"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Nineteenth Century English Schools for the Poor in Yuma, AZ: Only the Monitors Have Been Swapped Out

Above is an illustration of cutting edge pedagogy in the early 19th Century for English children who could not afford private schools.  The monitorial system was based on older boys monitoring younger ones who parroted back memorized lessons before they could move up to the next row.  As many as 500 boys could be schooled in these learning sweat shops by a single teacher.  The monitorial system was invented by Joseph Lancaster, who argued for education of the poor based on the need for social control and efficiency.

And below is the inside of Carpe Diem Charter School in Yuma, AZ, where the older boy monitors of the Lancaster Schools have been replaced by flat screen monitors, who don't have to eat, sleep, or go the bathroom.  Not much has changed, otherwise, except the student teacher ratio has improved to 60:1.  There is, too, one 21st Century twist: the State now pays corporations, in this case K-12, Inc. to set up and run these computerized learning cube farms for a handsome profit.

Maybe Carpe Pecuniam would a more appropriate school name.  Translation: Seize the Cash.


  1. Brilliant parallel! I'm passing this on to Diane Ravitch.

  2. No doubt this is progress.