A Time to Learn: Creating Community in America's High Schools

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9780525939559: A Time to Learn: Creating Community in America's High Schools
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The author reveals how he left academia behind in order to become the principal of a struggling high school, and how he turned the school and its students around through dedication and determination

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From Kirkus Reviews:

A passionate plea for educational reform by a teacher who changed the course of a poor rural high school. Wood (Education/Ohio Univ.; Schools That Work, 1987) was ensconced in the ivory tower of academia when he was approached to serve as principal of Federal Hocking High in Stewart, Ohio. He proved to be the rare administrator who was willing to take risks; as a result of Wood's iconoclastic methods, Hocking became one of the region's top schools within a few years. Clearly influenced by such reformers as Deborah Meier--whose Park East Secondary School in New York City has served as a model for many educators--Wood radically changed the structure of his school and here advises such changes for all high schools. Echoing 1960s radicals, Wood condemns ``the traditional mindset'' of institutions that ``are not concerned with the needs, interests and abilities of individuals except as they serve the mission of the institution.'' The primary goal of schools, he contends, should be to create learning communities that nurture the kinds of citizens we would like to have as neighbors. Students, he believes, should strive for producing high-quality work rather than just accumulating credits; schools must be kept small, so that no child is anonymous. Fewer classes each day, held for longer periods, are crucial to realizing Woods vision, along with enough unstructured time to encourage the growth of student-teacher relationships. Students should be given far more decision-making power, he argues, so that they will graduate more capable of handling the adult responsibilities that will be thrust upon them daily. (In Wood's school, in fact, students play an active role in hiring staff.) Complete with an appendix well-stocked with resources for high school restructuring, this is a somewhat utopian blueprint, but still one packed with common sense. -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Publishers Weekly:

Wood explains the pedagogic inspiration that motivated him to leave his job as professor of education at Ohio University to become a principal at a poor Ohio high school. He believes we must rethink high schools to "transform them from the institutions they now are to the communities they should be." Much of the restructuring Wood advocates is occurring in countless high schools across the country, as administrators, parents and teachers realize that rewarding the desk-bound hours of "seat time" with earned credits serves no one in the public school system or society. "When social conditions begin to sour, we first see it reflected in the lives of our children." Wood and his school community have transformed Federal Hocking High School (FHHS) from a mediocre traditional institution to a community that establishes for students the relevance of academic rigor, career preparation and active citizenship. Radical restructuring efforts, Wood argues, must include a decrease in the importance of standardized testing and textbooks that are written in order "not to offend too many folks" so that they may be widely adopted. FHHS flourished with creative block scheduling, portfolio assessment and the Senior Project?all ideas gaining popularity in high schools across the nation. Although Wood's book offers no radically new information, his testimonial may inspire other administrators to begin restructuring their high schools. Editor, Deb Brody; agent Denise Marcil.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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