One of the problems in getting an alternative school started is that you can’t use a cookie cutter approach. To put it another way — what’s the model house for would be buyers. There are alternative school chains, but these have a tendency to limit creativity and this affects the passion for creation itself, the attitude that goes with it, and the ability to offer uniques opportunities. A map previously drawn is rarely as accurate or as helpful as it might be. Thus GPS, Darwin or this blog.
Once the school is established one could showcase the school and both parents and prospective students could come and take a look. In our case after a while the students themselves became our most convincing advocates. But how do you describe a place that never was? This was not an easy question in the first year of our school’s existence.
Students knew they would have to learn to deal with a new system for their final year or two. They would have to leave the place they had expected to graduate from to go to a place that their friends were unlikely to attend, and might even make fun of. Our building had been an elementary school with small toilets before we began. And while we had an expansive write up of the plan the details never seemed enough. So what could we show them; what could we say to them?
Sometimes the quality of our personae was what convinced. We were good teachers. And you could hear a confidence beyond what sounded logical. Call it faith. . . and excitement. We believed in the project.
I had one special advantage: theatre was theatre and those who danced and sang and acted already knew that I directed curious plays many of them newly written. So I took these with me when I could. I suspect that there is something about creative persons that long for adventure. But they are not alone in that. So there were also some who wanted to paddle their own boat and some who just wanted out of the ritual of traditional classes. Boring is boring and everyone knows that.