The School: Part 1 The Building

October 22, 2007 at 1:13 am Leave a comment

  The Traditional School   This Blog deals with education. It is about teaching, learning, schools, home, teachers and pupils.  It is about what is good and what is bad. I jumped into the most controversial issue that confronts education at the present time- NSLB. But, as we will discover, everything in education is related. I did want to present this blog in a somewhat of a logical flow, if such a thing exists.


 Today’s blog begins with a little philosophy. John Dewey was the most influential educator in the first half of the 20th Century. He was cast aside during the 70’s and 80’s. His philosophy has made a dramatic comeback in the third millennium. Basically, John Dewey sees education as the passing on of traditions and rituals to the upcoming generation. He goes back to primitive cultures where each generation is trained in the “tribes ways.” Children pass into adulthood during rites of passage. The next generation then decides on the good aspects of the culture to pass on. Dewey sees formal education of today’s world as the path that leads to these rites of passage. Learning occurs within social interaction.


Formal education (= school) must first decide what traditions, knowledge and social values are to passed on to the next generation. The curriculum mandates these standards. The classroom teacher must translate these standards into lessons that result in learning. Dewey identifies humans as social creatures. Basic to any school is the social aspect. Through this social foundation learning is accomplished. The school is a social environment in which the traditions, knowledge of past generations and social values are learned. Schools might be considered the basic unit of formal education. Therefore , it is a good place to begin our journey of education.


The humans in a school can be divided to four groups: pupils, staff, teachers and administrators. The interaction of these groups result in an atmosphere of learning. The capabilities and abilities of pupils are determined by the level of the school, i.e., at their location in the continuum of the curriculum. Primary level pupils do not have the abilities of the upper grade pupils. The capabilities of a pupil is determined by previous learning. A pupil would have difficulty writing a paragraph if he was unable to write a sentence. A student learns words in preschool, puts words into sentences in early primary and constructs paragraphs by late primary. It is this continuum that formal education follows.


Schools can be organized into six levels: Pre-school, Primary, Intermediate, Upper grades, High school and Post- secondary. These may be perceived as artificial tiers and to a certain extend they are but the continuum of learning for the sake of formality can be separated into stages of learning. These are the levels that represent the stages of learning. What they are called or how they are shifted is not the important aspect. What is important is that learning is a long term process that results in a socially adjusted individual with the basic tenets of his or her world. Schools divide the continuum into levels.


Schools are made of classrooms, washrooms,  lunchrooms,  offices and corridors. Schools are made of brick, wood, plastic and metal. There are doors, floors, windows and chalkboards. Bulletin boards, lights and desks fill classrooms. Schools sound like bells ringing ,pupils talking, and shoes marching. Bodies bump into each other. Teachers terrify pupils with stern warnings. Giggles grip pupils of every  level. Schools have exteriors and interiors.


Schools are what we make of them. Schools are just buildings made of mud and mortar.  Some schools are like home. Other look like armed fortresses. Others like pleasant resorts. Schools can be inviting or frightening. They can make pupils feel safe and relaxed. Schools can be old and smelly with the structure deteriorating. Schools can be modern. Schools are what we perceive. What occurs in them is what we are most concerned about.


In the blogs ahead, we will attempt to examine the school from as many angles of which we can think. We will offer insights and opinions of what works and what we are doing wrong. Schools are after just a place where learning occurs. It is not the only place. Schools influence learning. 


Entry filed under: school.

Quick thoughts about No Child Left Behind The School: Part 2 The Rules

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