“What High School Is,” is a chapter from a book called Horace’s Compromise: The Dilemma of American High School, and was written by Theodore R. Sizer in 1984. Mr. Sizer starts the chapter out with a story of a typical boy named mark who is in the eleventh grade. In this story the author describes in detail how Mark spends one of his time blocked days in high school. Mr. Sizer feels it is important to analyze how Mark spends his time because he feels it is a reflection, with some degree of variation, of how most high school students spend their time in school.
Mr. Sizer argues, “taking subjects” in a systematized, conveyer-belt way is what is what one does in high school (Sizer). He feels that this process is not related to the rhetorical goals of education; however, it is tolerated by most Americans. In addition, Mr. Sizer argues that there is little demand for synthesis of subjects and that courses are too broad and there is just not enough time to cover all the material. “The school schedule is a series of units of time: the clock is king... ow much time do I have with my kids, is the teacher’s key question” (Sizer pg. 40). School periods are about fifty minute each and students and teacher have a few minutes to go from class to class. Mr. Sizer argues that going from class to class gives the school day a kind of restless and hectic quality and provides the students with many distractions. Mr. Seizer point is strong, restlessness and distractions seem to go hand and hand here, once the children enter the class they must be resettled and their attention refocused leaving even less time for learning.
In addition, most schools have at least one class that is called a “split class”. During “split classes” the student starts their class period, then, half way through it is interrupted so they can go to lunch or attend another activity. After they have finished lunch or the other activity they then return for the second half of their class, talk about hectic, restless, and distracting. However, Mr. Sizer does not address the some of the strengths of taking subjects, for example, the importance of responsibility, punctuality, and time management kills acquired through this type of scheduling. Another point that Mr. Sizer argues is that there is little demand for synthesis of subjects; they are just loosely related. He feels that two or more subjects should be tapped in order to solve a complex problem as learning opportunity. In addition, Mr. Sizer argues that schools feel that covering all the material within the subject is key, however, the material is only “supposedly covered” because many of these courses are too broad and there is just not enough time.
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This point is strong, which leaves little room for change or new creative ways to learn. Mr. Sizer points out that the opposition will always challenge and usually win against new creative ideas on learning with statements such as, “what may be thus forgone”, “we won’t be able to get to programming or Death of a Salesman”, and “there isn’t time” (Sizer). This kind of scheduling is too rigid and too broad, thus, making it almost impossible for any type of change.
In conclusion, Mr. Sizer does not look too fondly on our countries education system, he argues, taking subjects” in a systematized, conveyer-belt way is what is what one does in high school. He feels that this process is not related to the rhetorical goals of education; however, it is tolerated by most Americans. Lastly, Mr. Sizer argues that there is little demand for synthesis of subjects and that courses are too broad and that this type of scheduling too rigid.
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