Frequently Asked Questions
What does your name mean?
Marram Grass is the familiar beach grass that grows along the Indiana Dunes. It has adapted to survive the shifting sands by growing a deep, stabilizing root system. Just as Marram Grass has to adapt to the changing environment, our students will have to adapt to our often changing world. We endeavor to give our students stabilizing roots to thrive in life.
Does our family have to homeschool to attend The Marram School?
Yes, every family at our school is a homeschool family. Our flexible program allows students to attend 1-4 days a week, and families provide school for the remaining days. If you are not currently a homeschool family, but are interested in our program, we can help you make the transition.
Can my student(s) attend any day(s) we would like?
Yes, you can attend any day you would like, as long as those days are not already full. On the application, there is a section for you to note your preferred days. Preferences will be noted on a first come, first serve basis. We will do our best to accommodate your preferences.
Every day of the week will be a bit different. Please read about the differences below as you make your decision about what would be the best fit for you and your student(s).
On Tuesdays we hold our School Meeting. One of our fundamental roots is Democracy and this largely takes place through participation in the School Meeting. We seek to build community and one way this is fostered is if students can all be together at least once a week. If Tuesdays do not work for your student to attend all day, or if Tuesdays become full, all students are still invited to attend the School Meeting on that day.
We will have additional staff on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so there will be a larger variety of classes offered. Since this is our first year, we will not be able to make a class schedule until we have more applications in to see what students are interested in taking. We hope to have a schedule set earlier in the summer in future years so you can make a more informed decision about which days you would prefer.
Finally, Mondays and Wednesdays will have fewer students due to initial staffing, so those days will less busy and allow students to focus more on independent studies and semester project research.
We hope this helps you make a choice about which days to attend. We know the process will evolve to fit our students’ needs and we will learn a lot in our first year as we make adjustments according to their interests.
Do you follow state standards or give tests?
No, we do not adhere to state standards or administer standardized tests. We feel that these mechanisms can restrict a student’s development rather than give them more opportunities. Instead, students’ innate curiosity and our stimulating community engage them in authentic, meaningful and lasting learning without the stress of standards and tests.
How does The Marram School evaluate student progress?
We feel that tests, grades and comparative analyses and language do not give a complete picture of what a student has learned and their potential. These measures dehumanize students to data and numbers, rather than recognizing their whole being and unique, often unquantifiable, characteristics. We develop meaningful relationships with students which helps us to document their growth through narrative transcripts and portfolios. We will build narrative transcripts with the students each semester by recording the classes they have taken, independent studies pursued, positions held in the School Meeting or subcommittees, service learning projects they participated in and jobs they held for the semester. Portfolios will showcase their semester projects and documents and photos from the semester that they are particularly proud of. This holistic approach to documenting progress values all aspects of a student and fosters confidence that further helps students make responsible choices for how to use their time here.
What is the role of parents and guardians?
Parents and guardians play a very important role in our school. First, it is important to be familiar with and supportive of The Marram School’s approach to education and encourage students to pursue their interests in a supportive manner. Additionally, we value the involvement of parents to foster a community that supports all of our students. There are many opportunities for parents to volunteer from driving for field trips, organizing service learning opportunities, baking or cooking with the students, offering to mentor a student who is seeking to learn more about a skill you have or being a guest lecturer. We have many community events for our students and families throughout the year and we hope you participate in them as well.
Can you recommend resources to learn more about your approach to education?
The philosophy of Humane Education is interwoven throughout our classes, decisions and activities. Please visit the Institute for Humane Education to learn about its four elements: providing accurate information; fostering curiosity, creativity and critical thinking; instilling reverence, respect and responsibility; and offering positive choices and tools for problem solving. See The Power and Promise of Humane Education by Zoe Weil for more information.
Sudbury Valley School was founded in 1968 as a democratically run, free school, where students can pursue their interests and choose their own activities. There are over 30 Sudbury model schools all over the world. The Sudbury Valley School website has extensive information about this approach and research that the school has done to document the success of the program for graduates. Although we are not a pure Sudbury model school, we draw many philosophical influences from their approach and methodology and strongly encourage you to read through their content and beliefs.
Check out our Resources page for more information!
What is your facility like and what resources are available for the students?
The Marram School is very fortunate to have many resources available for students to support their learning endeavors.
- Library with a variety of trade books, text books, readers, a growing number of novels, workbooks and activity books for practice in a variety of subjects, experiment books and reference books
- Thomas Library is two blocks from the school and students can select and check out books from there during the day as well
- Computers with internet access
- Art and craft area fully stocked with supplies and yarn
- Gym with basketball hoops and a variety of gym equipment
- Stage for plays
- Huge kitchen for cooking/baking lessons and plenty of counter space for experiments
- Supplies and materials for experiments
- A plethora of games, both traditional and educational
- Montessori materials which provide a different format to teach skills as needed
- Outdoor space near the school – we are three blocks away from two town parks
- Designated quiet rooms
- Comfortable main room with tables and chairs, couches and floor space, where everyone can spread out and work
- Large wall calendar and message center to keep track of the class schedule, the School Meeting minutes, subcommittee meetings, jobs, service opportunities and field trips.
If the students aren’t exposed to a structured curriculum, how will they know what they don’t know?
The simple answer is students are exposed to the necessary information and skills for life simply by being alive and taking part in an active community. Children are naturally curious and intrinsically motivated to learn about the world around them. Montessori long ago observed how a baby develops language skills without anyone specifically teaching them the structure of our language and how to talk. Students do not live in a bubble; they are constantly learning from their parents, peers and teachers, as well as from observing the world around them. In a free school environment, students are exposed to more ideas and information due to the open communication, free flow of information, and time to pursue spontaneous interests.
Additionally, content knowledge conveyed in state standards is often arbitrary and not necessary to be successful in life. It is also increasingly less important to have memorized content knowledge with the use of technology and the internet. Finally, this question often presupposes that requiring students to take a particular class means that they will actually “learn” the material and be better prepared for life.
We feel that since each human being has different goals and passions in life, there is no singular curriculum or body of content knowledge that everyone should be required to know. Students will learn essential skills (such as reading and basic math) and cultural information because they will encounter a genuine reason to know or understand a new concept and will therefore be intrinsically motivated to pursue learning. More importantly, they will love learning, because they are not being forced to learn. They will develop life skills that are often overlooked in a content-driven curriculum, such as authentic problem solving, decision making, verbal communication, resourcefulness and creativity. If you are interested in learning more about this concept, read through the Sudbury Valley School website, which has documented the success of its free school for over 40 years.
Finally, The Marram School strives to offer a variety of classes and activities based on the interests of the students, as well as areas of staff specialty. Our staff also seeks to connect students with resources in the community to help them pursue interests in as much depth as they want. This could include field trips, service learning opportunities, guest speakers or teachers, or connecting with a professional in the community that is willing to answer questions and share information. Our school is not limited to one building; we have a whole community of resources for our students to benefit from. This empowers students by placing value on their interests and showing them how to utilize all the resources around them. Students then not only learn new skills and information, but they also learn how to learn, which is an essential life skill.