References (giving some of the sources of the components of the proposed curriculum and program of the Gilbert Academy)

Schools that inspire us
Providence, R.I. Dennis Littky's book The Big Picture describes some of the procedures used to put the kid in the center of the school. Students are given narratives instead of letter grades (the teacher writes a two-page letter summarizing the student's work in the past eight weeks and describes gaps that need work in the next two months). Learning through internships (LTI) allows students to discover how parts of the high school curriculum are linked to the real world. Instead of sitting through high-stakes tests, students give standup presentations or “exhibitions.” Students interview relatives and friends of their parents to build a 75-page autobiography. One teacher stays with the same fifteen students for four years, teaching all subjects. Building relationships with students (eating dinner in each student's home at least twice a year) allows teachers to know the capacities of the class. Former students are welcomed on campus as peer mentors and are encouraged to use the school's facilities.

San Diego. A visit to the school's channel at gives a sense of the intense focus on blending technology and projects.

Philadelphia. The Charter High school of Architecture and Design welcomes visitors, blending a curriculum with remarkable projects: I enjoyed the manga books that the students produce.

Urban Academy
New York. Student work and photos cover 80 percent of the walls. Hallways display framed photos and posters, signs, artwork and announcements. Learning by walking around.
North Miami Beach, Fla. Many of the students at charter schools in the Mavericks system use computers to work through the curriculum independently. Computer Assisted Insruction (CAI) is robust, allowing teachers time to talk with students one-on-one.

Look at the website: England (director, Will Sutherland). The QBE curriculum puts academics at about 25% of the focus of the school. Spirit, intellectual development (lateral thinking, which is often overlooked in schools), social skills and emotional intelligences, and physical development are four other areas of focus.    The curriculum was compiled by Steve McCrea  in consultation with Dennis Yuzenas, Will Sutherland, Cary Elcome, George Schiano, Jair Silva da Filho, Jeff Hutt and others.

Aiglon College
Chesieres, Vaud, Switzerland. Founded in 1949 by John Corlette, the school's vision is captured in part in a speech by Corlette at The central concepts: You can learn more by going to to see a curriculum that is based in part on the Corlette philosophy.

People who inspire us
Ted Sizer (1932-2009): Author of The Red Pencil: Convictions From Experiences in Education and Horace's Compromise. He founded the Coalition of Essential Schools and advocated school reform. “Ted made us question assumptions we’d never looked at before and examine the bedrock of our ideas— which may be what his idea of education is... When he was up there in front of us in All- School Meeting, he tried to get us to see our responsibility to the community and to each other as individuals” ( A colleague, Vic Henningsen, wrote, “Ted as headmaster [at Philips Academy in Andover] pushed the Trustees, the faculty and the alumni, as well as his students, to wrestle with the difficult questions of purposes and aims, to question what they were about and why, and to seek new levels of understanding, performance, and excellence.”

Howard Gardner: His Multiple Intelligences Theory has been widely mentioned in teacher training programs that focus on how students learn. Teachers are encouraged to present information in a variety of ways to help the spectrum of learners in the classrom. Often overlooked is Gardner's prescription about assessment: If individuals indeed have different kinds of minds, with varied strengths, interests and strategies, then it is worth considering whether pivotal curricular materials like biology could be taughtAND ASSESSED in a variety of ways (Intelligence Reframed, p. 167, emphasis added).
He advocates the use of “performances of understanding”: When it comes to probing a student’s understanding of evolution, the shrewd pedagogue looks beyond the mastery of dictionary definitions or the recitation of textbook examples. A student demonstrates or “performs” his understanding when he can examine a range of species found in different ecological niches and speculate about the reasons for their particular ensemble of traits. A student performs her understanding of the Holocaust when she can compare events in a Nazi concentration camp to such contemporary genocidal events as those in Bosnia, Kosovo or Rwanda in the 1990s.
Measures of understanding” may seem demanding, particularly in contract to current, often superficial, efforts to measure what students know and are able to do. And, indeed, recourse to performing one’s understanding is likely to stress students, teachers, and parents, who have grown accustomed to traditional ways of doing (or NOT doing) things. Nonetheless, a performance approach to understanding is justified. Instead of mastering content, one thinks about the reason why a particular content is being taught and how best to display one’s comprehension of this content in a publicly accessible way. When students realize they will have to apply knowledge and demonstrate insights in a public form, they assume a more active stance to the material, seeking to exercise their “performance muscles” whenever possible (page 165).

Thomas Hoerr: Principal of New City School in St. Louis, Mo., Hoerr has written a column for Educational Leadershiop (the magazine of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, His school's workbooks for teachers about mutliple intelligences are often cited as important for the spread of Gardner's theories (since the workbooks give practical tips about how to implement the use of portfolios). The school has red doors (note the link to Ted Sizer).

Tom vander Ark: He invented the term “edu- preneur” and writes a blog ( which discusses the challenges facing charter schools. He is a partner in Vander Ark/Ratcliff, an education public affairs firm, and a partner in a private equity fund focused on innovative learning tools and formats. He was the first business executive to serve as a public school superintendent and was the first Executive Director for Education at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Contact him at ark/#blogger_bio

Dennis Littky: His book (The Big Picture: Educaiton is Everyone's Business, published in 2004 by was read by Bill Gates, who used the phrase, “The New Three Rs” (rigor, relevance and relationships) in a speech to the nation's governors in February 2005 at the National High School Summit. His company Big Picture Learning has spawned dozens of schools in a network called Big Picture schools. For additional input, see the interview on National Public Radio (April 25, 2005) and search “Dennis Littky small school” on

Edward deBono: “Mr. Lateral Thinking.” Look up his name on Wikipedia and see the remarkable span of his career as an educator. He has repackaged lateral thinking to match the needs of current trends. For people unfamiliar with the term, here is a typical math problem: A wall 200 feet long by 8 feet tall separates your school from your neighbors. You need to paint the wall. Assume 100 square feet for each gallon. How much paint should you buy?
Some people place limits on a problem by defining the wall as only the part that we see when we stand inside the school. DeBono's life work concerns getting the reader to think “outside of the box.”
Lateral Answers: The following answers are typically marked as incorrectin most multiple-guess tests. a) “Enough to cover the surface, plus enough to do touchups. I would include the other side of the wall, since we want to be good neighbors.” 8 x 200 x 2 plus the top of the wall, and I need at least two coats, so double the whole thing.
b) “I'd take a photo and ask the guy who sells paint to make the estimate.”That's a practical answer, isn't it?   Thanks to deBono, Lateral thinking is held in high regard in many corporations. How about in schools?

Abraham S. Fischler, Ed.D.: President Emeritus of Nova Southeastern University and author of a blog called His catch-phrase is “Time is a variable”: “Instead of asking the student to fit the administrative structure (i.e., the class and arbitrary time periods for learning subjects and achieving competencies), we must provide each student with the time and means to succeed. Rather than punish the student who learns more slowly than the arbitrarily chosen period, we must treat each student as the class.” He recommends eliminating the use of the age of the students to organize the school, instead using “mastery of content” as the criterion for grouping students. Computer Based Instruction for math and English allows teachers to focus on problems, not presentation of the material. Additional learning takes place in small groups, where students work on projects and discuss their portfolios, applying the information learned from the computer sessions to other parts of the curriculum. He recommends a K- 12 approach to implementing this system. His testimony before the Miami-Dade Public School Board helped win approval for Mavericks charter schools. Key Quotes: “rather than studying history through memorization and chronology, it can be studied through problems based on the immediate environment for younger children and more abstract concepts in later grades.”

Dennis Yuzenas: Innovative teacher based in West Palm Beach, Florida. His workshops have trained dozens of teachers in the use of computer-based projects and team learning. He distributes ebooks on CD that his students continue to use in high school and university. “Mr. Y, I just aced my U.S. History class because I knew all about the Civil War, thanks to that CD you gave us with Uncle Tom's Cabin” (a message from one of his students). Interviews with Yuzenas form the core of the curriculum for the Visual and Active Teacher Training certificate (,

Dan Pink: Chapter 15 of his book Free Agent Nation (2001) highlights the ossification of schools: “Whenever I walk into a public school, I'm nearly toppled by a wave of nostalgia. Most schools I've visited in the 21st century look and feel exactly like the public schools I attended in the 1970s. The classrooms are the same size. The desks stand in those same rows. Bulletin boards preview the next national holiday. The hallways even smell the same. Sure, some classrooms might have a computer or two. But in most respects, the schools American children attend today seem indistinguishable from the ones their parents and grandparents attended. At first, such déjà vu warmed my soul. But then I thought about it. How many other places look and feel exactly as they did 20, 30, or 40 years ago? Banks don't. Hospitals don't. Grocery stores don't. Maybe the sweet nostalgia I sniffed on those classroom visits was really the odor of stagnation. Since most other institutions in American society have changed dramatically in the past half-century, the stasis of schools is strange.” s-out.

Thomas Friedman: The New York Times columnist advocates a “moon shot” effort to revitalize science education. His book The World is Flat has recommendations for reforming schools.

Websites  (schools) 
BigPicture.orgthe Dennis Littky / Eliot Washor organization

CHADphila.orgCharter High of Architecture and Design, Philadelphia

HighTechHigh.orgSan Diego, Calif.**

MavericksinEducation.comchain of charter schools that include the CAI model described by Dr. Abraham S. Fischler in 

MetCenter.orgProvidence, R.I.**

NewCitySchool.orgSt. Louis (publishers of a widely used workbook for introducing multiple intelligences in academics)

Tracy.MHS.schoolfusion.usMillennium High School, Tracy, California Motto: Aspire, achieve, advance

UrbanAcademy.orgNew York City** Motto: A small school with big ideas
**These schools were profiled in High Schools on a Human Scale: How Small Schools can Transform American Education (2003) by Thomas Toch, introduction by Tom vander Ark, Beacon Press, ISBN 978-0807032459

Websites (reformers, publishers), publishers of The Big Picture: Education Is Everybody’s Business (2004) by Dennis Littky and Samantha Grabelle, ISBN 978- 0871209719, Center for Education Reform, Tom vander Ark’s blog, newsletter, served hot with a twist, Jack Taub’s site, vander Ark’s investment group, Coalition of Essential Schools, formed by the late Ted Sizer, funding for education reform, Steve McCrea, teacher training workshops, Project Zero, Harvard University, teacher training, Will Sutherland, innovative curricula, Sutherland's consulting site, Mario Pigliucci, City University of New York, Ben Udy's English school in Honduras (using John Corlette's educational philosophy,, Michelle Rhee (former superintendent of Washington, DC schools), Gordon Dryden, New Zealand, author of The Learning Web with Jeannette Vos: How to quit school at 14 and eventually write a top-selling book about learning. for additional philosophy of education, Dr. Abraham Fischler, Two Million Minutes, Robert A. Compton’s project, Dennis Yuzenas, master teacher and trainer, developer of workshops integrating digital portfolios

Youtube channels

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Postman and Weingartner Teaching as a Subversive Activity

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Links to inspiring videos

Drive by Dan Pink

What motivates us (by Dan Pink)

Tour of Dennis Littky's school   TV cover of Frida Kahlo school

Dr. Tae  Building a culture of teaching and learning

Ken Robinson:  how schools kill creativity      Learning Revolution
Changing Paradigms  

High Tech High
Developjing a school, building a culture (4 minutes)

Transparency:  how leaders create a culture of candor
Warren Bennis

Sugata Mitra:  can children teach themselves?

Deming Quality Program
Howard Gitlow

Deming Prize
by Encyclopedia Brittanica (interview 1984)

Tom vander Ark

Bob Wise Digital Learning Technologies

Dan Pink
Free Agent Nation
A Whole New Mind
Drive:  The surprising truth about what motivates us

Thomas Friedman
Hot, Flat and Crowded

Malcolm Gladwell

Steve Jobs
The Stanford University Commencement Speech (2005)

Entrepreneurs can change the world

Larry Lessig  (how creativity is being strangled)

The current plan (this is how far or how close we got to the Initial Plan)

Bulding Better Schools
with commentaries by Dr. Abraham Fischler
Every family who applies to the school gets a free CD