The Characteristics Of A Good School

By Terry Heick  |   from TeachThought   |   When a society changes, so then must its tools.

Definitions of purpose and quality must also be revised continuously. What should a school “do”? Be? How can we tell a good school from a bad one?

This really starts at the human level, but that’s a broader issue. For now, let’s consider that schools are simply pieces of larger ecologies. The most immediate ecologies they participate in are human and cultural. As pieces in (human) ecologies, when one thing changes, everything else does as well. When it rains, the streams flood, the meadows are damp, the clovers bloom, and the bees bustle. When there’s drought, things are dry, and stale, and still.

When technology changes, it impacts the kinds of things we want and need. Updates to technology change what we desire; as we desire new things, technology changes to seek to provide them. The same goes for–or should go for–education. Consider a few of the key ideas in progressive education. Mobile learning, digital citizenship, design thinking, collaboration, creativity, and on a larger scale, digital literacy,1:1, and more are skills and content bits that every student would benefit from exposure to and mastery of. As these force their way into schools and classrooms and assignments and the design thinking of teachers, this is at the cost of “the way things were.”

When these “things” are forced in with little adjustment elsewhere, the authenticity of everything dies. The ecology itself is at risk.

The Purpose Of School In An Era Of Change

What should schools teach, and how? And how do we know if we’re doing it well? These are astoundingly important questions–ones that must be answered with social needs, teacher gifts, and technology access in mind. Now, we take the opposite approach. Here’s what all students should know, now let’s figure out how we can use what we have to teach it. If we don’t see the issue in its full context, we’re settling for glimpses.

How schools are designed and what students learn–and why–must be reviewed, scrutinized, and refined as closely and with as much enthusiasm as we do the gas mileage of our cars, the downloads speeds of our phones and tablets, or the operating systems of our watches. Most modern academic standards take a body-of-knowledge approach to education. This, to me, seems to be a dated approach to learning that continues to hamper our attempts to innovate.

Why can’t education, as a system, refashion itself as aggressively as the digital technology that is causing it so much angst? The fluidity of a given curriculum should at least match the fluidity of relevant modern knowledge demands. Maybe a first step in pursuit of an innovative and modern approach to teaching and learning might be to rethink the idea of curriculum as the core of learning models?

Less is more is one way to look at it, but that’s not new–power standards have been around for years. In fact, in this era of information access, smart clouds, and worsening socioeconomic disparity, we may want to consider whether we should be teaching content at all, or rather teaching students to think, design their own learning pathways, and create and do extraordinary things that are valuable to them in their place?

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Left RVSD teaching in another district
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Left RVSD teaching in another district

Fancy that…. a school that’s teacher-driven, has flexible multi-age groupings and deep parent engagement. Hmmmm…why does that sound so familiar? Oh, yeah – that’s what’s MAP was but people who didn’t want it and resented it couldn’t stand it.

Innovations doesn’t HAVE to be chartered to protect it, just takes the right district and community to not be threatened by it.

RVSD: top-down or bust

Anonymous
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Anonymous

I personally know kids that came out of MAP behind their peers.

Back Atcha
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Back Atcha

I personally know kids that came out of MAP ahead of their peers.

?!?

D. Lorenzo
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D. Lorenzo

Pre school parents are having second thoughts about this school distict .
I don’t care who was to blame or what happened with Map, or even that there’s a charter school. I care that a school district we were considering enrolling in is in conflict and can’t get itself out.
I’ve heard the stand side read the anti stand side and from the outside ( the place most families reside ) this is a load of bullshit politics that make an unneighborly culture. Not the kind of unstable school environment I want to raise my kid in.

Frank B.
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Frank B.

When the district has clearly spent so much energy (and money) trying to get rid of the charter school, one has to wonder what it’s NOT been doing for its own students.

Anonymous
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Anonymous

The funny thing is this conflict is parent driven. If you go to the schools the kids are learning growing and thriving. I must say I am impressed with my son’s teachers at White Hill. They all look so young to me but they are full of new methods. I can see great things happening at White Hill in the future.

Anonymous
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Anonymous

How it relates its obvious: give them any issue and they’ll whine, threaten, throw shade, rail against RVC. StanDistricters don’t talk about education, just enemies. The most interesting thing is keeping track of who Us is and who They are.

-Editor
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-Editor

Why don’t you ask the folks at RVC. Here’s their contact (from the bottom of their website): (415) 534-6970 info@rossvalleycharter.org

Anonymous
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Anonymous

It’s so weird that no one will ever answer that question.

Anonymous
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Anonymous

Is it true that RVSD practices Satanic rituals? That teachers and administrators are forced into secret rituals that humiliate them into not outing Bagley for the petty tyrant he is? Inquiring minds want to know.

very happy RVC parent
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very happy RVC parent

No, RVC is not a Waldorf school, nor a Waldorf-inspired school. Check out the RVC website to learn about the wonderful progressive education approach: https://rossvalleycharter.org/progressive-elementary-education/ If you are interested in enrolling your child for next year, click on the blue “Click here to sign the form” button. These forms help to show the district that there is interest for next year, for prop 39 purposes (to ensure there’s enough classroom space for families who want to enroll). I know it seems early to be thinking about this, but the prop 39 requirements require RVC to make a projected enrollment for… Read more »