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Individual Education

Individual Education is a school system rooted in the individual psychology of Alfred Adler. Designed by Raymond Corsini, the Individual Education program includes a number of basic principles. The program consists of three components: Academic; Creative/Applied; Socialization. Corsini also outlined disciplinary procedures and a number of other principles to ensure the most productive possible school environment.

The following are the basic principles of the Individual Education School System:

A primary goal of Individual Education is to make children self-sufficient, giving them the mean to become a productive member of society; to become mature and self-reliant. Individual Education is against the infantilization of the child. Instead, Individual Education maximizes the child's self-determination.

Individual Education is designed to develop in children feeling of respect of the self and of others. Traditional school systems make children feel inferior and make many of them feel unsuccessful. A system based on rewards and punishment, praise and disapproval, is considered morally bankrupt in the Individual Education system. Some children are not born into environments conducive to academics. Some children have strengths not visible in the traditional system. Any system that insults these children is wrong.

Every child has innate talents, and some strengths and weaknesses. Whatever resources the child has, Individual Education permits expression, whether academic or non-academic. If little Michaelangelo wants to paint, let him. If he therefore never learns how to solve square roots, so be it. If little Willy Gates doesn't want to leave his computer alone, let him. If he therefore never reads Shakespeare, so be it. As long as Michaelangelo can do basic math, and Willy can read well, that is enough. For others, a broader program will be necessary. The child will determine the program that best suits him/her. The curriculum will be there when he/she needs it. The teacher will encourage learning of all types of academe, but will not force it.

The concept of Social Interest (Gemeinschaftsgefuhl in Adlerian theory) is central to Individual Education. It means responding to the needs of others. It can be seen in school spirit, patriotism, love for family, or elsewhere. This is critical to a child becoming a productive and happy member of society. This goal is not achieved directly, but rather through the achievement of the first 3 Rs.

The curriculum in the academic component is similar to that in the traditional system. Language, mathematics, history/geography and science are developed along the mastery model—through a skills list through which children progress from the beginning of school to the end. Children are tested weekly on average but it is the children who request to be tested; teachers cannot demand that tests be written. Instead a Progress Chart shows how far along the child is (80% is considered mastery). The child doesn't have to learn what he/she has already learned—if the child can pass a test without attending class, the Progress Chart is marked identically to that of a child that attended hours of classroom study. A quick learner is offered the next level of curriculum and the opportunity to tutor others. No numerical or letter-based grading system is used.

Traditional System Individual Education System
Autocratic Democratic
Homework given No homework given
Grades are everything Learning is everything
Teacher burnout common Teachers are fulfilled
Teachers forced to be authoritarian Teachers are facilitators
Children rebel Children collaborate
Children hate school Children can’t wait to get back from Summer
Children are considered inferior Children are considered equals
Rewards and punishment Respect
Pass or Fail Children learn at their own pace
Pass, or fail in life Children learn because they want to
Forced academics Children decide how best to learn
Social component a major source of fear Teachers facilitate social development of children
Pressure, stress all round Innate motivation to learn, and to teach, shines through

  • Children can veto their attendance in a class.
  • Children are not in a competition or race; they only compete against themselves.
  • Children decide if and when to study and there is no homework unless the child asks for it.
  • Children can learn in whatever fashion works for them.
  • Feedback regarding their learning is given to children as soon as possible.
  • Every child has a teacher-adviser, an in-school parent figure who the child chooses.
  • There are only three rules; they are impartially and strictly enforced.
  • Children have the opportunity to develop special talents if they wish.
  • Children are offered a wide range of creative/applied courses.
  • Learning is considered a privilege, not an obligation.
  • Teachers have the right to ask a child to leave a classroom or to stay out of their classroom.
  • The school day is divided roughly equally between academic, creative/ applied and socialization.
  • All evaluations are objective—not subjective.
  • Idiosyncratic classroom rules may be established by the teacher for their class, so long as they don't violate Individual Education principles.
  • The "GO" and "STOP" signals are the only means of enforcing rules in the classroom.
  • Peer teaching is encouraged.
  • Academic progress reports are kept on children, but grades are not given out.
  • An individualized pace of learning is encouraged.
  • Teachers are responsible for teaching; children are responsible for learning.
  • The emphasis is on the development of a successful person.
  • Community resources are accessed where possible.
  • Children may be advised to study at the growing edge of their abilities, but the level at which they study is no one's choice but theirs.
  • Faculty has three jobs: academic teaching, creative/applied teaching, and socialization training/advising.
  • Regular full classroom meetings are mandatory.
  • Rewards, honors and other extraneous motivators should be avoided.
  • Criticisms, warnings, or various other forms of punishment are strictly forbidden.
  • The school operates on the basis of natural and logical consequences, using encouragement and intrinsic joy from skill mastery as the primary motivators for learning.
  • Children have the right to go to any other classroom or supervised library or study hall.
  • On any given day, children can choose not to learn.
  • Teachers have full freedom in teaching the curriculum, but cannot force children to follow it.


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