Community Based Education
Today I'd like to point out "Place Value: An Educator's Guide to Good Literature on Rural Lifeways, Environments, and Purposes of Education" by Toni Haas and Paul Nachtigal. It can be found online at the ERIC clearinghouse or the Department of Education website. It was published in 1998 and sponsored by The National Library of Education within the Department of Education.
From the abstract: "This book suggests that quality of life depends on the connections that people have with one another and their surroundings, rather than on material wealth. It challenges teachers to reexamine the purposes of education and to equip students with the tools they need to make conscious choices about living well in their own communities."
A few choice quotes:
"All education is environmental education. By what is included or excluded, students are taught that they are part of or apart from the natural world."
"Awareness of local things disappears in the crush of standardized curricula, generic textbooks, and centralized test design."
"We know, at a very deep level, that 'landscape shapes mindscape.' ... Yet most of us are bone ignorant of the places we claim so proudly, and the fault lies with an education that has been systematically stripped of its content. The results are as barren as the landscapes they echo."
"When schools are disconnected from specific places and life in communities, they cease to be public institutions, serving the public good. Alternatively, by developing a healthy respect for the physical and social communities they inhabit, schools can teach children to be contributing citizens, no matter where the students end up living their lives, earning their livings, and practicing democracy." (Ed.'s Note: Makes you wonder what purpose they are serving? And if they are not teaching respect and democracy, what are they teaching?)
"...telling a community's story is key to the survival of self-government."
"The school itself can be a living laboratory of democratic principles by providing rehearsals in civic practice. Teachers should send students out to see for themselves how democracy works."
"Supporting public education has come to mean little more than paying taxes. Even education professionals confuse public support with getting larger budgets. We need public schools to be public institutions, the centers of a reinvigorated public life."
"What underlies the crisis of American education is the crisis of modern man's identity and his cosmological disconnection with the natural world."
"Skillful teachers find ways to give children reasons to communicate to real audiences."
"...principals need to open the schools psychologically as well, removing barriers and roadblocks to education. This demands changing restrictive schedules, state regulations, and traditional thinking of the faculty, staff, and community."
This book highlights several community-based school models in practice from Pennsylvania to Alabama, from California to North Dakota. It shows a legitimate alternative model to the centralized monopolistic education currently imposed on us. It's time to end the monopoly and return education to the community and the family.