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The School of Wants and Needs — and Wood-Fired Showers


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paywall :-(

It's pretty much what you'd expect from the title.

At the Midland School in Los Olivos, Calif., $49,900 buys a school year’s room and board and a shot at Stanford and Harvard, just as a fee in the mid-five figures would at Andover or Exeter. But at Midland, it also gets teenagers a lesson in wants, needs and the slippery continuum stretching between them. It is the very lesson that many grown-ups wish we’d gotten long ago.

Staggering as that price is, it would be a whole lot more if the school required janitorial services or a larger fleet of kitchen aides. But it doesn’t, since the students more or less run the place. And that is fitting for a school where the founder, Paul Squibb, declared back in 1932 that he wanted to create an institution free of the clutter that comes from affluence and the need to keep up with whatever everyone else has or does.

Eighty-four years later, that philosophy manifests itself in a campus that would almost certainly make the Top 10 list for most spartan among the nation’s private secondary schools. And when it comes to the most elemental needs — food, light, heat — the students play the largest role in providing them.

“Working to meet basic needs, and not just having those needs met, is itself an essential human need,” according to the dean of studies, Lise Schickel Goddard, who channeled the legacy of Mr. Squibb in a history of the school this year.

got in thru incog mode... t'was an interesting story

Good call. And agreed, sounds like a unique and highly functioning school. 

do you think it would be good to see more schools like this? 

I think so.

Students appreciate things more when they know how much work things take. 

imo, it would be sufficient if we adopted the Japanese method of making students responsible for cleaning and light maintenance

Oh, good idea. Carry water, chop wood, enlightenment.