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We are moving to a new area and our local public elementary school is part of the Basic School Network. I have never heard of this before. I have Googled it and the concept sounds great - a holistic and integrated approach to learning that connects the usual 3 R's with nature and the environment, development of self, community service, diversity. I was already excited to get DD into one of the best school pyramids in our area and am even more excited that it is not a typical school driven by standards and testing. But I would like to learn more about it. Does anybody have kids that have gone to a Basic School or have familiarity with it as an approach and, more importantly, how it pans out in practice?
 

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Around here, basic schools mean concentration on reading, writing and arithmetic. Lots of drills. Lots of homework. I wouldn't send my child to a basic school but, maybe "basic" mean different things in different areas.
 

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It sounds like this is a different type of "basic school" and is very much the opposite of what you described. From what I could find, it sounds very holistic and integrated and not at all "drill" oriented nor geared toward standards/testing. It is based on an approach developed by Ernest Boyer of the Carnegie Foundation, with lots of emphasis it seems on inter-relationships between subjects and with our place in the world. From the literature, it appears that there are only about 100 schools in the US that have formally adopted the approach and part of a formal network. It sounds attractive on paper, so I am very curious about how it plays out in practice.<br><br>
Following is what I could dig up:<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
<div class="smallfont" style="margin-bottom:2px;">Quote:</div>
<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">Excerpts from The Basic School, A Community for Learning by Ernest L. Boyer<br><br>
THE SCHOOL AS COMMUNITY<br>
A Shared Vision. The Basic School has, as the first requirement, a clear and vital mission. The school is a place where everyone comes together to promote learning. Every classroom is, itself, a community. But in the Basic School, the separate classrooms are connected by a sense of purpose, a climate that is communicative, just, disciplined, and caring, with occasions for celebrations.<br>
Teachers as Leaders. In the Basic School, teachers are empowered. Working together as teams, they serve as mentors to their students and have the time and resources needed to be professionally renewed. The principal in the Basic School is lead teacher, the one who guides the institution more by inspiration than directive.<br>
Parents as Partners. In the Basic School, the circle of community extends outward to embrace parents, who are viewed as the child's first and most important teachers. A vital partnership is created between the home and school, one that begins during the preschool years, is strengthened when the child formally enrolls, and continues from kindergarten through grade five.<br>
A CURRICULUM WITH COHERENCE<br>
The Centrality of Language. In the Basic School, literacy is the first and most essential goal. All children are expected to become proficient in the written and spoken word. But language in this school is defined broadly to include words, numbers, and the arts, the essential tools of learning which, taken together, help create a curriculum with coherence.<br>
The Core Commonalities. In the Basic School, all students become well informed. They study the various fields of knowledge, which are organized, thematically, within a framework called “the Core Commonalities.” These eight commonalities, based on shared human experiences, integrate the traditional subjects, helping students see connections across the<br>
disciplines and relate what they learn to life.<br><br>
The Core Commonalities:<br>
THE LIFE CYCLE - All Basic School students understand that human life has a beginning, a time of growth, and an ending. They acquire a basic knowledge of the body's needs and its functions, and adopt personal habits that promote wellness. They develop an appreciation for the sacredness of life, and understand how life experiences differ from one culture to another.<br>
THE USE OF SYMBOLS - All Basic School students understand that people communicate with each other through symbol systems. They explore the history of language, consider the purposes of communication, learn about new technology, and discover how mass communication can enhance or diminish human understanding. And they discover that integrity is the key to authentic human interaction.<br>
MEMBERSHIP IN GROUPS - All Basic School students understand that everyone holds membership in a variety of groups, beginning with the family. They consider how organizations shape our lives, how we, in turn, can shape institutions, and they develop, in the end, a sense of civic and social responsibility.<br>
A SENSE OF TIME AND SPACE - All Basic School students learn that people everywhere have the miraculous capacity to place themselves in time and space. Students explore our shared sense of time through history and through intergenerational connections. They learn about our nation's history and study the traditional of other cultures. And they gain perspective, as well, about where they are located, spatially, on the planet and in the universe.<br>
RESPONSE TO THE AESTHETIC - All Basic School students understand that people respond to beauty and can be expressive in the arts. They explore the rich variety of artistic expression, learning about the various works of art, recognizing the benefits of making art, and knowing some of the ways in which visual and performing arts have evolved in different cultures.<br>
CONNECTIONS TO NATURE - All Basic School students recognize that everyone is connected to the natural world. They learn about the scientific method and, in the process, increase their understanding of the world around them. Above all, students discover the beauty and wonder of nature and develop a profound respect for it.<br>
PRODUCING AND CONSUMING - All students learn that people, as a part of being human, engage in making and using things. They recognize the value and dignity of work, distinguish wants from needs, and understand the importance of becoming creative producers, informed consumers, and responsible conservers.<br>
LIVING WITH PURPOSE - All Basic School students learn that all people seek meaning and purpose for their lives. They understand the importance of values and ethics, learn how religious experience has consequentially shaped the human experience, and begin to see the significance of service.</td>
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