I’ve wanted to start a school since I was 16 years old. (Nerdy goal I know) The thing is, I never wanted it to be “just another school.” I went to one of those and I didn’t like it very much. As much of a bookworm that I was, I hated homework and really did the bare minimum to get by. The school I wanted (and still want) to create is a place that acknowledges and cultivates individual interests/talents that everyone is born with. No more boring textbooks and unimaginative classrooms. I envision children conducting fieldwork and internships at a very young age so they can have an educational experience truly relevant to the “real world”.
Anywho, the question has always been: How? How do you get funding for a school that is going against the political tide? A great deal of insight was given to me when I read Chris Mercogliano’s How to Grow a School: Starting and Sustaining Schools that Work. I love this book because it’s not an impersonal “step-by step” manual. Conversely, the book interviews school founders from 14 different alternative schools; some public, some private, and some charters. What all of these schools have in common is they have created alternative learning environments for students and parents who felt stifled by the educational options surrounding them. All of these schools came up against government attack, and some of them did not survive in the long run.
However, reading about their success and failures is incredibly helpful to anyone interested in starting their own educational movement. Mecogliano interviews these school founders and they share their stories about funding, politics, school governance, and parent collaboration. The biggest lesson this book teaches is that “There Are No Rules.” Mecogliano asserts:
“Growing a good school requires inspiration, patience, creativity, determination, commitment, a profound understanding of children, and at least a little daring. It does not require advanced degrees in educational philosophy , or school administration…Anyone with sufficient possession of the aforementioned qualities can launch an experiment in education and contribute to the proliferation of alternatives in American education.”
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