Escape from Gangsta Island

Bernard Chapin, a former school psychologist at a school for troubled students, is serializing Escape from Gangsta Island: The Progressive Decline of an Alternative School at Men’s News Daily. The school followed the “togetherness model.”

1. If we play and interact together our bonds will strengthen and grow.

2. For at least the first week of every school year teachers should devote all of class time to playtime activities and the result will be an effective community where learning flourishes like dandelions in un-mowed lawns.

3. Now, once we have broken bread and played together, we will conquer algebra and biology with the same spirit that we raced in the gym, drew our handprints on construction paper, and bounced balls in the cafeteria.

4. After doing this, school wide behavior will improve and test scores will rise.

Test scores didn’t rise; behavior didn’t improve. But the school was marketed as a success story nonetheless.

About Joanne


  1. Bluemount says:

    I wonder how it would compare with a model based on “Hard work in academic areas would be an effective way to produce scholars.” In adult societies fair trade and labor are the icons of peace. Meals and playtime are more aligned with intimacy. Even in the work place mealtime defines social groups, not work groups; I’ve never seen them improve the willingness of people to do quality work. I think supervised group play is especially important for young children. It teaches civil fun, adult authority and builds strong bodies.