Playing up strengths without ignoring weaknesses

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Playing up strengths without ignoring weaknesses

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Mentoring is important in any school system for a whole lot of reasons. One of the big reasons is that a child gets to know what he knows when he has the opportunity to teach someone else. An adult gets to know what they know when they have an opportunity to teach it to someone else. So when a child feels particularly skilled in something you’re building them up; and it doesn’t have to be at the expense of others because it’s an environment where everyone’s helping everyone else anyway. It’s this collaborative environment where children have different strengths but that shouldn’t be surprising to people. It’s also an important feature of thinking about public school, can a pluralistic school model be applied to public education? The school that I started when I was 24 years old and that I run is called Pluralistic School, PS1. The reason that it’s called that is that it’s a model for public school because if we can only acknowledge that children learn in different ways at different rates and at different times from each other, then one single system can’t work to help educate all children, they’re all different from each other. So what do we do to embrace all the different learning styles, times, ways that kids learn? You’ve got to-you can’t have a single system to apply to that; that’s what pluralism is in education. And if what you’re doing in that situation is saying no matter how many kids-let’s say resources demand that you have 1 teacher and 35 children. There are ways to set up an environment like that where there are 36 teachers; not just giving lip service to that but in real ways, especially in the computer age where you talk about the advantages of technology. Because kids can become experts in so many-in any different field if it speaks to them-if it speaks to their passion. And when they then have an opportunity to teach somebody else, you’re sharing the responsibility of teaching. Kids feel much better about themselves when they see themselves as both teachers and learners; so do adults, it should be no surprise.

See Joel Pelcyger's video on Playing up strengths without ignoring weaknesses...

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Joel Pelcyger

Head of School

Joel Pelcyger is the Founder and Head of PS1 Pluralistic School, an elementary school for grades K-6. PS1 was founded in 1971 and is a family-oriented, independent, and non-profit school located in the heart of Santa Monica, CA.

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