Several educators have pointed out, correctly, that in the 54 minute documentary The 21st Century Solution there was insufficient time devoted to what happens in the classroom.
In a documentary there is only so much one can cover and choices had to be made to tell what we felt was the broader story - HERE.
Fortunately, we have over 100 hours of footage from the filming at BASIS and are adding to that archive periodically. So, with YouTube and Typepad we can continue the story of BASIS Charter School and try to show more of the actual classroom interaction.
Educators can decide for themselves, based upon their pedagogical biases, if BASIS is providing a high-quality education - worthy of Newsweek's top rankings.
I'm grateful to Jonathan Martin, Headmaster of St. Gregory College Prep., a private high school in Tucson AZ, not far from BASIS, for providing a list of 16 classroom sessions he feels most educators would like to view.
As we find that footage or shoot more film, we'll post the video for educators to watch and comment.
Here is Dr. Martin's criticism and first request and the video we found that illustrates his request:
"I just banged out this following list really quickly after a long day at school. I saw none of these things in the film. This is a quick “top twelve list” [actually 16] of what the classroom learning I would like to see happening in a school that is described as the 21st century solution:
1. Teachers facilitating a Socratic dialogue, with multiple follow up and challenging questions for deeper thinking, taking the time to really guide students to take the time to reflect, examine, and create new thinking about a topic, and not seeming impatient to get back to the regular lesson.
Explanation of the video by James Kittredge, BASIS English Teacher:
“This video is from my 9th grade World Literature Class, early in the school year. The course is one of two English classes BASIS freshman take - the other being Writing and Critical Analysis (a class in the nuts and bolts of writing, grammar, and rhetoric).
The World Lit class is designed to be a survey of literature from the ancient/classical period to the 20th century. We begin by studying works from the ancient/classical epoch (Greece and Sumeria) and culminate with a study of African, post-colonial fiction (Achebe).
Along the way, we take a trip through the East (for Tang Dynasty and Sufi poetry), examine British writers of the Medieval, Renaissance, and Restoration periods (Chaucer, Marlowe, and Swift), and analyze short fiction of Russia, eastern Europe, and South America (Gogol, Kafka, and Marquez).
Our primary focus in the World Lit class is AP preparation. The students are exposed to what they will encounter on the Lit and Language exams in their sophomore and junior years. To that end, they are familiarized with timed writing, close reading and advanced literary terminology in order to prepare them to be eloquent, articulate scholars and active members of a supportive, rigorous intellectual community.
Additionally, the 9th grade year serves as a laboratory for the development of the kinds of individual discussion leadership and material ownership that will be required of them in future AP classes and college seminars.
Finally, one of the added bonuses of the 9th grade curriculum is its flexibility. Since we are not tied to a specific AP plan of study, I am able to tailor the course material to fit burgeoning student interest in literature. Last year, for example, after our study of Kafka's "Metamorphosis," the students were energized by our discussion of existentialism, and I was able to add Sartre's "No Exit" on the fly.
As you see in the video, the course is discussion-based and Socratic in emphasis. I aim to get students to tackle the big, interpretive questions of literature and to move away from simple comprehension and summary of the material.
The discussion format allows for student curiosity and wonderfully enriching conversations about such diverse topics as etymology, history and culture, and author/playwright biography.
While I am, obviously, leading the discussion to which you are privy, we have already begun integrating student-led classes into the course, and, by the end of the year, the freshmen will largely take the interpretive reigns, and I will act more as a facilitator.”