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Re: [xmca] Fwd: SEcond note: John Dewey school at Towson Maryland

Hi Andy, Derek and others,

This conversation seems to me to link with your previous conversation Andy
about "dream keepers" of institutions. I attended an alternative secondary
technical school here in Melbourne in the early 1980's and my older brothers
had attended since not long after it opened in the early 70's in a motley
collection of old portable buildings plonked on a large bushy piece of land
between the sand-belt golf courses. I suspect the early philosophy of the
school was quite inspired by Dewey. Teachers were known on a first name
basis and regular student meetings were held to allow students to have a
voice in the running of the school. We also had a significant amount of
choice in the classes we took and most classes were very hands-on and
self-directed. It wasn't perfect, and probably far too many kids got away
with doing not very much, but for kids like me who were keen to learn it was
really great, and never dull, mind-numbing or inhumane like most schools
seem to be.

When I started in 1980, the school had just moved into a brand new purpose
built building and the founding principal (who had obviously been the dream
keeper) had just left. At first the vice-principal was acting principal but
then a new principal from outside the school was appointed and during my 5
years at the school significant changes began to take place, particularly as
other original key teachers retired and moved on. I remember visiting a few
years later when I was graduating from teachers' college and found the place
almost unrecognisable - all of the open plan learning spaces had been
divided up into classroom sized boxes, the structure of multi-age home
groups had been changed, and the atmosphere and morale seemed completely
different. Another few years later as all the neoliberal political changes
swept through the system the school was merged with the local high school
and so uniforms were introduced, curriculum offerings were rationalised,
teachers were to be called Mr and Mrs and the school became just like any
other underfunded, underappreciated generic government secondary school.

I feel very privileged to have caught the tail end of the dream, and just
wish that somewhere similar still existed for my own children. It was
obviously a matter of the right people coming together in the right
political climate that allowed it to happen in the 70's, but I often wonder
what might have happened if the dream keepers had still been around in the
early 90's when the mergers took place. How hard would they have fought to
maintain something unique? Mind you, at that time I was teaching in a tiny
school that was forcibly closed, and found there was nothing that we could
do about it. A hard and bitter lesson in political cynicism and economic
rationalism for a naive and optimistic young teacher to learn! I have no
doubt though that it is all of these experiences that have fueled my passion
for educational research and the belief that we could be doing school


On 2 August 2011 15:27, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:

> **
> First thing I notice is that the killing off of the "Laboratory School"
> happened once the College gained university status and became part of the
> State's university system. Around that time (1980s) all across the (English
> speaking) the diversity of specialist colleges were being amalgamated into
> Universities, bringing neoliberal cost savings and, to the colleges,
> sometimes more professional management, and usually status, in that their
> graduates got university degrees rather than diplomas. These degrees had
> become vital pieces of paper for employment, so students probably consented
> as well. All a great fraud of course! But once having entered the monster's
> grotto, you get eaten up. I worked a couple of decades at the University of
> Melbourne and saw numberless colleges (teachers, nurses, early childhood,
> agriculture, music, art, ...) swallowed up and then rationalised. What gets
> lost very often is the discipline-specific hands-on training, in favour of
> vanilla-flavoured, computer-simulated education.
> Having watched and loved The Wire, I get the impression that the result of
> this move was not good for the State's education system. :)
> I wonder how this kind of venture could be re-launched? The argument in the
> newspaper article is pretty strong, geared as it is to accounts' ears. :)
> Andy
> derekpatton19 wrote:
> Dear Andy,
> Thanks for your interest.
> The school was closed in 1991 by the report pasted in below. Also our
> Facebook chat group has a few people from the last classes there. One person
> who went there, and whose children also went there, claims the quality and
> philosophy changed in the mid 80s sometime if I recall correctly. So there
> may have been a few "steps" in the "take over" process, if that is what it
> was. I don't know the insider machinations that might have gone on, nor any
> source. But I haven't had time to dig around, as I am trying to complete my
> PhD.
> hmmm...ah, here is something
> http://articles.baltimoresun.com/1991-01-16/news/1991016148_1_lida-lee-state-leaders
> I will paste it in below, as much for your records as mine to save in my
> gmail. But the short answer is short-sighted budget cuts as the public
> excuse. Who knows what was going on behind the scenes. A uneducated bean
> counter could be the simple answer. Someone who doesn't understand how
> spending a wee bit of money on getting it right for children at a young age
> saves huge amounts later.
> Townson State Teachers College became Towson State University at some point
> along the way
> let's see, here it is: at
> http://cooklibrary.towson.edu/archives/chronology.cfm
> 1976 Towson is granted university status and the name changes to Towson
> State University (TSU).
> 1988 Towson becomes part of the University System of Maryland.
> 1997 Towson State University is renamed Towson University and adopts a new
> logo.
> 1998 Towson is ranked among the top 10 public institutions in the North by
> U.S News & World Report.
> http://articles.baltimoresun.com/1991-01-16/news/1991016148_1_lida-lee-state-leaders
> Save Lida Lee Tall School Judy Reilly
> January 16, 1991|By Judy Reilly
> ANY MARYLANDER concerned about the quality of education in this state needs
> to know about the Lida Lee Tall Learning Resources Center, the designated
> research and demonstration elementary school for Maryland.
> Tucked away on Towson State University's campus, Lida Lee Tall is a
> Maryland gem -- a model school where the best of what is new in teaching
> methods and learning materials is tested for the benefit of school children
> statewide. Teachers who want to discover the latest in proven teaching
> techniques, college students with a glimmer of teaching in their eyes, or
> those curious about the status of educational excellence study Lida Lee
> Tall, where some of Maryland's best efforts in education are showcased.
> But now, because of a recommendation by the governor's budget analyst, Lida
> Lee Tall may be closed.
> Closing the school may be tempting to state leaders who need to trim the
> budget, but this parent and taxpayer argues that keeping the school open
> could save the state money in the long run. Effectively used, Lida Lee Tall
> can show state leaders how to stretch the educational tax dollar.
> Lida Lee Tall is an effective school, one where even the most school-phobic
> kid gets excited about learning, where parents are involved in the schooling
> of their children and teachers are given the freedom to tailor lessons to
> their students' needs, abilities and interests. Educators across the state
> should study this winning combination and adapt it to their own systems.
> When new developments in education are discovered in our universities or
> brainstormed in curriculum offices, let the new ideas be tested at Lida Lee
> Tall first, where ideal laboratory conditions are already in place. (The
> school's student population reflects the ethnic, cultural and economic
> diversity of the Baltimore metropolitan area.)
> When school superintendents consider purchasing new materials for their
> school systems, test them at Lida Lee Tall first rather than trying them out
> systemwide, a financially riskier idea.
> The best of what happens at Lida Lee Tall, if adapted by school districts
> around the state, could benefit every child in Maryland. In an age when we
> need to fortify our future citizens for economic and social responsibility,
> we cannot afford to short-change their education now.
> No one will argue that the state budget shouldn't be cut -- most of us are
> pretty nervous about government deficits. And most of us are willing to do
> our part to keep state services going -- perhaps by raising the sales tax,
> making a voluntary contribution on our income tax returns or driving on
> rougher roads.
> And all of us expect state leaders to do their part -- by cutting out the
> frills in their own budgets and demonstrating sound, creative thinking and
> compassionate decision-making.
> But don't cut essential services. And don't close Lida Lee Tall. Used
> wisely, the school can demonstrate how to stretch the educational tax
> dollar. And Maryland's government leaders can demonstrate their commitment
> to education, both in good times and bad.
> cheer Andy,
> derek
>  On Tue, Aug 2, 2011 at 2:40 PM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:
>>  Derek,
>> If you were a school kid there in the 1950s, then it was still operating
>> as a school within a teacher training college after the time the book was
>> published. It seems that the college has kind of upgraded itself (though I
>> know that many such promotions are in name only) but am I right in thinking
>> that the actual school where kids like you got their elementary education,
>> was closed at some point. Is that right? If so do you know the circumstances
>> of that?
>> Andy
>> (Brunswick, Victoria)
>> mike cole wrote:
>> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
>> From: Derek Patton <derekpatton19@gmail.com> <derekpatton19@gmail.com>
>> Date: 2011/7/29
>> Subject: RE: John Dewey school at Towson Maryland
>> To: lchcmike@gmail.com
>> ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **
>> Dear Mike,****
>> ** **
>> Yes of course, please feel free to share my email.****
>> ** **
>> Thanks for your response. I usually don’t bother people like you, whom I
>> imagine are so so busy to pick up anything additional, but something nagged
>> my unconscious I suppose, and I am so glad to have offered something useful
>> and therefore please pass it on to whomever it might help. My Quaker
>> upbringing tells me to listen to the Inner Light and sometimes I interpret
>> usefully (I won’t say “correctly”). ****
>> ** **
>> I will add a few bits about the Experimental elementary school, Lida Lee
>> Tall, for those who may be interested, and you can post this too. If anyone
>> wants to contact me, you can also share my email address.****
>> ** **
>> Lida Lee Tall, taught to be active citizens, using participative
>>  “democracy” where we had elections for class officers every few months so
>> everyone had a better chance of being one, but we actually had a treasurer
>> who collected real money for real class projects. I remember the school
>> “giving us” access to some woods next to the school where we planned and
>> executed woodland gardens and little landscape designs. Another one was the
>> trust license we all voted for each other in a secret ballot. The cute boy
>> at the centre of most trouble was inevitably scored the lowest since his
>> trouble making got all of us in trouble. Any mess about the place at the end
>> of the day, the WHOLE class stayed to clean up. Group social responsibility
>> quickly leads to the group disciplining its own members, not that we got
>> violent, just assertive. Interestingly, just like a school you mention in
>> the article, a number of us have reminisced about being unable to spell. For
>> me, I had a remedial specialist test me and was astounded to find the huge
>> and to her unique divergence of my spelling and composition ability at
>> 3rdgrade level, and my reading comprehension at 11
>> th grade level. Partly due to my parents allowing only 1 hour of TV per
>> week, except for specials like National Geographic, or an important Orioles
>> baseball game or Colts football game. My father would additionally
>> demonstrate how the commercials were subtly trying to influence us and
>> dramatically would pretend to stuff the tube of toothpaste back down the
>> presenter’s throat. This was memorable, great fun, and we have all been as
>> immune as one could get of such influences.****
>> ** **
>> Reflecting on my own childhood, I am sure I did not have an ordinary
>> upbringing where I not only had a progressive school, but other ‘training’
>> in how to think, such as the Quaker bible study classes before our one hour
>> silent meditation meeting, where we sat around in a small group and the so
>> called teacher would give us some things to think about from some text, but
>> never told us what to think or the passage’s official “meaning”. These
>> things were always up for discussion. I had a home dad who had his
>> photographic studio there, and a black ****Baltimore**** grandmother during
>> the work week, while my “white” (but part Cherokee) mother practiced her
>> child psychiatry trade. Least people think that my black mother was treated
>> as a servant and nanny, although I suspect she acted somewhat that way,
>> remember this was a Quaker household where we prided ourselves on our
>> underground railroad ancestors troublemaking. Evelyn sat at the head of the
>> table as the “elder” and we boys cleared and washed up. My father sat across
>> from us 3 boys partly to be able to stare down any shenanigans. My white
>> mother would almost always show up late from downtown and take the corner
>> next to Dad. She had instructed Evelyn that she didn’t really care if the
>> house was dirty, the laundry undone and dinner was out of a can, if we boys
>> needed attention, a story or whatever, that was number one priority. So when
>> people talk about the “culture” a child is raised in,  I was already on the
>> road to multicultural mix-up just in my home. Then add to that summers in
>> Canada at a First Nations inspired summer camp from 8 – 17 years old where
>> we had all the wilderness craft plus council fire which the “Chief” did in a
>> native language, (he was also a Johns Hopkins child psychiatrist classmate
>> of my mother), then you have a real “mixed up kid”, except in fact it all
>> made complete sense to me.  ****
>> After marching on Washington with Martin Luther King in 1963 at the age of
>> 13 (yes, militant Quakers allow their children into the battle)  I went off
>> to a 4 year Quaker boarding school (Westtown) outside Phili, and then a
>> Quaker University in Indiana, (Earlham College), and getting up to other
>> such 60s militant efforts (most people think that “militant pacifist” is a
>> contradiction but my father’s hero was Gandhi ), with the resulting violent
>> reactions in the later 60s, I decided to be more subtle, as many of my
>> African American classmates did.****
>> ** **
>> When I entered into the “normal” work world to find that actually very few
>> people really knew how to think clearly about almost anything except how to
>> make money, keep power, or use psychology to sell us junk.****
>> ** **
>> So more power to anyone trying to change this. I now satisfy myself with the
>> more acceptable but ultimately subversive ways of unseating the power
>> brokers with my research into how to teach children to think, independently
>> and creatively.****
>> ** **
>> Here in ****Australia****, the ordinary person who rises up to challenge the
>> system is honourable called and remembered as a “stirrer”. The way they say
>> it in their broad open vowels is a wonder to behold. I love it.****
>> ** **
>> Bless you all for your dedication to improving things for the future
>> generations.****
>> ** **
>> cheers****
>> derek****
>>  ------------------------------
>> *From:* mike cole [mailto:lchcmike@gmail.com <lchcmike@gmail.com>]
>> *Sent:* Saturday, 30 July 2011 1:22 PM
>> *To:* derekpatton19
>> *Subject:* Re: John Dewey school at ****Towson** **Maryland********
>> ** **
>> Oh, what a beautiful gift. So the article sparked a very good idea.
>> Would it be ok if I posted this message to XMCA, the discussion group we
>> engage in around ideas in the domain of that article. I think it would be a
>> wide and sympathetic net you would be throwing your story in to. Perhaps one
>> of the talented people there can pick it up and find way to document the
>> long life and causes of death of such an interesting and worthwhile
>> innovation.
>> mike****
>> n Fri, Jul 29, 2011 at 6:21 PM, derekpatton19 <derekpatton19@gmail.com> <derekpatton19@gmail.com>
>> wrote:****
>> Dear Michael,
>> Hi. Just read your 2010 What's culture got to do with it? article, very
>> good, and thanks for picking up on Sarason's long campaign.
>> You may not know that there was an extremely innovative primary school based
>> partly on John Dewey philosophy that operated within the campus of Towson
>> State Teachers College, now Towson University in Towson Maryland which
>> started in 1866 and may have closed about 1990 or so, named first the
>> Laboratory school, then Model school, and eventually called Lida Lee Tall,
>> after a renowned College Principal. We have a Facebook group of ex-students,
>> and I have been trying to find if anyone within the University did research
>> on this school or other accounts. Could do some retrospective if we had
>> enough graduates and matched them (us) with graduates of local schools.
>> There is an online free history book up to 1941 that has a chapter on the "*
>> ***Laboratory** **School****: Children on Campus" at this address:http://www.archive.org/details/seventyfiveyears00stat
>> My mother who was an MD Johns Hopkins U graduate told me it was a John Dewey
>> school, and that was why we were all sent there.
>> Anyway, I went there as did my 2 brothers in the 50s and now that I know a
>> lot more about school culture and learning, I realize how exceptional it
>> was. We basically escaped Baltimore County school system restrictions and
>> limitations and because the College was considered "expert" in how to run a
>> school, being the main trainer of teachers and originally  was the "highest
>> authority in the State on all educational theories and practices within the
>> sphere of the public school system." p. 86. I am not sure when some
>> bureaucrats hijacked this ideal situation, but in my time as a student they
>> got away with doing much differently than the county schools. They sent
>> faculty off to study under Dewey, Frank McMurry and William Bagley. The book
>> says at one point they considered that children from 6 - 10 "should do all
>> their work within school hours. Home lessons for such children are an injury
>> to the home, to the school, to the child and to the teacher." p. 86, and
>> "children learn by *doing  *more than by merely looking and saying...It has
>> been proposed of late to make both reading and writing the subordinate
>> instruments of a scheme of real instruction...An acquaintance with
>> *things *takes
>> precedence over more verbal instruction." (Allen's *Mind Studies  *was one
>> of the books listed for the teachers.) p. 87
>> Teachers were trained in:
>> "principles of all true teaching are emphasized: means of securing the
>> attention of the pupils and the power to keep them busy are dwelt upon."
>> "They are taught to trace here the effect back to cause, to note the
>> processes of the development of the subject in the minds of the several
>> children, and to form their own laws for the same; to study closely the
>> relationship existing between pupil and teacher, the influence of the
>> teacher upon the mind and habits of the pupil, and the cause of this
>> influence, etc. The students (student teachers) report upon their
>> observations, inferences, etc., in a conference help weekly, conducted the
>> the teacher in charge of this department."
>> Anyway, maybe you have academic contacts in ****Maryland**** or nearby who
>> would be interested in this. Given the length of time they did innovative
>> things, one would think there is some evidence around in the form of long
>> term outcomes such as the lives of those who were students there. The school
>> also did a lot of testing of students, which one would hope is stored
>> somewhere. It could be a gold mine sitting there right within a university's
>> ownership waiting to be tapped. One problem of course is the question of
>> what the actual curriculum and practice were at different times, and then
>> what were the results of that on the children compared to other schools. I
>> tried emailing someone in the University, but it seems this didn't attract
>> any attention. All that happened was finding this free book online of the
>> first 75 years of the teachers college.
>> just a thought,
>> cheers
>> derek
>> --
>> ------------------------------
>> *Andy Blunden*
>> Joint Editor MCA:
>> http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/title~db=all~content=g932564744
>> Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/
>> Book: http://www.brill.nl/default.aspx?partid=227&pid=34857
>> MIA: http://www.marxists.org
> --
> Derek W Patton 白登德 M.Ed, PGDip
> Child & Family Psychologist, reg NZ
> PhD candidate U Melbourne
> (current primary mailing address)
> 146 Queensberry Street,
> Carlton 3053 Victoria, AUSTRALIA
> (office)
> University of Melbourne,
> Melbourne Graduate School of Education
> 100 Leicester Street, Level 2
> Victoria 3010 AUSTRALIA    d.patton@pgrad.unimelb.edu.au
> +61 (3) 9035 5381 work office
> +61 (3) 8344 0993 work FAX (must be marked clearly Derek Patton Level 2)
> +61 0422 499 297 mobile in Australia
> primary email: derekpatton19@gmail.com
> PO Box 73    (permanent address & school holidays)
> Leithfield Beach 7446
> North Canterbury, NEW ZEALAND
> +64 (3) 314 8986 home
> +64 (3) 314 8928 fax
> +64 21 186 6596 mobile in NZ
> --
> ------------------------------
> *Andy Blunden*
> Joint Editor MCA:
> http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/title~db=all~content=g932564744
> Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/
> Book: http://www.brill.nl/default.aspx?partid=227&pid=34857
> MIA: http://www.marxists.org
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Helen Grimmett
PhD Student, Teaching Associate
Faculty of Education
Monash University, Peninsula Campus
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