Two weeks ago, I discovered this wonderful extraordinary school on television. It was hard for me to believe what I had in front of the eyes. Actually, the Ron Clark Academy is not only a different school but definitely THE school of the future.....
The Ron Clark Academy (more about RCA on Wikipedia) is a really innovative concept brought by Ron Clark, a young and ambitious teacher who was educated at East Carolina University. This school, obviously a private non-profit one, is found in Atlanta, Georgia. Ron took the challenge of bringing non-conventional techniques in education to have youngsters who do not like school into a unique curriculum and he excelled. His students are known USA-wide and Ron had been awarded the title of Best Teacher of the World by his students and parents of America!
What is it that he has that is so wonderful?
Ron Clark makes use of techniques not approved by the Public Education system to get the best out of each individual. His school is one where teachers rap, dance, sing, take off they shoes, wear costumes and work with each other thematically. An example would be 'Ancient Greece' where the history teacher would work with the English teacher, with Greek mythology goddesses costumes, each one teaching what is relevant to his/her subject. After each fifteen minutes, they make sure having everyone on alert, shouting and/or moving. In this way, they keep a class of 12 year-old students (who did not like school) totally attentive for three consecutive hours without any break.
This is just an example, what is most important to get out of it is the fundamental philosophy! This is the person-centered learning. This is where learning is privileged to teaching, which is the exact opposite of the normal education.
This is REAL education, in my belief. School is a building with four walls and tomorrow inside it and it is extremely stupid to destroy this tomorrow by exerting a strict conformity in the way of teaching. Psychologist Howard Gardner, had proved long ago that there are seven main types of intelligence; i.e. different ways in which we assimilate information around us. However, the normal Education system works only on two of these multiple intelligences (namely logical-mathematical and verbal-linguistic).
We, people are born as individuals and function in our very own way, we are unique. An education system which advocates conformity to only a linear way of learning is one neglecting all the others, that is, most of us. It is a system where failure is a requirement for it to be considered as successful.
Education, however means sharing of knowledge and the aim of schools should be to hand over knowledge to the future generations. The difference lies in clipping a paper on a Notice Board placed high on the wall versus exposing at all eye levels, reading and explaining out loud the content of the paper.
The difference simply is that in one case, you make sure that the information is received and in the other case you just randomly broadcasted for some persons (the tallest ones with enough time and interest to read, according to the metaphor).
The RCA comes after the Montessori method and is here to change things. The random example of observing that in RCA, there are television screens in the toilets so as to entertain the youngsters as washrooms are where quarrels most often take place normally shows that the normal oppressive system is very far from the truth by building higher and higher walls and putting cameras. Yes, at times a screen is a better way than a camera to diminish violence in schools.
If only deciders in the education field could be aware of that....
Photo: 1. www.ronclarkacademy.com, 2. www.thrashers.nhl.com