E.M. "Mac" Swengel, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Education
School of Education
United States International University
San Diego, California
“Under One Roof”
THE BENIGN SCHOOL
by Edwin M. Swengel, Ph.D
The book and this
treatise may not be one of them, but we’ll never know until
somewhere a courageous, far-sighted, determined grassroots movement
gets that first demonstration Benign School established. If the
results of its five-year-trial period (the usual time given a
charter school to show its stuff) prove its power to turn things
around as promised, its success can start the necessary scientific
replications to assure that the Benign School concept is a “viable
seed” that will sprout and yield the same quality fruit when planted
in all types of educational soil and climate.
Ideally, the pilot school should be established in an inner city
area with all the problems plaguing it and schools elsewhere. Unless
the Benign School can solve them where they are most serious, it
cannot be considered a replicable model for schools everywhere. Even
rich schools in the most upscale suburbs have the same educational
problem and goals: nurturing all the intelligences of all students.
The same school structure is required everywhere to give the special
blend of freedom, support, guidance, and creative personal
relationships with teachers, classmates of all ages and backgrounds,
and community members that the Benign School provides to all
Promoting the successful spread of the Benign School concept and
operation, city by city, is a bottom-up growth process rather than
the traditional top-down, central office decision to impose a reform
program on the entire district. The experience of the district’s
flagship school produces blueprint specifications and guidelines to
replicate its success. These are not rigid mandates. They are
adaptable to each local school’s special needs and interests. Every
successful replication becomes another Mentor School to assist other
schools which elect to “go Benign.”
Although this may appear to be a slower path to broad-scale reform
than the top-down, district-wide, instant implementation of change,
it is a sure path because each school grows up from its local
ground, and its roots grow from the viable seed of the successful
pilot school. The ultimate district-wide rate accelerates as
struggling schools hear of and see the success of the Benign
Schools, which are designed to give applicant schools the help they
may need to install and successfully manage their version.
So, to summarize and reprise from my opening quotations:
Herewith a vision to keep people from “getting out of hand” or
It proposes an educational system to win history’s race with
It is different from the kind of thinking that created the problems
of ill-planned schooling.
Having thus harkened to ancient biblical warning, reinforced by
judgments of a modern historian, and having followed the cognitive
advice of a preeminent scientist, what more need I do?
Edwin M. Swengel, Ph.D.