Our Approach

What makes us different?

We have made the decision to educate boys.  What our experience tells us is that boys have a different approach to learning than girls.  The research confirms the distinction.  Troy Kemp, Executive Director of the National Center for the Development of Boys provides a compelling introduction to the argument.  “While I describe boys as “objects moving through space,” another educator friend of mine more bluntly described how boys learn and grow: “by crashing into things, whether they are physical objects, ideas, or authority figures.”  That is motion, indeed!  When you are constantly in motion, you will likely crash into rules, boundaries and sometimes each other.  But you also crash into ideas.[1] 

To best educate these young men and maximize the body of research supporting male-educational environments, the following pillars will inform our school structures, policies and practices: 

1.   Our teachers will make space and movement a          part of the learning process. 

This will be accomplished through classroom arrangements that are not in the traditional rows of desks with limited use of the aisles.  In addition, class time will be apportioned in such a way that collaboration and multiple activities will prevent the brain from entering the “boredom state.”  “Without understanding the assets of the male brain, many schools, social programs, early childhood centers, and family-supportive agencies create zero tolerance policies for physical touch that start boys onto the school-to-prison pipeline very early.  They avoid dealing with the fact that, by nature, boys move, touch, bump, aggress, and often do not use words the way some people think they should.  As the psychologist Michael Thompson, author of Raising Cain, has noted:  millions of males are sent to the assistant principal’s office then moved to suspension and expulsion because we do not understand them.  Some boys, of course, are misbehaving and need discipline, but after 30 years of research in schools worldwide, Thompson concluded: “Girl behavior is the gold standard in schools.  Boys are treated like defective girls.”[2]

2.   Classes will engage boys through collaboration        and competition.   

This will be accomplished through our school-wide emphasis on debate, deliberation, and dialogue and through project-based learning where students will have opportunities to collaborate to solve problems.

3.   Literacy programming will incorporate the              things that our students love into the reading            and writing process.   

Our approach to the humanities will not only expose students to great works of literature and history, but also include contemporary issues and aspects of popular culture that are germane to the course of study.

4.   Our school culture will inspire boys to feel                confident enough to be vulnerable and engage          in intellectual discourse.   

With the social pressures of the traditional school environment mitigated, our boys will feel comfortable expressing ideas.  This is the vulnerability that is often never recognized in males of color and it requires the creation of an environment where the young man feels safe sharing his ideas with others.

[1] Troy Kemp & Michael Gurian “Understanding Boys in the 21st Century” National Center for the Development of Boys 2018 pg. 7

[1] Ibid page 10

Critical Differentiators

of  The Arthur School

As the only public high school in the metropolitan New Orleans area serving only young men our school model in and of itself provides a unique option currently unavailable to the community. The structures, policies, and practices we’ve adopted to support our all-male student body are borrowed from the best practices of the nation’s most innovative and successful boy schools.  

Specifically, critical differentiators of our school include:

Debate, Deliberation, and Dialogue

Debate, Deliberation, and Dialogue integrated across our educational model.  This is executed in several ways.  First, speech instruction is part of the required course of study in grades 9 and 10.  This instruction will include basic expression, public speaking, oral interpretation of literature, debating, logic, and rhetoric.  Second, competitive debating will be one of the house-level competitions and an interscholastic extracurricular with the opportunity to engage bright minds from other schools.  Participation in debate competitions will also offer the opportunity for travel.

Project Based Learning

While Brown v Board of Education addressed racial segregation in American schools, traditional education has continued to perpetuate segregation in three ways.  First, schools group students based upon perceived academic ability.  In addition, curricula tends to separate academic and technical teaching and learning.  Finally, and quite ironically, schools isolate students from the adult world that they are charged with preparing them for (Riordan 2013).

 

Our design intentionally eliminates that segregation guided by the following principles:

 

  1. Heterogeneous groupings of students increase student learning and engagement (Riordan 2010);

  2. Teaching methods must marry the mind and the hands;( Riordan 2013) and

  3. Students should be given the agency to create authentic work that should be shared with a broader and more public audience (Berger 2015).

 

Project-Based Learning (PBL) accomplishes those ends and at the same time moves the student toward mastery of the Louisiana Student Standards in the appropriate content areas. 

 

The elements of PBL are clear. 

  1. Learning is motivated by driving question(s) that students explore and answer through a project;

  2. Students learn by working on a series of projects that address concepts that are central to the content areas and builds success skills;

  3. Students are engaged in in-depth inquiry and in the construction of knowledge; and

  4. Learning is supported by “scaffolds” -methods that help learners succeed at different tasks independently (Quinn and Condiffie 2018).

Small Group Support

We will use advisory and house systems to facilitate camaraderie, teamwork, and teacher-supported learning.  Additionally, our schedule allows for small, homogenous work groups to support interventions and specific skill development in core content areas. This work will occur during skills tutorials, “zero period," study hall, flex time, and, outside of the regular school day, after-school and Saturday Academy. 

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