Secondary school education is one of this nation′s most important social mechanisms. At their best, high schools are models of democracy, providers of the intellectual and moral equipment for young people to survive and prosper in our culture. But the sad fact is that the design of the beloved high school as we know it has run its course, no longer serving youth as well as it once did. The key question facing the current generation is: What can be done? And what should a truly new secondary school look like? What will make it new? What from the past should remain supported and in place? In The New American High School, Ted Sizer, one of the country′s most respected educator reformers, takes on fifteen of the key issues facing our high schools today and offers practical suggestions for positive change.
In these pages, Sizer discusses the question of student differences, arguing that, to teach different children well without categorizing them unfairly, you must be able to know them, and you cannot know each student well if the class is too large. He tackles the issue of time and suggests that schools might better operate on a twelve–month basis, with students and staff rotating in and out, allowing some "vacation" for rest and the recharging of intellectual batteries, a pattern that conforms with most of the working world. In addition, he deals with the issues of choice, the language of schooling, courses, and other critical topics.
Our task, says Sizer, is to give a new shape to the ways that adolescents learn and thus the manner in which we teach them. And, as he concludes, "Our work is worthy, essential to an orderly, optimistic democracy. Let us persist with it."
Praise for The New American High School
"If you do not know educator Theodore Sizer or his ideas, this book provides a splendid introduction. And if you did know Ted and his writings, you will be enriched by his reflections in this volume his most personal book."
Howard Gardner, Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education
"At the very end of his career and life, Ted Sizer calls out to us again to pay attention to the education of our young people. He reminds us that to settle for the status quo reduces our future as well as theirs."
Patricia A. Wasley, CEO, Teaching Channel
"Ted Sizer′s voice, as always, is disarmingly provocative sensitive to our stress but astonished too by our continuing lack of imagination. He proves himself here to be not just the best education writer of the late twentieth century but of the early twenty–first century too."
Joseph P. McDonald, professor of teaching and learning, New York University
"Like John Dewey, Ted Sizer was a philosopher, a historian, and above all a practitioner. Anyone with a serious interest in understanding and shaping the educational landscape of the twenty–first century must heed Sizer′s wisdom, uniquely grounded in his experiences as a teacher, a parent, a professor, a graduate school dean, a principal, and the visionary leader of a national reform movement."
Lori Chajet, PhD, codirector, College Access: Research & Action, CUNY Graduate Center
Preface: The Lay of the Land xix
Introduction by Nancy Faust Sizer xxv
1 The Problem 1
2 Growing up American 15
3 Learning 36
4 Differences 56
5 The Language of Schooling 74
6 Time 90
7 Space and Costs 106
8 Courses 116
9 Technology 135
10 Pedagogy 142
11 Testing 164
12 Choice 181
13 Faith 193
14 Morality 201
15 The Prospect 221
Further Reading 233
About the Author 236
TED SIZER was one of the nation′s most respected education–reform advocates. He founded the Essential Schools movement, which maintains, among other things, that students and teachers are members of the school′s community.