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Theodore Sizer Educational Reformer. Meghan O’Connor Amanda Reagan November 1, 2006. Theodore (Ted) Sizer. A little about Ted . . . His contributions to education Impact on curriculum (group activity) Ted and Nancy Conclusion. A Little About Ted . . . “Biography”

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theodore sizer educational reformer

Theodore SizerEducational Reformer

Meghan O’Connor

Amanda Reagan

November 1, 2006

theodore ted sizer
Theodore (Ted) Sizer
  • A little about Ted . . .
  • His contributions to education
  • Impact on curriculum (group activity)
  • Ted and Nancy
  • Conclusion
a little about ted
A Little About Ted . . .
  • “Biography”
    • Born June 23, 1932 in New Haven, CT
    • BA, Yale University
    • Doctorate, Harvard University
  • Credentials
    • Teacher
    • Dean, Graduate School of Education, Harvard
    • Headmaster, Phillips Academy
    • Professor and Chair of Education Department, Brown
    • Founder, Coalition of Essential Schools (1984)
    • Founder, Annenberg Institute for School Reform
    • Co-Principal (with Nancy), Parker School
a little about ted4
A Little About Ted . . .
  • Writings
    • Places for Learning, Places for Joy (1973)
    • Horace’s School: Redesigning the American High School (1992)
his contributions to education
His Contributions to Education

“Arguably the leading educational

reformer in the United States”

An educational progressive who believes that the current education system is not doing its job –

Did not just give theories – he put his theories into practice.

his contributions to education6
His Contributions to Education

Coalition of Essential Schools (CES)

  • Founded by Sizer in 1984
  • Result of five-year study conducted with colleagues
  • Horace’sCompromise (1984)
  • Schools fail to help students use their minds’ well
    • Lack of focus
    • Class periods too short
    • Little emphasis on connections between subjects
    • Teacher/student ratio too high
    • Assessment focused on quick grading vs. demonstrated

depth of understanding

his contributions to education7
His Contributions to Education

Coalition of Essential Schools (CES)

  • “Essential”
    • Focus on few most essential things
    • Meet them head on
    • Do not try to do and be everything
  • Schools reflect their communities, no two schools alike
  • “Coalition” is critical
    • Collaboration, borrowing
    • How communities can assist each other
  • Top-down reform models do not work
  • Common principles that can be adapted to specific communities will drive positive change in education
coalition of essential schools ces
Coalition of Essential Schools (CES)


  • Learning to use one’s mind well
  • Less is more, depth over coverage
  • Goals apply to all students
  • Personalization
  • Student-as-worker, teacher-as-coach
  • Demonstration of mastery
  • A tone of decency and trust
  • Commitment to the entire school
  • Resources dedicated to teaching and learning
  • Democracy and equality
group activity
Group Activity
  • Five groups
  • Using the hand-out as a reference, each group will answer one of the following questions:
    • Choose a subject and discuss the impact these principles might have on designing curriculum (“what” is taught to learners) for that particular subject.
    • What is the impact of these principles on instruction (“how” curriculum is taught to learners)?
    • Choose a subject and design an assessment that will enable students to “demonstrate mastery” of that subject.
    • You are a teacher in an essential school, walk us through “a day in the life.”
    • Based on your understanding of these principles, discuss the top three pros and cons of essential schools.
  • Group debrief
coalition of essential schools
Coalition of Essential Schools
  • Results
    • Better attendance, lower drop out rate
    • Better academic performance
    • Positive behavioral impact
    • Greater number continuing to higher education
  • Critics
    • Have to change schools if disagree with narrow focus
    • Impedes “rite of passage” progression
    • Too difficult to get people to change how they think
  • Reflection 20 years later
    • Problem is with systems, not people
    • Change will not be as dramatic as initially hoped
    • Parents need to help drive change
    • Charter schools/Essential schools
ted and nancy
Ted and Nancy
  • Nancy Sizer – also a seasoned, well respected educator
  • In retirement Co-Principals, Francis W. Parker Charter Essential School
  • Co-authored The Students are

Watching: Schools and

the Moral Contract

what this means to curriculum
What this means to Curriculum
  • Not a list of items to be checked off
  • Against drill-lecture-test system of unconnected material
  • Inter-disciplinary instruction is the ideal way to teach a topic
  • Less breadth and more depth
  • Student driven curriculum
so take another look
So take another look….

SCHOOLS SHOULD: to name a few

  • Teach mental skills (i.e. independence and creative writing)
  • Use student’s curiosity to drive curriculum
  • Use in-depth projects – not tests
  • Interdisciplinary study rather than segregated subjects
  • Collaboration between students and teachers

…do you agree or disagree??


Thank You!

Questions or Comments?