Per my last post, in recent weeks, I've been thinking back on the founding of Blyth-Templeton Academy and looking seriously at how our educational model responds to the big questions about education that drive conversation today.
At the most basic level, we all know that parents are interested in seeing their children be safe and succeed. Students, when you actually ask them, more often than not want to have fun with friends and feel successful.
But the education environment is changing. There are more options and flavors of schooling than ever before: private, public, charter, homeschool, Montessori, Waldorf, STEM-focused, art-focused, bilingual, etc.
Have the age-old desires of students and parents changed or shifted? Has the proliferation of education options successfully put the focus more firmly on the student?
What kinds of things do parents and students like in a school?
Let's explore some of the basic desires of parents more closely.
I recently read an article called "What Parents and Students Want When It Comes to Your School," that made a strong case for what I might call the fundamental or traditional education outcomes that parents are seeking:
“Safety. Parents want their children to attend a school where they are physically and psychologically free from harm.
Quality academic programs. Schools should have excellent, mission-appropriate offerings that prepare students for the next level.
Character development. Parents choose a school that gives their children the opportunity to grow a strong sense of values and morals.”
I also appreciated that the article from Independent School Management goes on to acknowledge that the priorities of students can be quite different from their parents and include a desire to be challenged and to be free to explore and create across learning fields and extracurriculars.
It seems like our education system should be able to offer families options that can suit both the needs of parents and the needs of students themselves—the educational equivalent of a Flintstone vitamin, something which parents love because they are good for their kids and that kids love because they are delicious, an analogy I explore at length here.
How do we harmonize the desires of both parents and students?
This is where things get interesting. As K-12 education evolves, some are designing and/or choosing education options that can look quite extreme or beyond the mainstream, yet they are making these choices for the same reasons that parents have traditionally chosen established, mainstream programs: they think these new models are better at keeping their child safe and providing them a high quality education experience— all while arguably making them more interesting, compelling applicants for highly selective colleges (and more importantly, positioning them to lead more interesting, compelling lives).
A recent Daily Telegraph article offered a great case in point. The article, entitled "Posher than Eton? Meet the families choosing elite home-schooling," is about families who have the wealth to craft the ultimate educational experience for their children. These families have opted out of even the most expensive private schools in order to provide an education with maximum freedom and maximum focus on their children as individuals.
As this Daily Telegraph article makes clear, families are spending considerable time and dollars to maximize learning outside of a conventional school system --- with an eye on the same fundamental outcomes the upper echelons of the conventional system used to provide! This is well articulated and captured in the following quotes from the author and the parent being interviewed:
Author: "All they care about is helping their offspring to thrive.”
Parent: “'It’s fundamentally about having happy, confident children….Ultimately, I think that’s all any of us are after.'”
This parent’s statement seems pretty hard to argue with.
Yet, for this family, why does the universal desired outcome look so radical and inaccessible in practice? And how can families embrace traditional desired outcomes without feeling tied to the traditional school model to get there? And perhaps most importantly, how can such a learning experience be made more accessible to all?
What is the logical intermediary between private schooling—which relatively few(er) can afford—and homeschooling—which relatively few could orchestrate?
My admittedly biased answer is Blyth-Templeton Academy. BTA is helping parents put students in the driver's seat of education while offering the safe, small, quality environment that all families want for their children. We do this by building a micro/boutique school network that positions extraordinary, empathetic full-time and adjunct teaching talent to use block teaching and the city as a classroom to maximize learning and minimize cost.
Creative, Accessible, Place-Based Education is Possible
With each passing day, I become more convinced that not only is education designed to maximize student freedom, creativity, and agency desperately needed, but also that this type of education satisfies the deep desires of parents and students alike to thrive and grow.
Perhaps you, your child, or someone you know might thrive at Blyth-Templeton? Perhaps somewhere else? As usual I’m posing more questions that answers, but I do so with a firm belief that we’ll all be better off for wrestling with these questions than simply accepting the status quo.
Curious about what we're doing differently at BTA? Learn more about the education experience we can offer your family and how to apply today!