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The Learning Community 96-97

The Learning Community

provides a holistic education

Student Contracts

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.

Teacher Contribution

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

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.

Week 1:

8:15 a.m.
Community Meeting:
Explore Group goals and vision

Watch and discuss Global Warming video
Human rights speaker from Amnesty International

Personality & habit patterns
Speaker From Homeless Advocates on volunteering
Writing Lab:
Develop Oral Histories for the web site
Discussion & Hike:
Ecology of the SF bay region/field trip to Jasper Ridge Biological Reserve
Group Process:
personal support system
Cooperative Games
Cultural Food Fair & presentations
Week 2:

8:15 a.m.
Field trip to the Adventures Ropes Course:
teamwork and confidence building
Presentation on Native American traditions

Student Initiated Seminar (SIS):
musical jam session
Community Meeting:
Plan fund raisers & coming events

Speaker and film: Rain forest depletion
Information, Public relations, propaganda and knowing the difference
Psych Seminar:
Dream symbolism
The Burning Times followed by discussion of feminism
Creative media & mask making
Week 3:

8:15 a.m.
Contemporary issues seminar: Defining the underlying ethical principles
Observer Superior Court session, meet with presiding judge
Community Meeting: Develop a three week calendar & fund raisers

Kids-teach-kids: Present environmental units to elementary students
Kurosawa's Ran, a Japanese epic
Discussion: Compare
Ran to Shakespeare's King Lear
Begin planning book publishing project

Group Process:
Personal and group problem solving
Discuss research on local deforestation

Plant oak trees in the Stanford foothills

For more information contact:
Program Coordinator
Gary Bacon, Ph.D.


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