Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Book Review: Horace's School

Written in 1992, Theodore Sizer's book, Horace's School, Redesigning the American High School presents an amazingly prophetic call for changes to the overall structure of American education. Written in a style that reminded me of Gordon MacDonald's Who Stole My Church? Sizer presents his observations and arguments within a framework of fictional dialog.

The book was easy to read and did not become bogged down with overly scientific observations. There is an intention to the casual, interactive format designed to draw the reader into the argument. It is as if we join the fictional Horace on his professional journey to improve the mediocrity so prevalent in his suburban school.

At the time Sizer wrote, the internet did not exist, but today's increase in online schools appear to be the manifestation of several of Sizer's postulations. Modern technology is poised, indeed has already begun, to address the need of individualized instruction with better cost/benefit ratios. As subsequent generations become more at ease with technological advances, Horace's desire for an Exhibition as the student's primary assessment becomes not only realistic but also almost necessary.

I would recommend this book to anyone concerned about the educational milieu that has become the American high school experience. Educators will find enough digestible substance to contemplate while still presenting enough flavors to whet parents' and school board members' appetite.