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Everybody's mountain a program in the recorded series written and produced by Robert Louis Shea on with the author as narrator. I was a citizen taxpayer on a mission behind the blackboard captain of contemporary American education. I traveled throughout the United States for six months. I saw schools universities and educational experiments from Boston to Chicago from San Francisco to Miami. I began my journey in the valleys of generalization obstruction and controversy in education. I ended it on mountaintops of educational leadership and imagination. This broadcast is a report on two of those mountain tops in the Dade County Public Schools Miami Florida. Conversational Spanish in the elementary grades and portable schools in rapidly growing communities. Driving south 12 miles from Miami on U.S. 1. You come to a billboard. Turn here. You'll love it. South Miami Heights Miami's logical suburbs. You
turn you drive in the sun through a flat Piney Coral Ridge world inhabited not too long ago by Baff Fox wild cats quail deer alligators and wild turkeys. You see the newly made streets the lots where the lived in houses and beyond them the row on row of footings wooden skeletons and then the fleshed out structures of the future homes in the neat patterns of the orderly stages of mass production. Astride the open drainage ditches in the naked light and power poles is the new community's only school. South Miami Heights Elementary. Tan beige wooden one room schoolhouses propped up on concrete blocks in two rows along a single asphalt alley. The bell outside the principal's office made a standard sound. But the morning Pledge of Allegiance was recited over the loudspeaker by a group of six monitors in red
caps and white belts. They stood at attention under the American and Florida flags whipping in the breeze atop the flagpole. Their voices down along the alleyway were echoed by three hundred children through the open doors of the portable classrooms. I pledge allegiance to the flag. Of the United States of America. And to the republic. We are just one nation under and. Indivisible with liberty and justice. The monitors packed up their amplifying equipment and the 10 little portables quieted down for the day's lessons. The Masons the carpenters and the telephone lines men went on with the home building. I sat on the steps outside the principal's political office and talked to mrs Jean Spillers family of East St. Louis. Resistance has three boys in the school. The spell is
with the first family to move into the community when there were only one hundred and twenty five houses up. Not all finished. Now two years later there are six hundred and eight families living in South Miami Heights. Mrs. spellings when you first came here your boys went to pariah and a prominent school two miles away. What were the transportation conditions at the time. Well they had to walk to school and then rode biz very narrow. They walked on and cross a railroad track and I was packing houses and on at to us one. And they rode their past cycles and when I went to the school board they said to us well didn't you walk to school when you were a youngster and I said yes I walk to school in Godspell Tennessee which is a small community outside of Nashville. When a car came along that was usually a neighborhood he stopped and picked me up and said Here are the trucks and cars in back and it was just entirely too hazardous for the children to ride bicycles or walking there when you had three children in school have to deliver. Yes I had labor in
the morning at 8:00 and then I picked the first grader up at 12 o'clock the third grader up at 2:00 and the fifth grader up at 3 o'clock. The mothers took pictures of the hazards that children faced getting to and from school each day. They want to see Dr. Joe whole superintendent of Dade County's Board of Public Instruction which operates the schools in the greater Miami area. What did Dr. Hall say to you Mr. Spillers when you presented your case. But Dr. Hall told us he says now we will put the children on the afternoon bus and that will solve the problem. All you would have to do is get him there in the morning and then as soon as Cutler Ridge which is a near back community gets their new school finished and it was under construction at the tavern. We will give you the portable buildings that they have and they did the Chevy got out for Christmas holidays. One day we looked out and here come the big trucks with their wings on their backs going down the street and obviously the mothers rejoiced. You were looking forward to the permanent school building.
We certainly are. When do you expect to get. Well we're hoping soon we hope within the next year or so that is that the school board of course but we're trying and we're going to work but until we do get the new building we will all work as hard as we can for our protocols because we are proud of them. This is still a son Johnny is in the sixth grade. Johnny you attended a very large school in East St. Louis and a small school of pariah and here in Dade County. What do you think of portable schools. Well I've gotten used to I'm very much so they don't value my work. What do you miss him that you don't have a big enough capital or you you know how big of a library. I mean your library is in your own room. So you check out a book and you have to just pick from what you got room you can think elf and you like to read. Yes sir very much. What about the weather the wind the rain lark comes a slight wind will blow your papers all over the place. So no disadvantage of portable school and cafeteria home is like I said before it was real smart. But the food in there is
wonderful but do you think you lose anything in the educational process by telling a portable scope I don't listen when you get used. Are you looking forward to having a permanent building here sir. Right it has a bigger cafeteria and we have a place in that room and we're in this character in a room is not big enough. Johnny's sixth grade teacher is Mr. Alfred Solomon originally from New Jersey he's taught for eight years in conventional as well as in political schools. What's it like teaching in a portable classroom Mr. Solomon. There are these inconveniences of going from the room to their cars cafeteria orientalist down ever so interested and coldness of Christ down here read this we got down it's only a matter of a few short days possibly when it rains and it does make an inconvenience but besides that I feel the youngsters enjoyed portable class and the detached they feel a little freer as far as their activity noise is concerned. They feel that they aren't disrupting anyone are being disrupted. How do you feel
about the seating arrangement. So I enjoy it. Movable desk because you can do so much more attacks. Desks we have more of a fixed time and it does make it difficult moving around. Is there any net loss in the educational process. You know so I definitely think that it's what is contained within the class and that is important as a matter of fact one of the youngsters that I asked about a part of what they felt about it they said the important thing is the teacher within the class whether it's a portable or whether it's a program broadly. No one complains about lack of playground space at South Miami Heights. The children played baseball basketball and volleyball in the cleared scrub pine grove whose limits stretch out in town on a plate. Over Cutler Ridge the adjacent district but the portables blast the children in the bright new permanent building don't have a comparable play area. The land is there but so is an alligator Grove surrounded by a steel wire fence. Alligators are protected by law in Florida. No one wants the alligators in this grove. So there they
stayed. The land around South Miami Heights will soon close into. Mr. John Drake is the school's principal. Mr. Drake what is the growth picture for your school. We expect to have at least a hundred and twenty new children which will mean four additional portables and four additional teachers and beyond that by next year we will have 500 in 12 children and I hope then we have a new school if we don't we're going to have to move in more portables. But what is your present classroom size on the average in the first and second grades we have approximately 35 in each grade. This next week I hope to get one portable so I can cut that class size down to approximately 27 for each first and second grade and have a combination grade of 21 in first and second grade despite 50 million dollars of local state and federal money thrown into the population breach
in five years. Dade County still needs 10 million dollars each year to keep abreast of its school requirements. Ten new classrooms are needed every Monday morning. Superintendent Joe Hall plays a giant game of checkers with a platter bowls and the birth rate two or three times a year. Even if you had all the money you needed Dr. Hall could you meet the numbers challenge. No it's not entirely fair a question of money because these communities spring up in our county so rapidly that even if you had the money you can have the building by the time the children with a hand. One never knows if the children will be there. Investors start a real estate development. They throw up a hundred houses. Dr. Hall staff begins to plan for a permanent school. The builder stopped building. The planner stop planning. What does a portable classroom cost Dr. Hall the kind we use cost about $6000. And how do they compare to the cost of regular classroom he just got classroom all by itself would be
about 12 to 13 thousand dollars here in our area. But if you course built a permanent Scoob plant where the various administrative facilities in the cafeteria and the library and other facilities need it in a permanent structure would run up around twenty two thousand dollars a classroom. How many portable schools do you have in Dade County where you have 400 portables that are used. We use them in two ways. One in setting up new facilities on a complete new school plant another to supplement classrooms and a regular building that we have in existence at the present time. And those are all out now being used in conjunction with permanent structures. As soon as we have a need for a new one they will be pulled together an entire new school will be set up. How does the portable school of idea apply to other communities and in any community where the growth is rapid and where the need time for making plans for their permanent structure. They could use these portable for seven years if anybody especially interested would be glad to have him come than
business day county's portable schools are one community's oncet to the threat of double sessions a challenge facing every rapidly growing metropolitan area in the nation. Miami's conversational Spanish program in the elementary grades is another imaginative attack on an urgent educational problem. Miami Shores elementary school a low rambling permanent structure of Spanish design is not in a Spanish speaking district. Most of the children grades 1 to 6 come from English speaking homes in the pleasant established suburban area. Mrs Virginia Melville one of the school's 36 teachers addressed her class a full of craters attend see on the chart shows. Buenos días. Where. The Moa standards that ate eat was a b and c are.
All right boys and girls who would like to carry on a conversation in Spanish in complete sentences. Carla Martin would you like to say yes I'd like to talk with me. Ask him to come up then I think the arche won. See one or Johnny popped out of his seat and came forward to Carlotta or Carol. The two fourth graders confronted each other stiffly like boys and girls in a next urbanites social dancing class. When a studious one player steers can. Become a stylist engrams is either used Louis B end Grassley asked YSU family oh yeah no only beat him last. The odds are better than even that you didn't understand a word Carlotta and Ron were saying. Citizens of the United States are notorious among modern nations as the people of a single tongue. You Nesco recently studied the teaching of foreign languages in
14 countries. The United States was near the bottom of the list. Before us but Nick a survey reported that 85 percent of the students who begin a modern foreign language in high school do not go on to a third year in 1955 Dade County began to teach conversational Spanish in all of its one hundred twenty five elementary schools. Why did you begin your program Dr. Hall. We feel frankly as a group of educators that our country is deficient in its knowledge in foreign languages. We feel also that the place to begin is when the child is young. So through the use of tape recordings radio and one special supervisor for our whole county we designed a program which will give each pupil about 15 minutes a day of conversational Spanish. Do the teachers who speak only English learn Spanish too in this process. Yes said most of our teachers do not know Spanish but they utilize the
radio broadcast and they learn the Spanish along with the people. As a program proceeds What is the total number of children involved in this conversation in Spanish and a conversational Spanish which runs from grades 1 through 6 there are about 85000 children involved at present time. Miami is considered the gateway to Latin America so that's a pretty important consideration. Yes and a logical language that uses Spanish. Another community man want to use some other language. The daily 15 minute Spanish lessons are broadcast over w th s FM Miami's noncommercial radio station. The classroom teachers follow up with formal instruction but in addition to this direct punitive teaching the schools integrate conversational Spanish into all school activities. Greetings are spoken. Simple commands are given and common objects are identified in Spanish. Mrs. Sally Rogers a first grade teacher combines a vocabulary building with music appreciation for boys and girls this morning.
We are going to listen to a song sung by the sixth grade boys and girls. This song is about a farm. It asks you to come and see that beautiful farm with all the many animals. Let's listen. I mean I am woman. That I am. I want. What I want. I am. The children citing other verses with other farmworkers. Language teachers disagree over the vocabulary load a high school student should carry in his first year of the foreign language. An average hypothesis is two thousand words. The sixth graders who sang for Mrs. Rogers class had
mastered eighteen hundred Spanish words and expressions. Mrs. Rogers took up a conversation with her first graders. Linda what animal would you like to have on your farm. Course part three Thea would you like to help us out and give us the Spanish word for horse by Young. Chucky What do you think another animal that you would like to have on your barn. Does anybody know the Spanish word for how bad via a way no bar to your door knows the Spanish word for door. Jeffrey let's go over these words one more time boys and girls. What is the Spanish word for whores. What is the Spanish word for dog. What is the Spanish word for Carol.
Research has produced very few unassailable generalizations about foreign language study especially in the early grades. Should all children learn foreign languages. When is the best time to begin. Is there a foreign language aptitude is the right talents for science math or art. No evidence as yet but it used to answer these questions definitely. Some investigators have found that success in foreign language tests depends more on how long the language has been studied than on the student's IQ. When Mrs. Rogers first graders have become Mrs. Mel those fourth graders they're tentative come by your locker and peril will have blossomed into the comparative conversational ease of Juan and Carlotta. I don't think about instead one. Way I Know I squeal and I do not understand Carol. Boy. This clamor. Cadia a Souray. Only leaving us
to sign your skinny instead. Jane don't. You weigh me on yours. Quanto spaniels teeny tango Oh yes. Mrs. Malvern was one of the 4000 teachers involved in the program when it first began. Mrs. Melville did you speak Spanish when the program started. No at that time I had no Spanish background. How did you teach Spanish when you didn't speak the language. We have a excellent guide in the school. We had programs every day broadcast that came into the classroom and we also had Spanish records. Now we're learning along with the children. That's right. We were learning together but we're finding it easy. You know it was difficult and that was when I made up my mind to take a course in connection with the university in conversational Spanish it was this course given as an in-service training program. Yes it was connected with a conversational Spanish program citywide.
That's where we met twice a week. And the chorus lasted for one semester and it was a very practical chorus because we could apply everything that we learned in the classroom. Speaking people from the West Indies Central and South America come to live in Greater Miami. They bring children who cannot speak English. The conversational Spanish program turns into a two way street. Useful as well for the teaching of English. Simonetti Bloodgood Ellie is a 10 year old fourth grade import from Venezuela. Her parents speak no English. Seema how long ago did you come to Miami Shores elementary. 6 mos. And when you came you couldn't speak a word of English. How were you greeted by the class the first day you came to school here. Teacher and children make a C-minus Simonetta see more net that will last the
day with me. Good morning to you. They made up the words and the melody and they sang it. Yes. You speak English rather well for a girl who's been in this country only six months. Who helped you to learn it. The children misled when my teacher. And did you help the children and Miss lead well who are learning to speak Spanish here. Yes how did you help them. I have to correct they were really does say did good when the children say good. And when they did make a mistake. You would correct her. Yes while you were helping the children to learn Spanish very the children were helping you to learn English. How well do you think that the children here are learning to speak Spanish in the way they are taught. All very good because this boy's anger
from books learnt with conversation. Simo was born in Switzerland. Her parents are Italian Spanish is his second language English a third. It has been found that the longer you study one foreign language the surer of success you are in another. Research also indicates that a vocabulary becomes active rather than passive when learned in games as opposed to Word and grammar drill. Mrs. Manvers class plays a game who would like to come up to the front of the room and point to different objects and see who could give this the Spanish word for each object. Debbie would you like to come on. Yes ma'am. All right. Come AC DC and Espanyol black boy Judy. Peace. Judy. Peace. Come AC DC inspan your black boy racer prime.
Poorly don't. Dare be fun your color service in Espanol chair. Trash Let's see here. Well I think if you're spying your clocks. The railroad come I said if you know spying on your door. Come SABC an aspiring American flag. BOBBY. Love and there are many carnal. Grass Yes yes. They're being. Asked to RCN or. Debbee took a seat and the children played another game. Each child asks his neighbor Katie on a used head what do you have the neighbor on says tangle. Which means I have and then completes the sentence by adding the Spanish word for some article or object. Mrs. Melville begins. Carla tell Katie any tango ask me Tani
or Peking Danny Kaye Teenie. Can you go and can you stand. Tangle that may sound gross. Katy and you stand tango Al we did Katie and he used a $10 crayon ace will be ended and the ads are from one language experiment was begun in Spain 20 years ago. Preschool children were taught four or even five languages entirely through play for a three year period. Each year for the past 20 years. Children have been leaving this school able to speak their own and four other languages interchangeably without effort. Miss Clementine called Loftus coordinates the conversational Spanish program for Dade County. Clementine called Loftus that's a Greek name. Yes I'm a Greek descent where we're born I was born in New York. And what was your native tongue creek and learn English when I started school. Where did you learn to
speak Spanish. Right here in our own Dade County schools and then at University of Miami Miska Loftus in addition to the records of the broadcasts in the guidebooks How do you help teachers in this program. We do demonstrations in the teachers classrooms we spend about a week in each school to help the teachers and the children. And two we have a speaking Spanish tell of course but is that designed primarily for elementary school teachers. Although we have boys and girls listening and a lot of our community this goes out over the open VHF child in the city. That's right channel 2. You've been at this for four years now. What results have you been able to demonstrate. I wish I could take you on a visit with me into the Dade County elementary schools are so many exciting things going on. You may start in the morning visiting one teacher's classroom here doing the opening exercises calling roll in Spanish. Maybe someone is doing a dramatization. If they're having an arithmetic
class now they may be doing their combinations or doing some something that is tied in with their regular program and do it in Spanish whenever the up natural opportunity arises. What about a formal test of the head really. We haven't had any formal test most of this has been an informal testing program that the classroom teacher carries on. Because conversational Spanish is an individual skill and it is difficult to task by running well in any formal dress. We are planning a formal task but we are still in the experimental stage in that area Meanwhile what your subjective evaluation. We are really excited about. The program. We feel that it is going along very well. First we still have a few trouble spots that we're trying to iron out but by and large the teachers are very enthusiastic about working in this area and our community is behind us. The ability to speak read and write a foreign language with ease and enjoyment
actually to think in that language is an educational experience which most adult Americans have irrevocably lost. It may be that we began the study of another language too late. The grammar drill and remoteness of the alien tongue from our daily experience proved insuperable barriers. The United States in a time of ever widening international commitments has a crucial state in the training of diplomats scientists and representatives who can speak foreign languages. It may not be enough simply to require a lot of the units of study in the high schools. The decisive factor in a student's willingness and ability to take the long road to language mastery. Maybe his early familiarity with the language in an atmosphere of play and meaningful involvement. At a deeper level however languages in the elementary grades are the early opening of doors not merely to adult manipulation of strangers for policy or profit
but to a sympathetic understanding of the human beings behind the alien tongues and appreciation of their cultures needs and aspirations. Johnny and Carol slipping easily across invisible borders and assuming the identities of Juan and Carlotta I learning the language of world friendship which requires no translation. Made good stuff so come a phone costs yes more goods than Everest do you wear a bandana. Yes. I do yes. Off the menu. Well you know just ask them inured to. The teaching of foreign languages in the elementary grades as your mountain to. Your children's Mountain your neighbor's mountain. Education is everybody's mountain. The recorded series everybody's mountain was written and produced by Robert Louis Shea on for the Educational Television and Radio Center. The programs are distributed by the National Association of educational broadcasters
Everybody's mountain
Episode Number
Conversational Spanish and Portable Schools in Miami, Florida
Producing Organization
National Association of Educational Broadcasters
National Educational Television and Radio Center
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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A series on educational leadership and imagination in the United States today.
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Narrator: Shayon, Robert Lewis
Producer: Shayon, Robert Lewis
Producing Organization: National Association of Educational Broadcasters
Producing Organization: National Educational Television and Radio Center
Writer: Shayon, Robert Lewis
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 59-49-4 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:30
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Chicago: “Everybody's mountain; 4; Conversational Spanish and Portable Schools in Miami, Florida,” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed January 28, 2023,
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APA: Everybody's mountain; 4; Conversational Spanish and Portable Schools in Miami, Florida. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from