TNS student Wyatt recently attended the AERO (Alternative Education Resource Organization) conference in New York with Principal Peter Berg and others from TNS. While there he interviewed Dr. Peter Gray (photo) and Jerry Mintz, both nationally known figures in the alternative school movement, to get their perspectives on holistic education, as offered at schools such as The New School.
The purpose of Wyatt’s interviews was to gather information in order to complete a “Gateway”. Instead of using the grade designations of freshman, sophomore, junior and senior, TNS has three “Phases”. Advancing to the next Phase involves completing Gateways — structured presentations that allow students to demonstrate their mastery of subject areas.
One of the four Gateways consists of writing a 3-5 page Persuasive Essay. Students are expected to research a complex issue, formulate an opinion about the issue, provide solid evidence to support a logical argument, and provide citations. They must also include and address opposing views.
The essay is presented to a Roundtable of students and teachers who critique it and provide feedback for the student to strengthen the essay. Recent topics students have written about include Dam Removal on the Mousam River, Vegetarianism as a Healthy Choice, and The Benefits of Homeschooling.
Wyatt says he wants his essay to cover both the pro’s and con’s of alternative education. Before coming to TNS he attended School Around Us, our k-8 sister school, so he certainly has had in-depth experience with non-traditional approaches to learning. He is considering a career in education.
Read more about TNS’s Phases and Gateways here.