I was slowly walking the hallways at BASIS Phoenix, reminiscing as I absorbed the familiar buzz, chatter and patter of students coming and going during the limited time between classes. I always loved that time. In my high school, it was five minutes. I’d map my route to change out my notebooks and texts in my locker, maybe hydrate with a quick tip-toed drink of some fountain water, or try to chat briefly with some friends. Thirty seconds? Forty-five? I had deep conversations in that small window of time!
Now, as an adult walking hallways vibrant with action, it felt familiar. And I was glad it did.
When I first experienced BASIS schools, first learned about the curriculum that is “internationally benchmarked” and the students who are years beyond their peers in the United States with regard to academic achievement, I wasn’t sure how familiar the hallways would feel. Just how serious – I thought to ask — are BASIS students, collectively? Does taking chemistry in 6th grade and algebra in 7th change kids from kids, into something – I don’t know – say, more mature, or serious? More businesslike?
I quickly found out. The answer, emphatically, is “no.” These BASIS hallways were just like mine, from the 1980s. These hallways were loud with laughter and conversation, tumultuous with dropped books and shuffled papers and squeaking sneakers. They rippled with that to-and-fro, but it was the same happy meandering I was used to: I watched students find their friends, chat briefly, say hey! and seeya! as only students know how, given the looming start of another class.
BASIS Phoenix students are, just, students – as are students at other schools managed by BASIS.ed. Raising academic standards doesn’t take the age out of children or teens, doesn’t bend a kid towards adulthood any quicker. I was thankful for that, as I walked these halls.
What raising academic standards DOES do is make students learn to appreciate, learn to pinpoint what they like or even love, find how time spent can deliver something to them: satiation for their curiosity, answers to their questions, confidence to feel good about how they deal with student life.
That familiar thrum of school life is replicated in each BASIS school I visit. I have found it in Tucson and Oro Valley, Phoenix and Scottsdale, Flagstaff and Chandler and Mesa and Ahwatukee. I have asked my colleagues, who’ve found it in Brooklyn and San Antonio, Washington and San Jose. And I know it’s evident wherever BASIS schools are redefining education, or raising academic standards to the highest international levels.
We all know that BASIS.ed schools are excellent institutions, doing wonderful things with hundreds of talented teachers for thousands of growing students. But at their core, they’re still just schools. Inside each are kids with books and backpacks, kids saying hi to their friends, children and teens doing what they do.
Pretty soon, on this day at BASIS Phoenix, the hallways cleared, doors closed, classes began. There was no ringing bell – the former student in me had braced for it, although the BASIS.ed part of me knew there’d be no buzz. It’s a nice difference – one that shows a small way, one of many, that BASIS.ed schools instill a real sense of responsibility, of owning your own education. No bells to mark the end of passing periods or the end of class is a nod to the partnership between our students and teachers, and how much each respects the classroom, and why we’re here.
That sense of purpose dovetails nicely with the “kid next door” attributes of our students. It has a real beauty to it.
You can hear it in the hallways.
Should you have any comments or questions, please feel free to contact us at BASISedBlog@basised.com.