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Jax Beach charter school promises "new model" of learning

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Updated: 9/12/2013 3:38 pm
JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla -- Kids at the Seaside Community Charter School in Jacksonville Beach don't sit in desks, don't learn from standard textbooks and don't even have homework. There's an hour-and-a-half per day of recess and rules against wearing television characters on their clothing.

"We have an arts infused curriculum," said Principal Elizabeth Fullerton, a former University of North Florida professor. "The children spend a lot of time outside working in their environment. In October they'll start walking to the beach and having math and science at school."

The subjects are similar to the ones taught in public school systems, but the way these elementary school students learn is much different. They are aided by UNF professors and students who are learning to teach a way that's even new to them, utilizing research into early childhood education learning.

"It's not just sitting at desks and staring straight at a teacher," said UNF student Russell Connell. "They're up and around."

The school is in its first year and now includes kindergarten through second grade. But the school plans to make it K-5 and eventually, a middle and high school that follows the same model.

In the model, called Waldorf Teaching, there's even yoga. Along with academic learning, students develop social and emotional skills, that professors say is integral to their learning development.

"A lot of times the model is based on older learners, and we know how young children learn," said UNF professor Dr. Katherine Hall.

Hall wrote the charter at UNF to bring the first charter school to the beaches. A charter school is under the umbrella of public school systems, in this case Duval County Schools, but is governed by a separate advisory board unaffiliated with the school system. A federal grant allows 90 students to go to Seaside tuition free.

The school is making another part of history: the first one in years to operate in the first school for African-Americans at the beaches, which opened in 1939.

"It's definitely not the school for every parent, but we've had many parents who sought us out," said Fullerton.

This year is full but to sign up for next year in a January lottery, go to seasidecharter.org


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Pete K - 9/12/2013 9:24 PM
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"Yoga"? Seriously? I suspect the author has just stumbled onto Waldorf education, known to many as a "cult-like" educational system that covertly promotes a quazi-religious and racist philosophy to students and parents. The whole purpose of Waldorf schools is to indoctrinate people, especially children, into Anthroposophy. When he says "yoga", does the author mean "Eurythmy" - the "physical embodiment of Anthroposophy" according to Waldorf's founder - Rudolf Steiner? Waldorf claims not to "teach" Anthroposophy to students (directly), however, Anthroposophy guides everything the teacher does, how he/she evaluates children - according to their temperament, head size, body shape, (and shhhh.... skin color). They don't discriminate against children of color when enrolling them - but they *know* those children have a lot further to come... spiritually. Waldorf schools are famous for many things, among them bullying, a lack of academics in the curriculum, problematic teachers (they only need Waldorf teacher training which is intensive Anthroposophy training) - but most important, they're famous for lying about the role of Anthroposophy in their schools. Liars and children is a bad combination. Read about Waldorf schools at the Quackometer blog, the Waldorf Critics website, Waldorf Watch, or just search the web for Waldorf criticism. I've personally collected hundreds of pages of complaints by parents and students on my blog and Facebook page "The Waldorf Review" and "Waldorf Awareness" blog. All that glitters is not gold... and this author obviously fell for the glitter, like many parents do. Does the author know why they don't like TV for children? It has nothing to do with science and everything to do with "Ahriman" - a demon who invades mechanical things and pushes people to be intellectual. Especially in children, Ahrimanic influences are bad - according to Anthroposophy. Pete Karaiskos - former Waldorf parent - now Waldorf Whistle-blower
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