ERIC Number: ED383078
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1995
Reference Count: N/A
High School: The American Walkabout. Occasional Paper Series: Volume X, Number 2.
Donavel, David F.
In September 1989, Masconomet Regional High School in Topsfield, Massachusetts, initiated a school-restructuring program called the Renaissance Program. Although the program was highly successful, the school committee voted to discontinue it in October 1990. This paper, written by a teacher at the high school, tries to understand why the program met with heated resistance. Renpro, as the program came to be called, enrolled one-half of the incoming freshman class; the other half was enrolled in the traditional program, or Tradpro. Enrollment in Renpro was voluntary. The Renpro students took two academic courses at a time every 60 days (or 3 trimesters) during the 180-day school year, completing a minimum total of 6 academic courses a year. Academic classes were held in the mornings (100 minutes each the first year, and 118 minutes each the second and final year), leaving afternoons free for other teacher and student activities. Renpro students demonstrated gains in their writing, problem-solving, and collaboration skills; and Renpro students, parents, and teachers reported satisfaction. It is argued that although traditional schools instill feelings of powerlessness and boredom among students, promote conformity, devalue teaching experience and academic excellence, and rationalize failure, they represent a ritualized, collective experience in the American culture. Regularities are retained in the high school to ensure that children share the experience of their parents. The schools possess, in this sense, a ritual value--the "walkabout" value. In other words, Renpro violated the regularities of time and space and the formalities of curricula. The only way to break the hold that current ritualized practices have on schools is to first change practice. Contains 14 references. (LMI)
Descriptors: Educational Change, Educational Innovation, High Schools, Nontraditional Education, Organizational Climate, Politics of Education, Resistance to Change, School Schedules, Social Theories, Traditionalism
Regional Laboratory for Educational Improvement of the Northeast & Islands, 300 Brickstone Square, Suite 950, Andover, MA 01810 (Stock No. 9416; $6 plus $2.50 shipping and handling).
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Office of Educational Research and Improvement (ED), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: Regional Laboratory for Educational Improvement of the Northeast & Islands, Andover, MA.
Identifiers: Masconomet Regional School District MA