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

That period (the corporate restructures of the late 80s/early 90s) was the graveyard for many a dream, I think, Helen. The institution where Derek now works is a legacy of the Melbourne College of Advanced Education (See http://www.edfac.unimelb.edu.au/aboutus/welcome/history.html) which fought bravely to keep its dream. But basically, any project which depends on public funding is exposed when these periods of bureaucratic climate change occur.

Hard to imagine any kind of "Experimental School" (which is what we used to call them) nowadays, isn't it? More likely to set up a school to further some religious creed.


Helen Grimmett (Education) wrote:
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 better.


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

    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. :)


    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
    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

    Townson State Teachers College became Towson State University at
    some point along the way

    let's see, here it is: at

    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.


      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


    cheer Andy,


    On Tue, Aug 2, 2011 at 2:40 PM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net
    <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>> wrote:

        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?

        (Brunswick, Victoria)

        mike cole wrote:
        ---------- Forwarded message ---------- From: Derek Patton
        <derekpatton19@gmail.com> <mailto:derekpatton19@gmail.com>
        Date: 2011/7/29 Subject: RE: John Dewey school at Towson
        Maryland To: lchcmike@gmail.com <mailto: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

        ** **



        *From:* mike cole [mailto: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


        n Fri, Jul 29, 2011 at 6:21 PM, derekpatton19 <derekpatton19@gmail.com> <mailto: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:
        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

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:
    Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/
    Book: http://www.brill.nl/default.aspx?partid=227&pid=34857
    MIA: http://www.marxists.org

    xmca mailing list
    xmca@weber.ucsd.edu <mailto:xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>

Helen Grimmett
PhD Student, Teaching Associate
Faculty of Education
Monash University, Peninsula Campus

*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
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