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ERIC Number: EJ1137989
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017
Pages: 6
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1539-9664
School Disruption on the Small Scale: Can Micro-Schools Break Out of an Elite Niche?
Cohen, Justin C.
Education Next, v17 n2 p28-33 Spr 2017
NuVu is an off-the-grid, independent "micro-school" in Massachusetts, whose 60 students are stretching the boundaries of what constitutes education in America. Instead of switching between subject-driven classes that teach a common curriculum, they follow a fluid schedule in two-week blocks, and apply math, reading, problem-solving, and other skills to the project at hand. With the help of visiting experts from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), they bring their ideas to life on the milling machines and 3-D printers that fill the materials lab. Such boutique programs offer highly personalized environments on a tiny scale, in a tech-enabled reinvention of the one-room schoolhouse that eschews lockstep schedules and standard curricula for student-led learning. They represent a handful of private schools in the country today, but their rapid growth and embrace of sought-after "deeper learning" goals raise important questions about how to scale and democratize the approach. Education futurists have predicted the disintegration of the 19th-century model of American schooling for many years, but the barriers to that transformation have been limited by both the intransigence of the current system and a lack of imagination about what might replace it. Micro-schooling and its teacher-led, entrepreneurial spirit might solve both of these problems, by evading the old habits, sclerotic bureaucracies, cultural biases against experimentation, antiquated labor arrangements, and low tolerance for risk that prevail in traditional schools. The ground-up genesis of the micro-school movement, however, offers as many challenges as it does opportunities. Perhaps the most pressing question is whether or not micro-schools and their offshoots can ever serve all children, regardless of their incoming academic skills and ability to pay tuition. This article addresses the equity and scale challenges facing micro-schools and discusses how micro-schools empower students and teachers.
Hoover Institution. Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305-6010. Tel: 800-935-2882; Fax: 650-723-8626; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Massachusetts
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A