We have been engaged in “My Dream School” international project with International Education and Resource Network since the 1990’s.

MY DREAM SCHOOL. Nina MK, Ph.D. We have been engaged in “My Dream School” international project with International Education and Resource Network since the 1990’s., with all levels and ages. The European Schoolnet also offers similar topics. They are great for class discussions, essay writing, extra-curricular activities, and sites creation. Needless to say, any such project stimulates children’s imagination, and gives us teachers valuable insights into their wishes. • Primary school. The kids’ vocabulary is not too big, but their enthusiasm is enormous, and their energy is limitless. My pupils, ages 8-9, always began with drawings which they accompanied with short captions. Their whole word-stock can be activated this way. They would envision bigger rooms, spacious hallways “to run along in during the breaks”, play areas, roomy cafeteria with very good food, huge computer classes, and regular email correspondence with their peers from other countries. Among their recommendations is this rather sad one: teach teachers not to yell at children. • Middle school. By the time they became teenagers, all my pupils would have taken part in a few international projects. Their computer skills would be quite solid, and their vocabulary sufficient for writing short essays and exchanging messages with their partners. We moved from large drawings with short captions to occasional drawings, class-created web pages, and longer essays. At this stage, using English as a means of communication gradually becomes the key element of any project. • High school. At age 16-17, pupils are interested in real face to face meetings and contacts. They still talk about larger and lighter classrooms, bigger, more modern ICT classes, and the painful topic of enormous home tasks becomes a constant. They wish to have specially assigned rooms for after-school studies and activities, better equipped gyms, and cafeteria with breakfast, lunch and dinner served all day long. They universally express the desire for teachers’ salaries to be raised “to sportsmen’s level”. • The teacher. Listening to children of all ages and reading their essays, I learned to formulate my own ideas. When we come to work at any school, we take it as is, and do what we can. My own nebulous thoughts stem from my experience with the Manhattan School for Children in New York, USA, which my children had attended in the 1990’s. It was organized largely thanks to the efforts of several neighbourhood parents who wanted to open up a safe school for their young children, and to the tireless work of wonderful teachers. Together we took up an empty wing of a large school, wrote fund-raising letters to every organization we could think of, held fairs and sales to raise money, involved parents and children into our work, and thus this amazing school started. • Staff. There is a saying in my country: Personnel determines everything. Meaning, it is possible to erect a great school building and cram it full of all the facilities and equipment imaginable. However, if the teachers are not up to par, if pupils dislike them and parents have no respect for them, no good will come out of it. • Language learning in the future. Ideally, any teacher and any pupil who wish to visit another country to learn more about it, and to improve their foreign language skills, should be able to do so. Several schools in my town have ongoing exchange programs with English-speaking schools in Germany, for instance. Only a few students can afford to attend language courses in the UK. • Good salaries, reasonable amount of paper work, sensible hours, flexible curriculum, affordable travel, regular refresher courses. Children of all ages who are willing and able to learn. Teachers who are willing and able to teach. Parents who work with, not against, educators. And world peace. Ah, the stuff that dreams are made of…

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