Monday, February 03, 2003

CoverStory: Innovative schools are gaining ground over formal schools. And kids just love them, Feb 9, 2003 The Week

The latest story in Week is very informative. It is showing the silent revolution happening in 10s of small schools - the schools which are breaking the century long traditions of trying to make students who are in the Six Sigma quality range - all as same as the shoes they were, the books they read. The schools are trying to make Individuals out of them.

The Mass customization of this era in manufacturing (dell for example) is needed in the schools. More importantly the schools are trying to prepare the students for the future - the skills needed to live and work. Sample this:

"Instead of juggling with 40-minute periods like their contemporaries in formal schools, I-school students are allowed to plan their lessons for the day. The management spells out the syllabus at the beginning of the term, leaving the students to decide how they want to space their learning. Impromptu tests conducted by the staff show up the laggards. A word of encouragement here, a note of caution there, is all that is needed to spur them on."

What might bother parents with children in I-schools is the child's adjustment to a formal setup in college. "Individual attention at a young age enables them to develop the qualities needed to cope with any environment," says Sheridan Wilson, secretary of the foundation that runs AMS. "When children from a very young age make their own decisions and plan their own activities and feel confident, this confidence lasts throughout their life."

What prompts the rush to I-schools? "The promise of a strong foundation, emphasis on holistic development and individual attention," says Mallika whose son Arun studied at Headstart.

I think the best would be this example of the Success of I-schools.

At the graduation ceremony at AMS, children were asked to talk about their feelings on leaving school. One girl's presentation shattered hearts. She said: "I feel like a bride leaving her home." Such nostalgia needs to be earned.


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