Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Of Course It Won't Work

A recent NYTimes article, New American Academy in Brooklyn is an Experiment in Class Size, describes

an audacious public education experiment taking place in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, one that its founder hopes will revolutionize both how students learn and how teachers are trained. Instead of assigning one teacher to roughly 25 children, the New American Academy began the school year with four teachers in large, open classrooms of 60 students. The school stresses student independence over teacher-led lessons, scientific inquiry over rote memorization and freedom and self-expression over strict structure and discipline. The founder, Shimon Waronker, developed the idea with several other graduate students at Harvard. It draws its inspiration, he said, from Phillips Exeter Academy, an elite boarding high school in New Hampshire where students in small classes work collaboratively and hold discussions around tables.

What are you, crazy? Why would a system designed for a small, hand-picked group of smart, well-behaved high school students be appropriate for a huge mixed group of first-graders?

Why would a bunch of Harvard graduate students have any insights into the needs of a bunch of Brooklyn kids? It's a completely different world.

It seems to me that young childless adults are the worst possible candidates to put in charge of a school. They're too close to their own childhood to have any perspective on it, and, with no children of their own, they don't understand the parent's point of view either. That's not to say they can't be good teachers. They just need plenty of coaching and support from those with more experience.

I can't believe these wankers were actually given a school to run. And as one commenter asked, haven't they heard of Montessori?


  1. PsychMom said:

    I'm just going to have a little lie-down...reading that article tired me out.

    What....Are they Crazy!

  2. hilarious.

    when i read the article earlier i was struck by the tiny-readjustment being made. also it reminded me of educational experiments done in my hometown in FL in the early 60s.

    but your analysis was much more fun than my thoughts. thanks!

  3. The school stresses student independence over teacher-led lessons

    That's called recess. So they have a 8 hour recess?