Break open the egg crate

End the Tyranny of the Self-Contained Classroom — an “egg crate” with a four-walled classroom and a qualified teacher for every 25 (or 30 or 35) students — writes Arthur Wise in Ed Week.

Contrast schools with other professional workplaces, where seasoned professionals and novices work together, incorporate technology into their work, see each other in action, and collaborate in ways that allow novices to contribute and to learn while senior professionals remain firmly in charge and accountable to clients for performance.

. . . As one example of breaking free of the divisive egg-crate model, we could define “classroom” as 150 students served by a team of professionals and others. At the cost of six fully qualified teachers, a team of 17 full-time members, led by a well-compensated, board-certified or otherwise accomplished teacher, could serve the class. Senior teachers would remain accountable for the learning of the 150 students, but many other human and technological resources would be available to help students.

New Classrooms, created by School of One founders, is designing out-of-the-box instruction, starting with a middle-school math model called Teach to One: Math. “The factory-model classroom of one teacher and 28 or so students in an 800 square foot room has outlived its time,” said Joel Rose.

 Students will learn in multiple instructional modalities: in small groups, working one on one with teachers, using educational software and studying with expert online tutors.

Teach to One will launch in Chicago, Perth Amboy, New Jersey and a third city in fall 2012.

About Joanne

Comments

  1. Ted Craig says:

    They did this at my high school in the ’70s. It did not work.

    • And at the community college I was attending right around then. Lasted about two years before the school put up a bunch of partitions. Too bad the clowns who espouse this nonsense don’t have any legal, or even professional, exposure. As stupid as the idea was back then, here it is again with a new coat of paint and a refurbishing of the rhetoric.

  2. Contrast schools with other professional workplaces, where seasoned professionals and novices work together, incorporate technology into their work, see each other in action, and collaborate in ways that allow novices to contribute and to learn while senior professionals remain firmly in charge and accountable to clients for performance.

    Sure… but in professional workplaces, employees who are frequently tardy or absent get fired. Employees who attack other employees aren’t allowed to hang around to “collaborate.” They’re escorted off the premises, and charged with assault. Employees are selected after a lengthy hiring process. IF Mr. Wise wants to propose similar conditions for classrooms, i.e., selective schools with no-nonsense discipline, his “out of the box” thinking might work. I don’t think he’s proposing that.

    The education pundits who fantasize about computer-driven learning must not read Dilbert? I have to say, I find the pictures of the computer charter schools to be as inspiring as the photos of call centers. (http://www.pinoy-ofw.com/news/9109-top-call-center-location-manila.html) The model of an executive teacher, and much-lower-paid assistants also resembles the salary model of Indian call centers.

  3. People have been talking about the classroom of the future, without walls, for a long time now. It cycles into fashion every so often, and it always sounds wonderful and futuristic and OPEN! “Open” is a magic word.

    They did it to my husband when he was in first grade, with 90 kids and a group of teachers. It was noisy and germy but not terribly learning-conducive.

    They did it at my K-8 grade school, building pods for the junior high kids that shared teachers between classrooms. A couple of years later they had to put up walls.

    And every couple of years I see another article describing the exact same thing at some school that wants to catch the wave of the open future.

    • “Noisy” is a huge and often un-appreciated factor.  Students with hearing issues or those who are just introverted will be overloaded and unable to learn in such an environment.  The psychosocial factors of large groups, such as raising voices to be heard over other raised voices, exacerbates these problems.

      This is all 100% predictable, and IMO the people who propose such nonsense should also be forced to post a bond sufficient to remodel the spaces to defined acoustic isolation standards after the experiment fails, as well as move students who cannot tolerate the acoustic hell for even one year into suitable environments.

  4. Schools aren’t businesses except in a VERY loose sense, I enjoyed this article the first time it came out. Maybe we won’t all agree, but it’s worth consideration …

    http://www.jamievollmer.com/blueberries.html

    Public schools are more like ER’s, servicing all comers regardless of ability to pay. Usually you get ambulatory and out the door, sometimes you even get better and sometims … well, you don’t.