The 3-Minute Interview: Katie Murphy of School for Tomorrow

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Murphy is the social media manager at the 60-student School For Tomorrow in Rockville.

Your school is really unusual.Can you describe it?

We are a secondary school serving grades five through 12, and our focus is really customization of education for each individual student. We look at the learning styles and the needs of each student and make sure what they are learning fits their needs and interests so they can have a positive school environment.

The school avoids memorization and test taking ... so how do the kids learn?

We have decided that memorization doesn't equal learning. We prefer students to be able to explain concepts in their own words, and they are able to analyze information and come to their own conclusions. Memorizing details that they are going to forget at the end of the test-taking session doesn't prepare them for the real world.

So how do you teach a subject like math?

Math is extra special because it is done one-on-one. Students in each classroom are working at their own pace, and the teacher goes from student to student to help them as needed. There is no pressure for a student to move on quickly with the rest of the class and end up frustrated.

Is it hard to teach the basics, or are the basics not necessary?

Instead of having a specific writing class, for instance, students might find that boring, so we have them learn how to make a persuasive argument and they get to choose their topics.

No homework?

The only homework we require is 30 minutes of reading every night.

Could you apply this learning concept to a large school?

We have discussed how big a school has to be. As long as you can have personal connections with all students, you could probably have more than a hundred but probably less than 1,000. We don't know what the number is yet.

- Susan Ferrechio

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