Cynthia Day is the founder of and a teacher at the Days of Wonder School in Batavia, OH. I invited her on the show as part of a continuing effort to showcase successful and inspiring alternative education models, along with desirable attributes of voluntary learning communities.
Cynthia began her teaching career in public school, but within a matter of years she discovered that the environment and culture presented serious obstacles to addressing the emotional and educational needs of her students. I had similar experiences; we compare stories.
She ultimately left teaching to focus on homeschooling her own children. When they reached adulthood, she shifted her attention into creating an alternative school that encompassed the best aspects of homeschooling. The ultimate result was Days of Wonder, which began in her basement and has now grown into a thriving K-12 alternative school serving 141 learners. Days of Wonder primarily serves young people who struggled in the public school setting, but who also didn't have access to private education. We'll discuss how Days of Wonder is able to charge a monthly tuition lower than what most people are paying for daycare.
Our majority of discussion is focused on the lessons Cynthia took from her home education successes, and how she applies them to the Days of Wonder learning environment. Many parents in the School Sucks audience are currently unable to home-educate, but they see learner-centered schools as desirable alternatives. If you're a parent examining your alternative education options, here are some key attributes to look for (or to create):
1. Learning takes place in multi-age groups
2. Learning is interdisciplinary - integrated curriculum, encouraging students to actively make new connections across subject areas
3. Parents are invested in the school and see themselves as an integral of the learning community
4. Students take possession of their own learning, setting their own educational goals
5. Individualized instruction and respect for intrinsic motivation
6. No grades (we'll talk about exceptions in the show, i.e. high school transcripts)
7. Continuity of Instruction - teachers are more like mentors; they will have the same students several years in a row
Related Shows On Alternative Education:
1. [PODCAST] #526: Sparks Academy (Founder Interview and Student Discussion)
2. [PODCAST] #522: Devin Fraze – A Life Worth Reading About
3. [PODCAST] #520: Circle School Roundtable (With Tony Myers and Over 20 Young Self-Educators)
4. [PODCAST] #513: Building Self Directed Learning Communities (With Diane Murphy)
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