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  The Ishmael Community: Questions and Answers

The Question (ID Number 696)...

    Are you familiar with The Coalition of Essential Schools? Briefly, it's a school reform movement that was started fairly recently (approx. 10 years ago). In the city where I live (Providence, RI), there is a school called The Met that is a manifestation of what the Essential School model would look like. Briefly, students have "internships" with members of the community 3 times a week, meet with their teachers (called "advisors"), and each quarter culminates in a student giving a presentation (called "exhibition") showing what they've been doing and what they've learned. An advisor has a group of approximately 20 students that s/he stays with throughout all 4 years of their high school career.

    It's more complicated than that, but what do you think of a model that works like this? It seems to be in line with the style of Tribal education that Ishmael describes in My Ishmael.

    (Coincidentally, The Met is a roaring success -- students consistently perform and FEEL be tter than any other students in the state. Also, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation recently donated a whole bunch of money to The Coalition of Essential Schools, and more of them are starting up across the country).

    ...and the response:

    Thanks for introducing me to the Coalition of Essential Schools (and the Met). They are similar to an experimental program I helped with here in Houston called Continuum 10 that was organized for a group of mid-school "locals" who happened to be students at a magnet school (where they were pretty much misfits). In the course of a year these kids had the opportunity to have internships with many varied businesses and organizations. It was a life-changing experience for them--and the parents were bowled over by the changes they saw in them. In fact, as I feared, the program proved to be too successful for its own good; envy ran high among faculty members who weren't involved, and the program was quietly killed after its first year. The Coalition of Essential Schools sounds like a terrific step in the right direction.

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