So I won't have to dream alone.
-- Bobby Darin, "Dream Lover"
TeacHer asked, in a recent comment:
I've been wondering about this recently: if you were to design the perfect school, how would it look? What about the perfect teacher?
Thanks for the question, TeacHer!
My dream school would combine the best of the progressive and traditional philosophies. From the best of the progressives, I would take an interest in the child as a complete human being, with physical and emotional needs as well as academic ones, and the goal of developing an independent thinker, with a continuing interest in learning. From the best of the traditionalists, I would take a true understanding and appreciation of content knowledge, including technical content like math and science, and a respect for linear, well-designed curricula.
So, with the progressives, I would throw out authoritarian classroom-management systems like PBIS and WBT, but with the traditionalists, I would throw out bad curricula like fuzzy math, non-phonics reading instruction, and meta-meta-meta "comprehension" questions that baffle and alienate small children.
My dream elementary school would assign no homework, or optional homework, and never restrict recess as a punishment, or for any reason. Teachers and administrators would work towards a genuine partnership with parents, not the current Jeeves-and-Wooster farce that passes for "partnership".
My dream teacher would be well-educated and genuinely interested in learning, as well as humane and caring (that's a surprisingly difficult combo to find!). She would be open to new ideas, and not ideologically wedded to certain techniques (and yes, I understand that a lot of important classroom decisions aren't under the teacher's control any more.)
And here's an impossible dream for you: just once, I would like to read a newsletter written by a teacher with no grammatical errors.
Readers, what would your dream school look like? How about your dream teacher?