The future of secondary education

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I’ve just been reading through some of the articles and papers that are a part of special issue of The High School Journal (December 1995/January 1996) that was developed on the Horizon site.
They can be found within the Projects page of the Horizon Site, under the heading Essays on The Future of Secondary Education.

There are some great reads here from authors including James Morrison and Andy Garvin who frequently appear on readings lists and links associated with the areas of education that I’m intertested in.

Three of the essays have particuarly taken my attention, the first being The Inquiry School: A Sketch of a High School for the Next Generation by David Marshak from Seattle University. This was of particular interest in terms of discussions we’ve been having in my workplace about the need to develop a disposition of Inquiry in students to prepare them for their future. Marshak bases his essay on the assertion that secondary schools are caught in a struggle between, on the one hand, a push for common standards for all students, and on the other, developing programmes that reflect the needs of learners in authentic ways. His solution is an Inquiry School:
a model for a high school that could bridge the polarity between these two perspectives and result in high school graduates who are both competent and knowledgeable according to a set of common standards and skilled, thoughtful, and lively self-directed learners.
In the essay Marshak outlines the six guiding principles for such a school, and even gets down to the detail of describing how the programme would operate, which includes two dimensions – a group programme and a mentor programme.

The second essay that caught my eye is titled Students as Producers: Using the World Wide Web as Publishing House by Richard Smyth from Hamline University. Smyth focuses on two cases to illustrate how teachers can assign collaborative writing assignments incorporating hypertextual principles of composition that require students to prepare texts to publish on the Web. There’s an interesting quote towards the end of the essay where the author refers to…

Ben Shneiderman (1992) calls for both “engagement,” which he defines as “interaction with people” (p. 18), and “construction,” which occurs when “students create a product from their collaboration” (p. 20). reference included in the essay

A third article of interest is New Possibilities for Teaching Diverse Populations in Tomorrow’s High School by Laurence R. Marcus and Theodore Johnson from Rowan College of New Jersey. This one has particular relevance in NZ where the focus on Diverse Learners is a key part of the Ministry of Education’s Schooling Strategy. Marcus and Johnson suggests that the effective use of instructional technology, along with the reconceptualization of the role of the teacher, can help students to achieve their potentials within heterogeneous settings in the high school of the future.

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