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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

12

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 students.

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 possibly “perishing.”

It proposes an educational system to win history’s race with catastrophe.

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.
April, 2004

 
 
Treatise - Parts:  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12 
 
 

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