What Is the Status of the Stelle School?


Question:   Would you discuss the education of the children of Stelle?


Answer:     Our private school has been in operation for four years, and we have developed a format which has proven quite successful. We also have attempted to apply some recent theories and observations made primarily in Europe which were published about six or seven years ago. We have liberally borrowed from many educational ideas and have tried to pull the best workable parts from each.


Our system involves the parents, and particularly the mother since she is expected to teach her child to read by the age of three. She also guides her child in an orderly progression of manipulative skills so that the child is able to write at four. We particularly like to have the mother do her teaching in the school setting so that we can also teach her the most effective methods to do this. There seems to be a much closer rapport between mother and child than with a teacher in the early years.


One of the most difficult aspects of our system is to teach the teacher our unique methods. She has a most important and a most difficult job, for she does not have a class where each child is following her lesson plan. Instead, she has an open group where any child, at any age can ask her a question about any subject at any given moment and she must come up with the answer or know where to look for it. She is not expected to know everything, and she has adult helpers. Most important, she guides the children in the use of reference materials so they can find answers themselves, and she helps plan the child’s curriculum and then encourages him to follow it. We hope that by the time a child is eight or nine, he will be accomplished in all that the grammar schools now teach. They can then begin in-depth studies in investigating the humanities and to study those personalities in history who have helped civilization reach its present level. The children study what it means to be a human being, to learn where we have come from and the level we wish to advance to. We do not have what is known as a “free school”. Children are assisted with making their own schedule from which they can deviate should their interest be so caught up in a subject at hand that they wish to pursue it rather than start the next scheduled activity. Because each child is on his own schedule there is no class which he missed by continuing an engrossing interest for one or more days in one subject. The lesson material is resumed wherever he left off the subject. Classes are mixed in age and sex, giving our school many of the advantages of the one-room schoolhouse.