Here is the short version of why I believe our school offers something valuable to you as a family, to Eureka as a community, and to the country as a whole.
At Clear Spring School we meet students where they are. As a community of learners we look at the whole child and help them to evaluate their strengths, challenges, interests, and uniqueness. In the US, education policy is shifting toward a skill based and integrated model, recognizing that fact based memorization is not enough for students to succeed in the world today. These integrated skills are creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, and communication and the transition toward these skills is reflected in many ‘new’ curricula across the country. At CSS we have been quietly participating in this progressive model of education for forty plus years. We focus on reflective practice. What am I doing well? What am I struggling with? How can I improve? This is the process of learning; recognizing areas we want to improve and making a plan of how to do it.
The traditional method of instruction, where the teacher is the ‘master’ and holder of all knowledge while the student is the vessel and receiver of information, assumes a system and structure where all that needs to be known and understood already exists. This worked well in the post-industrial revolution era, when information was limited and future jobs had set parameters and prerequisites. The truth today is that we don’t even know what the jobs are, for which we are preparing our students. This means that schools and their ‘knowledge’ are rapidly becoming less practical, perhaps even damaging to students.
As the world is increasingly saturated with information and students are bombarded with media, the world inside the classroom and the ‘real’ world outside get further and further apart. If we are not prepared to radically alter our education system, what we teach and how we teach it, we should not be surprised by the consequences of our in-actions. In truth the traditional means of instruction (lecture based) is ill equipped to deal with the sheer amount of information confronting students’ today.
In “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” Paulo Freire supports “problem posing” education. For Freire education can be liberation; the way and means that oppressed groups mobilize and change their circumstances. “Problem Posing” is a dynamic process that involves the student and teacher in reciprocal situations. This is the model that Clear Spring seeks to emulate, situations are presented to the student who then theorizes, investigates, or sometimes solves a problem. Teachers become guides, coaches, and facilitators, ensuring progress is made and assisting in problem solving and planning. These are true life-skills that will enable the students to become active both in their lives and in the public arena. It is important for people to experience success on their own and be able to draw evaluations and conclusions from their learning. If thinking is an aim that we have for education, it is something that ought to be practiced – it is definitely not something that can be deposited. Clear Spring School is a place where real learning happens.