ERIC Number: ED376996
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1994-Nov
Reference Count: N/A
Small Scale and School Culture: The Experience of Private Schools. ERIC Digest.
Conway, George E.
It is a widely held perception in this country that private schools are superior to public schools. This digest examines school size and school culture as they relate to the high quality of education in private schools. The average private school is about half the size of the average public school. Reflecting Tonnies' (Ferdinand Tonnies, 1887) conception of "gemeinschaft" institutions, small private schools exhibit distinctive school cultures based on shared purposes, personal loyalties, and common sentiments. The large public school serves widely diverse stakeholders that rarely come together to develop local educational goals. Consequently, public schools are generally held accountable to school district or state goals, which tend to be quantitative and are addressed by technical solutions. While public schools must reflect diverse community sentiments, private schools are free to establish their own sentiments and actively profess them to students through institutional rituals and traditions. These institutional beliefs and customs are actively supported by parents, alumni, and teachers. Such shared sentiments may be part of the reason that good teachers remain in private schools, accepting salaries significantly lower than those in public schools. Many experts favor smaller schools over consolidated megaschools, and connect educational quality to a sense of community. But American public school leadership continues to build large schools in pursuit of cost effectiveness and curriculum diversity. Such strategies may be sacrificing positive school culture and meaningful educational reform. Contains 14 references. (SV)
Descriptors: Educational Environment, Educational Quality, Elementary Secondary Education, Institutional Characteristics, Institutional Environment, Interpersonal Relationship, Private Schools, School Attitudes, School Culture, School Size, Small Schools
ERIC/CRESS, P.O. Box 1348, Charleston, WV 25325-1348 (free).
Publication Type: ERIC Publications; ERIC Digests in Full Text
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Office of Educational Research and Improvement (ED), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: ERIC Clearinghouse on Rural Education and Small Schools, Charleston, WV.