My Big Education Idea(s)

This is a document that originated in early 2016. It’s what really got me thinking about how much better education could be. I’ve cleaned it up, reformatted it, and am posting it here. Let me know what you think.

 

Ideas for a school:

 

As head, I will make just enough to survive. Teachers will make more, which will hopefully boost job performance and morale. Teachers work hard enough as it is; they shouldn’t have to worry about their finances. Perhaps I could live in the school to cut costs.

Curriculum Skeleton

K-12

  • K-7 would take normal, “gen ed” courses. Writing (and maybe a foreign language) would be required K-12.
  • In eighth grade, the curriculum will get more specific to each student. Students must pick a few (three? five?) paths they would be most interested in. Nothing would be set in stone—we don’t want kids to feel “locked in”—but this would set a general path their educational/career development. For example, if I’m a musician with no love or talent for physics, I wouldn’t have to waste my time studying for a physics test that won’t serve me later in life.
    • However, some kids find their love of a subject in high school. For example, my friend Jenny, a chemistry major at the University of Michigan, only started liking chemistry in tenth grade. It would be foolish to completely eliminate “irrelevant” subjects from students’ curricula. Instead, we still include these subjects, but for those students who chose a different path, they are graded on participation, attendance, and effort.
      • Example: In eighth grade, Lauren decides she might want to pursue biology, chemistry, and physics. Her eighth grade curriculum focuses mainly on these. Then in high school, she begins to specialize, first by taking an array of classes across her paths, and eventually narrowing to her favorite, perhaps biology. In high school, most of her courses are scientific in nature. However, so she doesn’t miss an opportunity to develop an interest in something else, Lauren also takes art, choir, and Chinese history. Instead of receiving a traditional grade in each of these courses, Lauren is instead graded on her participation, attendance, and effort. This way, Lauren can explore something she might be bad at while not taking valuable time away from her true passions by studying for things she’ll never use again.
  • We’ll have three day weekends. 37 weeks, 7.5 hours a day, 1110 hours total. This allows students a real break, instead of two days off of school that are instead filled with homework and cramming.
    • Classes will begin at 9:00 AM and go until 4:30 PM. Numerous studies indicate that waking up early is bad across the board for students. This eliminates that.
    • School begins the day after Labor Day. Christmas break is from approximately three days before Christmas to three days after New Year’s Day. There would be no midwinter break and no half days. Spring break is two weeks, and summer break is 10.
  • Eventually, tuition becomes approx. 8.2% of a family’s income or $13,000
    • These are estimates. What matters is that rates are as low as possible while still maintaining profitability. We want wide access, but we need to be realistic.

Timeline

  • Year 1
    • High school only. Inaugural class of ninth graders. These families will probably have to be wealthy and generous, because this idea won’t get off the ground if i run out of cash.
    • I will be conservative and say we will get maybe 20 students. Tuition will probably have to be somewhere around 20-25,000 dollars/year. We will also likely have to rely on donations and loans to stay afloat.
    • Here, as in the following years, we will focus on having teachers who specialize in whatever the current employment trend is (probably STEM). As such, the school will take a while to reach its full potential of universal education.
    • I don’t know how to hire teachers for the next years. How would that work? I won’t be able to find a new crop of teachers every year. We’ll think.
  • Years 2-10
    • Depending on influx of cash, lower tuition each year until it is fiscally possible to reach goal stated above (min $13,000, otherwise 8.2% of income)
    • Near the end of this cycle is where more disciplines will become part of the curriculum. Focus on job skills, not stuff like East Asian studies or German. This isn’t college, it’s prep.
    • Expect class sizes to increase. Right now, thinking limit will be around 50 per. Want to keep costs down.
  • Years 11-20
    • Ideally, the school is financially stable now. Solid core of teachers and subjects, with students exercising their full potential. This is where we can start to introduce a middle school, probably in the same building. This will ease the transition from a traditional middle school to The Pas Institute, a K-12 institution headed by yours truly and functioning as described above.

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