Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - August 18, 1972, Lethbridge, Alberta
y, August 13, 1972 THE IETHBR1DCE ItfRA'.D 5 team leaching continuous learning, discovery (Concluded from Page can find about the open area, there js a danger of expecting too much from it. But open area classrooms arc not a wonder drug to cure all the ills of education they are jus! one of many tools available to the mod- ern teacher. They could be described as a combination of "hard" and "soft" systems of education: while the ex- treme of a strictly-disciplined class memorizing the teacher's every command is impossible in open area, so is the room in which the teacher does nothing and poten- tially the student does nothing. Students benefit from open area classroom instruction in several in- direct ways, as well as education- ally. Socially, thn child is provided interaction with several adults and with a larger number of class- mates, lie learns to adjust to being part of a larger group and also learns how to move from a large group to a small group, lie learns more about individual responsi- bility within a large group. Traditional schools have a ten- dency to allow their students to slip through the years and through society without really making conlact with themselves. They adjust to the nice, neat little slot with their name stamped on it, and become relatively name- less and faceless unless they have an innovative teacher con- cerned about, the individual devel- opment ot a student's identity. An open area makes it almost impossible to shoehorn u whole class through a possibly sterile year of school: the fuel that more teachers can co-operate in one room, to deal with individual stu- dents and their unique and individ- ual problems, permits individual student development. And because open area's effec- tive use requires substantial co- operation and reorganization of over-all teaching methods, clear objectives must be developed by the teaching staff. This gives teachers and students a heller idea of what they must do, and gives teachers the opportunity to acquire experience in curricu- lum development. C o m m cuts and observations about open area classroom philoso- phy found in locally and elsewhere- produced material ineludc the fol- lowing: An open area is only useful in a community in which the individual is valued at least in many in- stances above the group: open area classrooms encourage an education system which tailors itself in little pieces to the needs of. each and every student, encouraging him to think and learn for himself, as well as for bis community. In a well-run open area, Ihcre is little friction and little contusion: everyone knows what everyone is also knows WHY they are doing it. The result is a smoother education for the student. Teachers are generally allowed independence in open areas so that they can use their own skills to best advantage. There are as few as possible school district or school building regulations. All students don't have problems at the same time; however, at any given time, some student DOES have a problem. In a team leach- ing situation, the student with the problem can be helped by one member of the team, while the other continues to teach the rest. As soon as everything is clear for the student who had the problem, the teacher moves on to another student having a problem. And the rest of the class goes on. In an open area environment planned to give the student the greatest-possible degree of inde- pendence, the student finds that learning is fun he doesn't have to be an inert lump glued into a desk seat, but can instead move about when necessary. Lethbridge has been fortunate in having many competent teachers in the past, which has meant that many of the potential problems of trying to develop an education sys- tem to deal with the present have been avoided. Many city teachers have ir.dcsd turned their individual classrooms into mini-open area centres, provid- ing their students with many of the benefits possible with open arc-as and, some teachers say, operating as effectively or more so than they would in an open area which by its very nature allows more distrac- tions. However, one further potential value of an open area is that (he newer teacher, or the leacher who has decided he or she needs a bit of help in modernizing teaching methods, can see on a day-to-day basis how other teachers operate. The younger or still-learning teacher can benefit from the ex- perience of others nearby, and thus the entire education program im- proves. And the open area tends to draw all teachers involved into its philosophy and eagerness. The public and separate school boards have ordered extensive stu- dies of open area teaching, to es- tablish how they are affecting the education of Lethbridge students. It will be some lima before the results are available, hut judging from studies in other cities, the students and the teachers will do at least as well in open areas as they would in the more tradi- tional classroom.