Monday, July 17, 2006

Marva Collins Way

“I promise that each day shall be gained, not lost; used, not thrown away.” Students are taught to have ownership of their education, and are guided in realizing that responsibility is the key."

Marva Collins grew up in Atmore, Alabama at a time when segregation was the rule. Black children were not permitted to use the public library, and her schools had few books. Nonetheless, her father, a successful businessman, instilled in her an awareness of the family's historical excellence and helped develop her strong desire for learning, achievement and independence. After graduating from Clark College in Atlanta, Georgia, Marva Collins taught school in Alabama for two years. She moved to Chicago and, subsequently, taught in Chicago's public school system for fourteen years.

Mrs. Marva Collins' success with students labeled as "unteachable" by others led to profiles in Time and Newsweek magazines and television appearances on 60 Minutes and Good Morning America. Her life was the basis for a CBS Special Movie, The Marva Collins Story, with Cicely Tyson and Morgan Freeman. During his presidential term, Ronald Reagan offered her the post of Secretary of Education, but she declined in order to stay with her school.

Collins' educational program and methodology is based on the Socratic Method. Socrates, an Athenian philosopher and teacher, lived from about 470 – 399 BC. The Socratic method teaches by using a series of questions and answers by which the logical soundness of a definition, or a point of view, or the meaning of a concept, is tested. The Socratic method is based on logical analysis, consequently, it develops superb reasoning skills in students.

Mrs. Marva Collins promotes excellence for the children in her charge. Effective teaching requires making daily deposits so that every child can become a lifetime achiever and they will never have to go through life faced with "insufficient funds". She tells her students that if you cannot keep one desk orderly, how can you possibly keep the world. She believes if we are not in control of small things then the larger order of things will not become ours to command. Marva Collins believes every child is a winner until somewhere, someone teaches him or her too thoroughly that they are useless.

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