Daring To Do Different

This is an interesting article from the New York Times:

60 to a Class Article: New York Times

The first thing that really struck me about the article was the cynicism with which it was written – as though educators daring to set up learning environments in any way different to ‘when we went to school’ are deserving of only mockery and doubt.

This school is in a very tough and challenging environment. Does the writer believe that if this school had been set up as a ‘conventional’ school, then everything would have been sweetness and light behind the closed classroom doors where one teacher (or occasionally two) would have been seeking to maintain control over 30+ excitable children with varying learning needs.

The writer doesn’t seem to understand children very well, expressing surprise at the level of exuberance when the children are transitioning from one activity to another. Really! That is actually a child’s natural state, not the pin-drop silence of bullied resentful compliance.

I agree, this model will require teachers to adapt a far more ‘team based’ approach to their roles, but that’s also no bad thing (in fact something that we are increasingly emphasizing for their benefit as much as the children’s).

When Sir Ken Robinson bemoans the way in which the world is changing, but education isn’t we can see why in articles like this. Parents (and journalists) believe they are competent to judge education because they are ‘experts (they spent at least 12 years at school themselves).

I am not suggesting that the New American Academy is the answer to all classroom challenges of the 21st Century. However, I woulds always have more faith in educators who are experimenting, researching outcomes and seeking to find new and better ways than those who perpetuate Dickensian models that were redundant even 30 years ago.


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