The Lakewood Public Schools - 1984: A Compilation of Histories

History of Lakewood Schools: Innovations in Education

History of Lakewood Schools: Innovations in Education
Lakewood Press: March 7, 1918, Pg. 25-26

One of the most important administrative questions considered by school superintendents the country over in recent years is that of attempting to meet the individual needs of the children in any community. This probably cannot be done in any absolute way, but it can be done in an approximate way where those in charge have a deep concern about the individual welfare of the children. One of the first moves made in the Lakewood schools to recognize this idea in a large way was made about two years ago when the Lakewood board of education authorized the change of administration from what is known as the eight-four plan to what is known as the six-six plan. Up to that time there had been eight years of grammar school instruction opportunity should be offered to boys and girls before the end of the eight-year period for some regard to the individual tastes and aptitudes of children, the change was authorized to go into effect with the opening of the new high school building which would give opportunity to boys and girls to enter upon a six-year high school course immediately after completing the first six grades. This is known as the six-six plan – that is – six years of grammar school and six years of high school. This arrangement makes it possible for boys and girls to take up work at the end of the sixth grade instead of at the end of the eighth grade, which will be more along the line of vocations which they contemplate entering upon in later life – in other words – it has regard for the individual child.

A second step taken in Lakewood in this direction was in the interest of a relatively small number of children who were not able to do the regular work of the schools. At first one room was opened at Grant school; later another one at Garfield school, and still later another one at Harrison school. In these schools, children do considerable more of hand work, such as weaving, brush making, cane-seating, basket making, book binding, sewing, knitting, bench work and the like; all the while keeping in mind the individual abilities of the children concerned.

A third step in this direction will be taken at the beginning of the semester in two building – one in East Lakewood at Harrison school, the other in west Lakewood at McKinley school. The plan is to gather in a school those children who find certain subjects very difficult, but who are interested in some form of handwork. These children will do less of the difficult arithmetic and technical grammar work and will have a period a day to devote to work, by boys in the manual training shop, and to work by girls in sewing and cooking in the domestic science room. This will give to these children work in which they can excel, will keep up their interest which in turn will have the effect of holding them in school for a longer time than probably would be true under other circumstances.

A fourth step in the direction of regarding the individual child relates chiefly to foreign-born children who come to us with the serious handicap of not yet having learned the English language. Instead of requiring children to cover a certain piece of work in a certain time with the probability of repeating it because of this handicap, they will be allowed to take three semesters to do two semesters’ work with the belief that this work can be done in this time in such a way that work will not need to be repeated. Children will have the consciousness of progressing, although somewhat more slowly. The effect upon the spirits of children under this plan will be evident.

With the opening of the new high school, which we hope will take place next September, large plans are being laid for commercial and industrial courses which will be very complete and which will offer work in academic courses as before, together with fine opportunities in commercial subjects, such as bookkeeping, typewriting, and the like; also industrial courses including domestic arts and applied arts, music, etc., all of which courses will be described more fully in another statement.

With the opening of the new building and its earnestly hoped that such relief will be furnished that double sessions will no longer be needed in Lakewood, at least for a time. Lakewood may well be proud of the advantages which its children have in prospect in this suburban community, as the board of education and all who are concerned in administering school matters in this community will be satisfied with nothing less than the best.

C. P. Lynch

Charles P. Lynch, Superintendent of the Lakewood Schools (1910-1927), contributed this article, Innovations in Education, which appeared in the Lakewood Press newspaper on March 7, 1918.