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instance, only 41 percent of English-speaking children and 15 percent of
Mexican-American children come into kindergarten at age five with any experience of
8. Continue the same fun-filled approach
Even worse: in many states "formal academic
education" is the norm from the first elementary-school years. Children don't get the
chance for the fun-filled, experience-rich learning that is the basis for real growth. And
all too often the joy of learning fades. They learn not to learn.
The alternatives are shown in yet another school which
follows successful fun- and activity-filled lessons from preschool into its primary
school. It's called The Classical Academy, formed by the Maxin Learning Institute at St.
Louis Park, in Minnesota. A small group of teachers and parents got together in 1991 and
analyzed some of the world's best teaching methods. They came to similar conclusions as
the present authors, and to favor what they now describe as Maxin's "Best of the
Integrated Learning Systems" program. By 1994 their Academy had grown to encompass
students from preschool through ninth grade.
Four of the key founders - Nancy Nicholson Terry, Nora
Flood, Janet Oliver and Amira Sewell - have had extensive Montessori training. Now they
have broadened out from that sound beginning, using many models from our first edition and
from Jeannette Vos workshops.
The Classical Academy uses Romalda Spalding's The
Writing Way to Reading - an integrated phonics program which the Academy has linked
with many Doman methods (as does Montessori International), the Japanese Kumon maths
program; Paul Dennison's Brain-Gym methods (which we cover in chapter 11); the Marva
Collins Classical Literature program - a multimedia program linking history and art; and a
wide range of other stimulating accelerated learning methods.
The Upper School administered the Iowa Test of Basic
Skills for all students in 1993 and then again in May 1994. Students averaged an increase
of 1.6 years over that six-month period. Several students achieved four and five years'
growth in major academic areas.48
Fortunately other examples also abound of what can
happen when common sense is linked to good research and dedicated principals and teachers;
and when schools program for success instead of failure.
Contents Page Preface
To Chapter 8