The Connor School

I’ve been thinking about my ultimate school. The one I would found if I had unlimited resources. Just to be vain, we’ll call it the Connor School. Here’s my outline of raw ideas.

General

  • The Connor school would teach about 1000 students (or however many I could fund), K-12, plus daycare.
  • Teaching would continue year-round, with breaks of a few weeks each to allow for family vacations.
  • Students would attend class from 8-5, with an hour for lunch. Just like the real world. Class schedules would allow teachers time for class prep.
  • The school would be located downtown, in a well-appointed building.
  • The school would include an excellent library, with computers available, and a full-time librarian. Not a moonlighting English teacher.
  • Tuition, materials, etc, would be free, and admission to the school would be on a first come, first served basis, with only a few guidelines:
    1. The parent must read and agree to the curriculum. Any objections to the curriculum would be heard by the school board, but would probably result in the expulsion of the family. The family would be required to sign a waiver preventing them from filing suit on the grounds of curriculum.
    2. The school would prefer to teach all the children in one family, so the parents could concentrate on involvement with one school. Exceptions would, of course, be considered.
    3. The younger the oldest child in the family is, the better. Children in grade six or above would have a difficult time adapting. Exceptions would be considered.
    4. Parental involvement would be required. Missing more than two parent-teacher meetings in a row could be grounds for expulsion of the family. If the parent requires some assistance to attend meetings, all options would be considered.

Teaching and Teachers

  • The best teachers would be recruited, and paid $60-100K to begin, depending upon experience.
  • Class size would be limited to 20 students.
  • At the beginning of each year, all students would be tested for learning style. Classes would be divided into “tracks” according to style, so students would be taught in the manner most appropriate to their individual needs.
  • An adequate staff of tutors would be available to handle individual issues–weaknesses and strengths.
  • A staff of counselors would be required to make sure no student could fall through the cracks.

Student Environment

Two Big Rules:

  1. Do not prevent learning, for others or yourself.
  2. Treat others with respect.

Disruptive students would be helped through tutoring, counseling, and family involvement. If every attempt failed, the entire family would be expelled, with no chance for re-entry. Expulsion would be an extreme last resort. Other bits:

  • Student individuality is encouraged. Publish a paper or webzine, wear wild clothes, get your tongue pierced. Just remember to treat your teachers and fellow students with respect.
  • Students will be under constant scrutiny. They’ll be watched for grades, behavior changes, etc. The idea is to head off problems before they become obstacles to learning.
  • A fixed number of students will serve on the school board, on a volunteer basis. A student may only serve one term on the board. Any other student leadership positions would be filled on a volunteer basis, rather than by election.
  • Locker rooms will be well supervised, and shower and changing rooms will be private.
  • Medical staff will be available on school grounds.
  • Students will get lunch plus two breaks. Food will be available during breaks. Lunches will be really good. No fast food or corporate vending machines will be available. After grade seven, students may leave campus for lunch.
  • No social promotion. A foundering student should be noticed and helped before they fail. If not, then they get a tutor and another try.

Curriculum

Required courses for all years:

  • Math
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Science
  • Physical Education
  • Current Events
  • Foreign language
  • Human Dynamics (dealing with people you hate, family dynamics, self esteem, sex ed., ethics, etc.)
  • World History

Required courses at some time (not sure when):

  • Critical thinking (learning how to learn!)
  • Adult Prep (finances, cooking, cleaning, etc.)
  • Spanish

My favorite on the list is Current Events–just discussing the events of the day and using this to bring in historical context, politics, law, etc.

Stuff that I, personally, want to see students learn:

  • How to decide what their personal ethics are, and live by them.
  • To understand how advertising works in our society, and make informed choices.
  • How to take care of themselves.
  • How to find the answers to their questions.

The goal of the school: to produce well-informed individuals who can express themselves, and make a real contribution to the world.

So, anybody wanna give me a few bil?

8 Responses to The Connor School

  1. senn says:

    anybody wanna give me a few bil?

    I do! Unfortunately, I don’t have any money. But if ever I should become rich, count on it.

  2. Cat says:

    Yay! Thanks, Sugar Daddy!

    An addition to the curriculum: several years of Politics and Law. I think it’s extremely important that people understand how the system works on the local, state, and federal levels. I remember studying the Constitution in school, but we never talked about anything like the local city council.

  3. christopher says:

    I’ll teach at your school! Sounds wonderful. I’m nearly finished my grades 3-8 certification so I’m available.

    I would push hard to insure that art is thoroughly integrated into the curriculum and that children have the opportunity to participate in all of the arts at some time.

    The benefits are numerous and the science shows strong correlation between academic performance and the arts.

  4. salt says:

    *applies for job as troublemaker librarian*

  5. Evelyn says:

    Don’t have the money, if I did you’d get it, but I can always be one of the teachers 🙂 Although when and how would I start my own university/college with similar principles and ideas as you outlined? Well, never mind that. Your outline comes pretty darn close to what I would consider an ideal teaching environment, with one exception (thus far :)): I wouldn’t split students up according to preferred learning style and put them on such tracks, since one does learn a lot by seeing how others learn differently, how their strengths and weaknesses work and I use this as a springboard to collaborative work and they feed of each other in amazing ways. Just my thoughts on this. But I totally support your idea, which I think underlies this desire for the different tracks, to allow students to learn according to their learning style rather than forcing them to learn according to normative, top down styles practiced in Western education for all too long.

  6. Cat says:

    Chris: Arts was an oversight. I meant to have some sort of creative curriculum through all the years in school. That’s what I get for writing at 2am.

    Salt: As a matter of fact, we had you in mind. 😉

    Evelyn: I think I’m having a knee-jerk reaction to my own education, where I got so few challenges I was more or less angry and bored all the time. I expect that, even with tracks, some classes would be mixed.

  7. Orb says:

    Can I become a kid again and go to your school!?

  8. Evelyn says:

    Cat, I see your point. Never went to a US school, but heard plenty of horror stories about students not getting enough challenges. So far I’ve mostly seen glimpses in the field of foreign language instruction and it just stuns me how little is taught in 4 years of high school foreign language instruction. It feels that we covered that in about 6 months to max. a year back home. My gripe with my school experience back home is too much challenge and not enough time for being a kid. That just about sucks as much!

    Orb, I’m tempted too to become a kid and go to that kind of school 🙂