An Overview of Ideal Education
Ideal Education is first and foremost a holistic academic program distinctively different from other schools. Ideal Education is unique. Its uniqueness is based in the fact that its four major components are designed to facilitate growth and integration in the four areas of the whole person, mind, body, emotions and spirit.
In order for Ideal Education to function at its full potential, all of the components must be active and integrated into the fabric of the program. However, this does not mean that one area or component is correlated to one aspect of the development of the whole person to the exclusion of the other components. Each component is essential to the unfolding of the Ideal person, the whole child just as each of the vital organs is essential to the fully integrated, healthy, happy and contributing individual.
Ideal Education is built upon a strong, solid foundation and is composed of four pillars and a central column. The central column of Ideal Education is composed of the Ideal teachers and parents.
The four pillars of Ideal Education are
1) A Strong, Balanced Academic Program
2) The Ideal Practices And Methodologies,
3) Ideal Character Education Program,
4) Ideal Community Service
Below is a brief description of each component.
A Solid Foundation
All scientific evidence identified to date indicates that the environment in which a human dwells affects the ability of the child to thrive physically, and affects the ability of the child to learn cognitively. Unless a child knows conclusively that s/he is wanted and loved, the little person may fail to thrive – or (just as seriously) develop cognitive strictures in the functioning of the brain. The child’s school environment must employ the same safeguards to the child’s well-being as does his/her natural family. At Ideal, we understand the necessity of maintaining a loving, nurturing, and supportive environment for everyone – students, staff, and parents.
There are many ways that the supportive environment may be identified. First, each child is expected to succeed. We understand the differences in abilities, and each student is expected to attain his/her personal best. The Ideal philosophy implies that there is unceasing hope and belief in the abilities of our children.
Another way that the nurturing environment is obvious is by the open door policy maintained by all administrators, staff, and teachers. The needs of the children are paramount and first in the Ideal world view.
The personal sacrifice and level of volunteerism among the staff, parents, and teachers is another example of the nurturing environment of Ideal Education. After grueling days of labor, many of the staff can be seen ushering students from one event to another, offering students extra tutoring and assistance and celebrating the achievements and successes of our students.
The aim is to build a safety net, a place where it is both safe to learn from mistakes and build on our achievements. Ideal is an Ideal learning place.
The Central Column
The central support pillar of the Ideal program is the dynamic partnership of Ideal teachers and parents. In the educational processes of today, this constitutes a symbiotic relationship: one cannot function properly without the other. Parents depend on the scholarship and preparation of the teachers to meet their child’s academic, social, and emotional needs while at school. And teachers depend on the support and cooperation of parents for the Ideal philosophy and curriculum. The energy and enthusiasm that the teachers bring to their classes make the learning and knowledge glow, and the Ideal methodology flow! Family honor, integrity, and character, as well as neighborhood issues or community problems can brighten or dim the natural radiance of students. Ideal successfully addresses those potential problems with its strong Character Education curriculum, and the emphasis at Ideal on community service.
A Strong, Balanced Academic Program
Key to the development of the whole person is balance. It is the balanced person who is self-actualized. The balanced person is using his/her full potential. Development of a balanced individual requires a balanced program.
Most academic programs that consider themselves “strong” are steeped in the traditional analytical, linear, “left-brained” approaches to learning. Ideal is committed to a balanced approach, an approach that helps the individual to integrate both hemispheres of the brain in the learning process. Through Ideal Excellearn and other Ideal practices and methodologies discussed under Ideal Practices and Methodologies”), students experience stress free, holistic learning. The result is that Ideal Education helps students develop strong emotional Intelligence along with the sharp, astute intellect of the well-rounded person.
Additionally, the Ideal academic program is built upon sound and proven pedagogical principles that result in maximum performance and high achievement among Ideal students. These principles are listed below:
a) The development of master teachers, experts in the implementation and presentation of Ideal Education through on-going and continuous staff development and training, offered congruently with the traditional, basic approaches to teaching and learning and the Ideal Excellearn techniques and methodologies.
b) The Ideal curriculum, based on several strategies:
1) Developing strong readers beginning with our early reading programs in pre-kindergarten and kindergarten. Our reading program uses intensive, sequential phonics and structural analysis for word study/vocabulary instruction through elementary, middle school, and high school as needed for struggling or developing readers. Intensive, sequential phonics is used, rather than incidental phonics, found in many basal readers and reading programs. In the Ideal approach to teaching phonics, this ordinarily left-brain activity is presented through several right-brain techniques, such as rhythmical chants, songs, steps and movements to insure that there is balance and success for all students. Ideal’s highly impressive word study method is integrated with effective, critical reading comprehension strategies to produce powerful, confident, Ideal readers who read well and enjoy reading.
2) Language Arts at Ideal is the art of using language to communicate effectively. Ideal teaches students the essential skill of effective writing. Writing in the Ideal Curriculum, however is not limited to the language arts or English class. Teachers collaborate to develop and implement a school-wide writing across the curriculum program. Writing skills, like reading skills are taught in every academic subject.
3) The math program integrates manipulative constructs, art, movement, and the use of chanting, rhythm and singing to balance these highly linear activities. The result is that students in programs using these techniques love math and they perform well in math class.
4) Science is taught using the scientific process with heavy emphasis on experimentation and research. Students learn through exploration and discovery.
5) The Ideal social studies program is, global in content from an African and multicultural perspective. The curriculum starts with the knowledge that Africa is the beginning of life and of civilization; it continues with a thorough study of major world cultures, emphasizing the unity within the diversity, and it progresses systematically toward our ultimate goal, which is to prepare global citizens, at home anywhere and everywhere on the planet, living the truth that, “We are all one people.”
c) Small classes facilitate individualized instruction and tutoring. “Each Teach” is an aspect of the program during which any interested staff or parent is trained and encouraged to take an individual or small group of students and read with them during our D.E. A. R. (Drop Everything and Read) time.
Ideal Education is first and foremost an academic program. It is therefore evaluated and judged based on student’s academic performance and achievement as measured primarily by standardized test and by standard and teacher-made assessments. Ideal provides a balanced approach to preparing for standardized tests. Students are provided techniques to reduce test anxiety and eliminate stress, valuable test-taking strategies, tools to build confidence, and most important the knowledge and information necessary to perform well on the tests.
Ideal Education is therefore both a system for the holistic development of the individual, as well as the intellectual and academic growth of the student.
Ideal’s Practices and Methodologies
Ideal’s practices and methodologies are tools for developing whole person, tools that facilitate the integration of right/left hemispheres of the brain, tools that relieve stress and allow the individual to experience deeper levels of thinking and being, tools that lead to the unfolding of greater potential.
Ideal methodologies and stress management techniques are the basis of a strong academic program, a balanced program. The Ideal practices are the motor, the energy, the engine that make the Ideal program work. They are the secret to unfolding the Ideal child to reaching their full potential. They are the means of developing the Ideal teacher. Without the Ideal methodologies, a strong program is not an Ideal program. Even if students learn, grow, and make gains, we will not know if those gains would have been greater or if they would have been more wide spread, if we had used the Ideal methods.
If we take away the Ideal methodologies, we will take away the spirit of Ideal Education.
What are the principles underlying the Ideal methodologies.
1. Stress management –stress reduction, reduction of stress results in clearer thinking, greater use of mental potential, happier and more balanced students and teachers.
2. Right/Left integration –integration between right and left hemispheres greatly increases the student’s ability and availability to learn.
3. Use of Joy/Enthusiasm –when positive emotions and the heart are involved in the learning process, a chemical reaction is created that leads to the improvement of memory, and facilitates more involvement in the learning process.
4. Building confidence in the learner – Improving self-concept and self-esteem has been shown to have significant effects on the learner’s ability to learn.
5. Raising Teachers expectations of students – teachers must believe that all children can learn and be successful.
6. Power of visualization and creative imaging – develops a strong visual memory, which is beneficial in the learning process.
7. Sensory Awareness – making use of different learning styles through sensory awareness heightens the senses for holistic learning. Use of V.A.K.T.O, visual, auditory, kinesthetic, tactile and olfactory awareness in the learning process.
8. Using the powerful sub-conscious mind through peripheral visual and suggestion.
The Ideal practices and methodologies are both for the teacher and the students. They include centering, meditation, breathing, creative, visualization and other techniques of deep relaxation. They also include methods of integrating mind and body through physical activities like yoga, brain gyms, certain types of exercise and non-competitive sports. Art and music both as aesthetic and as educational tools are significant parts of the Ideal Education process.
“Ideal Excellearn” is a synthesis of these techniques that can be used by the class teacher with the students to facilitate Ideal Learning. Other specific tools are for
a: Teacher (stress management):
➢ Art of Meditation
➢ Y.E.S. for Educators
➢ Ideal Retreats
➢ Ideal Power-Up Circle
➢ Ideal Power Statements and Affirmations
➢ Ideal Success Skills
➢ Ideal Family Retreats
➢ Y.E.S. (Youth Empowerment Seminar)
➢ Brain Gyms
Ideal’s Character Education Program: Self-Study, Self-Inquiry
For the students this is through the Ideal Character education program, which is based on 12 qualities of the Ideal person. The program includes (a) reading about well-known persons who have exemplified the quality being studies (b) writing through the interviewing of family, friends, and teachers of persons exemplifying the qualities being explored.
For teachers this study, self-inquiry is facilitated through study groups, group meditation and follow-up for the Ideal practices. It is also addressed during the staff retreats. The teacher is the focus, the key to Ideal Education. The teacher is the transmitter, the teacher is the giver, and the teacher is the receiver. The goal must be first and foremost to open the heart of the teacher to bring him/her to awareness to make him/her a practitioner of Ideal Education, both in the classroom and in her/his personal life. Teacher transformation is the goal – transformation from focus on outer to one who receives direction from within and goes forward to put that direction into practice in the classroom and in life. The teacher is the one that the student imitates.
Ideal’s Community Service Program
Development of the heart through service, selfless community service helps the individual become more compassionate, more empathetic and more aware of the situations and the suffering of others. A caring and concerned Ideal community becomes more committed to the improving the quality of life for everyone. Service without the thought of self is another key for developing the Ideal person.