Fast Company April 2000 : LUSENET : M.Ed./International Falls : One Thread

Fast Company - April 2000 by Beth Cramer "Schools That Think" Sarah Terry, author of "Schools That Think", informs the reader that public schools across the United States are beginning to experiment with different ways of teaching and reaching kids. In this article, Sarah describes four different educational systems and explains what they are doing different to shape a new vision of learning.

The first experimental educational approach presented in the article is the Responsive Classroom approach. Responsive Classroom believes in promoting a strong academic curriculum while nurturing social skills like cooperation, responsibility, empathy, and self-control, on an hourly basis throughout the day. The goal of educators who use the Responsive Classroom approach is to develop students who are informed, ethical decision makers and problem solvers.

Another school that has made many changes in the way they educate their students is the Service School in Stockton, California. The Service School's mission is "to bring the customer focus and sense of responsibility of a top-notch service organization or consulting firm to public education". In order to follow through with this mission, they recruit the best teachers available, treat them like professional experts in their field and allow the teachers freedom to control what they do in a classroom. The Service School also links pay raises to the performance of both the teacher and her students.

The Expedition School in Denver, Colorado has a unique approach to educating their students. This school uses learning expeditions as a basis for its curriculum. For example, middle school students spent 5 months studying World War II. They explored the war through literature, creative writing, film, museum visits, science projects, talking to concentration camp survivors and many other experiences. They finished off this 5 month curriculum with a visit to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.

Kathleen McHugh, a middle school teacher at Expedition School, says that the students do not learn from the outside or skim the surface. Instead, they experience it first hand. Students' progress is measured by what they put in portfolios and how they perform.

Since I am writing a research project dealing with effectiveness of the Responsive Classroom, I am excited that the Responsive Classroom approach was one of four approaches praised in this article. I use the RC approach in my classroom everyday with my junior high students. We begin the day with a morning meeting that involves greeting, sharing, interacting and listening to one another with respect. It is difficult teaching this approach to older kids that have never been exposed to the Responsive Classroom because they have been practicing some disrespectful habits that are hard to break beginning at the age of twelve and thirteen. Although, I have noticed improvements in how students act and speak toward one another. I am excited to teach students in the future, who have been exposed to the Responsive Classroom approach.

Of the four approaches mentioned in this article, besides Responsive Classroom, I was most intrigued by the Expedition School. I like the concept of spending months learning about a topic in depth. I have no doubt that the students who experienced the World War II curriculum will remember this learning experience for the rest of their life.

Often, I feel like I'm rushing through material that will never be remembered. It would be interesting to try pulling away from the text book and creating an in depth curriculum that would be remembered by my students for years to come.

-- Anonymous, April 23, 2000

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