Why Private School
Progressive schools are different from so-called traditional schools. I am not being judgmental here. I am simply pointing out some differences between the two kinds of schools so that you can make an informed decision about which private schools to consider for your child.
Until the middle of the 20th century many schools simply taught their students facts and figures. You memorized and regurgitated information. Indeed I can remember being taught this way at Rosyln School and Westmount High School back in the '50s and '60s. That's just the way you were taught back then. All of your academic work was focused on what you could expect to be tested on in your final year end exams. This all led inexorably to a forbidding set of examinations known as the Junior Matriculation. If you did well on that set of examinations administered at the end of Grade 11, you went off to university for more of the same.
Progressive schools by definition are schools which espouse the ideals and ideas of landmark educators and thinkers such as John Dewey and Francis Parker. At the beginning of the 20th century they were considered visionary by some, radical by others. The progressive curriculum was more varied and experiential. Students just didn't sit there passively listening to a teacher lecture about the material. They actually were encouraged to learn by discovery through a variety of hands-on activities. Teachers no longer had to get through a plethora of outdated materials simply to be
Dr. Maria Montessori's first Casa de Bambini in Rome opened in 1906. That school and Dr. Montessori's methods were was so innovative and ahead of their time that word of Dr. Montessori and her methods spread quickly around Europe. By 1911 the first Montessori school opened in the United States. That school was located north of New York City in Tarrytown. When you consider that communications in the early twentieth century were slow, the fact that word about Dr. Montessori did spread so quickly was remarkable. One other fact worth noting is that Dr. Montessori began her work with disadvantaged children living in Rome's poorest neighborhoods. Yet when her approach found its way to the United States, it appealed strongly to middle-class parents who were looking for enlightened alternatives to the traditional educational methods found in American schools. The following video offers a brief history of Montessori.
Nowadays Montessori schools enjoy an enthusiastic following with approximately 4,000 certified schools in the U.S. Most of these are private schools offering the early or primary grades. Only about 200 public schools use the Montessori method or some version thereof. Because Dr. Maria Montessori did not trademark the name Montessori, any school can claim to be a Montessori school. Just because it says it is a Montessori school does not mean that it is the real thing. As a result you will have to be observant and aware of what to look for.
You will know that
"Everybody does it." Sadly that excuse is one of several reasons why there is so much cheating in America's high schools. Children learn by example. When they see adults cheating, they assume that there is nothing wrong with cheating. Adults cheat for a variety of reasons although I suspect that expediency probably tops the list of reasons why. Students seem to cheat because they are under tremendous pressure to be successful. Getting the best marks constantly so that Ivy League colleges will accept them has been many students' mantra ever since they could remember. We parents are to blame for putting that kind of pressure on our kids.
Michael Winerip's article on the cheating scandal in Philadelphia public schools underscores one of the intrinsic differences between public and private schools. Private schools do not have to teach to the test. Public schools do. That is as a result of The No Child Left Behind legislation which required that minimum test scores be attained, among other requirements. The consequences for not achieving the benchmarks are serious. The net result is that some unethical teachers and administrators are alleged to have cooked the books in the Philadelphia schools. And they got caught. A similar situation occurred in Atlanta's public schools with several educators jailed for their role in a wide-spread cheating scandal.
Private schools are not covered by NCLB or its replacement legislation the Every Student Succeeds Act. Consequently private schools do not
You would think that education in the United States has been public since colonial days. But that is not the case. The earliest schools were private and religious schools. Only in the mid 19th century did governments begin to compel children to attend K-12 public schools. Here then is a brief timeline of private K-12 education through the years.
|143 b.c.||Chengdu Shishi High School was established in China.|
|69||Marcus Fabius Quintillianus founded his school of rhetoric in Rome, Italy. Quintillian was a native of Caligurris in Hispania. Among his pupils were Pliny the Younger and the historian Tacitus. Quintillian wrote a 12 volume treatise on rhetoric, Institutio Oratoria, which is considered even in modern times a foundational document on education.|
|597||The King's School, Canterbury, England was established. It has the distinction of being the oldest private school in the world still operating.|
|1441||King's College Choir School, Cambridge, United Kingdom, was founded by King Henry VI for the purpose of educating the boy choristers of the King's College Chapel Choir. The Choir School has been in more or less continuous existence ever since.|
|1572||Harrow, Harrow on the Hill, Middlesex, United Kingdom, opens. The rivalry between Eton and Harrow is rather like that between Exeter and Andover. Perhaps it's best just to say that the four schools represent the acme of boarding schools and leave it at that. Queen Elizabeth granted the charter to a farmer to establish this school in the 16th century. Stuffy and|
The purpose of this article is not to cast blame. Instead, I want to highlight the disturbing trend which many of us have heard and read about, namely, that enrollment in American Catholic schools has declined severely over the past 50 years.
The following is quoted directly from the National Catholic Education Association's Annual Statistical Report on Schools, Enrollment and Staffing.
"U. S. Catholic school enrollment reached its peak during the early 1960s when there were more than 5.2 million students in almost thirteen thousand schools across the nation. The 1970s and 1980s saw a steep decline in both the number of schools and students. By 1990, there were approximately 2.5 million students in 8,719 schools. From the mid 1990s though 2000, there was a steady enrollment increase (1.3%) despite continued closings of schools. Between the 2000 and the 2011 school years, 1,755 schools were reported closed or consolidated (21.5%). The number of students declined by 587,166 (22.1 %). The most seriously impacted have been elementary schools."
This short video gives us an overview of the issue.
Personally, it saddens me to see any private school in decline. It is even worse to discover that schools have closed. But the sheer magnitude of these numbers is just plain scary. Let's examine some of the reasons why Catholic education finds itself in this state.
The economy has been a major factor in the decline of the number