Who says the generations can't mix? If you like your teacher, you may do better. New York tries to improve schools by integrating them.

Share story

A HIGH SCHOOL/SENIOR CENTER

In Seattle and other cities, a few preschools operate inside or near retirement homes or senior centers. But the Boston suburb of Swampscott decided to mix older students with older folks by putting a senior center and high school in one building.

The architects said they built the joint center after realizing that “the needs of the town’s elderly overlapped quite neatly with those of its teenagers,” according to a report in The Atlantic’s CityLab.

Both age groups dance in the school’s dance room.   They exercise in the field house.  They both use the school’s pottery studio.

Most Read Stories

Unlimited Digital Access. $1 for 4 weeks.

There was no concerted effort to bring the teenagers and the seniors together — but that’s happened anyway.  Some of the seniors have taught the youngsters to knit, for example, and the seniors’ dance team performed at one of the high school’s talent shows.

The architect is quoted saying that a high school is probably “the greatest capital expenditure that a community will make.  So why shouldn’t it serve everyone, from child care to senior citizens?”

One senior who chats with students in the hallways said: “It’s fun to tease them.  It keeps your mind active.”

RELATIONSHIPS, RELATIONSHIPS, RELATIONSHIPS

A fascinating study out of Germany found that kindergartners solved pattern-recognition problems better when, as part of the exercise, they also saw a picture of a teacher they like.  The card with the teacher’s photo went by so fast that the students might not have realized they’d seen him or her — but that didn’t seem to matter, according to a report by NPR.

The guess as to why?  When you’re confronting something difficult, the NPR reporter said, it really helps to have a sympathetic figure at the back of your mind.

BETTER INTEGRATION, BETTER SCHOOLS?

John King, the new head of the U.S. Department of Education, thinks one way to improve schools is to integrate them.  In one of his last acts before leaving New York, where he was state education commissioner, King created a program aimed at improving low-performing schools by starting programs aimed at drawing a broader mix of students, economically and racially.

Chalkbeat New York says King’s approach differs from more common tactics such as lengthening the school day, or hiring a new set of teachers.  It is an idea, Chalkbeat said, that “tacitly recognizes that concentrated student poverty can hamstring schools…”

King promises to watch the program carefully from Washington D.C., and expand it if it’s successful, although some already worry that it has been put together too fast to succeed.

It also mirrors efforts here in Seattle, especially at Leschi Elementary, featured this week in Education Lab.

TOP LOCAL STORIES

  •  Amid the de facto segregation in many Seattle schools – either between schools or within them – one elementary school decided it couldn’t live with such divisions any longer.  This year, Leschi Elementary in Seattle’s Central District blended two programs that had become divided by race because many white parents had chosen the Montessori program at the school, and black parents had not, opting for the school’s second, more traditional classes. Many hold strong opinions about this move, and you can find some of them here.
  • Speaking of Seattle, it looks like the school district is on the verge of becoming one of the few big districts nationwide to start high school at 8:30 a.m. or later – which is what the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends.   (Apparently just making teens go to bed earlier won’t work, given their biological rhythms.) Bellevue School District also voted last month to start its high schools at 8:30 a.m. Which districts might be next? Discussions are also under way in Mercer Island,  Northshore and Lake Washington.
  • Some think the University of Washington’s Board of Regents violated the state’s Open Public Meetings Act  in how it picked the college’s new president.
  • Time to pull out those voters guides.  Nov. 3rd is the deadline for casting your vote in school board elections across the region, including the races for four seats on Seattle’s seven-member board.

DON’T MISS

  •  More on the troubles with classroom technology – this time why teachers aren’t using it to teach differently.
  •  The number of students taking Advanced Placement physics exams doubled between 2014 and 2015, which the president of the College Board, which administers A.P. program, said gives him “hope for the country.”  In all, about 200,000 students took one of two A.P. Physics tests in 2015.  Computer science was second in growth, up 25 percent.

COMING UP:

  • Sunday at Edmonds Lutheran Church: Students in Scriber Lake High’s writers’ program will read their stories.  9:30 a.m.. 23525 84th Ave W., Edmonds.
  • Tuesday, Oct. 27: The second film in a series sponsored by the UW’s Master’s in Education Policy.  The subject?  Education finance.  The film:  A documentary titled “The Cartel” The discussion:  Up to you. 6-8 p.m., Smith Hall 120