Kansas City To Return To The One-Room Classroom

So they’re not exactly reinstating the idea of the one-room classroom but the Kansas City, Missouri School District is eliminating grade levels.  Instead of placing students in a specific grade according to their age, students will work on topics according to their abilities, beginning next fall.  This is good in that kids who learn quickly are not sitting around waiting for the rest of the class to catch up and kids that need extra time to master a skill can do so.

“The current system of public education in this country is not working” said Superintendent John Covington. “It’s an outdated, industrial, agrarian kind of model that lends itself to still allowing students to progress through school based on the amount of time they sit in a chair rather than whether or not they have truly mastered the competencies and skills.”

I could not have said it better myself.  I definitely think that society has changed and our schools need to adjust to that change.  I don’t know if this is the best way to go about making that adjustment, but it certainly seems like it might be.  Every child develops differently so saying that students must learn specific topics at specific ages seems a bit naive.  Teaching kids what they’re ready to learn when they’re ready to learn it makes a lot more sense.

Kansas City is not the first district to make this switch; schools in Alaska, Colorado, and elsewhere are already using this system.  “The most die-hard advocates for our system,” says Greg Johnson, director of curriculum and instruction for the Bering Strait School District in Alaska, “are our teachers because … they saw where things were then.  They see where things are now and they don’t want to go back.”  It’s hard to argue with that kind of endorsement.

This is an interesting development and well worth watching.  Kansas City, with 17,000 students, is the largest district to make this transformation so it should provide lots of great data.  Hopefully these reforms will work as well there as they have elsewhere.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply