Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Curriculum of Top Prep Schools Outlined

Is it just my links....or is the blogging world almost dead during the summer?  As for me:  five days of iron IV's, having the baby, and two units of blood to boost my excessively anemic state from Zombie to nearly Functioning has given me the desire to do another post.

Outline from a youtube video by John Tayler Ghatto.  These are 14 elements that he has found to be the basic curriculum of the leading prep schools in this country.  I found the ideas fascinating, especially compared with the lack of them found in most public schools.  I will share them with you, and some of my annotations.

1.  Understanding of Human Nature using philosophy, history, and theology.   Depending upon our value set, this knowledge is used to either gently persuade and motivate others to do right or to manipulate and propagandize.  Better that we understand it, and can use it for good, and avoid it being perpetrated on ourselves.

2.  Solidly skilled in literacy; including the ability to read, write, and speak to persuade.  In Mr. Ghatto's discussion on this point, his opinion was that students become better at all areas of literacy as they have daily practice.  He said that daily practice was more important than critiqued and coached opportunities that happened less often.

3.  Insight into major institutional forms:  government, corporations, military.  How is the power structure set-up.  I think it is so important to understand these, and yet all I could remember from PS was the basics of government, and only how it's "suppose" to operate, not how it actually does.  I think it is important for us to realize the public face of power structure and the reality of how these organizations run is not always the same.

4.  Good manners, politeness, civility, comfort with formality.  Access to all future relationships begin with these.  Consider the decorum in the average, stereotypical High School.  Manners may be a problem for most of these students.

5.  Independent Work.  In prep school, 80% of student work is student directed and self-motivated.  20% of time is spent receiving direct instruction or lecture from the teacher.  This ratio is mostly reversed in your average high school.  My kids have been taking online classes from Williamsburg Academy, and I must say that the school does a good job promoting student led learning.  The majority of their assignments are given a basic skeleton of criteria, but the bulk of the content is left up to the student.  For more thoughts on this topic read:  Executive Command, a link from Keri Tibbet's e-book site called Headgates.

6.  Mastery of an energetic, physical sport to confer grace, discipline, power, and ability to manage pain.  Consider the natural tendency we as people have in being attracted to a willing to follow someone with strong physical attributes.  Ghatto talked of the doors opened to George Washington because of his mastery of horseback riding and ballroom dance.

7.  The Theory of Access:  No person or activity of interest is out of reach.  Go do the real thing, and meet the real people.  Figure out how to make things happen, don't say "I can't," say, "How can I."

8.      Responsibility to Daily Tasks.  I know that some schools are in conjunction with ranches/farms because of the natural consequences that are associated with doing/not doing the associated chores.  These become essential to personal character development.

9.  Arrival at a Personal Code of Standards for production and character.   This one reminded me of "mentor meetings" as per TJED, "running partners" as per Williamsburg Academy, and "laying down the rails" per Charlotte Mason.  I suppose any noteworthy educational philosophy will have this as a core prinicple.   It always includes someone holding you accountable to the personal standards that you are trying to develop.

10.  Complete ease with the arts:  art, music, drama, architecture, etc.  

11.  Ability to accept and overcome challenges.

12.  Habit of Caution in Reasoning to Conclusions

13.  Constant Development and Testing of Judgements.

14.  Power of Accurate Observation and Recording