The debate over the purpose of middle school continues today in what is known as articulation (“Traumatized by Memories of Middle School? You Are Not Alone,” The New York Times, May 5). To understand the issue, it’s necessary to review the roles that the Committee of Ten in 1893 and the Committee of Five in 1905 played in ultimately establishing the country’s first junior high school in Columbus, Ohio in 1909.
Both insisted that eight years was too long for elementary education and that fourteen years was too late to begin secondary education. By the late 1920s, most urban school systems had committed themselves to a 6-3-3 organization, which persists to this day.
The problem is that young people today are exposed to graphic images and information far more so than their predecessors. As a result, middle school in many ways is the most challenging place to teach. Students are no longer the sheltered children of the past nor the sophisticated young adults of the present. I’m not surprised that recruiting and retaining teachers to fill the middle school classrooms is so hard.
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