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Monday, March 1, 2010

The latest worst idea to come out of Tweed

See today's NY Post -- a school with class sizes of sixty in Crown Heights, with a tri-lingual program in English, Spanish and French, called the "New American Academy."

The principal of Exeter, an elite boarding school, supposedly “collaborated” in this effort, but class sizes at Exeter are twelve– and that is for a pre-selected bunch of high-achieving high school students, not Kindergarten students trying to become literate in three different languages!

See this, about Exeter's educational philosophy:
A gift from philanthropist Edward S. Harkness in 1930 enabled the
establishment of a method of teaching at Exeter that remains
central .... The Harkness plan calls for an oval table in each classroom,
with class size averaging 12 students and ample opportunity for dialogue.
Exeter’s pedagogy is student-centered, not faculty-centered, and designed
to foster independent thought and the ability to discuss, listen, question, and
analyze. As a result, Exeter’s students develop and hone a set of intellectual
skills supporting life-long learning and enabling contributions to the broader

So this philosophy morphs in Tweedleland into a class of 60 low-income kindergarteners, sitting at four tables, in a 1,200 square room.

If there are going to be four teachers per class, why not give them each their own, smaller room? There's no evidence that pushing extra teachers into a room with such high numbers of students will have the same effect.

I also think it’s a lousy idea for students to stay with the same teachers through fifth grade. If you’re stuck with a bad one, or simply one that doesn’t suit your learning style, you’re really disadvantaged.

Question unanswered by story: is the UFT going to agree to this abrogation of their contract?


Anonymous said...

Over 25 years ago this approach was tried in the middle schools where 60-80 students were placed in a large open space with their own desk, various stations of learning and 5 teachers(in the different subject areas) to assist and teach. The concept was to have students go to the various teachers and stations to learn about that week's theme. I don't remember the name of this approach, but it bombed because teachers were unable to keep track of the students' learning.

I hope someone out there remembers so it can be posted. But the concept of open space teaching and learning is nothing new.

I am still very traditional in teaching and learning with the except that I do use lots of technology in my classroom.

NYC Educator said...

Goshdarn it, what won't those wacky tweedie birds think of next? Actually, the fact that methods failed mean nothing to them. Their entire educational revolution is based on a failed program from San Diego that the voters turned out on its ear. The fact that it failed meant nothing to them--they just made sure voters would have no say in their implementing the failed program on steroids here in fun city.

As a result, you have moronic programs like this one making a comeback, all in the name of "reform."