September 21, 2006

Going back to the one room school

Our school division has a mix of small school (K-12 schools under 50 students) and larger schools ( 800 student high school which I realize is small in some circles). I’m realizing the challenges small schools face with multiple grades. Designing instruction for a variety of learners can be a task.

Harold Jarche, via Will Richardson, talks about the value and possibilties of small schools in his post Small Schools, Loosely Joined.
The points I found most compelling were

  • Communities of learning online could be developed to link learners in several schools and even in different countries.
  • No teacher would be able to “master” the subject matter, so
    teachers would become facilitators of learning, which is what they
    profess to do anyway.
  • Small schools would be integrated into the community and there
    would be a sense of ownership by the community, not the education
    system.

I talked today to a group of “digital interns” about the importance of being a learner and not expecting to be the master of your subject. Rely on your students and expect them to help design and build the learning environment.
Small schools do have their challenges but the fact that they have to reach out should be considered a good thing. Maybe large schools struggle with embracing some of the benefits of the read/write web because they have more of an audience and community within their building. (BTW, read that post on audience and community)
Interdependence is a good thing and is critical to small schools. Maybe it’s the same as the benefits of a small town. Everyone tends to work together to get things done. Know one knows all the answers and the kids have to pitch in as well.

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