Dr. Perrin Presentation: Why Small Classical Schools are Making a Big Impact

2011-01-01 00.00.00-964On Thursday, February 19th, Immanuel Lutheran School welcomed classical education consultant, Dr. Christopher Perrin, for a conversation with the community on "Why Small Classical Schools are Making a Big Impact."

Parents, faculty, upper school students, and others from the community gathered for a dialogue about the growing movement of small classical schools throughout the country and the benefits of small schools.

Dr. Perrin began the evening by breaking the audience up into small groups for discussions about the strengths and benefits of small schools, as well as the challenges. Benefits included: accountability, security, a strong sense of community, close relationships, individualized attention, and the ability to be nimble. Some of the challenges discussed included limited resources and a perceived lack of diversity. Groups found it interesting that as they discussed the challenges faced by small schools, many of the things brought up as potential challenges also turned into benefits as well. For example, concerns about a perceived lack of diversity, also had the benefit that in a small setting, there are no opportunities for students to hide in "cliques," thus helping students learn to work with and love their neighbor, whomever that may be.

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As the conversation continued, Dr. Perrin shared information on about human relationships, noting that research indicates that the number of real relationships an individual can have is approximately 150. Thus, when the question is raised as to whether students who attend small schools can really be "ready" for the real world, Dr. Perrin argues "yes," because students will always only really know approximately 150 people, no matter what their environment.

Small classical schools allow the opportunity for mastery, a concept that Dr. Perrin notes is sadly absent in much of modern education. With the push to cover more and more material in a broad, rather than deep manner, students are never given the opportunity to dive deep into a subject and learn the sense of accomplishment that comes with mastery. And research has shown that mastery in one subject increases the likelihood for mastery in other areas as well. So by depriving students of the opportunity to ever master anything in school, we hurt their chances for mastery later in life. Small classical schools encourage mastery, and in doing so, help students understand what it really takes to learn.

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We truly appreciate Dr. Perrin coming down to Northern Virginia from Pennsylvania and leading an engaging evening of thoughtful discussion. Thank you to all the parents, faculty, and friends who braved the cold in order to participate in the conversation. We look forward to an on-going discussion within our community, as well as future speakers and presentations for our community.

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