April 26, 2006
Mark McCaig-who has a beard, holds a master's degree from Harvard, and is purportedly an expert in birds, shark teeth, and shiatsu massage (it's unclear if that's an exhaustive list)-works for Fairhaven School, outside Washington, D.C. But though McCaig manages the institution, don't call him a school administrator. At Fairhaven, "adults teach but are not teachers. They lead but are not administrators." And the students-well, they don't do much of anything and pretty much come and go as they please. The only rule is that they spend at least five hours at the "school" between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. While there, some youngsters play basketball, others muck around in the nearby creek, and a few sit and chit-chat with each other or talk on their cell phones. And for this, families pay $6,680 per student, per year (less for siblings). You may be tempted to think, for example, that playing video games all day, which is perfectly fine at Fairhaven, isn't much of an education. But McCaig answers that charge with an interrogative of his own: "What is an educated individual?" Hmm. Sitting alone beneath his fig tree, Gadfly ponders McCaig's question. He'll get back to us in seven days; in the meantime, don't send your kids to Fairhaven.
"Learning on Their Own Terms," by Nick Anderson, Washington Post, April 24, 2006