The Learning Community
provides a holistic education
Each student writes a learning contract in which (s)he commits to read, write, and do action projects to fulfill requirements for all classes taken in The Learning Community. After the contract is reviewed and approved by the teacher, the student begins the individualized portion of his/her work or joins with other students to pursue common interests in out-of-class study groups.
As the student discovers resources -- books, topics, PBS specials, community leaders, exciting places in which to learn, etc. -- (s)he brings these ideas to the attention of his/her peers in weekly community meetings and may offer to share these activities during class time as student initiated seminars (SIS).
Presentations, discussions, debates, guests speakers, creative projects, community action projects may result from these suggestions.
Group Decision Making
The group of twenty-five students meets four periods a day to build a supportive community of learners. Each member shares his/her interests and resources; then the entire group works as a team to formulate objectives, group goals, and study themes. As the students' collective vision becomes clear, they plan and organize group learning activities that enhance their individual studies and expand their learning opportunities beyond the limits of their individual imaginations.
Community meetings become events in which goals and objectives are converted into realities -- such as stimulating discussions, talks by local professionals or activists, and opportunities to learn by serving the local or global community.
The teacher's role is transformed in The Learning Community. Traditionally, teachers are trained as subject matter experts and classroom management professionals. Teachers can also be group process catalysts, organizational development facilitators, creators of interdisciplinary thematic units, and learners along with the students.
Our teacher brings his specialties into the weekly learning experience in the form of topical seminars on world issues, electronic publishing, field experiences in ecology, and workshops in the study of human consciousness.
A co-created curriculum
The group's shared experience is created by the student, the group, and the teacher. Students share exciting discoveries that they make while pursuing their contracts. The group engages in a goal-setting process that produces a collective vision and a rich set of calendar activities. The teacher assists the group in becoming autonomous and offers thematic units that are connected to local and global issues.
The progressive nature of the program's curriculum offers opportunities for increasing awareness, observing patterns, developing strategies for change, and participating in the creative process. Below is a three-week sample calendar showing how the program could be designed.
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