Sunday, August 22, 2010

universals and unique

We know that there are some baseline skills that all children need. The ability to read is one. We also know that children are drawn to doing things within peer acceptance that offer recognition and allow them to stand out. Paracelsus statement, "I am different from you, let this not upset you," describes the challenge faced by every child who makes the attempt of reaching beyond the norm to some specialized and unique level of expertise or skill as each universally and of necessity must do.

Dr. Howard E. Gruber noted the problem as follows.
Developmental movement toward universally shared ideas, the common understanding, diminishes the psychological distance between the child and those around him. The development of the creative person has an almost opposite effect. The more he succeeds in constructing a new point of view which governs the look of all problems and possibilities, the more he increases the distance between himself and others. He must fashion ways of coping with this distance, accept a sort of existential loneliness. The distance is not only a necessary consequence of creative work, it is a valuable tool—preventing the creative person from sinking back into banality.
And so, how do we create schools that provide the basics to all children and also provide the opportunity for each to rise to his or her highest potential as craftsmen? There is a great model for that. The Big Picture Co. Schools began with the Met School in Providence, RI and there are now 123 of them world-wide, each reshaping the high school experience and building into the high school structure ways for each child to express his or her unique interests and skills.

One of the important programs of the Big Picture Schools is called LTI, or "learning through internship" which places students in learning and mentoring opportunities outside of the school walls. I invite my readers to become more aware of Big Picture Schools, as hopefully, there is one coming to your community too. One of the best things about Big Picture Schools is that the LTI program brings non-teachers into the educational process, serving as on the job trainers and mentors, helping each child to reach toward unique expression far beyond the basics of a high school education.

Just imagine schools in which bankers, chefs, farmers, artists and craftsmen of all kinds are empowered to pass on the skills and interests that have led them on lifelong learning pursuits? What the heck are we waiting for?

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous4:33 AM

    What a great idea. Good to see that there are some of those schools in this area.