4 Questions

One of the ongoing features I am looking to add to the blog is the inclusion of other voices in the Free School movement. In that spirit, I circulated a questionnaire with 4 questions. These were sent to select people in our network. I intend to address them myself, but I wanted to see what others experiences were. I will be posting the answers on a regular basis. The questions will be the same for this round, because I wanted to see different answers to the same questions. The truth is though, that you may see more similarities.

The first response is from Alan P. Berger, Founder, Director, and Teacher. Alan is the founder of Brooklyn Free School and has been its director for the past five years. Alan was a certified New York State and City high school teacher and administrator for seven years prior to starting BFS. He was one of the leaders of the effort to incorporate more true project-based and applied learning experiences into schools and was a member of the school’s leadership team which operated on a consensus decision making process.

a) Knowing that you are already engaged in the process of change in education, how do you see your role in the Democratic Free School movement?

To advance a working model of a strong free school that incorporates all kinds and levels of diversity. To help start new free schools and grow the movement through building an association of free schools continent-wide.

b) How has your involvement affected you? Give examples?

It’s reinforced my belief in the power of a group, or small society or community of people, to effectively act in a cooperative and supportive way to pursue their interests and provide for the well-being of the greater community at the same time. And, personally it’s made me a healthier person. For example, I don’t suffer from stress the way I did when I was a teacher and an assistant principal in the Dept. of Education. When I used to ride the subway to work, I always had a knot in my stomach as I approached the school I worked in. Now, when I ride the subway going to a meeting about the school or on my way to school, I feel relaxed and at ease and when I observe my fellow commuters, they often look sullen, tired, and uninterested in what they are doing and where they are going.

c) Can you give an example where you have witnessed a real confirmation that you were on the right path?

It happens every day. Today a parent told us that when their child, a teenage boy quite large for his age, came home after the first day that he spent in the school, he gave his dad a big hug. His dad said that his son never does this, so he knows that something exceptional is going on at this school to make him so happy.

d) Can you suggest how we can further a dialogue amongst us that will foster a national conversation on how we feel about education?

Through participation and growth of conferences, like NADEC and AERO and perhaps one that occurs for a couple of days mid-year and by publicizing these conferences. I don’t know that our dialoguing could ever foster a national conversation.

Alan Berger, Director and Founder of Brooklyn Free School

Alan Berger, Director and Founder of Brooklyn Free School

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2 Comments on “4 Questions”

  1. Diane Zeines says:

    I enjoyed Alan’s point of view although I would love to hear more clarification about why he said that he doesn’t feel “that our dialoguing could ever foster a national conversation.” I sort of know why he might say this, but I’m interested in hearing his thoughts anyway. It just saddens me to think that most students in the U.S. are receiving an education that stifles their true selves and barely even teaches them anything.

  2. bzeines says:

    I would to say that I agree with on this, although he did elaborate. He and I do not feel that the established system feels yet at the point of desperation to make any changes or seek out the consul of any of us. It is the parents who will have to make that change, and in that something can be done. But it will take place of a long period of time, The US school system is broken, and ol=nly those in it have the power to change it.

    We on the other hand, will continue to work on the community level and network with like minds. I no longer have any interest in expending effort to reform the ignorant.


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