1. Schools as lifelong,
year-round community resource centers
How on earth did most schools ever become 9 a.m. to 3
p.m. teaching centers for only five days a week and often for under 200 days a year?
They're probably the most under-used major resource in any country.
In many parts of the world governments, like
businesses, are decentralizing, and school-based management systems are on the agenda.
That agenda should include transforming the traditional school into a lifelong, year-round
community resource center.
In an age of instant information, every community will
need an information resource center. And well-organized schools can fill that role. Even
if home-based, individually-paced, interactive, electronic learning methods proliferate -
as we believe they will - community resource centers will be in even more demand.
And Kimi Ora Community School in West Flaxmere, Hawkes
Bay, New Zealand, is one model for creating that center. It's in the heart of a New
Zealand district devastated by the closure of a major industry. In that way it typifies
many of the social problems arising from a fast-changing world.
Other suburbs may be built around industries or
shopping malls. Flaxmere's rejuvenation is centered on its school. But it's much, much
more than a school. "Kimi Ora could be translated from the Maori as : 'To seek total
well-being,'" says initial director Lester Finch.1
"The people in the community named it Kimi Ora
because it matched the concept that they had of the school when it was first planned -
that there should be a center, a school, which sought total well-being, and concentrated
on families rather than individuals. Kimi Ora typified the approach that this community
wanted this school to take, and that was an holistic approach which regarded education as
a whole-of-life process and involved families."
New Zealand in recent years has turned its school
administration system upside-down. A central government Department of Education has been
changed into a much smaller Ministry of Education, concentrating largely on policy advice
to Government, but also providing overall curriculum guidelines. School District Education
Boards have been abolished. And now schools "run themselves" - each one
Contents Page Preface