I’m privileged to have a foot in both the homeschooling and public schooling worlds. I have a 7th grader in public school, a homeschooling high schooler, and I teach flute lessons to all ages, from all educational settings. And what I see is disturbing.
The students I have in public high school are so stressed and overwhelmed I truly do not know how they can function. These are teens from several different high schools, from a wide variety of socioeconomic backgrounds and locations from rural to urban. They’re in multiple activities, sports, AP classes. Many of them don’t actually start homework until after 9 pm; dude, by that point I’m usually crawling into bed with mindless reading material. Teenagers need more than four hours a sleep a night, and there is really no reason for anyone to have to do multiple hours of homework after a full day of school. They often start their school days at 7 am and don’t stop until midnight or later. I’ve had more than one student mention choosing sleep over homework, only to have to catch up the next day.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
There’s been a quiet revolution going on in education, growing out of homeschooling, and we’ve been lucky to be involved.
My friend Jade has opened several micro-schools for G2e kids in California. She describes micro-schools thusly:
Micro-Schooling is the minimalist movement in education.
Micro-schools are designed to run lean with very little overhead and expenditures, while providing only the opportunities, services, and materials that are going to truly contribute to a child’s education, with a heavy emphasis on connection — connection with oneself, others, and the world.
This last year Andy has been involved in a teen co-op. It wasn’t until I read Jade’s book, Micro-Schools: Creating Personalized Learning on a Budget (affiliate link) that I realized that he was participating in a new micro-school. I then proceeded to throw her book at the school’s leaders, and then promptly forgot that I’d write a review of the book. Look, if I’m throwing books at people, that’s a good sign that I like and recommend the book, yes? Sadly, it’s not a lot of use to people who are not within throwing distance of my arm, hence today’s long-tardy review.
Imagine a smallish gathering of younguns. Imagine them learning in a group space, at their own pace, with the accommodations they need to grow and thrive. Imagine them learning, not just memorizing and regurgitating information for an exam, but making connections to previous knowledge and to their own lives. Imagine a teacher who facilitates learning, someone not at the mercy of standardized tests, an educator who meets students where they are and guides them forward. Imagine an educational philosophy that puts a student’s social-emotional growth on the same level as their intellectual growth. Imagine a setting in which students’ sensitivities are respected. Imagine all this…and then know that this is the kind of micro-school Jade has started, and her book outlines how to create your own.
Yes, Micro-Schools: Creating Personalized Learning on a Budget is a handy guide to starting a micro-school in your community. See why I was throwing it at people? (By the way, the people running the teen co-op were already doing most of what Jade suggests…WIN!) I envision micro-schools as being the next step in education, and Jade is at the forefront. While her book is focused on a set up for G2e students, it can easily be adapted to any population.
As a society, we’re looking for more personalization in our lives, to be seen, to simplify. For the last few decades, schools have become larger, packed with students in a factory model. They’ve been too large to do much other than shepherd students through for several years. Micro-schools are the antithesis of this, and their time has come. Jade Rivera’s book is the guidebook we need to kickstart the education revolution we desperately need.
I was provided a copy of Micro-Schools: Creating Personalized Learning on a Budget for review. Then I loaned it out before reading it and writing a review, so I bought a Kindle copy. And was sent another paper copy. So while I’m the proud owner of multiple copies of this book, none of that influenced my opinion for this review.