"perfect" communities/ schools
- Subject: "perfect" communities/ schools
- From: Glenn <glenn@PEEDEEWORLD.NET>
- Date: Mon, 12 Jun 2000 16:47:56 -0400
- Reply-to: Assessment Reform Network Mailing List <ARN-L@LISTS.CUA.EDU>
- Sender: Assessment Reform Network Mailing List <ARN-L@LISTS.CUA.EDU>
Boy, you sure know how to ask tough questions, Deborah. I wish I had
answers... but I've only got speculation. I'm interested to see if anyone
else will take up your challenging ideas...
>But then what is it about our
> society, our culture that is depriving us of these needed human
> relationships, the idle time, the leisure to enjoy our friends and our
Work, I think. The capitalist juggernaut of more, bigger, better. That's
just my supposition... it's fueled by TV, etc.-- all the usual suspects.
>What would it look like to point in another way?
I keep coming back to a book I read a couple of years ago about a group of
non-hippy hippies in Tennessee who'd set up a self-sustaining, cooperative
I know, I know, it's getting a little late for that between suburban sprawl
and a mobile society. No time for anyone to put down roots.
I think community schools are a great help-- they can also serve as
community centers. Any kind of community enterprise is helpful-- a coop
grocery, intramural sports, a garden...
There are places that have a better sense of community than others. I went
to school in Chapel Hill, NC, and despite the influx of students & the high
proportion of non-natives, there was still a sense of belonging there.
Where I'm living now there's a great sense of belonging-- pretty much
because everybody was born & raised here... what's lacking is a sense of
ownership and empowerment. I think you get that by first providing
oportunities for training in the community-- Page McCullough (who I'm hoping
is still on this list and can jump in anytime here) and the Rural Land and
Community Trust are doing that kind of community-based education.
I don't know enough about big cities-- never lived in one, never wanted to--
to say anything at all about what a better society there would look like...
I can't even begin to imagine.
What kin of
> coalition of forces can we locate that might, at least, propose something
> rather different for the life of our schools--that public intervention
> the raising of kids. Or is precisely the last place in the world that one
> might reverse directions
I don't know... I think that schools can be a force for change, but I don't
think that comes when schools try to impose values on a place. It seems to
me that schools have a responsibility to teach decision making, problem
solving, empowerment and other pro-community ideas *without* usurping the
community's ability to exercise those skills.
The only other thing that comes to mind is that so many parents have had
such negative experiences with school that I doubt they'll be willing to
step in and become part of a school-based community until they can trust
schools again. I think about a parent I talked to just yesterday who told
me about her middle school experiences and how horrible they were. She was
teased because of her clothes (poor family), ostracized by others who didn't
want to be seen with her-- she ended up pregnant at 16 with the child I'm
now teaching. What can I say to that? Come to a barbeque supper and all
your horrendous memories of the pain you felt at school will be erased?
This parent CAN'T stake a claim to her rightful place in the school because
she's got to get past all the sh*t she remembers from her own schooling.
The school I left at the beginning of the year had the right ideas, I think.
They are planning to make the school a community center after the kids
leave. There will be ESL, computer, reading and other classes for parents,
discussion groups, dinners, and childcare. They want to make the school a
facility where parents can come together without the negativity that
sometimes attends parent conferences and such. The plan isn't perfect, but
it's a step toward healing the relationship between parents & the community
and the school.
Rather scrambled thoughts, I'm afraid-- teaching 5th grade summer school
does that to one's brain! ;)
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