Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Classical Charter Schools: The coming counter-revolution in education

If you want to see an educational revolution, visit Phoenix, Arizona.

I just got back from a trip to Phoenix to attend a conference put on by the Great Hearts charter schools. Great Hearts is a system of sixteen classical charter schools in Arizona, which is now beginning to open schools in Texas as well, and, eventually, several other states.

While the public school establishment is shifting the chairs on the deck of their slowly sinking ship, Great Hearts is going back to what education really was about in the first place: passing on a culture.

Instead of textbooks, they're teaching the great books. Instead of indoctrinating students in all the absurd orthodoxies of our time, they're teaching them how to think. Instead of having teachers who are well-trained in amateur psychology but know little about the best that has been thought and said, they hire people who actually, you know, know stuff.

Four of the top ten high schools in the state are Great Hearts academies. There are about 5,500 students now being educated at these schools. About 11,000 children are on their waiting list. They eventually want to be educating 100,000 students.

One of their emphases is character education. As one of the school officials put it, "Our character program is the school itself." Of course, they're also learning virtue from the books they read--which are largely made up of classic works.

The Great Hearts academies are the schools the public education establishment doesn't want you to know about.


Unknown said...

Mr. Cothran,

When is Great Hearts going to open up a school in the Northeast, i.e. New England? We (in Maine) are at the end of the food chain in so many ways, one being the academic food chain. I hope to see plans for one up in our neck of the woods!

Susan Strickland

Anonymous said...

If they open one in Chicago at a reasonable price, we might compare it to our homeschool situation and think about it... =)

Anonymous said...

LOL! My head couldn't get past the fact that it's a public school. I couldn't shake the idea that it wasn't a private school, at first. But yes, I'd investigate it thoroughly and deeply consider it if it came this way here in Chicago!

flachmom said...

Would love to see these people come to Minnesota. I've been looking at starting a classical cottage school, but need to find other interested parties who will be willing to do the heavy lifting.

Many people think it's a great idea and would be part of it if it existed, but they don't want to play a role in bringing it here.