Dr. Grauer's Column - Grauer School in the World
Grauer School in the World
Everyone has their own views of what a normal school is in “the real world” and they may view other models as “alternative schools.” What’s a real world school? 2000 kids? 60 kids? Sitting in rows? Ages mixing or all segregated? Indoors or out? Are you allowed out? Are there grades? How would Socrates have designed it? The Jesuits invented college many years ago—what were those classes like? Didn’t the US courts invent the consolidated school? Was there research on learning in those larger schools? How many other school configurations can you name? What are the attributes of each?
The English philosopher Bertrand Russell and the American philosopher John Dewey were hard to ignore when they described how conventional schools offer students the choice of becoming either submissive or rebellious. I read this quote from Scottish Schools Young Writer of the Year Award winner, a 16-year-old named Harriet Sweatman, who made this point at this year’s International Democratic Education Conference (“the IDEC”) in the Ukraine. (Next year it will be in Nepal and I hope to go and meet many more people like Harriet.)
There is widespread dissatisfaction in education, new school forms are diversifying and strengthening what we typically think of as schooling: home schooling, themed charter schools, magnet schools, homeschool resource centers, independent schools, free schools, democratic schools, forest schools, farm schools, self-directed schools, and hybrids. Grauer Schools.
Summerhill is a co-educational boarding school in Suffolk, England - the original alternative 'free' school. Founded in 1921, it continues to be an influential model for progressive, democratic education around the world. Summerhill is the oldest children's democracy in the world. It is probably the most famous alternative or 'free' school.
The School of Self-Determination is a 600 student, democratic, inner city, public school in Moscow. A new school just opened in Ukraine called Our Crazy School. There are many styles of governance also developing, that range from huge, political, rigid and controlling corporate boards to advisory support circles descended from the campfire.
Let’s all be careful before we describe something as “a real school” and others models as not so real. Unless of course you think like me: The Grauer School…that’s real!
Here is a vision from the Board of Directors of The St. Nicholas International School in Da Nang, Vietnam:
We would like to build a dream school, one associated with a friendly, fairy-tale figure such as Santa Claus, a figure all students know and love. In addition, we would like our students to learn and inherit the philosophy that St. Nicholas devoted his whole life to achieving. Students in the school will not only know how to dream, but dream amazingly – the dream of finding their true selves in the universe and in knowing what they will be in the future. In that journey, the students will be trained to learn how to overcome all their difficulties (Resilience), deeply understand people (Empathy), and appreciate what they receive (Gratitude). These are the three core characteristic values we would like to build at the school. Each student at St. Nicholas School will be trained holistically to reach their dream careers, as well as making good contributions in the community.
What do you dream for in our school? And Why?
You can send that to me.
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Parents, now that your students are home for the pandemic, many of you are becoming teachers, perhaps involuntarily. Here is some guidance from Dr. Grauer, by way of Socrates.
Congratulations to Grauer's Class of 2020 for receiving numerous college acceptances. We are so proud of them all!
The Grauer Garden is green and actively growing. Vegetables and herbs growing right now include purple and green cabbages, kohlrabi, spinach, fava beans, swiss chard, sweet peas, sorrel, oregano, sage, parsley, thyme, chocolate mint, and lemon mint.
The 7th grade Global Insights and English class collaborated on a project where students examined poetry from the middle ages in Al Andalus, or Muslim Spain.
The Grauer School's weekly assemblies on Tuesdays are a special part of our community. You can view a beautiful version of "Bridge Over Troubled Water" created for the March 31 Assembly.
In a time-traveling letter to the Class of 2020, Dr. Grauer takes you to the Italian countryside, our local Laguna Mountains, and back to college in the '60s, exploring the way forward to some new stories. What will you be looking for in the coming world?