Dispatch from High Tech High: Meeting the parents #lfvisithth

March 16, 2011 at 7:19 pm Leave a comment

by Alec Patton

I just visited Explorer Elementary – now this is interesting: it’s a school that existed before High Tech High, but moved into the High Tech High ‘village’ (the cluster of schools that are all on the same ‘campus’: High Tech High, High Tech High Media Arts, High Tech High International, High Tech High Middle School, and High Tech High Media Arts Middle School). So Explorer Elementary has its own identity, but it’s connected with High Tech High, and kids who go to the school are guaranteed a spot at one of the High Tech High middle schools.

I spoke to a parent who volunteers at the Explorer Elementary library, and she said some interesting stuff. One thing was that her son, who had gone to Explorer, is now in middle school. She’s found it really interesting to see how kids who used to bully other kids in fourth and fifth grade were now working with her son on projects, and no longer pushing people around. The way she put it was that the group had ‘flattened out’ now that people understood that they were all responsible for the success of the projects. We both talked about what a profound thing that is not just for the kids who’ve stopped bullying people, but for the kids who are working with the kids who used to bully them. It reminds me of an old fairy tale about a kid who sees a huge dragon on a mountain, and is terrified of it but starts climbing the mountain in order to challenge it. The closer he gets, the smaller the dragon gets, until when he reaches it, the dragon can fit in his hand. When people who used to be threats become colleagues, it does wonders for your self-confidence.

I asked her what the downsides of High Tech High are. She said the big one was that if you were serious about sports, you were better off at another school – and she said a certain number of kids do leave for that reason. She also said that for some parents, project-based learning was a downside. They didn’t believe that project-based learning would work for their kid, so they took them out of the High Tech High system when they finished elementary school. And some parents worry about security too, because the schools are so open. I asked her if there had ever been an incident, and she told me that a couple of weeks ago, there’d been a guy in the halls who said ‘I just got out of jail, and I need some shoes’. He’d got the building mixed up with a church down the road. ‘He was perfectly nice’, she told me, ‘but it was still a little weird’.

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Entry filed under: Education & Children's Services.

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