Small Is Beautiful


um Charlie salvo pelo terrorismo.

charles

 

Reunidos no Templo os iaveístas tremeram com a visão de Iavé lá por detrás dos quintais:  “Estamos fecundados, o Lucicrat é o mínimo dos ínfimos, não cruza a pernoca roliça como Marilulu, nem alça o palito como Pernalçada!”

Mas só lhes ocorreu que Iavé é grande, talvez ainda maior do que enorme, aquela cena tipo bué da bigue.

E decidiram tornar-se iaveenses, antes que Marilulu cantasse a uma cobra e a outra a confundisse com um poste e fizesse já ali – evitando ir ao serrado.

 

Isto já foi estudado e nós decidimos – terá sido mesmo a troika ou apenas a preguiça em inverter a asneira socrática? – voltar ao caminho que outros abandonaram.

Downsizing and the School-Within-a-School Model

A great deal of research suggests that smaller schools contribute to student achievement, attainment, and sense of well-being (Cotton, 1996a; Fowler, 1995; Howley, 1994; Howley & Bickel, 2000; Lee & Smith, 1995; Lee, Smith, & Croninger, 1995; Rutter, 1988). To capture some of the benefits of small-scale schooling, educators are increasingly looking for ways to downsize, including dividing large schools into subschools or subunits. This approach is especially useful given the large number of schools that have been built recently based on the assumption that “bigger is better.” The literature on school downsizing has been inconsistent in its descriptions of how large schools are divided into subunits. The most precise definition of a school-within-a-school model comes from Mary Anne Raywid (1995): 

A school-within-a-school is a separate and autonomous unit formally authorized by the board of education and/or superintendent. It plans and runs its own program, has its own staff and students, and receives its own separate budget. Although it must negotiate the use of common space (gym, auditorium, playground) with a host school, and defer to the building principal on matters of safety and building operation, the school-within-a-school reports to a district official instead of being responsible to the building principal. Both its teachers and students are affiliated with the school-within-a-school as a matter of choice (p. 21). 

Large schools have implemented a myriad of programs to downsize or downscale: house plans, minischools, learning communities, clusters, charters, and schools-within-schools. Each model differs from the others on a range of factors, including how separate the subunit is from the larger institution and how much autonomy it receives to manage its own education program.

Já foi estudado… até pelo sector privado e naqueles países com tradições liberais e tudo… Não há troika que possa contrariar as evidências que destruíram os mitos dos anos 80, onde muita gente parece ter parado…

School Size Matters

Researchers from the Bank Street School of Educationreport that small schools create conditions which encourage learning. The researchers studied eight new small schools in Chicago. Their report makes compelling reading and displays a consistently high standard of fact-finding and conclusions.

Small Beginnings

Most private schools are small, typically in the 300-400 student range. That’s because many schools were founded by educators and parents who sought to give their children the kind of individual attention which was not available in the public schools. Most schools started without huge sums of money. So the beginnings were modest, usually with two or three grades which were gradually added on as time went on and resources permitted. The critical component in the educational philosophy of those pioneering private schools was individual attention. It is a philosophy which is squarely rooted in classical Graeco-Roman educational tenets.

Small Class Sizes

Most private schools typically have small classes of 10-15 students. Small schools and small classes where teachers and students know each other well seem to encourage learning. It’s much easier to find out how a child learns and what makes him tick academically and in every other way when you can get to know him. Another advantage is that small classes permit more academic ground to be covered. The child is exposed to more information and learns more because he receives more individual attention.

Now you can counter by observing that private schools are able to maintain low student to teacher ratios because they are, by their very nature, selective. True. But so are the new small schools: the charter or magnet schools. A child has to meet certain minimum requirements in order to attend. Often the competition is very stiff.

Big Is Not Better

Public schools with populations of 2000-3000 students were built on the premise that their large size allowed economies of all kinds. They were theoretically more efficient at delivering the educational product. The problem is that these large schools are too big. Their students become numbers, not individuals. Children fall through the cracks and their needs, both academic and personal, fail to be addressed. They feel even more isolated, frustrated and hopeless. Discipline problems escalate. Security becomes a serious issue. Teachers end up becoming nothing more than traffic cops. Quality of instruction deteriorates. The vast majority of these students simply do not have a chance to achieve their fullest potential.

Small size in education is indeed a good thing.

… que assolou tanto as construções como a própria estrutura da rede escolar.

Se a Parque Escolar foi um projecto de gigantismo luxuoso que acabou por deixar um país a três velocidades em matéria de escolas (as intervencionadas, as não intervencionadas que estão em estado razoável e as outras que ficarão a cair), a crescente macrocefalia da rede escolar vai deixar o país numa situação ainda mais assimétrica, neste aspecto, do que há um século.

A solução para um caso não pode ser substituir a Parque Escolar por uma empresa completamente privada, com o Estado a perder a gestão directa dos estabelecimentos escolares. Só um cristão-novo do neoliberalismo pode defender uma solução que já deu péssimos resultados em outros países.

A solução para o outro não pode(ria) ser o acentuar de um processo que fará a rede escolar pública parecer uma teia larga similar (ressalvando a natureza da comparação) àquela rede de super-esquadras dos tempos do Dias Loureiro no MAI que se mostrou ser um erro imenso.

A solução deveria ter sido, desde o início, humanizar as escolas e a rede escolar, tanto na sua dimensão como na sua distribuição pelo país, que são reconhecidamente factores decisivos para a construção de um sucesso escolar sólido.

Como se sabe há muito, pois isto são quase tudo leituras com uma década, quando eu comecei a bisbilhotar o assunto:

Downsizing Schools in Big Cities

Smaller, Safer, Saner, Successful Schools

Jack and the Giant School

Implementing Small Learning Communities in Five Boston High Schools

New Small Learning Communities: Findings From Recent Literature

School Size and its Relationship to Achievement and Behavior

Na ilha do Corvo.

Recolha do Calimero Sousa.

Então não é que a dimensão das escolas é de um disparate tal que aquilo só pode dar um enorme insucesso? Já sei… são pequenas porque a demografia assim o obriga a ser… O que me faz lembrar um pouco… mmmmm…. estou aqui a esforçar-me…. será que é o interior de Portugal?

Pois, mas eles por lá preferem equipar as escolas pequenas e mantê-las junto das comunidades do que deslocar a petizada toda para os grandes centros…

São tão, tão, tão retrógrados…

Aqui.

Do site do Ministério da Educação norueguês, formado por uma cambada de incompetentes que não percebem o mal que estão a fazer ás suas crianças ao não as enviar de autocarro municipal para um caixote, desculpem, centro escolar:

Universal schooling for children was introduced in Norway 250 years ago. From 1889, seven years of compulsory education were provided, 1969 this was increased to nine years and in 1997 to 10 years.

As a result of Norway’s scattered population, forty per cent of primary and lower secondary schools are so small that children of different ages are taught in the same classroom. Primary and lower secondary levels are often combined in the same school.

Imaginem isto lido à nossa ministra da Educação e ao seu secretário Trocado da Mata!

When there are too many learners to know – go human scale

‘You can’t teach kids if you don’t know them’ – Patrick Kelly explores human scale education and how the ideas are taking root

(…)

More information

The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation is supporting four ‘exemplar’ schools in their application of human scale principles:

Brislington Enterprise College, Bristol, principal John Matthews

Stantonbury Campus, headteacher Mark Wasserberg

Walker Technology College, headteacher Steve Gater

Stanley Park High School, Sutton, headteacher David Taylor

Trabalho com o apoio da Fundação Gulbenkian sobre as escolas britâncias que seria fácil, por diversas razões, fazer chegar ao ME:

Schools within Schools

Human scale education in practice

England has 25 contemporary ‘monster schools’ – of more than 2,000 students, four times as many as a decade ago. There are 263 English secondaries – twice as many as when Labour took office – of 1,500 to 2,000 students. Large schools are cost effective and can offer wide curricula, but they do not have to mean an impersonal experience for children. Brislington Enterprise College in South Bristol, for example, is one of a number of schools taking advantage of the Government’s Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme to reconstruct themselves physically as schools within schools – and forge a practice to match. Other schools are changing their structures and practice within existing school buildings.

Pode descarregar-se o pdf sem custos.


Education on a human scale: Small rural schools in a modern context

(…)
If the board is unable to provide clear educational evidence to support the contention that additional program offerings will necessarily improve educational quality for the children of these two communities, then the case rests on questions of financial expediency. If this is true, then the board should openly make the case from this premise and admit that these schools are under consideration for financial and not for educational reasons. This is perfectly understandable. School boards and other local level governance bodies have clearly been squeezed for many years by downloading of fiscal problems from the federal government, through the provincial government and on to municipal units, health authorities and school boards. School boards are in a difficult position and must make tough choices to balance the books. But will small school closures help to do this?
There is evidence in the literature that school closures and other consolidation efforts do not actually result in financial savings.
(…)
Our final recommendation is that rather then closing these schools, they should be used by the Board, by the Department of Education and possibly more widely as exemplary schools. WCES is a small elementary school with very low enrolment that utilizes multiage instruction in an exemplary fashion. This school should be celebrated as an example of what is possible with hard work and flexible organization. WCES can show rural school administrators how it is possible operate an excellent elementary school with a very limited staff.

Mesmo a foto falhada, merece…

… sobre o facto de andarmos às avessas com a Europa na evolução da dimensão das escolas:

small is beautiful

Excelente artigo de Clara Viana no Público de hoje:

Ao contrário de Portugal, lá fora aposta-se no regresso a escolas mais pequenas

A EB1/JI da aldeia onde vivo tem 350 crianças. A confusão à entrada e saída é, em minha opinião, uma coisa perfeitamente incompatível com a segurança e a calma que deveriam predominar nestas situações. Isto para não falar na proverbial, e sempre demonstrada, falta de civismo de grande parte dos portugueses, sempre disponíveis para dar o pior de si em matéria de pequenos egoísmos.

A big idea: smaller high schools

Leading Small: Eight Lessons for Leaders in Transforming Large Comprehensive High Schools

Editorial do New York Times de 30 de Junho:

Small Schools

School reform advocates are rightly excited about a persuasive new study showing that New York City’s small, specialized high schools are outperforming larger, more traditional schools, significantly narrowing the graduation-rate gap that currently exists between white and minority students across the city.

The study validates the small school policies of the Bloomberg administration, which has shut down 20 large, failing high schools and replaced them with more than 200 small schools, about half of which were the focus of this study.

Some of the large, factory-style high schools that were closed had enrollments of 3,000 or more and graduation rates under 40 percent. The new small schools, overwhelmingly in black and Hispanic neighborhoods, typically serve a little more than 400 students each. These schools have several other things in common. They have a rigorous curriculum. They offer a personalized approach to education, with teachers responsible for keeping close tabs on the performance of their students.

They are organized around themes — law, science, social justice. They get valuable support from community partners — colleges, cultural organizations or social service groups — that give the students extensive experience with a world of adults outside their families.

The study, done by MDRC, a nonpartisan research group and paid for by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, focused on about 21,000 students. Nearly half attended the small schools focused on in the study, and the rest attended schools that were mainly larger and older.

It found that the average graduation rate for students in the small schools was nearly 69 percent, nearly 7 percentage points higher than the rate for students in the traditional schools. That means that the small schools erased about a third of the 20-point graduation-rate gap that currently exists between white students and students of color in New York City.

These findings are especially encouraging given that most of the students studied entered the small high schools reading below grade level. The researchers plan to follow them through college into the world of work. The findings have breathed new life into the small-school movement. It should encourage Mayor Michael Bloomberg to replace more large failing schools and districts elsewhere to follow New York City’s example.

Parents Against School Closure

Don’t let it happen to your school without a fight – Save Your School!