Behind the Classroom Door; 30
The topic on this week's Behind the classroom door are from Northern Illinois University College of Education is the junior high school purposes and practices. Here's the moderator Dean Robert asked top the junior high school is a unit by our public school system. Usually it encompasses a seventh an eighth and ninth grade but there are a variety of theories about this in a variety of practical reasons that cause the junior high school grades perhaps to include six seven and eight. Sometimes there are varied combinations but basically there is a philosophical structure for the junior high school. Why do we have them. When do they begin. And what is the history order these and where did the junior high school idea start raining. As far as our country is going CERN at least well in the early 1900s for its junior high school was established. However this concept of the
junior high school did not develop rapidly until the early 1920s and especially into the 1930s in 1924 the North Central Association developed. Guidelines that were called the standard junior high school program. And it's interesting that these guidelines are still the foundation for many frameworks developed at state levels. In fact just recently a book came out by Samuel Popper called the American middle school and organizational analysis that was published in 1066. And in that book Popper follows the proposed program of the NAR Central Association of 1924 very closely. Well there were some special purposes and objectives of the junior high school or the middle school.
At any rate were there not yet I think we can pick out some of these specific purposes of the junior high school movement for example one was to bridge the gap between the elementary school and the senior high school. And this went on because of departmental ization and yet her and to make it easier transition for the pupils. In some of the elementary schools for example they were self-contained. Classrooms right through the eighth grade and then they moved immediately into had senior high school. The ninth grade level where they had a different teacher for every subject and there was a problem but just not in the junior high. Likely each student is likely to have a few different teachers but not as many suddenly and it is true with a junior at the senior high level. Then there is another good reason I think and that was that back years ago when the junior high school movement started in let's say in the 20s or early 1920s and 30s. Many states had compulsory
attendance ages up to 14 years or through the eighth grade. And people they figured out if they could get a child started into a new unit for example they would be seven eight and nine that the child would be more apt to to stay in school be more encouraged to stay in school. I say to the ninth grade either way people would quit when this 14 or he would quit. Remember in those days I had more children quit school as soon as they could to write. Absolutely. And then another good reason was the richer curriculum I'd say or at least a more about choice studies for the student. And we also in included vocational guidance to at the high school level so there were at least four or five good reasons for the establishment of the junior high school. Lloyd another reason that what you neglected to mention was that the junior high school would be a special place were children would be under an ideal environment for
making the change from childhood to adolescence. We know that this is one of the most difficult adjustments a child must make doing is entire life in a junior high school was to be a school where this would be done in a manner that would be least harmful to the child. Of course these are severe or just mental problems aren't they. And it takes a teacher in an administration that understands these and I think in a good junior high or middle middle school as it may be called a lot of attention is given to the social adjustment during those critical years. And some interesting problems develop too. For example the girls mature so much more rapidly than the boys and they're interested in boys when boys are still interested in baseball but the junior high teachers understand this and they arrange for social. Contacts dancing and so on so that this transitional period can be covered with a minimum of stress. I think that you know most of the studies indicate that.
Educators did feel a need for separating people in early adolescence from the senior high school youngsters and those who were younger. However the first reason that Lloyd gave tends to be supported I think much more. By programs developed at the state level. For example in 1961 the state of Illinois through the Junior High School Association developed a book called The junior high school program in Illinois. And within that the idea of elementary school is being self-contained with a single teacher. And senior high school is having departmental ization with the different teacher for each class. Was given as the main reason for having the junior high school. That would gradually take the child from the self-contained unit into departmental ization. They recommended that at least 40 percent of the school day in the junior high school
should be used utilized for a block of time in the seventh grade and then gradually this 40 percent would be reduced to 25 percent by the time the children reached the ninth grade. So that you have then a gradual transition from the so often teen to the departmental. Concept in education. Well this is in harmony in a way with human psychology too. During the primary grades the teacher one teacher is about all of the children can handle. Then in the middle grades four five and six. There can be more teachers brought into it. They usually have special teachers in music in art for example. But there's a gradual shift also in philosophy of education. Whereas the individual is a primary concern in the elementary school and perhaps they don't even give a report cards but write letters home or have conferences with the parents. In an
effort to. Safeguard the child's self-esteem. And to let the parents know that their child may not have an easy time doing in doing school work or may be able to do it very successfully. So when the transition moves on up to the junior high where grades become important and where the child has to compete against standards expected in the various classes he takes rather than against his own ability and sometimes this is quite a shock to parents and children alike. When they moved from an elementary school where grades are not given on the basis of subject matter achievement but rather upon the ability of the child into the junior high school where all of the sudden he gets about 5 or 6 grades that are based on what is expected of that of that level. There are some arguments that are. Proposed in opposition to the junior high school and one of them is this that while Lloyd said that it
is good as a place where the child can make an adjustment now. Those who oppose a junior high school say that what it does do is create two different adjustments that the child must make under the under the old plan where the child moves from the elementary school to the senior high school or to the high school he had one adjustment to make. But now with the junior high school he must make an adjustment when he enters the junior high school and he must make another adjustment when he enters the senior high school. Well of course Leo it is more of a gradual transition. But I will agree with you that there are real critiques of the junior high school program there have been since it started 50 60 years ago. I noticed that one of the arguments that someone has used is that the Seventh grader is at a stage in life where they may be quite. Different from let's
say from the ninth grader. In other words and we know that's true we know that many 13 year old children for example in seventh grade may be quite immature as compared to ninth graders especially ninth graders who have been retained for a couple years along the way. There's quite a spread there in their development and then they go on to say that the Ninth grader on the other hand is at a stage of an development where they need the guidance let's say of the call for greater. So since the younger ones always want to imitate the older ones that create a problem and so I've heard that used as an argument against the junior high school. Well along with that Lloyd I'd like to point out this that the normal range for the beginning of adolescence for girls is from ages 9 to 15. Well aged 9 would place a girl in the in the fourth grade age 15 possibly could place a girl in the 10th
grade. Yet that would be the beginning of adolescence that would be the age at which a girl reaches puberty. Well for the girl who reaches puberty at age 9 while she's all done she's made gone through this change by the time she reaches the junior high school. So far as boys go boys reach puberty as early as age eleven which would place them in the sixth grade and other boys can reach puberty as late as age 16 or 17 which would make them possibly juniors or seniors in high school. So it seems to me that so far as a junior high school goes just about 50 percent of the children would having would be having this need met in this special situation that was created for them. That is a place where they can make this change from childhood to adolescence under the guidance of teachers who understand them better.
I suppose a little with the vast range of individual differences it would be impossible to have a school that would take all people during early adolescence and put them into the same school. You said some girls have reached puberty at age 9 but they would be very few and a very small percentage. So that the junior high school plan that seems to be the most logical one and the six three three arrangement another and six grades in elementary and three in the junior high school and three in a senior high because. We do know that most people tend to reach early adolescence from ages 12 to 15. Therefore your grades seven through nine would at least cover the majority of the youngsters during early adolescence. But I don't think you can do from that program on that basis alone. The real
advantage of the junior high school has is the curriculum advantage. But unfortunately studies made of junior high school curricula tend to indicate that there isn't any junior high school grade because in many cases there are no teachers prepared to teach specifically in the junior high school. And therefore the curriculum tends to be determined by whether the teachers and administrators of the junior high school. Are largely elementary teachers and other are prepared to be elementary teachers or reap where prepared to be secondary teachers. If the principal for example is an elementary person he tends to stress the self-contained classroom Gond Sept. If he is a secondary person there may be more departmental ization on the senior high school than is desirable. So that a problem and certainly an acute problem in Illinois is that our certification and enables an elementary teacher to teach through the grade
9 and our secondary certification unable. The secondary person to teach down through from grades six through grade 12. So that we do not have people who really are well prepared to teach at the junior high school level. I think you pointed out one of the biggest weaknesses of the present day junior high school and that is the the lack of teachers who are trained and qualified to work with the adolescent and I think that our teacher training institutions must take this into consideration and that it is their obligation to develop specific programs for training teachers for junior high schools. Illinois has another very unique problem here in this 6 3 3 Plan which by the way is the most common plan in United States but not in Illinois. And the reason for that is the way that school districts are organized in Illinois much your districts I
think are like K through or K through 8 and 9 through 12 which makes a 6 3 3 Plan and almost impossible in many tax base an immunity term and that that's right and the tax district includes the kindergarten through the eight and then right above that. So it's hard to finance a junior high school that overlaps. That's right not at night however districts can go together. Right. To develop one me Junior High School Association did recommend the six three three plan and the most logical plan of organization for the state of Illinois. However it's interesting that the same commission indicated that a junior high school should have at least three hundred and sixty students and not more than seven hundred twenty students. Well in our area that would be quite easy but if you go down the state would be very difficult to find three hundred and sixty youngsters in the three
grades covered by their proposal in other words seven through nine. In many communities you know we should make the point that seems very obvious the junior high schools or middle schools are here to stay. In fact they're growing in number rapidly. And as we look at our secondary teachers that we're preparing half of them take assignments in junior high school and yet we we can induce very few of them to specialize in the junior high school because they think that it limits the scope of the possible assignments they can get when they go out to work. In other words they want to certificate that will extend their operations up through the Senior High School in addition to attracting teachers to the junior high school if a problem seems to exist and having them stay there. I believe that the teacher turnover on a on a junior high school level is greater than on any other level that we have. And I think the the
biggest difficulty lies in the fact that these teachers lack special understanding. They do not know the adolescent. They do not understand the adolescent really adolescence is one of the most wonderful periods of life and it's often been said it's a shame to waste adolescence on such young people can appreciate it. We'll let you get into writing about the weakness we have in not preparing people to teach at the junior high school level because certainly you know I'm a person doesn't just you neatly understand the adolescent especially the early adolescent. And many. Behavioral patterns of the early adolescence can drive normal people somewhat insane in a hurry. Unless the teachers understand that these are normal behavior patterns where the junior high school youngster. The problem with preparing teachers however for the junior high school is
that there is an orange junior high school pattern that is universally accepted and that's certainly true in Illinois as Lloyd pointed out pattern of grades remains so that as light indicated because of the rather unique method of stablish in school districts it is either elementary or secondary and the state many junior high schools are composed of the Grade 7 and 8 some 6 7 and 8 and of course recently we have. A rather rapid growth of middle schools I'd have to say that my personal opinion is that middle schools are developing more because of the availability of certain buildings rather than any logical or rational need for middle school. And while it's true any school board that faces the need to build new buildings when they can use some other buildings by regrouping. And is liable to think of
the cost and then the purposes and the philosophy of the junior high school can be lost as they combine A grades that don't belong together. But you know Ray earlier you talked about curriculum and then junior high as being distinctive and of course one of the qualities of that curriculum is that it should be exploratory because they're approaching that age when they should be analyzing themselves and their abilities and their interests and planning their pro programs for the future. And it's a course that requires a different type of preparation I've heard of the teacher and usually the junior high school teacher would then be expected to teach in more than one subject matter a field fact. The core curriculum ideas of the Herald will Bertie and Nelson bossiness are still widely accepted in many junior high schools. However more in a block arrangement rather than a core curriculum. What is this says when I tell you that common subjects agree and gather it teacher would teach two or more
subjects as one field of English and social studies for example are the two most commonly taught. The idea is that the skills in English can be acquired just as easily through reading subject matter and social studies as it can as those skills can be acquired and in reading matters in English. If students in history for example are studying the French Revolution in the English classes the students at the same time a read tale of two cities so that the information is correlated. However this requires either a double major on the part of the teacher in other words the teacher who has majored in English and social studies or are as a Junior High School Association in Illinois I recommended three minors. For junior high school teachers no major but three minors so that the junior high school teacher then would have the breath
and training to enable them to work in several exploratory fields and then through that junior high school students might very well take a series of short courses that would last perhaps nine weeks rather than a full semester to enable them to explore further. I think that somewhat innovative and has come in recently. Many schools are called many courses students sign up for courses that they would like to take for brief period of time as exploratory courses. The Student me for example go into metal worker. Would it work or some field sewing cooking something in home economics or even a foreign language your personal typing for a brief period of time often 9 weeks. This enables a junior high school youngster to determine what fields he tends to have the greatest interest in. And of course he can continue in these fields at a greater depth. In other words
more intensively at the senior high school level. There was one important reason for starting in junior high school moving back in the 1500s and we didn't really bring out and that was that. During that same period we developed a new branch of psychology called adolescent psychology and it seems to mean to me that many of the reasons that we stated earlier for the development of the junior high school. Meaning to me grades 7 8 and 9. Back in 1900 so would apply now to the development of the what we call the middle school which in most cases an hour I think would be six seven and eight. When you stop to think too that children develop. And if that I think they say that children develop a little earlier today than they did 25 or genera years ago or a generation ago still you could just apply the same argument to date through the through the middle school.
There is a book God came out in one thousand sixty seven called perspectives on the middle school by Ann grooms that grieve very much with what you said Lloyd. However it is interesting that even though many people are advocating the development of middle schools for that reason there is a reason that students are maturing sooner or earlier than they did in the past. That research doesn't tend to bear that out that it is true that children mature earlier. But if you take the vast majority of youngsters they still are in their early Alaska adolescence from ages 12 to 15 and yet the grooms recommended grades 5 through 7 as being the best arrangement for a middle school based on the idea that children from ages 10 to 14 have problems that tend to be unique for people in early adolescence.
I could agree with that that he did. Ray however I feel that today there are new techniques in teaching that are being introduced in the middle of school that seem to be more appropriate for the middle school that say than the lower elementary and I think that's another good reason for the middle school idea. Oh yeah I agree. LLOYD In fact Graham's in the same book pointed out some of these techniques such as team teaching better staff utilization instructional aides that would tend to make learning situations common for students in earlier ages and in the past. I think it's another thing that we should remember when we talk about what study shill and that is that sometimes the results of the study do not chill all of the things that we like to include. For example many times when they say that students in a in one type of a school as
compared to students in another type of school didn't differ significantly. We've got to realize that some of the important outcomes I haven't been measured. I think one thing that we have to address is that. We've tended in to get the junior high school teachers are not prepared specifically to teach at the junior high school and the junior high school youngsters often are very troublesome and yet it's interesting to talk with people who have taught at several levels and other elementary and junior high and senior high. And ask which level they prefer. And it seems to me that in the majority of cases the people who have taught at the junior high school prefer that level. Well the enthusiasms are tremendous an individual differences in the five talents. And surely they're all different at that level. There's one other advantage that we didn't mention and that is that many times you find more men. At the men in the middle schools and in the junior high schools and you do in the
lower elementary school and I feel that that it's important in other words it's important to have the man in the school. And it's easier to attract them to the middle schools and you know high school you know by whatever name we call it whether it's junior high or middle school it presents a wonderful opportunity to make an assessment of the child. You know we so often forget that the typical junior high school student typical there's no such thing that the range of junior high school students in reading for example might be from fourth grade level through college level reading. And we have to reassess this and re-examine it and plan accordingly. And there I cues will range from 90 to 100 50. And during these three years we have an wonderful opportunity to assess a child to help with his plan his future. And one of the things that I think is important is that parents and teachers need to understand the adolescent and the purposes of the junior high school and to
continue to communicate with each other to the end of the child can move ahead into his higher education through high school and perhaps college and make his contribution and secure the highest possible education that he's capable of obtaining. Behind the classroom door produced by WFIU Af-Am and cooperation with the College of Education at Northern Illinois University each week focuses its attention on one of the many challenging aspects of public school education. The program is moderated by Dr. Robert F. top dean of the College of Education at Northern Illinois University. Today's guest were Dr. Raymond B Fox associate dean of the College of Education. Dr. Leo Laughlin head of the Department of Administration and services and Dr. Lloyd Leonard head of the department of elementary education. Next week the topic will be. Why do some college students fail prevention and
- Behind the Classroom Door
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- Behind the Classroom Door is a radio series from WNIU-FM about education in the United States. In each episode, faculty from the Northern Illinois University College of Education address specific issues related to public school education and operation. The program is produced in cooperation with Northern Illinois University and distributed by the National Educational Radio Network.
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