Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Is this correct?

From: Brian King <kingsarchers_at_earthlink.net>
Date: Sun May 11 11:56:01 2003

Hi All
I am from the Marin startup (which will open it's doors this fall as Big Rock)-- I have taught in both large and small high schools (Bloomington High school 900 freshmen about 3500 total students, Colusa High 350 and currently Lone Pine High 120 students). Here is my 2 cents. I also had the misconception that small schools do not create alienated and apathetic, or hostile and vengeful young people. In a small school in a small town the kids grow up together sharing the same playpen and traveling together as a group as they go through the system of public school. As the group grows up it develops it's own personality good or bad. I teach science where all 9th are in a single science class and all 10th are in single science class, both classes are required. On the first day of class with the 9th graders I have them introduce themselves and tell me what they do for hobbies or fun. As we started around the room the first girl said "gossip" and like popcorn students were saying "ya - gossip that is all there is to do in this town" "if there is nothing to talk about then you can make it up". In fact, the interim superintendent at his going away party told a joke about gossip in this small town. This class was boasting about how bad they (the class of '05) are and how many of their teachers go on disability or take early retirement; and how they can get teachers canned. I have worked with that group of kids for two years and I have never seen a group of students that are so mean to each other. It being a small school the kids that are on the "out" have no place to go. I have seen them terrorize new kids or just kids that move from being "in" to "out" until they drop out. Two years ago a parent was accused of molesting one of the girls. Another girl collaborated with her in the accusation. It went all the way to trial. During the trial the "victim" admitted the she made it up because the two girls were mad because he would not buy them beer. I have had other parents tell me that the same thing happened to them, with other girls from this class (the girls being in elementary school at the time). I have seen this class walk out on a sub because they did not want to do the classwork.
There is a nucleus of girls that have strong personalities and are mean spirited and a group of kids that are followers. The kids that want to be serious about their studies do not have a chance.

Bottom line is there are dysfunctional big schools and good big schools. Big schools can offer more opportunities but kids can get lost in a big school. There are good small schools and dysfunctional small schools. With the right support teachers can more easily change the material to best suit the individual. But in a small school the students have no choice but take all of their classes with the same students, good or bad.

If there are hostile and vengeful students or staff there will be alienated and apathetic students and staff.

Brian
Received on Sun May 11 2003 - 11:55:50 EDT

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