Micro-schooling is the reinvention of the one-room school house, where class size is typically smaller than most schools (15 students or less in a classroom) and there are mixed-age level groupings. Generally, micro schools do not meet all 5 days of the school week, and their schedules look different than a traditional public or private school. Classes can be taught using a flipped classroom approach, a form of blended learning, though not all micro schools focus on technology in the same ways. Classes tend to be more impactful due to meeting fewer times in the week and these classes are typically hands-on and activity based. Together this approach is viewed as a replacement for the 5-day school week paradigm that is standard worldwide.
Micro-schooling is seen as being in between homeschooling and private schooling and is designed to offer a full-year of education at around $10,000 or often less. Its growing popularity stems from a general dissatisfaction of how schools (public and private) often structure their content. Homeschool families are drawn to the idea because of how micro-schooling establishes a core set of learning experiences similar to what might be found in normal schools that parents can then expand on and individualize for their children. Private and public school parents see micro-schooling as an affordable option that provides their children with a more worldly education that some might consider as Constructivism (learning theory) in approach.
Micro-schooling began in the UK as small independent schools, privately funded by groups of like minded parents, with no dedicated premises (home rotation) led by a full-time paid tutors (as opposed to homeschooling where a parent tutors their own child (or children)). Cushla Barry first coined the term micro-schooling in February 2010. http://microschool.blogspot.com/
It is set to be a rising trend in the UK, where getting your child into a good local school is becoming increasingly difficult due to underfunding and overcrowding. The UK Conservative party alluded to the concept of Micro-Schooling in 2007 with their concept of Pioneer schools.
Since 2010, micro-schooling has evolved in scope from the simple idea of privately funded groups of learners to a full concept of a specialized learning environment dedicated to ensuring individual understanding of the subjects being taught. Students attend a school for up to 2 days a week and cover a more diverse set of topics and subjects than would otherwise be accessible in small, private groups. These schools do not make the use of tutors for instruction or teaching, instead using professional, full-time teachers. These teachers tend to be specialists in their respective fields and it is not uncommon to see middle schoolers receiving instruction from PhDs in a particular subject. The incorporation of highly specialized instructors into the classrooms of younger students is one of the most attractive reasons that people are beginning to utilize the micro-school concept in greater numbers. Micro-schooling has grown in popularity as it offers Bay Area families an innovative, private based approach to schooling at a fraction of the cost that other schools in the area are charging. The number of families micro-schooling in the Bay Area has been doubling consistently year after year.
Inspired by the micro school movement, Austin has seen it's growth of this re-imagined type of schooling. Austin has a large network of private and alternative schools. Schools such as Long-View Micro School and Acton Academy are paving the way for innovation in education.
In order to provide the same amount of learning in fewer days micro-schooling has of late become associated with a movement in education to provide students with hands-on and activity based learning that often pairs experts with the students in the classroom. The overall approach might be considered Constructivism (learning theory) in approach. Lecture, worksheets, and book work are often eschewed in favor of carefully constructed activities that are designed to help the learner to develop their own personal understanding. In this model teachers will typically avoid making definitive statements of understanding to the students and will instead help the students work towards their own understanding. It is uncommon to see letter grading in micro-schools. Micro-schools will often pair suggested extracurricular activities, field trips, programs, books, and other multimedia with their classes so that students will have a broader exposure to content than what is just offered in the classroom.
Despite the relatively short time frame that micro-schools have existed, there has been evidence that shows students are often learning more concepts in the classroom in a shorter time frame. It is unclear whether or not those students are retaining those concepts over longer periods of time due to the short time frame that micro-schooling has existed.
As a potential point of controversy, micro-schooling often does not consider national standards as relevant to the educational needs of students and instead seeks to develop content and curriculum that helps create a passion for learning in the students and is real-world applicable. Educators involved with micro-schooling often feel that standards hamper their flexibility to develop engaging and enriching curriculum. Micro-schools will often choose their own set of standards and it can readily be shown that many of those standards, but not all, map to the Common Core. In many cases the content covered by micro-schools can exceed the standards provided by the state, particularly in regard to the four key content areas of mathematics, language arts, history, and especially science.