Thursday, 3 April 2014

My Dream School

The other day I read a tweet that said progressives don't have their own vision for schools they just complain about traditional education, and I thought to myself I moan about Traducation a lot. So here's the positive, this is my dream school.

It's founded on three pillars, three beliefs about what it is and wants the future to be. The first is that learning is a choice, we choose to do it because it makes our lives better. The second is that the way you treat other people matters more than any individual skill or ability you have. The third and most important is that all students are equal. They are not formally assessed or graded in any way.

Each class agrees with their teacher what topic they are going to study, what questions they want answered. They research these in groups, coming together in lesson time to discuss and debate their ideas. The debate continues in writing as they publish papers on the intranet, assessing it and honing their skills by commenting on and replying to each other's work. Like Academics, only younger.

With students chairing their own debates teachers are well placed to observe them and ask the questions that will allow them to go further. Questioning is an incredible skill, our lessons give our teachers room to use it. Online they are moderators and modellers of good practice. Time and energy for this would come from scrapping the most ridiculous slice of the Traducation workload: marking. We don't cram our kids books with comments and strategies to improve, because writing a message in a book is a weak way of influencing someone. It's a paper trail of wasted time.

Vocational learning occupies a third of curriculum time, the same as academic study. It consists of students running a small business or social enterprise. Working in teams of four or five students launch at age eleven and their enterprises grow and evolve throughout their time at school. They learn to work together, the importance of reliability and punctuality, and that you can be really successful by doing simple things well. Furthermore, because they make money, they learn how to distribute it.

There's a boost for motivation too from the fact that students are aiming for co-operative success. In any sphere, academic or practical, few students can aspire to be the most successful individual, but everyone can aspire to be a member of the most successful team.

The final third of the curriculum is devoted to the arts. Devising and putting on shows, learning instruments, exhibiting art work, performing poetry, cooking lunch for our friends. We compete, on sports fields and in house cups, but our competitions are just in play, not work or life.

This school is more than a great place to learn, it's a gateway to a different society. One that prizes its relationships over material signs of social position. One where everybody works, and claims a fair share of the profits. One that plays together and enjoys life together. It's a dream worth dreaming.


  1. Oh wow, when you open your school, I will be first in the queue to teach there!

    1. Hi Laura, sorry I missed this. Thank you very much for your words of support and for being the first person to comment on my blog!

  2. I see you are basing this on a school choice model. Would this school be publicly funded or charge admission?

    1. I think a really important feature of school is that people from all backgrounds come together and learn that the things they have in common, like desire for happiness, rewarding work and positive relationships, are more important than any differences of class, race or ability.

      For that reason I would want this school to be publicly funded and open to all.