Private school in Thompson Falls teaches differently

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  • DENNIS OLSON helping the class of Facture Academy students use his apple press. (John Dowd/Clark Fork Valley Press)

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    FACTURE ACADEMY students with their teacher, Shannon Doherty, working the Olson’s apple press to make apple juice. (John Dowd/Clark Fork Valley Press)

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    STUDENTS AT Facture Academy waiting for their parents to pick them up after school. (John Dowd/Clark Fork Valley Press)

  • DENNIS OLSON helping the class of Facture Academy students use his apple press. (John Dowd/Clark Fork Valley Press)

  • 1

    FACTURE ACADEMY students with their teacher, Shannon Doherty, working the Olson’s apple press to make apple juice. (John Dowd/Clark Fork Valley Press)

  • 2

    STUDENTS AT Facture Academy waiting for their parents to pick them up after school. (John Dowd/Clark Fork Valley Press)

In the rise of the information age, as technology makes our lives easier, it is becoming a growing concern that our youth are relying too much on this technology.

There is also a growing concern that public education is not the answer, something that Shannon and James Doherty strongly believe.

As they explained, the public-school system often treats everyone as if their brain functioned at the same level, and as good as this sounds, often results in the “lowest common denominator” being the standard of the class.

To combat this, they have opened up a small school business to help members in the community who seek another way to educate their children.

Enter Facture Academy, based in Thompson Falls.

Started this year, the school looks to educate children in a new fashion, yet as James explained, the techniques really are not that new.

“Our methods of education are a lot like how many of the founding fathers got their education,” said James.

Their school is fully accredited by, and is affiliated to, Acton School System. There are 100 of these around the world and they seek to teach students in a more personal way.

The system works on the assumption that all people think differently and that if a person can run their own education, with guidance, then their learning can be made much more effective.

The word “Facture” actually refers to a piece of art and means the manner in which art is made. The term was chosen by the Dohertys as a metaphor to what they wish to accomplish.

As Shannon explained, “Kids are all a masterpiece, ready to be made.”

Children in the program set their own goals and are taught by “guides” not teachers. These goals are prompted to be challenging, achievable, and rewarding. Students also create their own rules and work as a group to create boundaries and schedules to facilitate their learning, under guidance of course.

The entire school “system” encompasses grades kindergarten through eight and functions much like the old single teacher schoolhouse of the old west.

In this way all grades participate under one roof in one “class.”

This works because of the nature of all students learning at a different pace. As each student succeeds at their goals, this prompts other students to do the same, and to reach for more.

They experience failure, and success both, and how to deal with each in a productive and effective way. James explained how effective the system is and that students progress, on average, 2.5 years (that of a child in public education) every 9 months.

They also do not receive homework and have class Monday through Thursday, subtracting Friday as a school day. Students also participate in excursions. Two weeks ago, they had a field trip to pick apples and then to make them into apple juice. This juice they plan on selling as cider at a fundraiser Oct. 24 at the school.

The school is student led and the curriculum is constantly adapting to each child’s specific needs. The kids also take assessments to see where they stack up and experience reality, so if a child chooses to do very little he or she will see where that puts them according to their peers.

Guides will also the Socratic Method of orienting students toward their goals, and teach the children to think for themselves, rather than relying on a teacher to tell them how everything is.

Facture Academy has a 10-month school year and promotes families to participate with their children’s learning. The school costs $300 a month and currently has eight students enrolled.

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