Where the American school system has been and where we hope it is going

how the american school system got left behind in the age of rapid innovation is one of the greatest mistakes of the last two centuries. in dire need of a philosophical overhaul,  we hope to address some of the most common  (and most outdated) principles of "modern" education.

our goal is to model healthy relationships of trust and care with our students. Our faculty is there to shepherd curiosity and adventure, not to govern and police the minds, actions, and bodies of our students. By practicing good standards for this,  we hope to help the students demand this level of justice as a norm for their whole lives. 

some students thrive in the traditional classroom, truly! Some do not, however and the lack of alternatives often leaves families stuck trying to make it work. It's the same for teachers- some teachers flourish with the classic systems of teaching, but some others feel set up for failure from the start.  we hope to address some of the antiquated systems in need of evolution so that we can create a safe and progressive place that fosters trust of self and trust of others.

 

systematic empowering: the idea that the voice of authority is always right and that children cannot refuse or say “no” is a reckless and negligent lesson. If a system of trust is in place that supports the concept that children do have the capacity for self reflection and to know what they need, then children can be empowered to trust their inner guidance above all.

The value of body autonomy: children in a school setting are often taught they aren’t allowed to listen to the needs of their own bodies. this can be seen regularly as the refusal for bathroom breaks or the ability to drink water at will. Each child should have the freedom to be completely in charge of their bodies. Even the most basic needs like stretching, standing, and moving is of value and should be honored.

Innovation over memorization: when the muscle to memorize is so highly valued, it sends the message that absorbing information is the only goal. The ability to arrive at a solution creatively (instead of following memorized steps) should be of equal importance and is often where the seedlings of innovation and magic can happen!

Authentic over agreeable: the message that being quiet, complicit, and always likable is what's best for the "whole" is antiquated . It is teaching the next generation that society functions better when we match the needs of others, not the needs of our unique selves.

Community over competition: the idea that you should do better than your neighbor at any cost because there is only room for the success of one, is a mindset that often fails in adulthood and takes a lifetime to reprogram. Learning how to work as a community and to balance the uniqueness and vibrancy of the group is invaluable on a scale both big and small.

stillness is not required for learning: asking children as young as preschool and kindergarten to stop moving and sit still (under fluorescent lights more often than not) because that's how we learn is a injustice to the capacity and cognitive needs of the human brain. teaching children to sit still in desks is a logistical goal for convenience and has no place in nature-based education.

redefining discipline: an over emphasis on discipline is a harmful and dangerous contribution to the school to prison pipeline and a continuation of the destructive message of authority at schools.  "when children attend schools that place greater value on discipline and security than on knowledge and intellectual development, they are attending prep schools for prison."- angela davis, "are prisons obsolete?" With systems of trust in place we hope to address behavioral issues devoid of fear tactics and disempowerment.

livable wages for teachers: lack of support for teachers and staff (both financial support and systematic support) can lead to burnout and harmful school environments for both the teachers and the students. Our tuition rates will directly match the ability for our school to provide livable salaries to our faculty and staff so that we can hire the most qualified teachers and continue towards goals of respect and trust.  

bluestem hall nature school's guiding principles for "unlearning"