Sunday, March 24, 2013

A One World System of Schools

I am still working to open a school for my son, and for all like-minded families with children. I currently propose to open, with my colleagues, an upper secondary school, a lyceum (an anglicization of lycee, the nearest extant equivalent to the kind of school we propose), providing education for the 10th-12th grades, in 2015 (it usually takes two years of preparation to open a good school, and although we've been preparing for longer than that, we want to be great). This first one will be an independent school, since I've given up (for now) the idea of finding an American school board with enough courage to back our charter, which is ready to be put into operation and is replicable at currently available public school dollars.

In a One World system of schools, our three-year lyceum would be preceded by a pair of three-year middle schools, a boys' school and a girls' school, which might more plausibly be established as chartered schools; for there is plenty of evidence available (a) that it is in the middle school years when Western students fall significantly behind their peers in east Asia, and (b) it is the premature obsession with the opposite sex during early adolescence that accounts for a good deal of (a). And of course it is unfortunately well known that the early preoccupation with dating and social relationships not only detracts from learning, but also all too often leads to teenage pregnancies and thereby cyclical generations of wrecked lives. Better to keep the boys and girls away from each other in these years; whereas our lyceum and primary school would be coeducational, I advocate single-sex education during the middle school years (which are, for us, grades 7-9; we use the term middle school here because it is an exact translation for these institutions in the Chinese, Japanese, and Korean languages, which, in relatively reformed and modern versions, constitute the nearest equivalent to a model for us to use during these years).

And the lyceum and middle schools should be preceded by a six-year primary school, for children aged 6-11, of both sexes in the same classrooms. These might ideally be government schools, and their successful establishment is crucial to the democratic state, as is in reality the whole of comprehensive schooling, which should last for nine years, ages 6-15, as it does in Switzerland, which has the best overall school system, as I have argued elsewhere. Our model for primary school is Finland, whose primary schools are not very different from the fine elementary schools here in Irvine, except for the fact that the Finns, like other Europeans, begin learning a second language early, from the first grade onwards, as I would like to see Americans do as well: second language learning from the first grade would be the principal novel (for America) feature of a One World Primary School.

The ages and grades we have defined for primary, lower secondary, and upper secondary education, which are first-sixth grades for children aged 6-11, seventh-ninth for students aged 12-14, and the tenth-twelfth grades for students aged 15-17 (with a postgraduate year available to students who might benefit thereby, therefore taking education for some students up to age 19), are the most commonly used in the world, and therefore using them allows us to make maximum use of the experiences of all of the people of our planet as we strive together to raise better people for our world.