School Without Walls is unique, primarily in the way in which it challenges most of our pre conceived beliefs about what a school “should be.” The teacher who taught in the leadership class that I attended introduced me to the book his class was reading. “A Lesson Before Dying” is a “community read” which means all the students in the school are reading it. The class was suppose to focus on the setting in the narrative and see if they could see themselves in any of the characters. My understanding is that the book is roughly based on a young black male who was an unwilling participant in a liquor store shootout.
The secong class I attended, the teacher had shown the class advertisement campaigns which revealed the many ways in which the media performs it’s “scare tactics” on the public. I think the class was called Art of War. The film strip was very interesting as it uncovered real stories from real people who had real problems. One of those problems was the Aids epidemic which plagues a large population of India right now.
When I first heard of the cirriculum, I thought “no grades, oh no!!” but then I silently began thinking. As a kid, I attended many other Rochester City Schools who do demand that all students take the regents and I didn’t feel that I learned all that much as a result of the cirriculum. I mean passing the Regents and having a grading system does not proove that you have learned anything. It’s just the “Art of regurgitation” being practiced, where you very kindly and politely spit out what you have been told.
And as far as motivation and lack of discipline problems go, School Without Walls is as good as it gets in Rochester. I could have taken you to plenty of other schools in the city where you would of begged to leave. I mean, for the most part, those state officials in Albany (everyone including the Governor) all believe that upstate schools (excluding those in higher education) in general (including central New York) are “sess pools.”
So I am glad to see a school that’s finally doing something different for a change because something is terribley wrong with the status quo.