There are many different paths to educating oneself and one's children. Public school, private school, and homeschool are 3 of the most common branches of education. Here are some of the benefits of traditional public schools.
1. It keeps you busy.
On top of spending 8 hours a day inside a building, students get to go home with plenty to occupy their evening. Although it's been widely mandated that students only get 1 hour of homework on average each weeknight, most high school students are lucky enough to go home with at least 2 hours of homework! The standard, endorsed by the National Education Association and the National Parent-Teacher Association, is the 10 minute rule. 1st graders can have up to 10 minutes of homework a night, 20 minutes for 2nd graders, and 120 minutes for 12th graders. This makes perfect sense, but oftentimes teachers aren't communicating across different content areas. Students may very well be gifted more than the recommended amount of work to last them through the night.
The stress from all the homework and studying helps students prepare for their adult lives. They'll need to learn how to cope with bills and filing their taxes. If they're entering a professional field, there are certifications and degrees they'll need to work and study for. Unfortunately, some students may end up pursuing one of the many careers that will riddle this skill worthless. Kids are young and spry and are more capable of dealing with stress than adults, who end up with ulcers and hypertension. If they really need to be medicated due to the stresses of their school schedule, they will be welcomed into the trend of girls and boys who have prescriptions that have gone up 68 percent and 30 percent respectively.
Sadly, we don't give out any mandatory homework at Makarios Community School. If a student really wants to do the homework on set theory, they're free to do so. If a student really wants to work on a college level entrance exam, they're free to do so. We can't stop them from working if they truly desire it, but we certainly don't make it mandatory. It's understood that students at MCS have their schedules packed with building forts, creating businesses, designing gardens, and falling prey to their imagination for us to have the audacity to give them work to keep them busy.
2. Diverse Social Pool
Public schools can be packed with up to 1,500 students of the same age! Plano West Senior High, the school in which I grew up, has more than 2,750 students as an 11th and 12th grade school. All these students need to be boxed into diverse categories. Public schools keep the gifted and honors students in one box and the regular students in another. They'll make sure everyone is in the same building and have time during passing periods to interact with kids from the other side.
The faculty in public schools is designed to ensure that they provide all of 200 courses and you can choose 8 to learn each year! It's quite fantastic. You learn the perseverence of sticking with something even though you may hate it.
ISD's are filled with so many students from a particular region. It's much different from private schools where there is no zoning and people come from different districts to collaborate. Makarios in particular, at such a low cost of $6,000 a year compared to elitist private schools costing upwards of $13,000, makes it possible to attract families from all areas and backgrounds.
Unlike public schools, Makarios staff membersare not allowed to teach just 1 subject and are at the whim of their students as to whether or not they get to teach. One day it may be fishing, another may be game theory or ancient history, and some days there may be no classes and (some days our members will simply just gather together to discuss topics that are significant to them, such as the issues of social inequality in the United States.) they will just sit around wasting hours talking about issues of social inequality in the United States.
Lines, desks, bells, and rules. Lines are great for making sure kids aren't running amuck. They make sure kids know that there's an order to the world. It teaches them real life skills. When you wait at the grocery store or during black friday, you have to wait in line. Life is not like Burning Man.
Desks make sure students are in the most optimal state of learning. Although, research says that up to 50 percent of students are kinesthetic learners. Reseachers can lay out as much data as they want, but the truth of the matter is, public schools are still helping up to 50 percent of the student population with one system. The alternative is that they create multiple systems of education for each individual's learning style. That's simply impossible.
The bells help kids keep track of the time of day. It may be difficult sometimes when most classrooms have minimal natural light, but traditional schools ensure that students' circadian rhthyms are still on track by the sound of ringing bells.
Rules exist in our world, whether it be at the traffic light or in a grocery store. Most of these rules make sense. They ensure the safety of yourself and surrounding members of society. Schools teach that to the dot. If you miss a deadline, your boss will extend the deadline or let you turn in an incomplete project. If you have your phone out on the job, your manager will confiscate it and you'll need to wait for your parents to come and retrieve it. And God forbid we allow the U. of Michigan gang to enter our campuses.
It's certainly unreasonable to have complete anarchy when it comes to child development. Makarios Community School ensures the safety of the school through it's School Meeting and Judicial Committee. However, they believe that it's possible to create multiple systems. Each student there has the freedom to direct their own learning. This philosophy of self-directed learning is difficult to fathom. It's not like children making their own decisions is an important skill for adulthood. Plenty of adults live lives under the rule of a manager or boss of some sort. The value in identity can't possibly be a requirement for living a happy and successful life. The epitome of working the system can often be seen in careers of science and medicine. These professions only require you to produce the correct answers and results. Very little creative thinking, problem solving, or social empathy are required. They go on to do great things don't they?
4. Failure Is Not an Option
You miss one question on your homework, quiz, or test and teachers will make sure their red pens are ready to educate your shortcomings. That's the great thing about traditional schools, they simulate the real world when it comes to making mistakes. You learn that there's a hierarchy in life. The ones at the top make the least mistakes, and the ones at the bottom are the stupid ones that just couldn't get it right the first time. Before you even enter the 6th grade, your path is set on whether you're a slow regulars student, a mediocre honors student, or an esteemed AP student who reaps the benefits of all the tax payers dollars for top of the line education. This is all for the sake of our students. It's not that some students are smarter than others, it's moreso the fact that they want them to succeed! Heaven forbid a regulars student tries and fails at an AP class, then their confidence will be shattered by all the red Xs and failing grades. They'll forever be seen as the dumb kid who tried. No, we make the system so that all students have the same opportunity to earn that glorified A on their report card.
Traditional schools can go so far as to create an innumerable amount of roadblocks so that students pass and can can move along with the rest of their classmates to the next course. Don't worry if you didn't pass the first time. The retake test will have the same questions, and you'll be able to take it as many times as you want until you can memorize the correct answers. Public school teachers, make sure you call the parents, provide unpaid overtime to tutor these kids, and help them memorize the answers. You don't really need to care about his father passing away last week. He just needs to pass the 9th grade so we don't waste any more time. Make sure you call the parents too and set up parent conferences inbetween your grading, lesson planning, staff development, and your venting time in the teacher's lounge. Once you do all that, you can set up another appointment with the dean, then principal, and then maybe we can find some way to just shift grades so he or she can get that 69.5 to move onto the next grade where those teachers can deal with it all over again.
I'm glad that traditional schools make it difficult for students to fail. They'll never have to reflect and learn from their mistakes. Taking risks is also overrated. Healthy and obedient workers are what's needed in America. (Scratch that. I meant physically healthy, not emotionally healthy. Actually, just scratch both. #schoollunch #nomorerecess #nomorepe) It's important to know that the world is separated into 2 categories. Winners and losers.
How can you possibly let kids fail at MCS? If they hurt themselves, they'll know what pain feels like. If they get a problem wrong while they're practicing algebra, who's going to let them know they made a mistake if they don't get a big X? Failure is painful, and can be very difficult to deal with when you don't have a strong community to help support you through it. When failure is consistently stigmitized as worse than not trying, our society will stay as comfortable as it is today. I wouldn't say that we've grown into a society of atychiphobic peoples. Failing can be a very difficult thing to go through and this world has so much to provide.
In my experience, failing is not fun. Succeeding is not that fun either. But failing and then succeeding is what brings me the most joy.
Makarios Community School is just an alternative to traditional education. It's not better or worse. It may just be a better fit for those who may be part of the upper 50 percent of kinesthetic learners. It may just be a better fit for those who want their kids to grow up with the confidence to make their own decisions. It may just be a better fit for those who want a safe place for students to experience both failure and success. I would encourage you to think long and hard at what kind of an adult you want to raise, and how you will want your children to see you walk through yours.