Chapter 15 - Just do it!

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Just do it!

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that all students from poorer families can benefit. Singapore's society, of course, is highly centralized: with strong government leadership and a high level of disciplined conformity. Only a handful of its public schools are independently run. And one of them, Raffles Girls School, thinks it has already achieved most of the targets set by the Government for 2002. Sit with bubbling, energetic principal Carmee Lim in her office and you catch the enthusiasm that has made Raffles the top high school in the state.
  Switching on her computer, she spends half an hour showing you the Raffles web site: the color photographs of hundreds of students on Outward Bound courses; others on field trips to China and Australia; yet others producing a wide range of computer programs; the entire school on community-service projects; all students surfing the Internet. Like Miriam Kronish at John Eliot School in Massachusetts, Carmee Lim is the epitome of tomorrow's school leader: with the common sense and sparkling drive needed to turn schools into self-directed learning centers.

The decentralized New Zealand model
 
  For a decentralized economy, some of the best models are emerging in New Zealand. All of its 2,700 schools, public and private, are now run by independent parent-elected boards of trustees. And the public policy is competition for excellence.
  Go into Tahatai Coast School at Papamoa in the North Island's Bay of Plenty region, and you'll see what can happen when a new primary "school of tomorrow" is designed from scratch. When you drive up to its entrance you think you've arrived at an up-market Californian ranch-style private condominium complex.
  Go into any of the classrooms and you'll find students working in Howard Gardner-style multiple-intelligence groupings, with teachers catering to individual learning styles. In every room you'll find de Bono Six Thinking Hats material. And every classroom is linked to the entire world: by satellite, cable and interactive electronic networking.
  Innovative principal Mark Beach and his staff have traveled extensively in the United States and Canada to pick up new ideas. He also says Tahatai Coast School has been fortunate with another big "plus": it was designed as a new-era school. And it has been able to select staff to fit the new philosophy. "For the first ten jobs," he says, "we had 200 applicants, so we've been able to select exceptional people." 1
  
As a new school, Tahatai Coast received an establishment grant of

 

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