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School History: Brownsville, 1913

Nov 28, 2008 12:12 PM | 1 comment

My students at PS 165 might  be sorry to hear that this headline appeared in the Eagle back in 1913, and their teachers will not be going anywhere.   They might also be surprised to read of a time when their school was ruled by students, not teachers.  In 1913, the principal of PS 165 in Brownsville reportedly tried "an interesting experiment."  He decided to place disciplinary responsiblity in the hands of the students.  Teachers were renamed Directors, and each class became a club with elected officers.  The directors provided academic instruction, but it was the officers who were responsible for the behavior and academic performance of the club members. 

The Eagle reports that the system was a success.  One director recalled that the club as a whole tended to favor his instruction over an individual student's disruptions.  Outside of the classroom, however, the club was free to exercise their full power: "If a fellow misbehaves himself, [the club members] wait until they catch him outside.  I witnessed such a case.  The boy was better afterward."  It does not take much imagination to understand the cause of the improved behavior. The "director" personally felt that this approach was a  more "democratic way" of dealing with students.  It seems that not everyone agreed, because the restructuring appears to have been shortlived.  Later articles about PS 165 do not mention this "experiment," and I am guesing that mob rule was not exactly what the principal had in mind.


12/8/2008 2:11:37 PM #

Wow, nice entry! That is one catchy headline.