a small nongraded school

ray amir
12 years teaching experience - b.a. sociology, m.a. anthropology, university of california - 2 seasons ethnological field work, guatemala - special areas: spanish, dramatics, music, poetry, creative writing.

carl dorman
16 years teaching experience - b.a. english language and literature, m.a. creative writing, boston university - new england intercollegiate sabre champion - maker of things: 20-foot sailboat, 16mm movie film producer, reflector telescope - special areas: photography, ceramics, science, archery, fencing, electronics.

alice kenney
17 years teaching experience - b.a. psychology, stanford university - special areas - young children: reading, printing; old children: english and history.

bill kenney
15 years teaching experience - b.s. political science, graduate work department of asian studies, stanford university - 4 years assistant professor, san francisco state college - 2 years study at american academy of asian studies, m.a. education and psychology, san francisco state college - special areas: remedial reading and math; diagnostic testing, creative writing, golf.

jim stein
10 years teaching experience - b.s. elementary education, san francisco state college - folk singer, numerous concert appearances and workshops - special areas: guitar, banjo, recorders, other folk instruments, music composition, photography.

as teachers we have learned . . . .
        teaching does not mean learning is taking place.
        children want to learn; children learn best when involved in
        things they like to do.

in pinel, we have the freedom . . . .
        to present an almost unlimited range of experience to our
        students and the freedom to follow and encourage each
        student as he finds his own direction.

as individuals, we believe . . . .
        a liberal arts education makes it possible to maintain a sane
        view of the world as particular commitments, interests, and
        vocations develop in our lives.

The founding of Pinel as an alternative in education
The founders of Pinel, Raymond Amir, Carl Dorman, William Kenney and James Stein, are credentialed teachers with many years experience teaching in the public schools, who have come to question the organization, educational practices and physical environment of existing schools.

After several years of informal discussion we decided to systematically formulate our criticisms and recommendations for publication. It became apparent, however, that one more book, especially under the authorship of four unknown teachers, would have little chance of effecting any change in our schools.

Pinel was established in 1962 as a genuine alternative in education that will have some effect upon things as they are. In the summer of 1964, we purchased a six acre stie, planned its use, build buildings, planted trees and made other physical improvements.

Pinel is not a parent cooperative nor does it have a separate advisory or policy making board of directors. The four founders are the teachers of the school and also serve as the legal board of directors of a nonprofit corporation, Pinel. Our decision making is immediately responsive to our primary activity as teachers of children.

Pinel is not based upon any particular educational theory, unless it be the belief that children do want to learn, and if a child does not want to learn, something has gone wrong. We strive to establish those essentially simple conditions wherein children can grow healthily and learn willingly, and we strive to avoid those conditions which stifle individual self-sufficiency and the desire to learn.

Direct and personal relationships among all teachers and students, smallness of school populations, true nongradedness, the continual availablity of a rich natural environment, teachers with diverse life experiences and interests, mobility away from the campus, the selective use of many teaching techniques, and a genuine flexibility of schedule are some of the conditions necessary to avoid subordinating the well being and the education of children to inflexible administrative, curricular and architectural conveniences.

The day to day operation of Pinel
In its day to day operation Pinel provides an "open environment," the removal of classroom, pancake playground and inflexible schedule as the definitive features of a child's school day. Children are not kept in a classroom unless engaged in a task or activity facilitated by a classroom and its materials. The availability of six acres of open space, some of it adult planned and much of it not, with a variety of plant and animal life constantly at hand is an essential of Pinel life.

Study and activity groups are small. All academic work is tutoral or organized like small seminars. The abilities, interests and intellectual status of the children enrolled at a given time determine the size, number, composition and subject matter of the small study and activity groups. Trips away from campus in large or small groups or for individual students are a normal occurrence at Pinel as are visits to the school by people with particular talents or interests. The formalisms of teaching and the discipline of learning are imposed by the task at hand, be it mathematics, automobile repair or poetry.

Free play is not a luxury allowed the children so the are manageable during hours in a classroom. Play is essential to the health and the development of intellectual and creative capabilities. The enforced rest periods considered necessary for children in the kindergarten and first grades of our schools are not found at Pinel. Our young children thrive on a full school day without any formal rest periods.

The ecological nature of Pinel
The concept of ecology was applies successfully in the life sciences and subsequently transferred to other scholarly and scientific disciplines. As a result, much has been said about "wholeness," "functional integration," "organic unity," and so on. What the ecological approach attempts to do is to put the splintered pieces of reality back together again. And this is just what needs to be done in education.

No one educational idea or technique adequately characterizes Pinel. Nongrading, for example, is much in the educational wind these days. It is an important attempt to break through an educationally artifical "grade level" timetable against which children with all their individual differences are judged.

The application of the technique of nongrading is most often a piecemeal alteration within the inflexible organization and physical environment of existing schools. On the other hand, many of the specific teaching techniques and materials used at Pinel do not differ greatly from those which may be found in the classrooms of nearby schools. Nongrading, "cuisenaire rods," phonics or any other useful technique of teaching or of organization must be considered in its educational environment. Similar techniques lead very different lives from one environment to another.

As a school that emphasizes smallness, teacher competency and breadth of experience, a child's relationship to knowledge and not to a curriculum time-table, a multiple and flexible use of teaching techniques, and an immediacy in the relationships of students, teachers and the natural environment, Pinel has an ecological sanity that is educationally efficient. It can provide security for the healthy growth of children and stimulation for the development of their creative and intellectual capabilities.

regular session
september-june, 9:30-3:00 - a small nongraded school (ages 5-14) - individualized programs in academic subjects, dramatics, creative writing, music, art (painting, ceramics, etc.), spanish, golf, archery, fencing, photography, shop crafts, growing things (plants, animals) - each child will proceed as he is inclined - field trips (and outside resource persons) are a normal and integral part of the pinel program - diagnostic testing available as necessary.

summer session
june-july, five weeks, mornings - four field trips including one week camping - program is similar to regular session with emphasis on non-academic activities.

you are invited to write or call

    3655 reliez valley road
    martinez, california 94553

or call any member of the staff

-- 1960's brochure

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