Educational Practices Limit the Effectiveness of Our Schools

(PART 5 OF 7)

When Jo and I left Crow Canyon, we decided that parenthood would be the most important focus of our lives. As the boys neared school-age we studied the educational systems driving the schools our children might attend. We did not find any educational program or community school program that based its curricula on each child’s individual needs. In essence, we were looking for a school that did not force the equal treatment of unequals.

We wanted a school that did not make students of the same age but different developmental levels compete. We knew that in many ways girls mature earlier than boys. Perhaps this is nature’s way of preparing females to be mothers as soon as they reach puberty. Males have different levels of maturity. When boys and girls of the same age are forced to compete, they are damaged. I have observed that young boys do not recover from this competition until they are in high school, if ever.

We were looking for a school where students learn to collaborate. If students are working together to solve real problems, and not to best each or shy away from each other, a tension is relieved. That kind of tension can destroy self-images and a love of learning. It is no accident that Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts have different programs, or that combining these programs results in boys dropping out.

I traveled in 22 different countries looking for an educational program based upon children’s needs. I have spent years trying to supplement and enrich the structures that were put in place because the planners devised systems to inculcate values believed necessary to conform future factory workers.

The educational programs that became the backbone of Crow Canyon were all designed to do what Montessori had urged us to understand a century before when she said: You cannot teach a child well whom you don’t know well.

In Sedona, a community of parents and educators adapted many Montessori programs. A great leader, Kathy Levin, welcomed our sons and soon asked Jo to be codirector of the Montessori school. That was about the time that the State Board of Education introduced the charter school option. Had the Board of Education been allowed to keep a tight rein on the development of charter schools, Arizona would be a national model for education. Instead, a State Board for Charter Schools was formed. The promise of accountability was lost.

A community group from Sedona met for months and produced a remarkable model for the Sedona Charter School. It carefully followed the directives of the State Board of Education. We opened the 2nd charter school in the state of Arizona. Within a year, all that knowledge and insight and child-centered educational programs were ignored as the legislature made sure that the charter school system was turned into a free-flowing tap of money for private individuals. Communities and children be damned.

As it happened the legislature took away control of the charters and created a State Board for Charter Schools. Arizona has suffered greatly, especially the children, from the greed of elected representatives.

(Continued in Part 6: )