Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Education Revolution

A couple weeks ago we had the opportunity to meet with Jerry Mintz to share with him our vision for starting a learner-centered democratic school in New Orleans Lower 9th Ward. We were all incredibly greatful for the wisdom and experience he shared with us from his over 30 years as a leading voice in the alternative schools movement. In addition to his seventeen years as a public school teacher and a public and independent alternative school principal, he has also founded several alternative schools and organizations and has lectured and consulted around the world. Jerry was the first executive director of the National Coalition of Alternative Community Schools (NCACS), and was a founding member of the International Democratic Education Conference (IDEC). In 1989, he founded the Alternative Education Resource Organization (AERO). He continues to serve as AERO's director and as the Managing Editor of AERO’s networking magazine, The Education Revolution.

We were able to learn so much from the stories of Jerry's experiences supporting the development of incredible democratic learning environments for youth around the world. Jerry also gave our student Anthony a copy of his book, No Homework and Recess All Day: How to Have Freedom and Democracy in Education. Read Anthony's book review:

No Homework and Recess All Day: How to Have Freedom and Democracy in Education by Jerry Mintz (2003)

Jerry Mintz been involved in the freedom democracy education movement for over 30 years now and started AERO (Alternative Education Resource Organization) for kids like me who seek more opportunities for real learning and a break away from the traditional educational system that is outdated and doesn’t work for so many.

No Homework and Recess All Day can be looked at as a guide to starting and maintaining a freedom school. In this book the author lists some helpful tips on maintaining a freedom school like having meetings with the students on issues that affect their education. These meetings often involve issues that might not have caught the teacher’s attention and the decisions often involve voting. For example, bullying that might be going on at the school for a period of time might cause the students to call a meeting and vote to set rules to prevent future bullying and to determine the punishment. In these schools, the students are involved in making every important decision.

This book also mentions resources and other schools that can be taken as model schools like Shaker Mountain, the Albany Free School and many more schools the author helped establish. Jerry Mintz uses personal experience to give the reader a better understanding of these schools and his theory that students deserve an education that is worthwhile in any subject of interest, not just math, reading, English, etc.

I like this book because it tells of personal encounters that Jerry Mintz had in starting his freedom school and helping start many other freedom schools. He tells of his trip to Soviet Union for the first schools festival of the Soviet Union in 1991. This opportunity allowed him to see other alternative schools and begin making connections around the world.

I recommend this book to anyone who wants to break away from the normal main stream of education that is stripping our youth of their right to be educated and more successful in life. Personally I am a 16 year old who has broken away from the public educational system and now being home schooled by several teachers and I know the problems my friends continue to face. I am committed to being a part of making a changes in education. No Homework and Recess All Day will be a great resource to us as we develop our own learner-centered democratic school in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans.

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