September 14, 2017

Has high school changed in the last 100 years?

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Most adults, including parents, don't spend much time in schools. As a result, when they think about education issues, they naturally look through the lens of their own student experiences. Since many of the routines of schooling are similar, it can be easy to believe schools themselves have stayed the same in recent decades. 

It's also a mistake, Penn GSE education historian Jonathan Zimmerman told Chalkbeat.

Dr. Jonathan Zimmerman

In advance of last week’s XQ Super School Live special, a television feature on rethinking the structure of schooling, Chalkbeat spoke to Zimmerman about how schools have changed – and sometimes, gone back to way they were before.   

“The ‘grammar’ of high schooling has stayed fairly static," Zimmerman said. "Kids take seven or eight subjects, the major subjects have stayed fairly static, [students] move from room to room, school begins around 7 or 8 and ends around 3.

"If by this claim [XQ] is asserting that high schools today share some fundamental elements with high schools 100 years ago, I’m with them. But that’s very different from saying nothing has changed.”

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