person High School
issue 180 - February 1988
People from 2 to 92. There is no reason why school should just be a one-off event for the young. Elderly people and infants are just as capable of learning as children and teenagers. And they are often more willing students: the old bring us years of experience to heir lessons, the young want to explore the world in their own way. Learning should be a lifelong experience.
An old grey building with chapel and playing fields; a clearing in the forest; a tent; a tin hut. Many poor countries have shown that a good school is simply that place where pupils empower themselves, and the teachers believe in the abilities of their students. Expensive resources may make school life easier. But they are not crucial. Equipment can be improvised and the improvisation is itself a form of learning.
Our teachers enjoy learning as well as teaching. And our best teachers work with learners who have the greatest difficulties. Everyone has to take a turn at administration and course development. Nobody is encouraged through promotion or higher pay to leave teaching for an administrative job.
We use the whole brain at our school. We cultivate intuitive, numerical, artistic, mechanical, philosophical, practical, social and logical skills. Nobody is excluded from any subject. Farmers study classical languages scientists study child-care, musicians motor-mechanics. Our only compulsory subjects are the ones you need in order to learn everything else; reading, writing, number, observation, rhetoric and conscientization (challenging everything).
Our teachers have to repeat every morning:
All pupils are gifted pupils I must attend equally to all pupils.
All pupils are capable of concentration and persistence.
School is more interesting than mass entertainment
With these rules in mind the teachers use play, discovery, rote-learning, repetition, problem-solving or games, depending on the subject, the learner, and what works. Our teachers don't follow methods blindly.
Our graduates never graduate because we believe that learning should never end. All our tests and exercises have only one purpose: to show teacher and learner their progress towards the goals they have set. Our exams are for information only. Nobody fails exams here, because failure destroys curiosity and confidence. We believe that we just cannot afford failure.
None. What is not provided collectively is produced from our own work. At The New Internationalist Whole Person High School, school and work coexist at all ages. Nobody is permitted just to study and neglect the routine work of the community. And nobody is expected to work and not have time to study.