The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

How would you like these conclusions from a study done to evaluate the effectiveness of “new” structures for schools?1. When engaged teachers, administrators, and students are given the freedom to experiment and the help to do it, they will come through.2. There is no one best way of schooling youth.3. Students can graduate high school who are academically engaged, involved in their communities, and thoughtful problem-solvers.4. Standards of excellence that work in schools are not necessarily imposed from top-down but ones set and put into practice locally by adults and students.Interestingly enough, this study was conducted in the late 1930s and early 1940s in America. The study can be summed up in this way:“Called “The Eight Year Study,” each high school decided for itself what curricula, schedules, and class sizes would be. There were no college admission requirements or must-take tests. Old lesson plans were scrapped. One school sent classes into the West Virginia coal region to study unions. Science, history, art, and math were often combined in projects that students and teachers planned together.”The takeaway from the study is that local schools and local decision-makers can be trusted with creating the conditions for a great educational experience for the kids that attend their schools.We don’t need tests to create a different structure for schoolWe don’t need outside “experts” to tell local schools what is good for them.We don’t need well-meaning politicians adding “accountability measures” to funding because the local schools are “taking our money.”We do need the flexibility in local schools to create structures in schools that make sense for the local context.We do need the creativity of passionate educators to have the courage to create something different.We do need to explain our dreams and hopes for our students in a way in which our passion and expertise come through.Just my thoughts…Please read the wonderful blog post by Larry Cuban that goes into the 8-year study in more detail.

About Tom Butler, Ph.D.

I believe that public education is for the public good and that education should be uncompromisingly learner-centered. The New Learning Ecosystem points us away from the old model of education that does not serve kids well. All educators regardless of where they work can help lead and contribute to the New Learning Ecosystem.
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