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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.

As 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.

On another page 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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