that article, I had just begun to think about the future of the public schools, what they were now and would they could be. It is a topic that I consider now and again and a blog post this morning on SharpBrains, The Brain Fitness Authority, caused me to be cautiously hopeful about the future structure of public schools. Schools as Brain Training Hubs? quotes a retired public school superintendent, Scott Spears:
Schools will be structured around the acquisition of foundational cognitive skills, related physical fitness to support brain fitness, student awareness and knowledge of brain function and responsibility for one’s own fitness. Schools will be much more organically structured along the learning needs of individuals, will be a community repository and asset for access to continuing brain and physical fitness programming, and will continue to provide important content knowledge acquisition experiences delivered through integrated experiential learning, custom-designed for the individual learner, and varying by time and place as needed.
The nature of schooling is thus liberated from the current model of emphasis on content acquisition to become more focused on the teacher-student interface of interest-directed learning undergirded by the skills necessary for high-order thinking and learning.
It is reassuring to know that there are at least a few (retired) public school officials that can see beyond what education is today. My ideal public school is a combination of public school / community college / senior center / parks & recreation / public library. Something for all ages, all abilities, all needs. Available on an as needed, as wanted basis. Pie in the sky? Perhaps. What would you like to see?