Entries:
Comments:
Posts:

Loading User Information from Channel 9

Something went wrong getting user information from Channel 9

Latest Achievement:

Loading User Information from MSDN

Something went wrong getting user information from MSDN

Visual Studio Achievements

Latest Achievement:

Loading Visual Studio Achievements

Something went wrong getting the Visual Studio Achievements

Are smaller schools really the answer?

A couple of posts by Cal Teacher (here, here and here) have gotten me moved me to write about something I have been thinking about for a while - making high schools smaller either by a school within a school model or splitting them up. The Gates Foundation among other groups have been pushing this idea for a while. It sounds good to a lot of people but I'm not so sure about it.

Oh I agree that it many of today's large high schools it is easy to lose students. But small schools are too limited in their options for students. What do you do if there is a poor fit between a student and teacher (it happens) but there is no choice but for that student to have that teacher for a course they need or are interested in? What do you do if a student wants to try something, stretch themselves a bit, but that course is not offered at the school they are at? Transfer? Not always an option.

I went to a very large (over 5000 students) high school a long time ago in a city far far away. But I was never lost even though I was painfully shy and quiet. Why? Because the school had majors or concentrations. I traveled to some key courses (shop, drawing, and science courses tuned to my major) with a smaller cohort. I was at an engineering magnet so we all had shop and drawing classes but they were specific to out major course of studies after our second year. We split up, to some extent but not completely, for other courses like math, English and social studies. So we were a part of the wider school community while maintaining a membership in a smaller community of interest. It worked and worked well.

I think this model could be made to work in schools that are not magnets or special purpose schools as well. Perhaps the focus could be around sports? Or maybe vocational technical programs? Vo-tech students today need and take largely the same math, English and social studies courses other students take. They need to math for example. Perhaps music or performing arts could be a focus. Perhaps, as Cal Teacher suggests, they could be special advisory classes that keep the same students and teacher together for four years. There must be many more ways to build community in a school. The key is to make sure that everyone gets to be a part of a community that knows and values them. Somewhere where as the song goes "everyone knows your name."

Tag:

Follow the Discussion

  • Lord ZimbuLord Zimbu

    Indeed you've stated the main point. I don't think that smaller schools are the answer at all, but instead the quality of the curriculum and if the school funds extra curricular clubs. Given the environment going from grade school to highschool should be a strong transition, in that you go from a 1 class room world to a very different, much bigger environment with much more to offer you, as in more classes, more people, more teachers and more clubs to join.

    If anything there could be several similar clubs within larger schools that compete with each other (instead of competing against other schools in other districts..), say rival chess clubs in the same school.

    Bigger highschools do allow children to 'fall through the cracks' however the more kids there are the more likely the school will have enough children to run special interest extra curriculars. Such as a game development club for instance. In much larger school with better facilities kids could benefit from workstations and other facilities that they can use in after school and lunchtime clubs to hone special skills and talents.

    These are helpful in breaking children out of shyness and helping them develop talents and skills they'd otherwise waste or not even discover in the standard curriculum.

    The size of the school may ultimately be irrelevent though, as any school can focus on extra curricular clubs, funding them for example. But if the school doesn't have any interest in running clubs at all then it's up to the kids to break out of their cliques and form their own clubs (open to any new comers).

    Besides the fewer kids in the school the more teachers per child. If that means the kids can count on teacher being less stressed then I think they'd be wrong. Like college if highschool students were paying more attention to teacher instead of teacher coddling them as they were coddled in grade school (and probably at home) fewer students would 'fall through the cracks'. At the highschool age it would make more sense to have more kids in a class and a teacher supervising smaller work groups within a large class but not the other way around. (It also encourages the formation of cliques, in that the fewer people you have the opportunity to interact with the easier it is for you to develop the bad habit of prejudging people.)

  • Lord ZimbuLord Zimbu

    Indeed you've stated the main point. I don't think that smaller schools are the answer at all, but instead the quality of the curriculum and if the school funds extra curricular clubs. Given the environment going from grade school to highschool should be a strong transition, in that you go from a 1 class room world to a very different, much bigger environment with much more to offer you, as in more classes, more people, more teachers and more clubs to join.

    If anything there could be several similar clubs within larger schools that compete with each other (instead of competing against other schools in other districts..), say rival chess clubs in the same school.

    Bigger highschools do allow children to 'fall through the cracks' however the more kids there are the more likely the school will have enough children to run special interest extra curriculars. Such as a game development club for instance. In much larger school with better facilities kids could benefit from workstations and other facilities that they can use in after school and lunchtime clubs to hone special skills and talents.

    These are helpful in breaking children out of shyness and helping them develop talents and skills they'd otherwise waste or not even discover in the standard curriculum.

    The size of the school may ultimately be irrelevent though, as any school can focus on extra curricular clubs, funding them for example. But if the school doesn't have any interest in running clubs at all then it's up to the kids to break out of their cliques and form their own clubs (open to any new comers).

    Besides the fewer kids in the school the more teachers per child. If that means the kids can count on teacher being less stressed then I think they'd be wrong. Like college if highschool students were paying more attention to teacher instead of teacher coddling them as they were coddled in grade school (and probably at home) fewer students would 'fall through the cracks'. At the highschool age it would make more sense to have more kids in a class and a teacher supervising smaller work groups within a large class but not the other way around. (It also encourages the formation of cliques, in that the fewer people you have the opportunity to interact with the easier it is for you to develop the bad habit of prejudging people.)

Remove this comment

Remove this thread

close

Comments Closed

Comments have been closed since this content was published more than 30 days ago, but if you'd like to continue the conversation, please create a new thread in our Forums,
or Contact Us and let us know.