|What is MicroSociety?
"My kids were poor, and if they didn’t learn, they were going to stay poor. I wanted to put
the responsibility of learning on them because until they wanted to learn, I couldn’t teach
-Dr. George Richmond, Founder
The Power of an Idea
In 1967, Dr. George Richmond, then a 5th grade rookie New York City teacher, faced 33
unruly kids. Having grown up in poverty by a single mother in a tenement on the Lower
East Side of New York, he understood that when grades and discipline don’t motivate
students to learn, freedom and responsibility would. From Richmond’s vision grew the
MicroSociety program, a revolutionary learning model that drives students to want to
learn classroom curriculum when real-world activities make it relevant to their lives. His
1972 book, The MicroSociety School: A Real World in Miniature, was reviewed for
Harper and Rowe by Peter Drucker and remains the definitive work in the field.
MicroSociety creates motivating learning environments that are continuous throughout
the year. The interconnected, real world experiences are relevant and meaningful to
children and purposefully engage the community in their evolution. The result – students
learn and practice 21st Century skills in class and “on the job” by managing their own
miniature community, not on-line, but in real-time, for one period a day.
MICROSOCIETY’s co-operative, rigorous esteem-building programs have the power to
address many of the problems that plague American classrooms today:
•Increase Academic Achievement
Program impact has been especially remarkable with those who struggle hardest to
succeed - children from low income families, children with special needs, and children
with limited English proficiency. Our experience shows that all children – regardless of
where they grow up or who their parents are – love to feel the satisfaction of a job well
done. Ironically, privileged children, too dependent on the rewards from the work their
parents do, are also at risk of not experiencing success. Large numbers of them pass
through childhood without holding a single job or performing a full day of authentic work.
A MicroSociety program puts authentic work back into the lives of children. It provides
them with opportunities to be leaders and authority figures in a world of business – for-
profit and not-for-profit. It gives them opportunities to develop real power, to discover
work that they are good at, and with the chance to solve and address a broad range of
political, social, and economic problems.
•Improve Behavior and Reduce Violence
Students learn the value of rules and laws when they create them, interpret them and
enforce them in order to get along in their shared society. They also learn empathy and
respect for others and hone valuable conflict resolution skills in order to get along in the
progress of its evolution.
•Motivate a Desire to be in School
By connecting curriculum to real-world activities and through a balance of intrinsic and
extrinsic rewards, the program re-engages students who are disinterested in school
because they don’t see its relevance to life.
•Enhance Citizenship, Service Learning and Community Engagement
Students learn why voting is important and that demanding ethical decisions of their
elected officials is not only their right, it is their responsibility. They witness firsthand how
engaged citizens play a vital role in the success of a community and its ability to thrive.
•Prepare Tomorrow’s Workforce
This innovative educational design is an incubator for the kinds of workers who will take
the lead in running the businesses, government agencies, and charitable organizations
of tomorrow. By linking real world activities to classroom room learning, MicroSociety
puts meaningful work into the experience of childhood. Students develop the critical 21st
century skills like communications, critical thinking and decision-making, team-building,
and personal initiative that will enable them to thrive in a global economy.
•Improve Financial Literacy
Students uncover the fundamentals of finance as they buy and sell products in the
marketplace, create personal and business budgets, maintain checkbooks for both,
calculate taxes, and meet payroll. MicroSociety teaches financial literacy in a real world
context that is meaningful to students. These practical challenges strengthen their
aptitude for math-related areas like banking, investment, and personal finance. Students
come to recognize the value of a dollar and how to make more informed decisions about
their own financial futures.
Adapted From: MICROSOCIETY, Inc. (2010). MicroSociety Fact Sheet. MicroSociety FAQ’s.
Retrieved June 11, 2011, from the MicroSociety Website: http://www.microsociety.org/