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News & Views - Mar, 2002 Issue #91

A Better Way of Learning:
Coral Reef Academy Breaks With Tradition

By Alexander Allen, Teacher,
A Better Way,
Western Samoa


The twentieth century redefined optimization. Everything from the making of computers to cars experienced drastic changes in management that led to more efficient methods of production. This progress, however, has bypassed the traditional teaching curriculum. In most schools, one teacher continues to use his own teaching style to instruct a class full of students with literally dozens of different learning styles. The teacher is also left alone to handle all classroom management and discipline concerns. Teaching, in this case, cannot effectively educate all students to their full learning capacity. When students are also identified as learning disabled, their full potential to learn is even further diminished in this traditional setting; their labels erode their confidence, thus dictating their performance.

At A Better Way, in Western Samoa, the traditional classroom is being redefined. The education department at Coral Reef Academy utilizes a more individualized approach. By incorporating a support staff with the teaching staff and using an independent study program monitored by full time teachers, the delivery of education becomes more efficient. The independent study program allows a student to select his own pace of study. He can also incorporate whatever style of learning he desires. A full time teacher is available to monitor his progress and also provide additional support. At A Better Way, two full time teachers are available, each having their own special strengths. No matter what the subject matter, one of the teachers stands prepared to readily create a one on one lesson plan to further enhance or explain any difficult subject matter from the independent study program. Also, the classroom comes equipped with a computer lab, library, and multimedia center. A classroom, however, would not be complete without the benefits of class discussion. A Better Way encourages students to work together in their own groups. Also, class discussions are held on universal topics that affect all students. At Coral Reef Academy, a student receives a custom tailored plan of study with all the resources available in any standard classroom. Full time support staff deals with any behavioral problems that may occur within the classroom at A Better Way. Thus, teachers can focus their efforts on what they were trained: teaching. This convenience, however, is excluded in most traditional school settings. Teachers spend too much energy concentrating on classroom management and behavioral problems, which takes away from time that could be spent educating. As this area of behavioral management shifts to the appropriate arena, teachers can become even more involved with the studentís studies.

A Better Way has also helped to expand a studentís capacity to learn by situating their campus in a most tranquil and clear environment. The classroom rests on top of a two-story building that overlooks the South Pacific Ocean. Ocean breezes fill the room while calm palms sway in front of the windows. This clean and natural environment facilitates the studentís ability to focus and study.

Coral Reef Academy is a therapeutic program that provides safe and nurturing treatment in order to assist students in achieving positive change and growth in their lives. It is a school that is redefining the traditional classroom to offer a program of study that maximizes individual education potential. A Better Way also provides a teacher a forum to educate children in a fashion that promotes academic success like no other way possible.

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