Which is More Radical?
In April 2018 The Saint Constantine School was cited by the Christian Science Monitor as “perhaps the most radical new model” in education because we educate Kindergarten through College. This raises a few questions:
Which is more radical: to sequester students all day with only those of the same age, or to allow interactions between grades and between siblings?
Which is more radical: to reduce youngsters’ recess to 20 minutes per day (or less), or to allow frequent fresh air breaks to allow students to create their own games and work off excess energy?
Which is more radical: to constrain children to small fenced areas with standard plastic play structures, or to allow them to roam the field, dig in the dirt, and climb trees?
Which is more radical: to keep students rotating through classes at 47-minute intervals, or to allow 75 minutes for in-depth discussion?
Which is more radical: a school with thousands of kids inundating the halls each time the bell rings, or a school of a few hundred students who use the clock to help each other get to class on time?
Which is more radical: sacrificing music and art to budget cuts and test prep, or highlighting the arts as a way for students to shine while learning discipline, analysis and tradition?
Which is more radical: passive exposure only through books and movies, or hands on-learning to raise a garden, bake bread, and assemble furniture?
Which is more radical: focusing teachers and students on shortcuts to make passing grades on standardized State tests, or taking time for hands-on exploration of subjects?
Which is more radical: thrusting a child into a new peer group every year, or allowing a child to mature from age 4 to 18 (and beyond) in a known environment that offers each small grade cohort increasingly challenging academics?
Which is more radical: getting assigned to new teachers each year, or interacting with all levels of teachers, and often knowing their spouses and children as well?
Which is more radical: a hodgepodge of shorter and fewer texts to accommodate this generation’s disinclination to read, or a thoughtful sequence of the great books in their historical context with consideration of their impact?
In each case, the latter way, chosen by The Saint Constantine School, is a better fit for how humans grow and thrive. It is radical only in the word’s original Latin meaning “from the root.” It builds on the roots of civilization rather than setting up an artificial, disjointed model like that used in many schools today. For that reason TSCS students are happy, without realizing they are engaged in anything radical.
Featured Art: “An old man discourses with a woman with a bird on her head; representing dialectic” Engraving by C. Cort, 1565, after F. Floris, c. 1557