The purpose of small schools is to replace the dinner table


A particular paragraph of Deborah Meier’s recent article on “The Purpose of Small Schools” really grabbed my attention:

Small schools are an attempt to re-create, intentionally, the best of the family dinner table, the town meeting, the public square, the legislative process, the team, and the academy of thinkers—with as much of the diversity of the larger community as we can corral all in one manageable place.

Another passage that stood out in support of this idea

The reason for the large “dinner table” conversation that small schools (and smaller classes) allow for is precisely in order to make difficult decisions together, to weigh trade-offs, to look across age spans at unexpected side effects (or no effects at all, e.g. “successfully teaching fractions” starting at scratch year after year)…. What we wanted was smallness on behalf of educational decision-making close to the ground.

At a time when teenagers, which correspond to the youth and junior high level, are often rebelling from their parents, this article reminds us, that unless we are to lose something very valuable, someone or something really must take the place of these important family traditions such as the ‘dinner table conversations’.

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