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Lecture 11

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Julian Tanner

Lecture 11 2. The rise of the shopping mall high school:  Shopping malls serve to draw potential customers.  The other thing malls have is the occasional celebrity appearances.  Malls characterized by variety of things that they have going on a number of choices that people can make.  Argument is that in order to accommodate an increasingly diverse range of students, some of whom might have serious academic interests, in order to accommodate this, the school provides a lot of variety.  The variety works at different levels.  Number of different programs and courses to enroll in.  Creation of an educational system, which provides a lot of variety and a fair bit of choice.  They are free to choose how much effort to expand upon the choices they make.  In terms of this business about variety and choice, another character of mall is that the school itself remains on the sidelines, neutral about choices that students make. Students and parents are able to choose in grade 10, to take applied math as opposed to advanced, without the commentary from the school to the effect that if you want to get into university, your ambitions aren’t very well served.  Keeps the customer satisfied and the customers in this case are students and their parents. Different consumers i.e. students and parents have different tastes and different needs. Some customers/students are good at art/music, others have more sporting event, and some are interested in academic subjects and will be invested in programs of study that lead them to university.  Produces academically excellent students. Instead of promoting universally high academic standards, in many cases the nature of the shopping mall high school is that for many students, promoted mediocrity.  Most criticism of mall comes from traditional educationalists who believe that schools mission is to promote education and produce large amounts of educational attainment.  Mastery of the core subjects in the curriculum was no longer expected for all students. Those students under the name of choice could choose to take those core subjects or not. Another similar point, students and parents who looked for academic curriculum could find it but the students who weren’t interested in demanding curriculum was able to avoid that demand in curriculum.  Critics suggest that mediocre students could year after year pass from one grade to another without having to do much more than put a nominal effort.  What was happening in many high schools is that within high schools, what had evolved over time was a set of unwritten rules (informal rules) about how tough some courses could be.  Unofficially ended up designated elective courses to be easier than required math and science courses.  The way the unwritten rules worked was that it was entirely permissible for teachers in core subjects (math and science) to demand a lot of time and effort from students. For teachers who taught what were regarded as less important elective subjects, if they tried to demand a comparable amount of time and effort, then there was trouble. Students would rebel and were not prepared to go along with that sort of situation.  Shopping mall high school devised different strategies to different subjects.  Encourages students and parents to do their own streaming than have the schools do it.  Undermining for academic excellence.  In line with that, in the 1960s and 70s, critics say in comparison to European education systems, students in North America are required to take fewer required courses and are allowed to take many more optional courses.  Schools are not encouraging enough for academic excellence from large number of students.  High schools in the private sector were way too large and bureaucratic. There is a consequence; they have become insufficiently responsive to needs of students and parents.  Expanding private education system, which relies on fees paid by parents.  Charter schools in Alberta, which once they are paid for by the government, are also independently run.  [A school choice ethos – which has seen increased numbers of specialty schools in both public and private education.  While expansion of private sector education signifies that getting a good education is becoming ever more competitive, there is little evidence that private schools provide a better education than public system.  And then there is a matter of equity: most families can’t afford private education.  The deregulation of fees for professional programs in university has squeezed out students from ordinary middle-class families.]  Quality of education in private school isn’t better than quality in public schools.  This is because kids who get sent to private schools tend to come from advantaged backgrounds to begin with.  University programs can charge as much as they like or as much as the market is prepared to pay
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