How we approach ‘total learning’ at Elite Open School: Micro-school


Elite Open School is a Micro-school.

Micro-school is what the future of school might look like.

Small, human-scale schools have served as the preferred choice for most of us throughout the history of our schooling. But Industrial-age principles of scale efficiency and standardization, introduced in the late 19th and early 20th century, have overwhelmed conventional notions of what school should be. We took it as given that schools were supposed to be big, impersonal, and unable to respond nimbly to individual needs of our students.

We like micro-schooling precisely because it constrains us, it forces us to do small batch testing of new ideas, gets us closer to kids and families.

Here’s the working definition of micro-schooling at Elite Open School:

Elite Open School works with a small number of students.

A psychological research suggests that humans can manage no more than about 150 friendships. In our 30 years of experience educating students, this number makes a perfect sense. When a school, or a church, gets beyond about 150 members, it becomes challenging for adults to keep track of individual members.

Elite Open School, as a Micro-school, embraces this constraint and stay small. Bigger schools may reduce fixed costs and diversify teacher expertise. But as the cost of high-quality curriculum moves quickly towards zero, the costs of large schools are starting to outweigh their benefits.

Elite Open School let students drive a majority of what happens during the school day.

While there are many ways to structure a micro-school, a critical component is a daily schedule that allows students to determine how they spend their time. I think this is critically important because children when they grow into adults they will not have someone telling them what to do every day. This is undoubtedly the case in college.

Many college prep schools are quite bad at strengthening a student’s ability to manage themselves in the absence of structure. Yes, this is complicated. Many students need structure to build foundations, but micro-schools have a bias towards loosening the reigns early to ensure that kids learn how to direct, pace and control themselves.

Elite Open School teachers don’t do all the teaching; they manage the quality of learning in many channels.

While the traditional debate about teaching can sometimes degenerate to the virtues of Sage on the stage v. Guide on the side, Elite Open School requires teachers to manage a wide variety of learning styles. Here’s an example of the ways a student might be able to learn something in a good micro-school:

One teacher to many.
Yes. It never completely stopped working since scholars and professionals can be bred in these environments.

One teacher to a few students.
Small groups. Flexibility in the schedule provides many more genuine opportunities to teach small groups when they need or want it.

Software to the student.
Elite Open School is doing to help kids learn on their own. It’s free. Elite Open School do much more than blended-learning. Learning technologies are presented as vital tools for kids to drive their learning, more like how we look at Microsoft Office and other productivity tools, core to work than clever tricks for teachers to squeeze more efficiency out of an otherwise rigid school day.

We do Match education. Our classroom tutors do more before 9 AM than some teachers Do all day. Our teachers and students work like colleagues who know the interests and the goals of everyone.

Student to student.
We also manage to pair kids up as running partners. And it works. Kids take this buddy-system-on-steroids role seriously, and it gives the school another powerful vehicle to let learning happen.

Student to student (one to many).
I want to find some high-schoolers who did well in her academic topics to work for kids. Kids teaching kids, with the same amount of rigour applied to a technique as adult teachers. Elite Open School leverage this method in powerful ways that make them far more potent learning environments.

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