Since the beginning of the year, Shane Foster has been sharing a series of pamphlets which are entitled “The Master Teacher”. We have enjoyed reading them as they have provided us with fodder for discussion and reflection. It is reassuring to read literature that affirms the direction we are going at the Barstow School. The latest topics are juxtaposed: A Constant Challenge: Engaging the Disengaged Students
and Creating “Flow” Makes Everything Easier.
Flow means to be completely absorbed in what one is doing. When a person is experiencing “flow” he/she experiences energized focus and enjoyment of the task at hand. Flow is being “in the moment, in the zone, on a roll, wired in, in a groove, on fire, in tune, centered or singularly focused.”
Flow is something that is almost palpable here at Barstow. Discussions from students’ classes spill out into the hallways. Student academic discourse outside the classroom is commonplace. Students huddle in intense and sometimes heated intellectual debate in the Cove, in the cafeteria, in the Zen Garden and anywhere else where students congregate. Students spend time with teachers from previous years talking about new discoveries or revisiting material covered in the years before. Clubs are formed around Politics, Poetry, Film-making, Robotics, French, Spanish, Math, Science, etc. It’s as though our students simply cannot get enough of school.
The Hybrid Learning Consortium
gives students access to myriad highly qualified instructors who teach a wide array of subjects. If a student is impassioned by a subject that is not taught here, it is possible that one of the Consortium schools will offer a course in that subject. Online classes help our students by providing classes that can be completed in a timeframe that fits their busy schedules. Students who are experiencing flow consistently are generally very busy pursuing their passions. Hybrid classes also are helpful for those students who lack direction. Disengaged students may well have interests that are not addressed through our face to face classes and the likelihood that we will be able to offer a class that meets their wants increases dramatically when we can access classes taught at fourteen other Consortium schools.
Our Certificate of Emphasis (COE) program helps to provide students with structure around an identified passion. The introductory class affords students the chance to explore different areas of emphasis. For the disengaged student, this course could help them discover a direction that interests them. As part of the program, students spend time in the community with a mentor. The mentorship and the time spent in the community will give them a chance to “try on” a profession to be sure that they are headed in the right direction.
Having been here for almost twenty years I have never witnessed a student who graduated from Barstow who, at one point or another, did not experience flow. We will continue to seek more ways to engage all kinds of students.