Friday, July 13, 2007

One Room School Model

By Margene Smith Smith

One Room School - MODEL

One Room School House Model

Most of us are familiar with the old one room school house. We probably never attended a one room school; however, we have probably all viewed “Little House on the Prairie.” There is a special magic in the ideal of teaching in a one room school, I will attempt to explain it.

Today’s public school does things that the “Old One Room School House” could not do. Today’s school separates our children by age and accomplishment. Generally, all the five, six, twelve, fifteen year olds are taught with others their same age. If school has society's goal of educating and socializing us to take our role in the community. Where in a healthy community, other than our public school system, are we able to find our community divided by age? I question whether it is a healthy situation for our youth to be segregated in this fashion.

Let’s take a close look at the “Old One Room School House” model. This form of schooling initially came about because the community was limited in funds and could not build multiple structures or rooms to segregate the students. A five year old might sit next to a ten year old who in turn may be sitting next to a fifteen year old. The one room school house school’s produced children that had a full understanding of reading, writing, and arithmetic. In many communities the school may have had as many as forty children in the class. This number of students we are told by today’s teachers as being too large to adequately teach or assist each student in mastering skills. Yet, the teachers a hundred plus years ago did just that. They taught, they supervised the individual student in mastering the skills of reading, writing, and arithmetic. Our history as a country, state, city, and communities is evidence of the fact that they were taught. Why were teachers one hundred years ago able to teach where today’s teachers say they cannot.

In the old school house model, the teacher taught subjects as needed. If you had one student who needed to grasp an advanced math concept, say trigonometry, the entire class was exposed to the instruction. The majority of the class may have been active doing their particular level of math, while listening to the lesson the teacher was presenting to the trigonometry student. What does this mean? A student will have heard a subject taught multiple times before he may master the learning skills needed. This one room school model had another asset that is not being adequately utilized today. This asset is the tutor, or fellow student. When you have students of varying accomplishment, you have others who can help and assist their fellow students acquire new skills. This helps both the struggling student and the tutor. How often have you heard a teacher of a Sunday school class say they have learnt more by teaching than we, the class, will learn by being taught the lesson. Working to teach and clarify a subject to a student causes the teacher to gain a full understanding that may not have been required to just master the skill. Our one room school house teacher becomes a supervisor of student teachers.

Our community is a mixed age population. Have you seen today’s kids ostracize other children due to age differences of only a year or two? I am not discounting the fact that a teenager would not want to congregate with a ten year old. Our community needs us to learn to socialize ourselves with groupings of people from all ages. The skill of social involvement with others from different spheres is required by a healthy active growing community. A young child, a toddler in today’s society is often put with other toddler’s to play. Watch these toddlers play. Most of the time the toddlers are NOT interacting with one another, they are playing with a toy while removed emotionally from their surroundings. Take the same toddler and have them play with their parents and siblings, you will see active interaction between the toddler and siblings, parents.

Homeschooling returns us back to a system that has worked successfully for centuries. The historical past of the United States and the world as a whole document our growth and accomplishments of mixed age socialization. It has been a recent social experiment to segregate our youth by age. What is and has happened since its adoption into our society shows its failure.

Home schooling our children is a correct choice for them individually and society as a whole. A home schooled child learns to take on responsibility for their lives. As in the one room school model, they too become involved with helping others.

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