Bringing Back the Power of the One-Room Schoolhouse and Agriculture in Education – with Dennita Miskimen:
Imagine journeying back in time to explore the foundations of good education – that’s precisely what we’ll be doing today. We’ll be scrutinizing the progressive education movement of the 1920s and discussing how one-room schoolhouses and community-centric learning used to be the norm. Hear about the family teaching model at The Little Red Schoolhouse, a powerful system that harnesses the power of mentoring to aid in students’ maturity.
The second half of our episode is graced by the insights of Dennita Miskimen, an educator who courageously pivoted from the public school arena to founding her own school program. We take an insider’s tour of her Little Red Schoolhouse, exploring how she upholds biblical values and ensures her students outperform their public school peers, academically. We then delve into the significance of country life in education, as we discuss the unique Virginia school that prioritizes a Child’s development as God intended. Want to contribute to reintegrating the essence of true education in your community? We’ll discuss ways you can support and get involved.
Air Date: 11/8/2023
Guest: Dennita Miskimen
Rick Green: 0:12
Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture at the WallBuilders and we’re taking on the hot topics of the day from a biblical, historical and constitutional perspective. That includes topics like education, which will be our topic today, but of course we cover the gamut Everything from entertainment and journalism to education, like we’ll cover today, as well as Paul, the different political issues and money and finance and biblical, honest weights and measures. I mean, you go down the list every single subject, every single thing that we face in life, the Bible has something to say about it. Everything that we face in life there’s a way to do that correctly in our particular constitutional republic and everything we face in life. We can learn something from history, because there’s nothing new under the sun. Solomon was correct and the laws of nature and nature’s God don’t change. So the principles that the founders put in place with our Declaration of Independence and with our Constitution, those principles haven’t changed. Very often, unfortunately, we adopt the wrong principles. We try to change the country by changing the principles that are poured into the culture, but if we get back to those biblical principles of liberty, they will once again produce prosperity and peace and abundance and benevolence and all of those things. If we continue to adopt the principles of tyranny, they will produce famine and shortages and chaos and war and all of those things. As Noah Webster said, all the miseries and evils which men suffer from vice, crime, ambition, slavery and war proceed from there, neglecting or despising the precepts contained in the Bible. That’s why we give you that biblical perspective as we address all of these issues. I’m Rick Green, America’s Constitution Coach, serving alongside David and Tim Barton, David’s, America’s premier historian and our founder here at WallBuilders. Tim Barton, national speaker and pastor and president of WallBuilders. Alright, guys, Dennita Miscoman is our guest a little later. She’s doing the one room schoolhouse it’s literally a red schoolhouse and looking forward to talking to her. I think we’re going to see more and more oh, what’s the right one? Almost entrepreneurship and education. As we go forward, more and more people are realizing that the public school system is failing, and so they’re looking for alternatives, and she’s doing exactly that. But before we have her on, let’s just talk about education in general. In fact, we had our legislators conference last weekend and y’all had several talks on the purpose of education. Why do we even do education in the first place? Because all these new ways of educating certainly need to accomplish the main goal.
David Barton: 2:36
Yeah for sure. With education there’s been a real change. It used to be that students were individuals and now they’re part of groups, and there’s so much that has changed through progressive Education and back in the 1920s especially, new policies came out. You know Tim has talked before about how that literally, they literally said at that time hey, we got assembly lines, this is the industrial revolution, etc. And we need people who take orders, not think for themselves, and we need people on assembly lines who do what they’re told. And so they really changed Education to take thinking away from it and just create a bunch of learners and we’ll tell you what to learn and we’ll guide you. We’ll tell you what food to eat, we’ll tell you what food you got to like, we’ll tell you exactly when you can eat it, and so it progressive really changed everything. And part of what they did is If you think of the way schools used to be. There used to be a lot of country schools and they got into consolidation for whatever reason. Progressive thing, pulling things together and having more of it in one place Is a good thing, and they don’t look at individuals, they look at groups. So they love cities, they love big cities. They’re not for the country folk, they’re for the city folk and they love pulling people together and things together and having groups. And it used to be the country. Schools were all about individuals, and so you might have a school with a hundred and ten hundred and twenty kids in it, and today they would close that down and consolidate it with something else. And so the, the progressive education has been consolidate, consolidate, consolidate, consolidate, and it used to be. No. We want schools that reflect the community, that are part of the community, they can deal directly with the kids in the community, and there’s such a difference. And one of the things I have been really intrigued with and I was able To talk to some one-room schoolhouse teachers that are in public schools, because in Nebraska you still have some one-room schoolhouses and they’re still the same in South Dakota and sell the same in Montana and Wyoming and my question to them was man, you got an entire school that you have maybe 25 kids in the entire school and you got everything from K through 12. How do you, how do you teach courses, maybe five or six or seven different courses math and reading, the science, everything else and you’re doing it for 12 to 13 Grades and you only got 25. How do you do that? And they said you know, it’s really important that you use the kids as teachers. You teach the kids something, let the kids teach the younger kids, and so you’d focus some on the older kids and making sure they knew, and then they would come, the teachers, the younger kids. And that’s really the way a lot of homeschooling does as well Is the older kids up to the younger kids.
Rick Green: 5:08
Well, and what a skill oh it is what a great skill to you, right I? Mean that’s going to mature those kids that are, instead of them just being with only kids their age now. They’re learning to mentor. They’re learning, and when you regurgitate something you learn it better, right when you’re teaching it to somebody else. That’s brilliant.
David Barton: 5:24
Oh, it is brilliant and it’s really kind of the family model. I’m referring Tim Brooks with what they have in Brookhill Ranch and when he started there and now David Page running that. We talk about it a lot and the leadership program is there. But the cool thing about Brookhill Ranch is they divide the capids really into like your family and so they put ages together that are really kind of dissimilar. Rather than having all the third graders in one buckhouse, you’ve really kind of got older brothers and youngers and just it’s a good family situation. It reflects what you have in a family instead of trying to make it not family, and so seeing younger education like that really is fun when they do that one room schoolhouse kind of approach.
Tim Barton: 6:06
Well, I didn’t even declare if I’d added at Brookhill. This is something where I have such fine memories of camp. I was a camper there for seven years as a counselor for seven years, still going to go up every summer and connect with my friends that are still running the camp and it’s third through ninth graders together in a buckhouse and they challenge that the eighth and ninth graders to be leaders in the buckhouse, that their junior counselors are high school students. So sophomore juniors, seniors, their senior counselors are their lead counselors, are students in college and it’s really just kind of going up the scale but they’re working together and everybody’s kind of challenged to lead those who are following behind you and as everybody leads those following behind, it helps everybody to connect, everybody gets noticed, but also everybody gets challenged to grow and exert some leadership skills and ability and this is certainly something lacking in so much of the modern educational climate and in that philosophy of pedagogy. We have taken time over the years to go through how much progressive change and what they changed and we certainly can take time and break some of that down today, although it would probably take more than we have opportunity on the, you know, 20 million per minute as we have left this program. But the reality is, when progressives came in and took over their, their goal wasn’t to focus on individuals. Their goal was to have a mass assembly line, just like they were. They were trying to get workers in the assembly line. And for those who want to do a little more research into this, if you go back to to Rockefeller, who was the one starts, one of the very first educational foundations starts off. He gives a million dollars to it. I think it was 1903. I think by 1907, he’d put $43 million into it. We’re talking 1907. So if we’re looking at tens of millions of dollars in 1907, I’m only guessing, but I’m feeling like that’s got to be in the billions of dollars. But there was nothing, nothing like this as far as academics was concerned, and their goal was they wanted to have better workers for the factories. They didn’t need better thinkers. Because it also, by the way, there’s there’s a logic on some level in this, because you have people. If the goal is to expand more factories and have more workers in the factories, you don’t need people in the factory. They’re going to say, hey, I had this idea. What if we did it this way? Cause the leaders can say no, just right, put, put. Put the gun and bolt together, just do your job, we don’t need you thanking for yourself. But because of it, they shifted education and they try to make everybody the same. This is also part of socialism, where everybody is the same, acts the same, behaves the same. Until they started saying if you’re in the same age, you’re going to be in the same grade and and we need to have you for longer and we need to train you more. And now it’s not about you learning critical thinking ability, critical skills, reasoning and logic, and that’s that’s not a priority. And said what we want to do is we want to have you be able to regurgitate. Whatever you are told. How well can you follow orders? This is the most important thing and this is where we see this major shift in education and obviously, what it’s done over the last 60, 80, 100 years has not produced the results that has been healthy for students and, ultimately, has been official for the nation, as education should be. When we look at the fact right now and that, according to the Department of Education, there’s approximately 19% of graduating seniors from public school, 19% who are functionally illiterate and who cannot read or write Clearly when one out of five of the students in public school are graduating illiterate. This is not a a a. This system is not working right. This is not a a program that should be repeated, and yet this is so much what’s happening. So anytime we see people breaking away it’s one of the things we’ve talked about a lot with COVID. As so many parents have said, we’re going to try something different at. Homeschooling now is just booming. We celebrate people that recognize the brokenness of the system and want to do something different. And certainly when you determine that you’re going to open a one room schoolhouse and you’re going to go back and kick it. Old school, when we used to be the number one educational place in the world with academic achievement, academic performance, absolutely this is super impressive. I’m very excited to to hear part of this conversation.
Rick Green: 10:27
I like that. I like that Kick it old school style. But I do think that you are ignoring so many of the accomplishments of the public school system. You know you said they’re not learning to do all of those things that they should be learning. But hey, they’re really learning to get in touch with their feelings. They’re learning all kinds of you know 147 genders. You know they’re learning a lot of stuff that probably they shouldn’t be learning, not probably, they definitely shouldn’t be learning. So the school is accomplishing what they want to accomplish. It’s just not what most parents want them to accomplish, and Dennita Miskimen has put her finger on that. She said enough of that and she’s providing a great opportunity for kids. So she’ll be with us when we come back from the break. Stay with us, folks. You’re listening to WallBuilders.
Tim Barton: 11:16
This is Tim Barton from WallBuilders with another moment from American History. In 1963, the United States Supreme Court decided that voluntary Bible reading could no longer be part of the school day. Founding father Benjamin Rush, known as the father of public schools under the Constitution, pointedly warned that the Bible should be read in schools in preference to all other books. He specifically warned that if America ever ceased promoting biblical principles in schools, then we would waste so much time and money in punishing crimes and take so little pains to prevent them. He was right. We now have 7 million Americans in prison on probation or on parole, and the United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world. Sadly, this was unnecessary, but is the result of no longer teaching the morals of the Bible in schools. For more information about the Founding Fathers views on the positive impact of the Bible in schools, go to WallBuilders.com MUSIC.
Rick Green: 12:14
Dennita Miskimen is with us and I love this story, folks. I’m telling you we need this to be duplicated A thousand fold across the country. Dennita has started her own one-room schoolhouse, and it’s even a red schoolhouse. This is so cool. Anyway, Dennita, thanks for joining me, Thanks for coming on today.
Dennita Miskimen: 12:31
Well, thank you for having me. I appreciate that.
Rick Green: 12:33
Well, I’m a big believer in competition, school choice, parents being able to have all kinds of options out there. Every kid’s not the same and I love learning environments like what you’ve created at your schoolhouse, where it’s not just in the classroom all the time. You’re doing all kinds of cool stuff, so I don’t even know where to start. I’m so excited about this. I want people to duplicate what you’re doing. So just tell us what. First of all, as an educator for I guess a couple of decades, if I read the article right what caused you to branch out and do something so different?
Dennita Miskimen: 13:04
So we’re at Gargoyle’s in public school for 23 years, and I guess it was about my 22nd year. I really got on my knees at the end of that school year and I told God. I said I can’t do this anymore. Virginia has some backwards thoughts about girls and boys using the same bathroom. They also started initiatives that were allowing pornography in our library, and the clothing that children were allowed to wear to school was against my belief system. So I went to administration. I told administration that I really felt strongly that we were in the wrong direction. And when I realized that I wasn’t going to get anywhere, I wasn’t going to make changes with a broken system. It’s fragmented, it’s broken and I don’t see it ever repairing itself. So I got on my knees and I said we’ve got to change this. I want to be part of the solution, I don’t want to be part of the problem. And God just laid on my heart let’s build a school. And I said, yes, let’s build a school. And so I asked him as to where should we build the school at? I don’t know where to begin. I’m a teacher, not a builder. And he really laid on my heart again we’re going to build it at the farm. We have a 25-acre agritourism event farm in Wettie County, virginia, and it was just perfect. We have the land. We live in a really nice community where it was like in between Richmond and Petersburg, so it wasn’t going to be a really long way for people to drive to come to the school and I thought this would be perfect. So I went with God hand-in-hand the entire time working on building the school. I put out on social media that I needed help. I didn’t know where to begin and people, one right after another, offered their expertise for free of charge and I paid for the supplies for my electrician. He came in and put hundreds of hours in the school. He never charged me for his labor and other people were the same. But before we knew it we had a school building built here on the farm and we have 21 children now that attend school and they learn about Jesus every day. They learn about the Pledge of Allegiance, what that means, why we say it, they learn true history. And they also have their academics. They’re reading and they’re writing. They’re ahead of most public school students, already at their age.
Rick Green: 15:16
Wait a minute, I gotta stop you. That just sounds so dangerous. That sounds like you might actually be raising children to love the nation in which they live and be good citizens. I mean, wow, that sounds so radical.
Dennita Miskimen: 15:28
Wow, it is radical if you’re in the public school system, absolutely.
Rick Green: 15:31
Tell it to you.
Dennita Miskimen: 15:32
But it’s what our father’s expecting.
Rick Green: 15:34
Exactly, exactly, and you just said something very important. I hope parents are listening to this and they’re performing ahead of the other students. So I mean, you’re adding all of this stuff that the public school’s not doing and you’re teaching this great stuff and yet they’re ahead in the basic stuff that they’re supposed to be going to school to learn.
Dennita Miskimen: 15:53
Anyway, that is correct. Here in Virginia, 50% of our children that are between third and eighth grade do not pass the minimal standard of learning that we give to them each year, and when I saw those statistics come out this past week, I thought, lord have mercy. We’re doing something right here, because I have kindergartners that leave kindergarten reading second, third and fourth grade level, and it’s the same level system that your public school uses. So I know we’re doing it right. We teach kindergartners how to read. They lead learning how to read. The children that come to us with those gaps in their learning, we’re repairing those gaps as soon as they come into our school and then we’re pushing forward and they are on schedule. They’re learning all that they need to know. They’re reading and writing is incredible. We wrote a book last year at the school and all the parents have a copy of the book. It’s just we’re doing amazing things here. We’re learning the way we are supposed to learn. We don’t have all this indoctrination going on, this woke indoctrination that our public school system is pushing on our children. We’re going back to the basics. We’re learning how to study too, Rick. How about that?
Rick Green: 17:04
I love it. I love it and they’re learning great skills for life. So the Little Red School has to be. How does a student or a family participate financially? Like what are the options for them where you live in terms of, okay, I’m going to leave the public school that’s paid for, or maybe they’re leaving a private school that they’re paying for, but what are their options with you when they come in?
Dennita Miskimen: 17:23
Unfortunately in Virginia we don’t have what other states have. We don’t have school trace yet, so I’m hoping that that’s going to change with Governor Youngkin. I’m not certain that that’s going to happen under his tenure, but we are still pushing for that option. So parents have to pay out of pocket to come to school. Our tuition at our school is below the average tuition here in Virginia. It’s at $6,000. We break that up to help the parents during the year, but the parents that come are more than willing to pay their tuition. They don’t have to pay for supplies. We don’t have computers that they have to pay for here. Everything else the school pays for to help parents as much as possible. And we also get donations from the public. We just did a huge interview at the time and we received some donations that were able to resupply our school supply list. So we don’t have to go back to the parents or ever hopefully and ask them for supplies. So it works out. God’s good to us. He gives us exactly what we need when we need it, and the children are thriving, they’re excelling and the parents are very happy.
Rick Green: 18:32
Well, that’s less than half of the average. I know here in Texas anyway, and probably in Virginia as well, of what it costs what the schools are spending, and the results are just incredible. What’s the age range right now for the Little Red Schoolhouse?
Dennita Miskimen: 18:47
So the age range right now is four years old up to fifth grade. We are freeing and trying and we’re working on that right now, getting out of grief at all, ironed out with the firm that’s going to be helping us and hopefully we’ll see Little Red Schoolhouse is popping up everywhere around our country and giving back to our nation what our nation has given to us.
Rick Green: 19:09
That was somebody’s listening and they say, hey, I’m in, I want to do a Little Red Schoolhouse in my neighborhood or in my state. How do they contact you? I know you want to see this spread across the country and people are looking for help on how to do this kind of thing. How can they get ahold of you?
Dennita Miskimen: 19:22
Thirdly, so they can contact us at wwwtheredbarnfarmvacom and we will return a response to them. We want to make certain that we find the right believers that are out there who have a little sliver of land. I’ve got a lady in Florida who said that she’s going to partner with me so that we can put some goats and chickens out there to help them, if they don’t already have that established. So you don’t have to live on a farm to have a Little Red Schoolhouse, but you do have to have enough property so that you can have a little micro-farm and place to grow and teach the children how to grow and how to grow and how to grow and teach the children that hands-on science aspect that they want so badly. And then we’ll take it from there. God is good, and for those that want it. We’re going to make sure that they get it, because there are so many children out there that need to step out of the public school system and step into something like this. That is very nurturing, very positive and takes them back to the basics learning about Jesus, learning about their forefathers and also learning about being self-sustainable gardeners.
Rick Green: 20:30
Love it. Love it Then eat a. God bless you. Keep it up, and we want to see this spread all over the country. Give us that website one more time before we sign off here.
Dennita Miskimen: 20:38
WWW dot the red barn farm VA Dot com that’s good.
Rick Green: 20:45
Alright, folks, we’ll have a link today for you at our website. Make sure you check it out. Then eat a. God bless you. Thanks for coming on today.
Dennita Miskimen: 20:51
Thank you, rick. We appreciate it. Have a good day.
Rick Green: 20:53
Stay with us folks. We right back with David and Tim Barton.
Tim Barton: 21:02
Hey guys, we want to let you know about a new resource we have at WallBuilders, called the American story. For so many years, people have asked us to do a history book to help Tell more of the story that’s just not known or not told today. And, we would say, very providentially, in the midst of all of the new attacks coming out against America, whether it be from things like the 1619 project that say America is evil and everything in America was built off slavery, which is certainly not true or things like even the Black Lives Matter movement, the organization itself, not not the statement Black Lives Matter, but the organization that says we’re against everything that America was built on and this is part of the Marxist ideology. There’s so many things attacking America. Well, is America worth defending? Well, what is a true story of America? We actually have written and told that story, starting with Christopher Columbus, going roughly through Abraham Lincoln. We tell the story of America not as a story of a perfect nation or a perfect people, but the story of how God used these imperfect people and did great things through this nation. It’s a story you want to check out. WallBuilders calm the American story.
Rick Green: 22:05
Welcome back. Thanks for staying with us on WallBuilders. Thanks to Dennita Miskimen and for joining us and for a good workout there in Virginia Helping to give kids a great educational environment. We’re back with David and Tim Barton. Guys love seeing this and love seeing kids Learning these things. You know, imagine that actually feeding chickens and everything else. They’re going to get some work ethic as well while they’re on the farm there.
David Barton: 22:25
Well, the work ethic is really big when you start bringing that farm kind of life into it. I I remember very clearly it’s years ago, but when I was in New York City the first time as a Texan I got in that city I got in a traffic jam going through the Holland Tunnel on a Friday afternoon. It took me three hours to make two blocks of traffic and I just I looked at it, looked at all the people. I went into a store to buy something in the store and the guy yelled at us because I wasn’t moving fast enough. He said you’re here to rob me and if you didn’t walk to the counter and immediately say exactly what you wanted when you ordered your food, he would just skip you. I mean, the whole thing was above above me and I said I do not have a Single idea why any person would voluntarily live in New York City, why you didn’t just pack up, leave everything you’ve got if you have to, but get out of town. And it was so Interesting because one of the ministries were involved with would take young people from the city out to Long Island when there was actually some country, and we met people in the city who were 65, 70 years old, had never left a six block area In the city, never owned a car, but everything they needed was in six blocks. They’re all in buildings that may be 60 sores high, but in the six blocks you got your medical, you got your grocery, you got your schools, you got your everything and they’d never been out of the city. And so we would take these kids out to the countries and literally it was so amazing to see for the first time they felt grass with their feet. They’d take their socks and shoes off and they never felt grass before. They would see the animals to say, what’s that? Well, that’s a cow. A cow, yeah, that’s where you get milk. That’s not where we get milk, we get at the store. I mean it. Literally they had not a clue about anything. So you start catching a real part of life when you start getting involved in a country life which is so good and you and Ricky, you were making the sarcastic comment is wait, you’re, you’re teaching kids to love their country. But in that weird that we have to be sarcastic about that comment now. I mean that used to be core for what education was, and teaching kids to love and appreciate America is such a big deal now, and it shouldn’t be, but I’m glad she’s doing it Well guys.
Tim Barton: 24:25
This is something to that. It reminds me of some of the studies that we have seen, especially for elementary students, where we find out that they do as much mental development and and social learning out on the playground as any kind of of Learning, development, comprehension. They get inside the classroom and and so often I mean really we can go back and track what progressives did when they said we want them to know a certain amount of things, but those things need to be the things that we have programmed as they need to memorize and regard, say these things, and I mean it really was this indoctrination idea. It wasn’t about developing the whole person and education used to be very much more about developing the entire person, which is also why those those videos of what PE class used to be like back when JFK was was Promoting his initiative for PE and you’re looking going, man, that’s crazy. I don’t think professional sports teams could do what these basic PE classes are doing full of students, but there used to be a different philosophy of educating the whole person, and so certainly when when you are seeing a school take this kind of approach, this is so much healthier and it will definitely produce the the kind of results that we were hoping would be coming from education, and certainly something that is much better for those students and much better for this nation and, by the way, like she said, we need other people to do this.
David Barton: 25:45
To replicate this, we need other people starting one-room school houses across communities all across the country. This is so healthy for students and we need a lot more of this. This is where we came from.
Rick Green: 25:55
It’d be a good place to get back to and it’s a big part of why we, why we highlight folks like this on WallBuilders. We’re hoping you, as the listeners out there you hear that you get inspired, you want to do something in your community and you take up that torch and and be a part of the solution there in your community. So keep listening but also acting and doing things like what Denny does doing. Or maybe you don’t have to start the school, but there’s somebody, there’s a church to start in a school. I remember in a good news Friday recently, David, you were talking about a school there in Loudoun County, Virginia. I mean those types of things. When they happen, our listeners can come alongside those schools, support them financially To just getting a word out there, sending your kids there. There’s lots of ways to be involved. Folks, thanks so much for listening today. You’ve been listening to WallBuilders.