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    #1

    comprehension: alternative schools

    Dear teachers,

    Here is a extract of a text on differences of opinion about state and public schools:

    Would you please help me understand the underlined parts?

    Jean: I think kids have got to be faced with the real world. It’s like all these sort of high-falutin, hoity-toity alternative schools. I mean... they are not doing the kids any favour.

    Alison: Well, that’s a load of rubbish, sorry, if you think about it really, because at ordinary State schools they’re going to be able to (1) learn to manipulate the system. I mean they are never going to be able to see how to change it.
    ...
    Jean: In alternative schools you don’t get different types of children because all parents are (2) identikits.
    ...
    Jean: Well, it must be a very exceptional alternative school because all the (3) products (pupils ?) of any single alternative school that I know or whaterver description: public schools, (4) direct grant shcools... (3) all the products of these schools had incredible difficulty in integrating back in normal life. No, I’m not saying that normal life is good, what I’m saying is that alternative schools don’t help kids.

    John: That’s a sweeping generalisation. I mean, I know of exceptions. I know people who went to Summerhill and who are exceptional people now.

    Jean: But no more than would have been exceptional people if they’d come out of a normal State system! But they’re not, you will admit, (5) the normal run-of-the-mill cross-section of society?

    Alison: Well, what is normal?

    Jean: (6) A cross-section of society where wohoever is around goes to that school.

    Thank you very much for your help.
    Hela
    Last edited by hela; 01-Apr-2007 at 12:18.

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    #2

    Re: comprehension: alternative schools

    1 Use the system to your advantage, especially by bending or breaking the rules. However, the will not learn to rise above it.
    2 All the same
    3 Could be products, suggesting that people from these schools are not rounded individuals
    4 Schools that receive some funding from the government. I am not sure of the details, though.
    5 Not representative of society as a whole

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    #3

    Re: comprehension: alternative schools

    Dear TDOL,

    Would you please give a concrete illustration of sentence (1)?

    What is meant by "a cross-section of society"?

    One more thing, please:
    John: (talking about a boy who was first in a State school) ...He was absolutely unhappy at that place. Well, he was unhappy with the people (the pupils ?) that were around him and what he was being taught (the curriculum ?). He was unhappy with (7) what was expected of him (= the kind of work he had to do? OR the use he was going to make with what he was taught, the work he was asked to do in his working life?). He said now that he felt that he can do anything he wants with his life. He said “I know exactly what I want to be, or what exactly I want to do and I am going to be able to do just that.”

    Kind regards
    Last edited by hela; 01-Apr-2007 at 13:20.

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    #4

    Re: comprehension: alternative schools

    A cross-section of society would be a representative sample, including people rfrom different classes, professions, religions, ethnic groups, etc. Private education would be less representative because the fees ensure that poorer people can't enter.

    What was expected of him- what he was required to do, the demands and challenges given to him

  1. BobK's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: comprehension: alternative schools

    Quote Originally Posted by hela View Post
    Dear teachers,

    Here is a extract of a text on differences of opinion about state and public schools...
    Hela, you obviously know the difference between state schools and public schools (which by a semantic quirk are actually privately run ). But this text is talking not about public schools like Eton and Harrow, but about 'alternative' schools (which are also privately run). An example (mentioned in the text) is A. S. Neill's Summerhill School . (This is for background information - you haven't made any mistake that Tdol hasn't dealt with.)

    After your question 7, there are two sentences that I don't understand:

    'He said now that he felt that he can do anything he wants with his life. He said “I know exactly what I want to be, or what exactly I want to do and I am going to be able to do just that.” '

    Is there something you want to ask?

    b

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    #6

    Re: comprehension: alternative schools

    Hello Bob,

    1) Thank you for correcting my mistake. What is the difference between a public and an alternative school, then?

    2) What do you understand from sentence #1? What does she mean exactly by "manipulating the system"? Do you have an example in mind?

    3) The same for sentence #7. Do you have an example that would clarify the idea? Why should a pupil be dissatisfied with what it is expected of him? Is it a broblem of curriculum, padagogy, training, knowledge which doesn't correspond to what he's going to face on the labour market?

    See you soon

  2. BobK's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: comprehension: alternative schools

    Quote Originally Posted by hela View Post
    Hello Bob,

    1) Thank you for correcting my mistake. What is the difference between a public and an alternative school, then?
    They're both privately funded (they're autonomous businesses that have to make money - by charging fees). But a public school is more like a traditional state school in many respects. They may have a uniform, the children are kept in order by teachers, they follow a similar syllabus. An alternative school is often not organized like a traditional school; there is no uniform, lessons can be optional (I think this is why Summerhill is at loggerheads with Ofsted) discipline is often self-imposed and administered by the children. The introduction of a National Curriculum a few years ago - not 'a few years ago' as I sometimes use it (to refer to my childhood in the '50s), but less than 20 years ago: England's National Curriculum evolves: Department for Education and Skills - did something to reduce the differences, but there are still many.

    Quote Originally Posted by hela View Post
    2) What do you understand from sentence #1? What does she mean exactly by "manipulating the system"? Do you have an example in mind?
    A pupil in a public school, with class sizes of 15, has to engage in the learning process. A pupil in a state school can manipulate the system in various ways, either positive or negative:

    +ve sit near the front, show an interest, take an active role in the lesson, demand more than his/her fair share of the teacher's time.

    -ve sit at the back, take advantage of distance from a teacher (whose attention is - unsurprisingly - addressed to the students who are engaged and interested) to pursue his or her own interests, blend into the background of a huge class (at A-level - 17/18 yrs - when classes are supposed to be smaller, I was in a class of more than 40). I had class-mates (up to the end of compulsory schooling - 16 yrs) who manipulated the system in order to waste time until they could leave.

    Quote Originally Posted by hela View Post
    3) The same for sentence #7. Do you have an example that would clarify the idea? Why should a pupil be dissatisfied with what it is expected of him? Is it a problem of curriculum, pedagogy, training, knowledge which doesn't correspond to what he's going to face on the labour market?
    All that. Teachers expect (hope, more like) their pupils to be polite, helpful, kind to each other, hard-working, energetic, and enthusiastically engaged in the learning process. The children are often apathetic because they don't see their efforts as either appreciated or meaningful. Some just want to be prepared for the labour market, and don't see what contribution schooling has to make to this; some aren't even interested in the labour market, and just think the world owes them a living.

    b

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    #8

    Re: comprehension: alternative schools

    Thank you VERY much, Bob

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