An independent school with a public mission – this is Manhattan Country School’s catchphrase, and none more appropriate as I saw firsthand when I visited the school as part of my immersion in teacher education. On March 19, 2007, our whole class together with our professor went on a visit to Manhattan Country School. It was a highly motivating and uplifting experience. I saw with my very own eyes that a school resolved to make their students learn can make it happen.
All that is needed is the courage to go out of the box and dare to explore more creative ways of teaching. In a sense, they are a public school, but autonomous of the traditional and ineffective ways of teaching that some schools so stubbornly adhere to. It was really amazing, seeing the `5-6`s make easy work of cooking a Turkish dish that would have been a challenge even to much older children. And it was not just in this aspect that the children were excelling; they also excelled in writing, as seen on the walls where the works of the students are posted.
Overall, the level of performance of the students in Manhattan Country School is a notch higher than the performance expected of their grade levels. Of course with the current problems in our education system, it makes me wonder how the Manhattan Country School is succeeding where other schools are failing miserably. Manhattan Country School is proof that students need to feel that someone is in control and responsible for their environment and not only sets limits but maintains them.
(Wong, 2001) At the very first moment that I entered MCS, I felt an atmosphere of dynamic energy, and a prepared environment that set the stage for student engagement. Both the students and the teachers were focused on their own tasks, enjoying their work, and learning was taking place all the time.
Wong, H. (2001). How To Be An Effective Teacher: The First Days of School. Harry K. Wong Publications. California