Our first commencement took place in the spring of 1975, and our last arguably in June 1983 or 1984, depending upon who you ask and how you interpret what eventually became of Maslow-Toffler. This now is another commencement, a new beginning wherein technology and advances in media have given us the ability and opportunity to share a considerable archive of film and video encompassing 35 years of preserved memory in one place for the very first time. You'd be right to conclude that what you find here today is only the beginning.
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE EIGHT-YEAR STUDY
I learned about the Eight-Year Study in graduate school. Considered by many to be one of the best program evaluation studies ever conducted, it followed students from more than 30 progressive high schools during the 1930s, comparing their progress with counterparts from traditional schools. The study, though not as well known as it might have been, was published in 1942, when America's attention was focused on making history of another kind. It offered educators several important outcomes for their consideration, including development of more sophisticated student tests and forms of assessment, innovative adolescent study techniques and novel programs of curriculum design, instruction, teacher education, and staff development. The study proved that many different forms of secondary curricular design can ensure college success and that the high school need not be tied in lock-step to a college preparatory curriculum. In fact, students from the most progressive, non-standard schools earned markedly higher academic achievement rates than their traditional school counterparts and other progressive-prepared students. What I took from it was this: when all the results of the study were examined, it was undeniable that something special had happened in those experimental (read that Alternative) classrooms. Thus was attention turned to examining what had taken place in those schools by way of classroom management, teaching technique, curriculum planning, specific lesson planning and outcome, only to be discovered that no thought had been given to saving that information or documenting the outcomes. When we began our effort in Brentwood, we decided that in the event Maslow-Toffler gained acceptance, we were determined to document and to preserve everything we could, never knowing what might be considered of value to those who would be following in our footsteps. This website is providing us with the most recent means to that end: (1) becoming a vehicle for connecting former students and staff; (2) for sharing and preserving memories, our history and identity; (3) disseminating information about our alternative experience with students and teachers around the world; and (4) becoming a bridge-building tool spanning decades to inform research efforts and assist others who are considering creating their own alternatives, thereby extending our reach and influence upon posterity and contributing to the future.
John Sherin, August 2010
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