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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

9

The School Family concept is the only one that goes beyond anything I’ve yet encountered in the literature dealing with both student-teacher and parent-teacher relationships. All the other elements have well established records of success, but usually at limited levels due to the traditional restrictive classroom and lockstep total school structure.

In order to understand and appreciate the profound differences between the Benign School concept and traditional schooling, one must consider at length how much of traditional schooling is totally unnatural, why it is so anti-nature and therefor so disappointing to everyone in its failure to achieve the high goals it sets for all its students.

The first section of this treatise sketches how the traditional system developed. It was never planned as an integrated unit. It just grew, both from top-down and bottom up. When the two burgeoning growths collided about midway through the 13-year school-life span (K-12), educators botched the planning of the middle school. They intended it to be an easy, gradual transition from elementary to secondary. But it soon became what it was first named—“junior high”—with all the alienating features of the multi-thousand student senior high, only with smaller enrollments. Rather than solving the transition problem, it has mainly added additional academic and behavioral problems to the assembly-line, mass production, group instructional system without solving any basic educational problems: how children learn best, how teachers can best facilitate their learning, and what structure optimizes everyone’s efforts.

One needs to understand clearly the concept of synergy to realize how antagonistic are the dynamics of traditional schooling and to appreciate the positive interactions in the Benign School. The concept of synergy (from its Greek roots meaning “working together”) was popularized by R. Buckminster Fuller in mid-20th century. Its common application is to any system—from manufacturing assembly lines to purposeful social organizations with achievement goals—in which every part or person does its/her/his job efficiently but in so doing also helps all other parts/persons do their jobs even more efficiently. This super-cooperation and creative interaction produces overall results “such that the total effect is greater than the sum of its parts.”

One of the brain-stretchers that contributes much to the Benign School concept is the conclusion the late W. Edwards Deming reached from advising businesses that were failing to produce quality products or services. Deming was the American business consultant who, largely ignored in his own country, went to Japan after WWII and is given major credit for turning Japanese industry into the world’s leading producer of top-quality products.

From his long experience in up-grading production to high quality level, Deming concluded that the problem of poor quality output is not personnel. The problem is the faulty structure of the organization. Personnel at all levels want to and can do quality work, but they cannot if the structure of the workplace inhibits them. Before his death, Deming consulted with reform-minded educators. He was convinced that his principles are fully applicable to restructuring schools to produce high quality learning. Incidentally, he felt that the highest goal of schooling is to inculcate in every student a love of learning.

In my opening section on the anti-synergic elements of traditional education, I describe how it seldom achieves that goal for more than a very small minority of students. In the second section, I explain how the highly synergic structure of the Benign School helps develop joy of learning in all students, making easier and more productive their participation in all school and community activities.
 

 
  (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