Learning at an Edge: Engaging Unique and Discerning Learners in Alternate Education Programs

dc.contributor.authorSmith, Cara
dc.contributor.supervisorWiebe, Michelle
dc.degree.departmentDepartment of Curriculum and Instructionen_US
dc.degree.levelMaster of Education M.Ed.en_US
dc.description.abstractIn Elliot W. Eisner’s (2001) article “What does it mean to say a school is doing well?” (p. 370) we are asked to imagine what we might pay attention to in schools if we didn’t rely on standardized testing to give us information about success. He wonders whether we should be less concerned with, “... whether [students] can answer our questions than with whether they can ask their own” (p. 370). Many changes in the new BC curriculum reflect the work of Eisner and other curriculum thinkers who were looking for more diverse and creative markers of school success. They believe that the development of creative expression, critical thinking, collaboration, voicing self determination, and reflective self-evaluation are more indicative markers of success than standardized test scores based on prescriptive curricula. As an alternate schoolteacher, I see that, despite movement towards these ideals, we still have a long way to go to get past our reliance on traditional markers of success in the education of vulnerable students.Alternate school students often learn in a very different way and on a very different schedule than their peers, but are still learning and developing in sophisticated and meaningful ways. Inertia in the organization and managing of schools means many of those at the extreme ends of the learning spectrum, and those dealing with personal health, family, and social issues, will continue to be pushed to the edges of the education system. While the direction in the new BC curriculum starts us along a path to move past standardized assessment and a rigid curriculum, we still rely on language, attitudes, and assumptions that academic learning is really all that youth can expect from their schools. Students who continue to be pushed to the edges of our school systems prove that work still needs to be done. Schools need to analyze and re-evaluate where the most vulnerable students are being failed by the school system. Alternate education programs (AEPs) that are well designed are able to re-engage learners who may be close to leaving school early. By looking closely at the ability of these programs to build teacher-learner relationships that create trust; to value teachers as agents for change; to turn diversity into strength; and to create classroom environments that are responsive to the needs of those who are the most difficult to engage and motivate you can find lessons of the success from which all schools can learn.en_US
dc.rightsAvailable to the World Wide Weben_US
dc.subjectalternative education program,en_US
dc.subjectalternate schoolsen_US
dc.subjectvulnerable learnersen_US
dc.subjectrisk environmentsen_US
dc.titleLearning at an Edge: Engaging Unique and Discerning Learners in Alternate Education Programsen_US


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