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The wonderful participants in Club Estrella–an equally good experience for counselors and students alike!!!

                    Schooled for Peace, Creativity, Humanity and Prosperity

If I were designing a new school, I would make it as experiential as possible.  Maths would include hands-on experiences.  Children would learn to add and subtract by making change and algebra and geometry would be taught by application to real situations–building or designing jewelry or figuring out how high a wall must be built to block a neighbor’s view. My own education was good, but I never really knew the real purpose of algebra and geometry, even though I won the school math prize!

Chemistry, also, would be taught by showing its application to everyday life–the chemistry of cooking and cleaning, the effect of different fertilizers and pesticides in the garden as well as chemicals in the house.  The interrelation of chemicals and pollution to health and safety would be made common knowledge among students and field trips would be taken to demonstrate the dangers of pollution.

Every student would be taught music and music theory, because I know it has a huge effect on math skills and those skills translate to other subjects as well.  All students would be encouraged to try different forms of art–sculpture, clay and graphic design as well as drawing and painting.  It is my belief that everyone has some artistic skill if they can just find their own particular medium.

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Education should be a dish full of treasures we find it hard to choose between.

Children would be taught a foreign language beginning in nursery school and both boys and girls would take shop and learn basic elements of electricity, plumbing and building.  And, dance.

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But the main thing that I would insist be taught is communication skills.  In every class, group communication would be stressed, and students would be given grades not only according to their own discussion skills, but also in listening and it being responsible in encouraging others to speak.  In  small group discussions, students would take turns recording the flow of conversation, recording how many times each person spoke, how many times they asked questions of other students to draw them into the conversation and in listening skills.  I actually used this system when I was a teacher and it worked remarkably well.  Students developed more respect for each other and there was less bullying when students knew their own grade depended upon including everyone in the conversation and respecting the comments of others.

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I believe in incorporating activities that encourage ethics, kindness and a consideration of the needs and values of other people.  Schools are currently so tied up in standardized testing and performing to a norm that teachers are somewhat hindered in their creativity and the teaching of subjects not directed toward rote learning and performing to purely academic ends, and I think students suffer by this.

Extracurricular subjects often center around competitive sports, many of which are violent in nature and which teach kids to win at all any cost.  Better that they be taught to win at being human beings and to learn to accept the differentness of others.  Perhaps this might help to make a more peaceable world or at the least, a peaceable society.

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Thirty students had thirty different takes on how to create a beautiful mask! (Click to enlarge.)

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Yes, call me a dreamer, but better dreams than nightmares!

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “The New School.”  You get to redesign school as we know it from the ground up. Will you do away with reading, writing, and arithmetic? What skills and knowledge will your school focus on imparting to young minds?

I chose this prompt offered as an alternative to today’s prompt.

17 thoughts on “Schooled for Peace and Prosperity

  1. Susan Reed

    Oh, I love your idea of a school system and I wish I had went to a school like that when I was younger. The communication skills is one that I think could have been quite beneficial in my youthful learning stages.
    That section sticks out to me because I was one of those kids bullied. I tried to tell the teacher only once…. which led to me being drawn to the front of the class and told that no one likes tattletales.
    Thus began the internalization of the majority of my emotions and led me to writing poetry and stories.
    With that said, I wish that sort of school did exist. It would make the world a lot better place. 🙂

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  2. Pingback: The Boy in the Blue Feathered Mask | lifelessons – a blog by Judy Dykstra-Brown

  3. Eddy

    Love your hands-on approach! Most schools focus too much on teaching abstract facts and forget to link them to everyday life, especially to the lives of the kids. And I totally agree with you that there should be more artistic expression. Schools are often too limited in what media they allow children to use for them to really discover what they love. Good to hear there are teachers teaching communication skills. That will for sure help them more than any facts they ever learned. Agree with Susan: I’d like to have gone to such a school. Great post!

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  4. danihandthebaytones

    Love, love, love!!!! I think schools should be like this! And we don’t need standardized tests as they are they do not accomplish what is necessary for someone to be truly educated and I think that has a lot to do with how you live with others. Thank you for this post!

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  5. lifelessons Post author

    interesting that this prompt came up again so soon. I woke up to find my piece for the day already posted, er, reposted! And others from 2013! Surely this is a WordPress glitch. Repeating an exact prompt three months later is quite a tad too soon!!!!

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  6. Lissa A. Forbes

    You nailed it, Judy! I couldn’t have designed a new school much better. But I’ve yet to write mine. I would have love a school like yours which clearly teaches students how to go out into the world and actually function.

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  7. Tracey Rains

    Ah, early foreign language education! That is so vital! I tool French in grades 1-8. While I can’t “speak” it now, I do find that I can pick it up again fairly easily when I work on something in French. The students who are just now trying to take their first languages in high school struggle an unbelievable amount just to learn how to say hello and how are you.

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      1. Tracey Rains

        You’ve heard the old joke about what do you call someone who speaks three languages? Trilingual…Two languages” Bilingual…One language? An American. It’s a shame that it’s basically true. People cite our isolation as the reason, but we have no excuse for at least not speaking Spanish.

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