Saturday, July 9, 2011

Community Schooling

Stephen Downes writes:

“In this 15 minute video I outline my criticisms of home schooling and describe success factors for an alternative, community schooling.”

Watch the video here:


In a society which emphasizes teaching, children and students - and adults - become passive and unable to think or act for themselves. Creative, active individuals can only grow up in a society which emphasizes learning instead of teaching.

Instead of the lock-step of compulsory schooling in a fixed place, work in piecemeal ways to decentralize the process of learning and enrich it through contact with many places and people all over the city: workshops, teachers at home or walking through the city, professionals willing to take on the young as helpers, older children teaching younger children, museums, youth groups traveling, scholarly seminars, industrial workshops, old people, and so on. Conceive of all these situations as forming the backbone of the learning process; survey all these situations, describe them, and publish them as the city's "curriculum"; then let students, children, their families and neighborhoods weave together for themselves the situations that comprise their "school" paying as they go with standard vouchers, raised by community tax. Build new educational facilities in a way which extends and enriches this network. - Christopher Alexander

THE VILLAGE AS CAMPUS (includes another video on community schooling)


By its very nature, the village and the VillageTown becomes a supportive community. As soon as people get out of their cars and slow down, they begin to recognize each other:
  • Children live in an adult world, not an artificial world of children
  • Adults become role models... at work or relaxing on the plaza
  • Students witness the relevance of their studies, as they see adults applying knowledge and learning on a day-to-day basis
  • Boredom is replaced by an enriched social and cultural environment
  • The plaza and the pedestrian streets are safe for young children to play
  • Predators do not find opportunities in such a community, there are too many people watching
  • Parents don't hire babysitters, they buy an extra bed for the neighbors kid
  • Daycare comes to mean something very different
  • Elders form natural bonds with young people - as humans did since the beginning of time until we invented retirement homes
  • Teens have space, but not too much space to hurt themselves or other (such as no cars means fewer crashes)
If education consists of time, place, subject matter and social relationship, the element proposed to be realigned is "place". Do not segregate students, include them in the life of the community, but as students. This has numerous educational benefits and it saves millions in investing in a separate campus infrastructure that is then used less than 15% of the year. - Village Towns

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