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Good Little School, A

Carole G. Basile, John I. Goodlad

Publication Year: 2004

A Good Little School pays homage to Jefferson County Open School, a public school of choice with a thirty-year history of providing an alternative education for students in K-12. Chronicled in this book are the personal experiences and anecdotes of teachers, parents, and students within the school, and how their contributions make it unique. In so doing, these reflections demonstrate to others that there is more to education than conventional subject areas such as math and reading. Also examined are the ways in which the school preserves the core elements that support the students’ best personal, social, and intellectual interests. These self-reflective accounts create a learning environment with humanity at the center, giving students the skills necessary to lead compassionate lives.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v

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pp. vii-xii

This book presents part of the story of a good little school. The dimension of littleness takes on significance when one realizes that enrollment of from six hundred to seven hundred students is the total for the elementary, middle, and senior high schools, not just one of these. We are beginning to realize that “big” is not “better,” that “small”...

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Preface and Acknowledgments

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pp. xiii-xviii

Jefferson County Open School is a compelling place to live and work for students and staff alike. It is like no other school I’ve tended. I say live because for a good number of the staff members it is where they began their careers and where they will end them. It is a way of life. There is a saying here that no one “ever really leaves.” Students finish...

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1. Humanity and Jefferson County Open School

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pp. 1-12

As you read this book you will see that humanity is defined broadly; humans as a group inclusive of all shapes, sizes, colors, and cultures; humans as individuals, having an appreciation of their own uniqueness, conditions, and qualities; and humane treatment, of one another and of our world and environment. All of this is humanity...

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2. The Critical Nature of Mission

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pp. 13-16

The entire school community is committed to fostering the development of the unique potential in each person through experiences that promote self-directed learning, self-reliance, responsibility, and shared decision making. There is a balance between each individual’s need for freedom and the responsibilities of community. The school provides a positive, nurturing...

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3. The Wholistic Nature of Schooling

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pp. 17-24

The Open School uses a model or framework that looks like a pie cut into three equal pieces. Each piece represents a student’s personal, intellectual, and social dimensions. This wholistic approach is valued throughout the school, at every level. This approach allows teachers and other staff members to reach and enrich kids in ways they wouldn’t otherwise...

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4. The Power of the Personal

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pp. 25-45

In the world that is, we hear and read about child advocacy that assumes that someone is advocating for the child. What the Open School community believes is the real expectation in the personal dimension is “self-advocacy” or “self-empowerment”; students learn how to advocate for themselves. They feel this is the most humane gift...

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5. Learning as a Passion

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pp. 47-65

What’s exciting about being human is that we are curious creatures and that we develop passions about interests and experiences. At the Open School, learning is filled with passion from meaningful experiences that are relevant to the lives of teachers and students. A high school teacher remarked that the most important thing she believes she does for her students...

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6. Belonging and Sense of Community

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pp. 67-87

The third dimension of the pie is social. This dimension is the heart of what the Open School is and does. They strive to create a harmony of strong individual voices where the needs of both the individuals and the group are met. This begins with the immediate community, like an immediate family, of teachers, students, and administrators, and then like concentric...

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7. Global Citizenship

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pp. 89-100

Many students at the Open School do not come from privileged families. Many come from families who struggle to make ends meet from day to day. But because global citizenship is so important to the goals of the school, the staff finds ways to make sure all students get opportunities to travel. There are fundraisers, scholarships, and grants—everyone...

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8. Life-Long Learning

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pp. 101-107

The rest of this chapter represents the voices of graduates. They write about what the school and their schooling has meant to them and how a school focused on humanity has changed their lives. One has come back to the school as a teacher and the others have gone on to pursue their interests, dreams, and ideals all over the world. All of them recognize the importance...

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9. Looking to the Future

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pp. 109-115

Teachers and administrators at the Open School want to work in a school where students and their families have names and faces; risk taking is rewarded, and teachers are allowed to be creative and resourceful; alternative assessment, especially in the areas of social and personal growth, is seen as legitimate; and there is time for reflective practice...

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pp. 117-123

Serendipity . . . an accidental fortunate discovery. That’s what this was for me. Moving from Houston to Denver and finding this school that would have a major impact on my life and my thoughts. From the first day I met the staff at the Open School, I was amazed by the thoughtfulness of the educators, the articulate nature of students, and the strong...


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pp. 125-160


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pp. 161-162


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pp. 163-166

E-ISBN-13: 9780791486030
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791458914
Print-ISBN-10: 0791458911

Page Count: 184
Illustrations: 4 figures, 6 tables
Publication Year: 2004