Somehow I missed this:
Regular readers of ReformK12 know that we spare no effort in criticizing Progressive educators and the whole child-centered mindset. A few months ago we posted a comparison of what would happen if you took the Progressive model and the Traditional model to their respective extremes. At the time, we felt that Summerhill exemplified the Progressive approach. Today we learn that Summerhill's been trumped.
From a closer reading of Mr. Chapin's other writings, the school in question is an "alternative school"--meaning the kids are too troubled, one way or the other, to continue in the conventional education system. What do you do?
we handle students with an ease and gentleness that would impress any outsider; although, on one occasion, we did not. The situation concerned a student who was a ward of the state. One morning he came to school with a set of dice, which is against our rules. No one would have made a big deal about it had he not been trying to get students to gamble with him in the hallway. A dean tried to confiscate the dice, but the student responded by tossing them to the ground. When the dean bent down to pick them up, the student punched him in the face two times. Help quickly arrived. A classroom aide struggled to control the student and they fell to the ground together. The result was that the student’s arm was broken.
How do you teach in an atmosphere like this? I am not defending the vapidity of Princess Sparkle; she cravenly gave up. But it does get worse:
I have worked as a school psychologist in the state of Illinois for nine years now, and am one of the few Americans who can really say that I love my job. I am very grateful for this state of affairs. Yet, at least 90% of my enjoyment comes from interactions with students as opposed to those with staff. My opportunity to observe education as a whole is rather unique, as I work alongside teachers during the day and then instruct them in a masters’ level course at a university on Tuesday or Thursday nights. The “big picture” formed by my interactions is not a cheerful one.
The ignorance of the students is something all school personnel must acknowledge and accept (indeed, that’s why we have jobs), but the ignorance of the staff is something to which I have never easily adjusted. Given the state of our culture, I guess it really is not that surprising that many educators possess a lack of intellectual curiosity, but what is consistently shocking is their lack of shame about it.
On another occasion, the Vozd [Chapin's nickname for his know-nothing principal ] conducted a workshop for our staff, and during the introduction, she stressed the importance of our students obtaining a high school diploma as opposed to a GED. She stated that it would be practically inconceivable that our students could pass the GED test (she was right). Her reasoning, though, was due to the fact that, “if she couldn’t pass it, they couldn’t pass it!” A hand, not mine, immediately went up asking her what she meant. Cheerfully, El Jefe explained that she had taken a practice exam last year and failed the math section of it, and if she, as a holder of two masters’ degrees in education, could not pass it, then what chance would our students have. Well, I wondered, how long can such public disgraces be tolerated in American education? It turned out for a long time indeed, as she now has been promoted above and beyond the likes of me.
Chapin has some interesting things to say. The archives are here.. He is a real person,