Progressive Education in the 21st Century – Second Edition
Edited By Susan F. Semel, Alan R. Sadovnik and Ryan W. Coughlan
Chapter 6. “A Laboratory of Learning”: Alabama State Teachers College Laboratory High School
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“A LABORATORY OF LEARNING”
Alabama State Teachers College Laboratory High School
Sharon G. Pierson
Alabama State Teachers College Laboratory High School, also known as “Lab High,” emerged as part of the “laboratory” school trend of the Progressive Education Movement. Associated with higher education institutions, these schools carried distinctive histories and exhibited varied characteristics reflecting the diversity of progressive ideals. As early as 1907, Alabama’s laboratory high school, then named the State Normal School for Colored Students and Teachers, stood out among teacher training programs, noted for its strong education of teachers who were well prepared to pass the state teacher examination.1 By the 1920s, the laboratory high school boasted a well-educated teaching staff, consistently ranked at the top in the state with a full complement of college-educated faculty holding the “Rank I” teacher certificate. Its graduation rates far exceeded the local and national norms.2 By mid-century, Lab High enjoyed a more than thirty-year history that included a college preparatory liberal arts curriculum, participation in progressive studies of Black secondary education, and implementation of teaching methodologies that reflected the leading national educational trends.3 Led by progressive educators, Lab High offered a distinctive and privileged education to its students until it was discontinued in 1969.
Lab High was lauded for its emphasis on cooperative planning and learning.4 Its philosophy and objectives aimed to provide an enriching and ← 165 | 166 → nurturing community in which students would have the opportunity...
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