The approach to education at Buck Brook Farm was simple: our minds are made to learn, so give them the opportunity to do it.
First off, there were no televisions on the campus. Radios were not forbidden but I don’t remember any since the reception in the Catskill Mountains sucked. Food was sugar free, a simple act that cut down on much of the student’s hyper behavior.
Everyone, staff and students alike, had to get up for an early morning walk, often to a little lake up the stream that ran through the campus. After the walk breakfast was served, primarily whole grain cereals. I came to love granola. Then we all went off to our assigned or voluntary tasks until noon.
Unless we were on kitchen duty that week, the tasks at Buck Brook were dedicated to rebuilding the campus to meet codes and our needs. All these tasks were relevant to our lives since the gathering winter was reminding us we wanted to stay warm. Digging out a new foundation, remodeling bathrooms, retrofitting plumbing, modernizing the electrical – we staff and students did it all and learned it all.
At noon hot and cold food was served and the rest of the day the students were free to do what they wished. That often included visiting with one another and deciding to go finish what the morning task had started.
Math? Well. Take a wall in a room that has been settling for fifty years on a poor foundation, so there is not a square angle in it. Run in new plumbing and electrical, install studs to code, and then cut sheet rock to fit. Don’t worry about studying obscure angles or subtracting fractions — you’ll have all that under your belt before you are finished.