Backwoods? Maybe. Backwards? Not So Much.

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To many of us, one-room schools are simply nostalgic symbols from the past. But to the children, teacher, and parents of Angle Inlet School, the one-room concept of education is a very present – and precious – reality.

As the Star Tribune reports, Angle Inlet School is the last public one-room school in Minnesota. Located in the northernmost tip of the state, the school currently serves eight children and is headed by teaching veteran, Linda LaMie.

According to LaMie and her students, one of the best parts of the school is the community, family-like atmosphere which permeates the classroom:

“Children raise their hands and wait their turn. LaMie paused on a page of ‘The Ugly Duckling’ to help another student with subtraction. The third- and fourth-graders huddled in ‘the library,’ a corner lined with books and Apple computers, reading aloud about solar power. The eldest, sixth-grader Olivia Goulet, who goes by Livi, worked on her own, occasionally turning to answer a littler one’s question.

That littler one is often her sibling: The Goulets, whose parents own the Angle Outpost Resort, make up half the student body.

‘She knows what we need help on and what we do good at,’ said Livi, who needs help with science and is good at history and social studies. ‘That helps her in teaching us.’

 LaMie looks out at their faces and sees their families. She shares dinners with their parents. She knows who might have trouble making it to school that day, and why.”   

Angle Inlet School may be in the backwoods, but it’s certainly not backward. As can be seen from the above passage, it implements some successful methods of education which are often overlooked in today’s public schools, including:

  • Multi-age classroom – Such an environment causes younger students to learn from the older, while giving older students continual review and the opportunity to learn by teaching.  
  • Local education – If Angle Inlet School didn’t exist, its students would have to make a 75-mile bus trip to school every day. Keeping schools small and local builds parent-teacher bonds, allows students to grow up with a sense of belonging, and enables students to give back to their community.
  • Individualized instruction – As LaMie’s students will attest, their teacher knows them well enough to know on which subjects she needs to give them more help… but she also knows when she can pull back and allow them to work on their own. Such instruction not only keeps children from slipping through the cracks and falling behind, but it also enables students to become self-motivated, encouraging a lifelong love of learning.

Do you think more children would benefit from a smaller, local, and multi-age school environment? If so, perhaps it’s time we experiment and give Angle Inlet School a run for its money as the only remaining one-room school in its state!  

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