From “The School Development Program: A Psychosocial Model of School Intervention,’' by James P. Comer, in Black Students: Psychosocial Issues and Academic Achievement, edited by Gordon LaVern Berry and Joy Keiko Asamen (Newbury Park, Calif., Sage Publications, Inc., 1989).
Dancing Too Close
Reporter Susan Kammeraad-Campbell describes the struggles of an innovative New Hampshire school principal, Dennis Littky, to retain his job in the face of attacks from ultra-conservative parents: “A small, attractive woman raised her hand [at the school board meeting] and stood up. She introduced herself as Nancy Paight, candidate for the school board....'I’m here as a parent,’ she said in a strong, clear voice. ‘Last weekend, my husband and I chaperoned at a dance....I saw some things I didn’t like. Kids were dancing and their hands were in places they weren’t supposed to be....I know you saw it. You were closer than I was. What did you do about it, Dr. Littky?’
‘Don’t tell me what I saw,’ Littky said, looking straight at her. ‘We expect that if you’re there as a parent chaperon that you’re there to supervise the kids, not to spy.’
“The woman tensed....I didn’t say anything. I wanted to see how far it would go. You had to be blind as a bat if you didn’t see it. We might as well say what it is. We might as well say public petting because that’s what it was.’
“Mrs. Paight, I didn’t see whatever it is you’re talking about.....[T]hat dance was no different than any other,’ Littky said.
“Bud Baker, in his halting, congenial tone, asked her, ‘Is this your first dance as a chaperon?’
“Yes,’ she said.’'
From Doc: The Story of Dennis Littky and His Fight for a Better School, by Susan Kammeraad-Campbell (Chicago, Contemporary Books, 1989).
Barriers To Better Biology Teaching
Grace S. Taylor, a clinical professor of biology at Brown University and a former high school biology teacher, analyzes some of the reasons why high school biology teaching is so often limited to “rote learning and cookbook laboratory experiments’': “There is often more than a grain of truth in axioms, and ‘teachers teach as they were taught’ is truer than most. In college classrooms throughout the country, Biology 101 students are trapped in a maze of facts and a haze of terms. They become passive learners, recipients of information, whose habits of thought and inquiry are underdeveloped. Thus, we should not be surprised when our biology student-teachers teach in the same way.’'
From “Different Schools: Same Barriers,’' by Grace S. Taylor, in High School Biology Today and Tomorrow, edited by Walter G. Rosen (Washington, D.C., National Academy Press, 1989).
A version of this article appeared in the March 01, 1990 edition of Teacher as Readings Of Notes