Yes I'm stuck in the middle with you, And I'm wondering what it is I should do, It"s so hard to keep this smile from my face, Losing control, yeah, I'm all over the place, Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right, Here I am, stuck in the middle with you. --Stealer’s Wheel
One of the many useful and important studies issued in recent years by the Fordham Institute is Cheri Yeke’s monograph, Mayhem in the Middle: How Middle School’s Have Failed America and How to Make Them Work.
Yecke, now the K-12 Education Chancellor of Florida argues that American middle schools have become the places "where academic achievement goes to die."
Junior high schools were originally developed as an opportunity for older elementary students to be challenged more than they might be in elementary school. Junior high was also conceived to offer them the opportunity for meaningful extracurricular activities, to treat them as their growing maturity would dictate, to provide physical separation for their benefit and that of the younger students, and to ease the transition into high school.
The problem now though, is not so much middle school as "Middle Schoolism." Middle schoolism is the ideology of opportunistic progressive educrats who injected their ill-conceived notions into the middle school structure. It is an ideology that focuses more on emotional and social development, and less on learning the basics.
Middle schoolism is a legacy of the tumultuous 1960s and 1970s. In this case, this unstable period offered the opportunity for progressives to underestimate the academic capabilities of students in favor of engaging—as such educators are wont to do—in experimentation and the politicization of students.
Those driven by the ideology of middle schoolism work to put their adolescents "in touch with their political, social, and psychological selves, thus downplaying academic achievement. The middle school movement advances the notion that academic achievement should take a back seat to such ends as self-exploration, socialization, and group learning."
Henry T. Edmondson III is Professor of Public Administration and Political Science at the Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville, Georgia.
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