School Reform That Works
Shaun Kerry, M.D.
Diplomate, American Board
of Psychiatry and Neurology
In order for
students to reach their fullest
potential, they must be allowed to
develop their own individual educational programs. Teachers should
be present to facilitate this process, and should be available when
called upon for help by their students.
In our schools today, two
of the most
neglected areas of adolescent development are the social and
emotional aspects. Children need to exist in a healthy community
that is open, honest, nurturing, interactive, and free from harmful
activities such as bullying, humiliation, favoritism, and scapegoating.
I have previously stated, all
children have a unique personality,
and therefore, will all respond differently to various
educational methods. This might prompt
some people to ask, "How can we have schools that serve the needs of so
many different personalities without spending any more money?"
A school has many rooms, which are
used for a variety of different activities throughout the day. Rather
than the stagnant classroom environment that currently exists,
classrooms would become places for workshops, discussions, laboratories,
and other activities. Some of the rooms would be equipped with
computers for use by the students. Other rooms would have
projection monitors with theater-like surround sound. In the
workshops, talking, movement, and experimentation would be encouraged,
rather than forbidden.
One of the most effective educational tools is the discussion group, which can often be found in colleges and
universities. There is no reason why such groups could not exist
in high schools, middle schools, and even elementary schools. A
variety of discussion groups where students could express their feelings
openly would be valuable at all levels in our educational system.
Both moderated and unmoderated groups could be successfully used to
promote emotional and social maturity in our young citizens.
||Students would be able
to attend the activities of
their own choosing. Learning would be made an active, rather than
a passive, endeavor, and at a minimal cost. Some would argue that
such hi-tech equipment would be too expensive. Granted, such
equipment would cost a small amount of money, but the core concept of
this reform remains costless. It is
|the restructuring, not the technology, that is
most important to my proposal. We must allow children to legislate
control over their own educations.
I will explain, in detail, the concept of
flow, which is essentially a
process of intense involvement with a project or activity, with such
involvement stemming from internal motivation, rather than arising as a
response to external demands. Teachers must be observant of the
degree to which this process is occurring, and must respond
appropriately if it is not present. When people have flow in their
lives, they are generally happy. Preschool aged children naturally
experience flow, but once they are inducted into our school system, this
flow is interrupted. In the new educational model that I have
proposed, there would be a heightened flow-awareness and a sense of both
community and social equality.
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