Larry Cuban: Whatever Happened To The Dalton Plan?
Larry Cuban is a prolific and popular blogger. In this post, he revisits a new idea for education launched about 100 years ago. The Dalton Plan started with educator Helen Parkhurst who, after the Great European War, wanted to redesign education to incorporate the ideas of Maria Montessori and John Dewey.
Deeply concerned by the grouping and lock-step movement of children and youth in American schools, Parkhurst sought to reorganize classroom work so that teachers would be able to convert traditional age-graded schools and classrooms where whole-group teaching, 55-minute periods, textbooks, and tests prevailed into laboratories where individual students contracted with their teachers to work on topics that interested them. Students then would have to make decisions on what to study when, finishing assignments, and meeting the terms of the contract to complete the teacher designed work.
The plan was named for the public high school in Dalton, Massachusetts. How did it work? Did it work? Whatever became of it? Cuban has the story, but here’s one spoiler–the nation with the largest number of Dalton Plan schools still in operation is The Netherlands.