As somewhat of an pedagogy anorak (if the term doesn’t exist, I’ve just invented it) I love to visit other schools & talk to teachers about teaching. I’ve found that teachers love to talk about teaching, but oftentimes they can only talk to eachother! On the odd occasion that you can talk to a lay person about education, that other person is usually a less than impressed parent and the finer points of pedagogic philosphy are somewhat secondary considerations.
Last week I visited Cincinnati Country Day School, one of the biggest Private schools in Cincinnati. There, I was able to talk to school leaders and discuss their views on school development, marketing (it is the private sector) and management. What has always impressed me about schools in the United States, both public & private, is the overwhelming centrality that they possess. Families commit to the lives of their children at school through varied and inventive fund-raising initiatives, innumerable social events throughout the year and, of course, the support of their representative sports teams.
The support of the school’s community is essential. And, as US schools typify, it is the drive exhibited by the school itself that generates the enthusiasm amongst the parent body that then becomes infectious and pervasive. Once that is established it is only too easy to recruit the volunteers necessary to organise the PTA events that are so crucial to the life of any school.