Educational Practice

The system of public education should intentionally cultivate the capacity for self-governance within its citizens and foster accountable leadership at each scale in the system, starting with students.

Empowering students and families

  • We are all born to learn—to form associations and explore relationships among the physical, personal, social, and other elements of our lives.
  • Influential parents and teachers must always remember that the learners entrusted to our care are the essential actors in their own genuine education.
  • As parents and teachers, we must create an environment that empowers and engages children as learners. We cannot impose excellence upon others; we can create the conditions from which excellence emerges within them.
  • Student apathy, passivity, and resistance to learning are not natural.  They are symptoms either of a wariness acquired by harsh experience, or of excessive adult interference with the learning process.
  • Entrusting children with meaningful problems nurtures their initiative, self-governance, and leadership.  Developing our most precious resource enriches us all.

Empowering teachers and schools

  • Great teachers live in those moments when learning transcends teaching.  Teachers require professional discretion to respond appropriately to the dynamic needs of learners in order to find and create those moments.
  • Teacher professionalism requires both discretion and accountability.  We can no more impose excellence on a profession, however, than we can impose it on an individual.  Teacher professionalism must include the concept of self-governance within the context of mutually accountable relationships.
  • In spite of the best of intentions, excessive interference with teachers and schools undermines the emergence of a culture of engagement, collaboration, and excellence.  A culture of policing and monitoring stunts the development of the human and social resources potentially operating within the system.

Practicing Relational Trust at All Scales in the System of Public Education

The mission of the more applied branch of SOIEF is to sponsor educational initiatives influencing student lives and the broader educational system. These initiatives will feature a relational approach to educational excellence at every scale in the relational network of education—from the authentic relationship between learner and lesson; to genuine relationships among learners, teachers, parents, and administrators within schools; to reliable relationships between the school, the community, and various governmental structures.

Schools of Influence Education Foundation intends to sponsor public charter schools open to all Knox County students eligible to attend a charter school under Tennessee law. We hope to attract a diverse population unified in their commitment to work hard in the pursuit of excellence. We will intentionally cultivate independent learners, trustworthy community leaders, and productive workers. We will use individualized instruction, trusting relationships, and community-based internships. All graduates will be qualified for community college, technical school, or university. We hope that many will graduate having earned college credit.

We presume that all members of the school community are capable of personal excellence. We believe that personal excellence is the basis for trust, and that trust is the basis for community. We entrust students with real responsibility for school activities, rules and consequences for betrayals of community trust. Internships further express our faith in students’ abilities. We believe that trust engages active learners, empowers principled leaders, and prepares purposeful adults. Applicants will be asked to commit to act in ways worthy of that trust and must agree to an extended school day and a longer school year in order to accommodate the internship and extra academic help, as needed. Families will, likewise, be asked to commit to support the program and policies of the school.

Schools of Influence Education Foundation aims for excellent academic and personal preparation in all students, closing achievement gaps, where appropriate. We will identify each student’s individual needs and engage students in learning strategy. Genuine assessment of the academic skills, learning styles, and life factors affecting student growth and learning will inform each student’s academic program.