vermont’s got it all, beauty, brains, and the middle school dilemma

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Here comes that consistent theme about community once again. Diane Ravitch has just told the world that Vermont is the best education state. Not only is the place heartachingly beautiful, particularly in the Fall…but Vermont is getting high marks for a strong sense of community and commitment to the young….and to top it off…students are graduating high school at very respectable rates…
I am including a link to her blog below so you can read what she has to say.

Vermont was one of the stops on my six week SOS tour of the US.

I was impressed with the town of Tinmouth and its little grammar school. It has swings! The community theme resonated in conversations with neighbors and town people. The people of the town had recently raised funds to add a community center to the vintage wooden school… to be used by students during school days and for community meetings and suppers when school is not in session. The school is at the core of the town community because that’s how people think about school. Grammar school, that is.

I spent time with a teacher who loves her students and is proud of how articulate and grounded they are. She spoke about how wonderful it is to have small class sizes so that she can form meaningful relationships with students and families, and can give extra attention to kids who need it. She spoke of how involved families are in the life of the school, and how unfortunate it is that when they leave to the larger middle school milieu, this changes.

She has observed wonderful kids begin to falter at middle school age. The schools are bigger. Families lose touch with the daily workings of school and their children’s experience. Many parents increase their work schedules as kids advance to upper grades. Parenting can become inconsistent, just due to how busy people are. Class sizes become much larger and are broken up into subjects. Social aspects of life for kids become more complicated and confusing.

We spoke of our mutual concern for adolescents and agreed that they need adult guidance more than ever to help them navigate some pretty darn tricky years of human development. The very structure of school changes drastically from small classroom communities where people feel connected and have a sense of place, to a work-like setting where a central core that used to be dependable and predictable, now no longer exists.

Vermont is not the only place the middle school dilemma rears its head. I interviewed a number of educators who are wrestling internally and in professional settings around this problem. People I have interviewed individually speak often of the pain and confusion of school during this period of their lives. One person called it her “lost years”.

yeah. alotta that going around….

But Vermont is a beautiful state and is doing some interesting and positive things. Read Diane Ravitch’s view here:

–Please share your thoughts. Comments are looked forward to.


About cthebean

Educator, musician, social justice activist...and now a blogger. Children deserve unflinching support from adults.....they deserve nothing less. All kids . Everybody's kids. Everywhere.
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