Story Walk: walls

Story Walk: "walls"

School without Walls by J E DuBois & Maranne McDade Clay

J E DuBois: It happened that an opening occurred at School Without Walls. I was interviewed. I looked around and said, “This is a school?”

Maranne McDade Clay: Let’s talk a little about School Without Walls.

J E DuBois: First thing I think we have to say is that the school has walls.

Maranne McDade Clay: Yeah.

J E DuBois: I could not teach in what’s known as the open classroom, not happily. The school, the walls that are gone are the walls between the school and the community. And the students there do, what I think is wonderful, they’re out in the community finding out what goes on and how things do work and so on, at the same time they had to beat the standards or the requirements of the State of New York, and the City of Rochester so far as graduation was concerned. So there were regular academic classes going on, and the school was a community in itself. Because we had what were called extended classes, and the groups in extended classes had chosen that particular class to be in because of either the teacher or the subject that was going to be addressed that year. Yes, the whole idea of School Without Walls was great. The students were interviewed before they could come there, you couldn’t just go there in those days, because going to a school where you were learning to learn is very definitely not everyone’s bag because they don’t have that sincere desire, they don’t really understand what it is they’re going to do and if they don’t have that, and come there, they’re going to lose time and movee motion forward.

Maranne McDade Clay: What were some of the things that you, I mean, I can think of some of the things that I learned in your classroom, for example, parliamentary procedure, on Fridays, that you know, from 9th grade through 12th grade at different times, but what were some of the things that allowed, that were so different from teaching at Franklin or from teaching at East?

J E DuBois: Well, I could use the world as it presented itself to us. And make lesson plans around it, or even if it happened that morning, just stop what we’re doing and talk about whatever it is that’s happened that’s in the news.

Maranne McDade Clay: I’d be interested in hearing, because, while you weren’t one of the group that kind of initiated the school, you were still pretty early on in its history.  

J E DuBois: Well, there were a core of teachers who came from other schools, and they put it together, with the idea that they would work closer with the students and encourage their abilities and help them to establish dreams, I guess, and meet those dreams if they possibly could. But the big thing was to get people to think, to learn, to think for themselves.

Maranne McDade Clay: It was definitely an incredibly formative experience for me.