Secondary Curriculum in Historical Context

Length: 2082 words

In 1888 Charles Eliot embarked on an effort to restructure primary and secondary schooling. At that point in time, as state after state endorsed compulsory attendance laws, 8-year elementary schools and 4-year high schools were the most familiar kinds of establishments. However Eliot and his contemporaries on the National Education Association’s Committee argued that youngsters wasted time in the elementary school and they should be introduced to college elementary courses at an earlier age.

The committee suggested downgrading elementary schools to six grade levels (1 – 6) and increasing secondary grades to six grade levels (7 – 12). They also suggested that the new secondary schools be considered to let capable, college-bound students to be advanced promptly so that they could finish the six years of secondary school in four years. While grades seven and eight began to be regarded as junior or introductory high school grades rather than elementary grades, intermediate schools, junior high schools, and junior-senior high schools began to materialize.

These secondary schools were seen as a way of presenting youngsters a curriculum that was more significant and more differentiated than that presented in elementary schools, at the same time as also dealing with frequent hands-on problems. Besides giving college-bound youngsters previous access to college preliminary work, educators in these schools aim to attract greater numbers of non-college-bound youths to remain in school at least through grade nine by presenting them viable, domestic, and professional curricula.

In 1920 the number of junior high schools in America had increased to 883. In the 1940s most of the nation’s youths went to a junior high school, and by 1960 four out of five did so. The long-term contributions of junior high schools to middle-level education in America are many. These schools introduced a broader range of exploratory, tryout courses and activities in order to assist young adolescents to discover and develop their interests and abilities.

Junior high schools were also the source of other educational innovations, including homeroom and teacher-adviser programs, extracurricular activities, and core curriculum approaches emphasizing the correlation of subject areas and the integration of learning across disciplinary boundaries. The Emergence of Middle Schools In spite of the advances and successes of junior high schools, these schools became the target of growing criticism for supporting the curricula, grading systems, expansiveness, schedules, regimentation, and unfriendly environment of senior high schools.

Paradoxically, some of the crucial organizational changes that the early supporters of junior high schools thought would meet the particular requirements of youngsters had been taken to the farthest and were now being opposed as unsuitable for junior high school students. Likewise, many began to have second opinions about having ninth-grade educational programs in the same school buildings as seventh- and eighth-grade programs. The ninth-grade program and curriculum were controlled by Carnegie unit requisites for high school graduation and college entrance.

As these requisites influenced scheduling and staffing assessments, they generally firmly affected the educational programs presented to seventh and eighth graders in junior high schools also. Fifty years after the first junior high schools were set up; teachers began to demand middle schools – new schools that had a special grade organization and a more developmentally receptive program – so as to offer a more continuing and suitable changeover between the elementary and high school years.

In the 1950s Alvin Howard became one of the first to support the establishment of a 6 – 8 school that would eliminate the restrictions enforced by Carnegie units, have a more secure school environment than a 7 – 8 school, and would be familiar with the earlier start of puberty of youngsters in the second half of the twentieth century. William Alexander and Emmett Williams, in 1965, suggested the establishment of 5 – 8 middle schools comprising interdisciplinary teaming, small learning association, a teacher advisory program, and special learning centers where students could approach required skills or expand to further study.

For instance, Alexander and Williams recommended the establishment of wing units. In 1966 Donald Eichorn, wrote the book supporting the establishment of 6 – 8 middle schools. The book tried to employ Piaget’s theories concerning early youth development in creating an appropriate educational program. He recommended removing activities that might make ashamed late maturers or put them at a viable inconvenience and replacing them with less viable activities that accept and establish all students irrespective of their existing level of physical or cognitive development.

He put forward realistic scheduling to take into account extended learning opportunities and flexible groupings of middle school students for instruction rather than just by chronological age or grade level. He called for a curriculum that comprised regular use of interdisciplinary thematic units that aimed at the interrelated nature of different content areas and that balanced long-established academic subjects. In 1970 a small group of educators established the Midwest Middle School Association, along with much discussion and disagreement between supporters of 6 – 8 middle schools and 7 – 9 junior high schools.

After three years its name was changed to the National Middle School Association to recognize the national options of the emergent middle school movement. The literature of major educators in this movement presented ever more general agreement on practices that they thought were particularly fitting for youngsters. Growth of the Middle School Movement By 1965 only 5 % of middle-grades schools in the USA were 6 – 8 or 5 – 8 middle schools, and 67 % were 7 – 9 junior high schools.

In 2000 these percentages were reversed as only 5 % of middle-grades schools were 7 – 9 junior highs and 69 % were 6 – 8 or 5 – 8 middle schools. The number of middle schools rose quickly – from 1,434 in 1971 to 4,094 in 1981; 6,168 in 1991; and 9,750 in 2000. Though the number of middle schools grew rapidly during the 1960s and 1970s, as said by William Alexander, writing in 1978, most of these new schools revealed “limited progress toward the objectives of the middle school movement” (p. 19).

Indeed, John Lounsbury noted in 1991 that the first comparative findings of the new middle schools and the old junior high schools showed that the schools “were surprisingly alike in actual practice” (p. 68). Regulations were limited mostly to the names of schools and the grades they comprised. During the 1970s little experimental studies was performed on the consequences of implementing or ignoring the lists of recommended practices. Thus, there was no scientific evidence to persuade educators to change their programs and practices.

In the 1980s the discussions between teachers about the best grade organizations for youngsters began to disappear, as both middle school and junior high school supporters found that the characteristic middle-grades school, irrespective of grade structure, was still unsuccessful to meet the requirements of its students. “Junior high and middle school proponents and practitioners began to coalesce into a single cause – the cause of improving early adolescent education” (Lounsbury, p. 67).

At the end of the 1980s, states and institutions that had been focusing their educational reform programs on pre-school and early elementary education or on high school upgrading and dropout prevention began to understand that the middle grades might be integral to assisting more students being successful and staying in school. Accomplishments of the Middle School Movement Anthony Jackson and Gayle Davis observed in 2000 that “structural changes in middle-grades education – how students and teachers are organized for learning – have been fairly widespread and have produced good results” (p. 5).

Improving practices ensure each student in a middle-grades school has more assistance from caring adults at the school have decreased the pessimistic shifts in students’ motivational viewpoints during the middle grades. Schools-within-schools, looping, semi-departmentalizion, interdisciplinary groups with a common planning period for the teachers on a team are instances of structural improvements that have been made in many middle-grades schools. Such improvements have been found to enhance students’ welfare and sensitivities that their teachers respect them and their knowledge, and to reinforce teacher – student interaction.

Consequently, when middle-grades students observed their teachers respect them and their knowledge, they are more liable to convey that they try to do what their teachers tell them to do and give their best endeavor in class, and they are less prone to engage in risky activities. Overall, many middle-grades schools have succeeded in changing their environments and organization to become what Joan Lipsitz and colleagues, in 1997, termed “warmer, happier, and more peaceful places for students and adults”(p. 535).

Nevertheless, as David Hamburg noted in 2000, changes in climates and structures “are necessary but not sufficient for major improvement in academic achievement” (p. xii). That is to say, whilst moderate achievement gains may rise from changes in school organization, key achievement gains are obtained only in schools that have realized both changes in school organization and in curriculum, teaching, and career development changes that help teachers to “transmit a core of common, substantial knowledge to all students in ways that foster curiosity, problem solving, and critical thinking” (Hamburg, p. ). For instance, in a 1997 study by Robert Felner et al, those schools that had made both structural and instructional changes that were compatible with Turning Points suggestions realized significantly better and showed larger achievement gains over a two-year period than did similar schools that had put into practices at least some of the significant structural changes described in Turning Points, although no changes in curriculum and instruction.

Another study advocating the importance of going beyond just structural changes in improving achievement was carried out by Steven Mertens et al involved 155 middle-grades schools in Michigan. When these analysts studied outcomes in schools that had one of the major structural changes in place, they found that achievement gains were much advanced among the subset of these schools that had been funded by the Kellogg Foundation and that helped their teachers to engage more frequently in staff development activities directed to curriculum and instruction.

Indeed there is even support from this analysis that staff development may be more significant than common planning time in helping achievement gains. Schools whose teams had poor common planning showed more achievement gains than did schools without sponsorships, even those whose teams had high levels of planning time. Regrettably, high-performing middle schools are still uncommon, as “relatively little has changed at the core of most students’ school experience: curriculum, assessment, and instruction” (Jackson and Davis, p. 5).

Despite the fact that organizations and practices that are consistent with the best of the middle-grades improvement documents are a vital foundation for middle-grade reorganization, remarkable and constant progress in student performance happen only if teachers also provide all students with strikingly better learning occasions each day. Perennialism as an Educational Philosophy Perennialists view education the students should gain knowledge about the thoughts of Western society. These thoughts have the prospects for solving problems in any period.

The motivation is to teach thoughts that are everlasting, to look for enduring truths which are constant, not changing, as the natural and human worlds at their most essential level, do not change. Perennialists consider essentialism, and its observation that knowledge develop mainly from the experimental findings of scientists, as undermining the significance of the faculty to think logically as individuals; explicitly, to think profoundly, logically, flexibly, and creatively. Besides, Perennialists suggest that students learn directly from reading and examining the Great Books.

These are the ingenious efforts of history’s finest philosophers and writers, which Perennialists think are as weighty, striking, and important at present as when they were written. Perennialists regret the change in universities over the centuries from places where students sought truth for its own sake to mere glorified training grounds for the students’ professions. A great advocate of Perennialism Mortimer Adler wrote the Paidea Proposal. His fundamental tenets are that a person learns best by exploring the classics.

The Paideia program aims to institute a course of study that is general, not specific; liberal, not occupational; humanistic, not technological. Only this way can it accomplish the meaning of the words “paideia” and “humanities,” which signify the general learning that should be in the possession of every human being. ” Transition from Middle School to High School: An Analysis The transition from middle school to high school is along with both hope and apprehension (Mizelle & Irvin, 2000; Morgan & Hertzog, 2001; Zeedyk et al, 2003).

Transition is getting growing focus as a result of the fact that ninth grade course failures and high school dropout rates surpass all other grade levels (Hertzog & Morgan, 1998; Roderick & Camburn, 1999). Despite the fact that the past history of study on the transition to college (Tinto, 1987) and transitions for students with disabilities (Letrello & Miles, 2003; Rogan, Hunt, & Wagner, 2002) is present, there is little experimental study probing the transition from middle school to high school for the general education population (Akos & Galassi, 2004; Mizelle, 1999).

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