The mission of the Virtue School is to help youths (and those who
want to immerse
themselves) to get back in touch with nature and to retain time-honored
and essential skills - which are currently being lost - in the process of completing the curriculum
required by the state.
If students want to go on to college, okay. They will be
prepared for it. Meanwhile, in Virtue School they will work to develop
self-reliance by entering into a relationship of interdependence with
the land. To bring this about, Permaculture and
Survival courses will be integrated
into the program - along with the learning of all the necessary skills you need to
have a self-sufficient community.
These would include crafts, such as blacksmithing, carpentry, masonry,
ceramics, glassware, milling, cooking, textile work: making clothes,
work and care of animals, etc. Also, such disciplines as art,
music, healing and meditation will be included. Further, as a
complementary part of the
project, students also have to design and build everything they need to
have a vibrant, functioning, self-sufficient community - including their
own energy sources and providing their own food and water, while
interacting with their environment. The goal is
to create a
network of self-sufficient schools and communities as an alternative to
today's education and way of living.
One of the methods of education which have influenced the
project is the educational system of Shchetinin. This video
illustrates it: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ratyoUnzHb8).
One of the most significant elements of this method is that
children complete the curriculum
"necessary" by the state, by themselves, at an early age. Some other
major characteristics are:
* The distinction between "teacher" and "students" is softened
* There is no division into age
* There is no distinction
between learning and the development of creative abilities
* The phrase "you're wrong" is
not part of the vocabulary
* The divergence
between school and real life is minimized
While a lot of things about this school are to be admired, it has some weaknesses. When this video was shown to some classes at a traditional school in Madrid very few of the students liked it. Their main complaints:
free space or free time to be by yourself,
* there's no way to know if
what you are learning is "correct" or not,
* the school is totally
"unreal" and doesn't prepare you for the "real world," and
* the kids are
"too happy" - something just isn't right.
At the end of the video one
of the former teachers adds a few criticisms:
* the students all follow
the vision of one man,
* the love of Homeland borders on the obsessive
* the individual is submitted to the collective.
the Virtue School will not emphasize any Nationality or Ethnic Identity
- though it is important to seek one's ancestral kin or "roots," this
can be sought within a "Global" perspective of relationships -- without
having One identity dominating all of the others).
Another characteristic which can be seen as a pitfall of Tekos - and
other "free" schools such as Sudbury and Summerhill - is that they all prepare the
students to fit into "the System"
as it is. The vision of The Virtue School is to combine the ideas of
whereby the students design
their own program of study, while also designing and constructing their
community. Thus, they are, in essence, creating a new system whereby they are self-sufficient and in harmony
with nature. Ideally, some of the students will go on to build other
like-minded schools and self-sufficient communities all over the world.
Why is this important?
As Bill Mollison (the founder of Permaculture) once said, "If you have
a dysfunctional system, don't try to change it. Rather, determine what
that system was supposed to deliver and design a better system to help
deliver that purpose or service. If you have done the thing correctly,
then people will come to you. The old institution will wither and die."
Thus, that is the "goal" of The Virtue School. As such, there will be no dogmatic protocols which
dominate the school. The main objective is to combine
self-discovery with community and society building, while working
together in a "new"
education project which aims to conserve ancient knowledge and much-needed
skills, while reconnecting with nature.