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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - November 24, 1970, Lethbridge, Alberta THE LETHBR1DGE HERALD TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 24, 1970 History of open area teaching By G. S. LAME Principal, FIcctwood School The idea of building and us- ing large open area schools for instruction and grouping of pu- pils, which is now the current vogue' is, like many other "new" ideas in educating, not really new at all. A book entitled "School written in 1849, describes schools with large open spaccc a master teacher -a-a? rssp'jisible for the instructor jne entire stu- dent body, ioraviwg to the as- sistants in smaller surrounding classrooms the task of hearing recitations and drilling tfce pu- pils in memorization. oJ ttw les- sons. In the early 1900s New York City built schools equipped with moveable walls, consisting of a series of hinged panels, so that there could be flexibility of space for student groups of different sizes and for activi- ties for which specialized teachers were provided. How- ever, because the panels would warp ano! bind and because (here was no way of controlling sound, they were relatively in- effective. Until sometime after the end of World War H schools re- mained generally a series of equal sized classrooms lining each side of a long narrow cor- ridor. After the Second World War the phrase, "flexibility of space" became increasingly used as a term to describe an educational need. M Grade 3, class was very enthusiastic about a pet project for book week. First they dis- cussed animals, and decided which were pets, which could be pets, and which were not pets. Than each one decided which pet he Cor she) would write about and brought a toy model from home. Then they went to the library to find pertinent information as to habits, food, etc. Some also tackled the encyclopedia, and with some help from me, did a good job. Then they-drew a pic- 5ie of their pets "and made a chart, combining the pic- lures with the notes. They carried their enthusi- asm even further and modelled their pets from clay. Some were highly successful, where- as others were not so fortu- nate, losing legs, ears, or tails from their pets as the models slowly dried. They had not yet learned the art of welding properly. Then they estimated the num- ber of visitors their display might havs and made several hundred bookmarks. Each con- tained a picture of their pets as well as a sentence about it. Now they are eagerly await- ing the day when they can share then1 work and informa- tion gleaned with ther friends. K. Dick, Grade 3. There was some uncertainty about kind of space that would be needed in the new schools being built but the feel- ing persisted that the egg. crate type of school no longer served the needs of educating stu- dents. With the advent of T e a m Teaching (a number of teach- ers grouped together to look af- ter the educational needs of 100 or more youngsters j the neces- sity for large open areas where pupils could be gathered into large or small group? as the need arose the minimum .'confusion and movement, became evideut. This flexible grouping of pupils ruled out tho traditional classroom designed for the use of 25 to 30 pupils and one teacher. Many varieties of open space schools have been built. Some have moveable partitions which can be taken down and reassembled to alter the size and shape and grouping of spaces. Others were built with folding partitions as well as moveable walls. The truly open plan provides an area or areas without any interior walls at all and is to be found mainlv in elementary schools. One "of the first schools of this type was built in .Carson City, Michigan, in 1958. It consists of a cluster of three open areas each of which the equivalent of four or five standard classrooms. Since that time open area elementary schools have been built in all parts of North Am- erica and Canada. California is one of the leading proponents of this type of school structure and has probably experiment- ed with more designs for open area schools than any other part of the country. Open area schools came to Alberta in the late sixties. At the moment all of the new ele- mentary buildings in Calgary and Edmonton are being con- structed as open area schools. Recently a beautiful open area school for elementary school pupils was built in Card- ston, A wing of it houses pre- school Indian youngsters. Sev- eral schools in Lethbridge have some open area space in con- junction with the traditional type of classroom. The latest to be built in Leth- bridge is the one on the Fleet- wood School grounds which will house, in two large open areas, the Grade 3 to 6 pupils from Central and Fleetwood- Schools, It will open its doors in Jan- uary, 1971. Very few secondary schools are of the open area type. How- ever, if the elementary schools prove that tills kind of a build- ing meets the needs ot pupils in a more satisfactory way than the traditional type of school can, it is quite possible that new secondary schools will assume a far different in- ternal look compared to those built in an earlier period. Open area ot Agnes Davidson School Statement on goals The Lethbridge Public School District No. 51 publish- ed a statement of educational goals and plans early in 1969. This statement served as a ba- sis for the development of the educational goals for Agnes Davidson and other open-area schools. The school district's goals of education state: "Schools are expected to dis- cover and cultivate the talents and capabilities of. the child and to assist in his growth to a mature, creative, and pro- ductive adult. This means that schooling must play a large role in the development of the child's basic physical and men- tal skills, including particular- ly his communication, com- putational and reasoning skills. It means also that the school must enlarge the child's so- cial perspective, sharpen his moral and artistic sensibilities, and strengthen his sense of re- sponsibility and commitment to purpose. This approach to learn- ing and instruction calls for a new concept of the teacher's role. His primary role will no longer be that of lecturer and tire lectures he gives will no longer set role for the en- tire class. He will become a di- rector of, a guide to .learning activities at whatever level has student happens to be. Individuals will need to be given the opportunity to pro- gress at their own best paces ratlter than be required to keep pace with all other students in the class regardless of whether they are ready and equip- ped to do so. Every effort will need to be made so that a wholesome learning climate is developed so that student's self-image or individual worth continues to be positive." Using the above statement and the Alberta department of education objectives as a basis, our staff and parent repre- sentatives compiled the follow- ing statement of educational goals: EDUCATIONAL GOALS I.-SPECIFIC GOALS: This school shall be concern- ed with: (i) Uie development of it3 students in the skills of com- munication, computation, and reasoning. (ii) the development of in- dividual talents. (iii) the development of an understand ing of physical growth and physical skills. (iv) the development of inde- pendent learners who are using good habits of self-direction in learning, and the application of knowledge. Cv) the development. of the student's positive self-image or individual worth. C vi) the development of a spirit of co-operation in stu- dents and a consideration for the rights and feelings of otb- ers. (vii) the development of a sensitivity to human values. II. OBJECTIVES Tire objectives of a school might be broadly defined as: (i) Individualiz i n g instruc- tion and (ii) Professionals i n g teach- ing A. The concept of individual- izing instruction includes: Ci) the building of a curri- culum which would provide sig- nificant learning for all students regardless of ability. (ii) A curriculum content se- lected for various groups, witli due care taken so that content is appropricte to each learner in terms of (i) pace, (b) level .of difficulty, (cl relevance to reality (as seen by the learn- and (d) interest. (iii) provision for quest ac- tivities and a systematic pro- vision for the fostering of criti- cal thinking, self-directiveness, and creativity. Civ) provision for individual., s m a 11-group, large-group in- struction. (v) provision for structured and non-structured learning ex- peridnces. (vi) the breaking of lockstep progress and lockstep content by the realization of a continu- ous progress form of school or- ganization, (Vii) i n t e r a c tion between leacher and pupil, pupil andt pupil, teacher and teacher, school ard community. B. The concept of profession- alization of teaching includes: (i) Conservation of teacher time and energies by freeirg teachers from non-professional talks. Ciij A co-operative teaching approach. (iii) Utilization of each teacher's strengths. (iv) Assuming more respon- sibility on the part of all teach- ers in the task creative cur- riculum, building. (v) Assump t i o n of respon- sibility on the part of the fac- ulty in the in-service training STATEMENT (Concluded On Page Threo) ;