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Crossroads Redux

On April 9th, several Crossroads Alumni and I will be doing a presentation at Bryn Mawr College in Jody Cohen’s Critical Issues in Education Class in which we will discuss the impact of Crossroads on our lives 18 years after it was founded in 1991.
The alumni have all been educators for many years and are all currently working as teachers or professors. In this era of No Child Left Behind with the emphasis on accountability solely based on students’ scores on standardized tests, what passes for teaching in urban classrooms is merely a decontextualized drilling of the skills measured on these tests. The lessons are devoid of meaningful content and they do not take the students’ experiences, prior knowledge nor their humanity into consideration. Students are bored, alienated and often angry, because they keep hearing over and over again how poorly they perform on these tests, and how it’s their fault because they don’t work hard enough on these drills. Crossroads was a program that was founded in 1991 at Simon Gratz High School that was inquiry-based, multi-disciplinary; the teachers put the students and their needs and questions at the center of the curriculum. It is important for people today to hear about the ways in which this kind of rigorous but progressive approach to education had a positive impact on the students who were part of it. The presentation at Bryn Mawr is the first step towards making public the stories of the Crossroads alumni. In this blog entry, I am including a chapter from Jody Cohen’s dissertation based on her study of Crossroads from 1990-1992. I hope that other alumni will find this entry, read Dr. Cohen’s chapter then share their memories, experiences, thoughts and questions.

Marsha Pincus is a post-mid life woman, riding the Age Wave and writing for her life.

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