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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

7

It is somewhat of a mind-stretch to believe that all the above problems and the ad inf additional ones are all structurally interrelated. It is a big stretch to believe that a practicable, affordable, already field-tested (in most of its component parts), comprehensive, synergic system can solve all those problems—and new ones sure to emerge according to the view that “change is a law of life,” “everything is in flux.” An educational system must prepare all its stakeholders to identify, direct, and control cultural change so they enrich and enhance rather than corrupt or destroy a culture’s basic value system.

Please keep in mind that we now know our mind combines in one unit and operation the formerly separately considered “head and heart” functions. Because of the increasing speed and size of continuing changes in both the technologically and developing societies, everyone will be continually facing “head-heart” stretching to grasp the meaning of changes and how to handle them beneficially. To locate properly the seat of such mental-emotional enlarging, I will henceforth call it “brain-stretch.”

Brain-stretch happens in two ways: gradually over time, growing organically from seed to fruiting; or all at once, kind of “cold turkey.” Or if you prefer a more uplifting term, epiphany. The simplest and least pretentious definition my dictionary gives of “epiphany” is “an illuminating discovery.” Fortunately, brain-stretching revelation often comes from contacts with ideas, explanations, and broad visions one encounters in reading, conversations, and group contacts with others sharing their powerfully felt beliefs. This book intends to be a brain-stretcher.

My concept of The Benign School—literally “under one roof”—developed in both ways. The heart, soul, and muscle of this educational system—the simple idea that students can and should learn to help each other learn (peer tutoring) came as a mild epiphany. Not while I was full-time teaching but while sitting on my little Ford tractor, plowing on a starry spring night in the mid-1950s. The concept of an optimally efficient total school structure, to allow student-to-student tutoring to operate at its full potential, developed gradually over the following forty-plus years.

In that near half-century of my searching for broad professional support for my expanding concept, I had hundreds of major and minor brain-stretches from books, journal articles, lectures and demonstrations at conferences, observations of varieties of classroom programs and teaching strategies, and conversations with creative, like-minded educators, and with my students of all ages from Montessori schools (through 6th grade), public K-12 grades on through graduate school with teachers-in-training. Most of my students at all levels enthusiastically endorsed the kind of school I envisioned.

But how best to present my current operational concept? Some readers prefer to see each tree before surveying the forest, whereas others want to see the whole forest before learning about its various trees. Linear vs. whole ball of wax. Can’t do both at once. So instead of flipping a coin, I follow the advice of a successful literary agent who advises non-fiction writers not to be coy, but to start right off and “spill the beans”—tell the whole story. Then back it up with data, rationale, and complementary sources. This is a respectful way: It alerts would-be readers to how much brain-stretch they must endure to judge the merits of this radical proposal—“radical” meaning literally to get at the roots of the problem and provide a deep- and wide-rooting solution.

 

 
  (Continued)

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

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Copyright © 2010 by E.M Swengel