Schools Assailed for Treating Eighth-Graders Like Sponges

From Associated Press

Eighth-grade education is dominated by old routines and practices that may be creating the human equivalent of sponges--students who sit in class but are not encouraged to think, a group of educators said Thursday.

“Many schools are organized as if students are sponges that will absorb whatever comes their way,” said Laurel M. Kanthak of the National Assn. of Secondary School Principals. “Instruction is very passive. Students sit at their desks while information is presented to them.”

Kanthak, the association’s director of middle-level education, and John H. Lounsbury released results of a study of eighth-grade education that found much instruction to be passive, with students spending a lot of their time listening to teachers, copying from the chalkboard, reading assignments and taking tests.

Instruction is also insufficiently focused on critical thinking and is not in touch with the needs of adolescents, the study said.


The report was based on the observations and records of educators in 162 schools in 41 states and the District of Columbia during March, 1989. It said 14-year-olds need to socialize for healthy emotional growth. They also demonstrate increasingly sophisticated thinking skills.