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«Schools of Tomorrow,» Schools of Today

Progressive Education in the 21st Century – Second Edition

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Edited By Susan F. Semel, Alan R. Sadovnik and Ryan W. Coughlan

The second edition of «Schools of Tomorrow,» Schools of Today: Progressive Education in the 21 st Century documents a new collection of child-centered progressive schools founded in the first half of the twentieth century and provides histories of some contemporary examples of progressive practices. Part I discusses six progressive schools founded in the first part of the twentieth century (City and Country; Dalton; the Weekday School at Riverside Church; The Laboratory School at the Institute of Child Study; Alabama State Teachers College Laboratory High School; and Highlander), tracing them from their beginnings. Part II examines four more contemporary schools (Central Park East 1; Central Park East Secondary; Learning Community Charter School; and KIPP TEAM Academy), showing how progressive practices gained momentum from the 1960s onward. As a volume in the History of Schools and Schooling series, this book seeks to look to the past for what it can teach us today.
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Chapter 4. The Weekday School at Riverside Church: Progressive Education in a Religious Institution

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THE WEEKDAY SCHOOL AT RIVERSIDE CHURCH

Progressive Education in a Religious Institution

Amita Gupta1

Looking up at the majestic Riverside Church in upper Manhattan, it is not evident that The Weekday School, a spacious independent nursery school, is located inside the south wing of this iconic building. Members of the school community and visitors enter The Weekday School through the south wing elevators. Upon reaching the lobby of the seventh floor, one walks into a large and brightly lit hallway which is lined with bulletin boards displaying drawings, paintings, collages, and descriptions of inquiry projects done by The Weekday School children. Each bulletin board tells a story about the emergent curriculum—capturing the zeitgeist of the school through documentation of the activities that are unfolding in each of the classrooms, from the toddler group to the kindergarten room. The nine classrooms across two floors of the south wing of the Riverside Church house children between the ages of two and six. When visitors enter any Weekday School classroom, they encounter a breathtakingly large and airy space filled with natural light streaming in from the magnificent windows in every room. The windows in the eastern classrooms overlook the buildings of Morningside Heights and Columbia University, and those in the western classrooms look out upon the trees of Riverside Park and the Hudson River. Overall, the school facilities consist of nine classrooms, a library, one art room, two large rooftop...

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