Plan C

imgres-3Plan A

Kids go to school, conform to the system, learn what they need in order to be “happy & successful”, have a great experience, live happily ever after.

If that doesn’t work…

Plan B

Get interventions to help the student conform to a broken system that doesn’t serve them properly. More tutors, therapists, extra busywork, more testing, special programs, punishments, threats, lectures, etc.. Hopefully they won’t learn to resent school. Hopefully they won’t end up feeling bad about themselves.

If that doesn’t work…

Plan C

Back up. Back waaaay up!  Take a good look at what kids really need to live well and give well. Seriously, what do you think they really need?

Question everything. What is education for anyhow? Is the homework legitimately valuable? What works? What outside-the-box alternatives may help? What valuable learning is taking place? What, if anything, are grades telling me? Is the educational approach truly addressing how kids learn best??? Oh, and try asking the student what he/she needs, because you might be surprised at how insightful these ideas are when you really listen.

See students as highly unique individuals with complex needs, not as points on a bell curve. Accomodate for these needs. Make learning meaningful, interesting and fun. Inspire and encourage creativity. Teach cooperation. Empower metacognition. Guide social and emotional intelligence. Develop passions, interests, strengths. Teach people how to think and learn, not regurgitate.

Change how we serve the learner. Teach for happiness first.

Hmm… Maybe Plan C should become Plan A.


  1. Dianne Ladd says:

    I agree with you one thousand percent Seth! Our son Hobie thrived at BCSIS (Boulder Community School for Integrated Studies) during elementary school, even though he was challenged by being an out of the box learner because BCSIS is one of the few schools which teach to the individual child, not the curriculum, In fact they create their OWN curriculum. Being a focus school they must follow some of the rules of the district and the students also take the standardized tests but the educational theory and practiced behind BCSIS allows them to integrate art, poetry, dance, puppetry, music, and story-telling into all of their studies.

    When Hobie graduated to middle school he went to Southern Hills, a traditional approach to learning and while he did well there because the Learning Lab teachers were some of the best in the district, he struggled because he was expected to fit into the “box” of traditional education. After graduating from Southern Hills he went to Fairview High and that was a disaster so after a year there he went to the Watershed School, which was a very good place for him for several years. After graduating from a boarding high school in Utah two years ago Hobie is now working full time as an assembler in a computer company in Longmont and happy with his job.

    I applaud you for everything you are doing to try to help those students who aren’t served well by our current educational system and for educating people about the alternative approaches which work so well for these bright, talented young people who deserve so much more than they are receiving.

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