Sunday, January 11, 2009

By Any Other Name

A new primary school (oops) has opened in Sheffield, England.

The reason I put "oops" in that sentence is that they are not going to use the term "school," because it is too negative. Parents, for instance, have negative associations with the word "school." Instead it will be called "a place of learning."

The Plain English Campaign has called this "ridiculous." THEY, at least, don't mince words.

Among other things the head teacher expressed, ""There are no whistles or bells or locked doors. We wanted to de-institutionalise the place and bring the school closer to real life."

Well, I'm glad there are no locked doors, but the rest sounds frighteningly like some things that were tried in the US in the 1970's such as open classrooms where students got to choose whether to go to lecture or to a section of the course that was taking a test or to sit in on a different section of the class that was having a movie that day and so on. The goal, of course, should be to make people feel happy and empowered, right? After all, won't students be more motivated to learn if they have more choice and more control - makes sense, right?

Um . . . no . . . it was an unprecedented disaster.

(Side-note: A local high school recently seemed like the Winchester Mystery House when they discovered a classroom that no one knew about and that had no doors and windows. You see, this school had started as one of these open school with no walls between classrooms. Once it was realized the open plan was a fiasco, walls were put in, thus creating closed classrooms - one of which obviously became a little TOO closed - and a return to normal "school"ing. I'm guessing those who did the remodel were graduates of the open plan . . . but . . . I digress . . .)

It seems the paramount concern in society these days in so many areas of life is that we don't want anyone traumatized by "negative associations." I just hope our world survives these days of political correctness, warm-fuzzies, and false self-esteem (if my children come home with one more trophy, medal or certificate I'll scream!), and I hope that IF we do survive there will remain at least a modicum of intelligence and knowledge in the human race.

A school by any other name had better still be a school.


Anonymous said...

I love this entry.
I have first hand knowledge, working as a continuation high school counselor, of students who just don't get it. School is not designed to be easy, it shouldn't be easy, for it is a place of higher learning. If we continue to teach students what they already know, it wouldn't be "further" education, but only remediation....don't get me started.
One of the most challenging parts of my jobs is convincing students that at the end of their 12th grade year they don't "automatically" graduate. There is no "social promotion" default for a diploma. The other kicker is when they ask about just staying in school for another year, to be a "Super Senior". If they were so "super" they would have applied themselves and finished within the four years they have already been given...
There are a few students, but few and far between, that have hardships outside of their control however the vast majority of students I see are in the mess they are in by their own doing (or should I say lack of doing). P-

Heidi said...

I right there with ya, sista!

Sometimes I write very long responses to comments. This time I don't dare, because I wouldn't be able to stop. I'd be writing for the rest of my life!

- must stop

- must lift hands from keyboard

- must walk away now

- uh-oh, tempted to add

- must walk away

- no, just one more comment

- stop!

- must walk away

- must!

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