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November 21, 2006

NYC School Run By Students; Students Choose Difficult Curriculum of AP Courses and Hard Science

No, that's the headline from the Bizarro Universe. In reality, they're watching tv and studying nothing at all.

One recent day at the Brooklyn Free School, the "schedule'' included the following: filming horror movies, chess, debate and making caves for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Not that the students had to go to any of these sessions. At this school, students don't get grades, don't have homework, don't take tests, and don't even have to go to class -- unless they want to.

"You can do basically anything at any time, and it's just a lot more fun because sometimes when you need a break at regular schools you can't get it,'' said Sophia Bennett Holmes, 12, an aspiring singer-actress-fashion designer....

She was at the time being raped by her classmate, Jacob Louis Andelman, an aspiring cowboy-astronaut-firefighter-dinosaur.

"Free schools,'' which had their heyday decades ago, operate on the belief that children are naturally curious and learn best when they want to, not when forced to. Today, the approach is getting another look from some parents and students tired of standardized testing, excessive homework, and overly rigid curriculums.

"Every kid here is definitely motivated to learn something, there's no doubt in my mind,'' said Alan Berger, a former public school assistant principal who founded the Brooklyn school in 2004. "Our belief is that if we let them pursue their passions and desires, they'll be able to get into it deeper. They'll be able to learn more how to learn.''=

...

At the Brooklyn Free School, much of that decision-making occurs in a mandatory (yes, as in required) weekly gathering called the Democratic Meeting. Here, students air grievances, pose challenges, propose rules and set policy. Even the youngest kids have a vote equal to staffers. One agreed-upon rule? No sword-fighting allowed inside.

...


Students are required to show up for at least 51/2 hours a day, partly so that the school can meet legal definitions, but what they do with their time is up to them. The student population -- 42 students, ages 5 to 17 -- is diverse racially, economically and in terms of ability, and the students are not separated by age.

On any given day, a student might be playing chess, reading a book, practicing yoga or helping mummify a chicken.

In related news, Dutch potheads are to roll a one pound plus, one-meter long joint.

Thanks to Blacksheep for the tip.


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posted by Ace at 08:06 PM

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