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Democratic Education in Practice: Inside the Mission Hill School
     

Democratic Education in Practice: Inside the Mission Hill School

by Matthew Knoester
 

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ISBN-10: 0807753807

ISBN-13: 2900807753803

Pub. Date: 11/23/2012

Publisher: Teachers College Press

The Mission Hill School, founded by MacArthur Award winner Deborah Meier and colleagues in 1997, is a small public school that has rethought almost everything about the process of teaching and learning. Beyond richly describing and evaluating this high-achieving school, the author argues that democratic education is increasingly difficult in this era of testing and

Overview

The Mission Hill School, founded by MacArthur Award winner Deborah Meier and colleagues in 1997, is a small public school that has rethought almost everything about the process of teaching and learning. Beyond richly describing and evaluating this high-achieving school, the author argues that democratic education is increasingly difficult in this era of testing and standardization and that a school such as Mission Hill must be continually thoughtful, innovative, and courageous in counteracting systemic inequality. This in-depth examination is essential reading for anyone interested in how to better understand seemingly intractable problems related to urban public education in the United States. Book Features: An exemplary model of democratic education that shows the inner workings of a largely teacher-governed school, a rare example of an urban school implementing Dewey-influenced progressive pedagogy, in-depth descriptions of an anti-racist and culturally relevant pedagogy and curriculum, a close examination of successful practices, including shared decision making, intensive problem solving, and looking at student work.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
2900807753803
Publisher:
Teachers College Press
Publication date:
11/23/2012
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
208

Table of Contents

Foreword Deborah W. Meier xi

Acknowledgments xv

1 Introduction 1

How I Came to This Project 2

The Nature of This Book 3

The Central Argument of the Book 6

Reasons Why Mission Hill School Is Worth Examining 7

What Is and Is Not Covered Here 9

Organization of the Book 10

2 What Is Democratic Education and Why Is It So Difficult to Provide? 12

The Mission of the School 13

What Is Democratic Education? 14

Five Key Challenges to Democratic Education 17

Conclusion 25

3 The Politics and Practical Challenges of Opening a New School 26

Vignette: The Neighborhood 26

The Origins of Mission Hill School 27

The Practical Challenges of Opening a New School 34

Conclusion 37

4 The Promise and Challenges of Cultural Integration in a School 38

Vignette: A Family Night as It Unfolds 38

The Problem of School Segregation 39

The Demographics of Mission Hill School 40

Being Intentional About Integration 41

Building Community Among Students 48

Tensions and Challenges in Creating a Trust-Based, Integrated Community 49

The Importance of Cultural Diversity 51

Conclusion 53

5 Shared Decision Making at the School Level 55

Vignette: A Thorough Pre-Hire Vetting 55

The Governance Board of the School 56

Broad Community and Family Participation at the School 57

Staff Governance at Mission Hill School 58

Parent Participation in Decision Making at Mission Hill School 62

Student Involvement in Decision Making at Mission Hill School 66

Conclusion 67

6 Overt and Hidden Curricula at the Mission Hill School 69

Vignette: A Friday Share 69

Progressive Education and the Development of Habits of Mind for Critical Thinking 72

Fostering Positive Identity Development with Students 74

Education for Democratic Citizenship 78

Curriculum in an Early Childhood Classroom 80

Curriculum at the Middle Childhood Level 84

Middle School/Adolescent Curriculum 89

The Challenges of Differentiation for Learners of Various Abilities 92

Positive Evaluations of the Curriculum at Mission Hill School 95

Critiques of the School's Curriculum 99

Critical Reflection on Critiques of the Mission Hill School 102

Conclusion 106

7 Rethinking Assessment 107

Vignette: Snapshot of a Portfolio Presentation 107

Recognizing the Limits of Our Knowledge of Human Nature 108

The Politics of Standardized Testing at Mission Hill School 114

Portfolios as Challenging Curricula and Summative Assessments of Student Learning 119

Communication with Parents and Families About Student Assessments 122

Conclusion 125

8 Sustaining a Culture of Teacher Inquiry and Critical Reflection 127

Vignette: Learning from Colleagues 127

Knowledge Useful to Teaching Is Infinite 128

Qualities of a Good Teacher 129

Forms of Professional Development at Mission Hill School 130

Conclusion 136

9 What Does the Future Hold for Mission Hill School? 138

Vignette: Finding Graduates 138

Reflecting on the Difficulties of Creating a Culturally Integrated Community 140

Dilemmas Regarding the Teaching of Math and the Use of Standardized Tests 141

The Challenge of School Evaluation 143

Unanswered Questions About the School 144

Concluding Thoughts 145

Appendix A Methodology for the Study 149

Site and Participants 149

Analysis of Data 151

Appendix B Interview Questions 153

Interview Questions for Mission Hill School Founder Deborah Meier 153

Interview Questions for Mission Hill Teachers and Current Principal 155

Interview Questions for Mission Hill Parents 156

Interview Questions for Mission Hill Graduates 157

Notes 161

References 165

Index 175

About the Author 185

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