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Horace's Hope: What Works for the American High School Hardcover – September 10, 1996

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Editorial Reviews Review

The third book in the Horace trilogy, Horace's Hope explores Theodore R. Sizer's own hopes for the future of high schools. Sizer, the chairman of the Coalition of Essential Schools, first gained widespread attention in 1984 with Horace's Compromise, a study of the American high school, followed by Horace's School, a fictional account of school reform. In the final installment, Horace presents a progressive approach to education that allows students time and space to explore their subjects. This culmination of a 12-year attempt to establish more progressive schools advances the case for Sizer's vision of a reformed school system.

From Publishers Weekly

Sizer (Horace's Compromise and Horace's School), director of the Annenberg Institute for School Reform, in this third volume of his trilogy takes an informed look at the state of secondary education and offers his dreams for the future. "Horace," who represents a composite of the dedicated but frustrated teachers Sizer encountered in his visits to high schools across the country, still has a commitment to education, although he is being forced to make compromises at the expense of the students he teaches. To change high schools into viable learning institutions for all, the author advocates an end to administrative bureaucracy and real empowerment for teachers, a choice of specialized schools for families from all income levels, state rather than local school financing and the adaptation of emerging technology to reinforce learning at home, in the neighborhood or in a cultural or workplace environment. This is a heartfelt plea for high-school reform by an educator who cares deeply about young people.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 198 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin; English Language edition (September 10, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0395739837
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395739839
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,812,528 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Abrams on November 27, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Theodore Sizer, the Chairman of the Coalition of Essential Schools has written his third book about the experiences and observations of Horace Smith, his fictional representation of an American high school English teacher. Theodore Sizer launched a successful but slow-paced revolution that requires more and elicits more from adolescent students. He participated in a study that revealed that today's schools teach useless fact memorization and have weak curriculums that do not challenge the students or the teachers. In this book, Horace's Hope, Sizer picks up where he left off in his previous two books. Sizer revisits the schools from his previous books, and sees that not much has changed at all. Sizer contends that the new school is no longer the academies but instead is the media. He says that schools must give students the tools to understand the media's message, and if necessary challenge their profit-driven ideas. He believes that the goal is "informed skepticism". This can be achieved through small classes and a multidisciplinary curriculum. Instead of the normal standardized exams, our students need to do project-orientated goals that are displayed much like a dissertation. Both the teachers and the parents must decide upon the curriculum. This opens up for Sizer's next opinion about the schools and communities. He makes a strong case for school choice. He proposes a solution to the problems of bad schools in both bad and good neighborhoods. Sizer suggests that geographic boundaries be obliterated, with public money following the student to the school of choice. This would allow parents the choice of sending their children to any school. If too many choose this particular school then a lottery would choose. This would encourage that all schools are helped.Read more ›
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 19, 2001
Format: Paperback
Ted Sizer's stories of what's happening in American high schools seem accurate and familiar. What's embarrassing is that a guy like him can go in, study the situation, identify what is happening and proceed to make changes, one school at a time, and have it grow into a nationwide movement. I say embarrassing because there are administrators (and teachers) in these schools year after year, who, either don't notice what Sizer sees or don't seem to be committed enough to affect change.It's almost an "Emperor has no clothes story". Nobody wants to sayanything to rock the boat-until it all collapses.
Sizer stops short of saying there will be anything like a revolution- he knows schools change too slowly to do that-but he does make a strong case for the embarrassment of America's underperforming and the underprivileged. I understand exactly what he's talking about when he talks about how poorly even the good students can discuss what they've learned, or identify what are the main ideas of what they've read. AS a teacher, I know their ability to make connections in history or have a sense of geography is abominable. It would almost be excusable except for the fact that teachers have been going through their gyrations of lessons since the kindergarten year. For the most part- the teachers blame the students. I like the fact that Sizer does not.
The power of America's media is well known, but I hadn't thought of it as the great American cultural unifier, supplanting the American school. This is an interesting notion. If this is true, it should free the schools of their self-imposed responsibility to teach American values, and therefore the schools can take a firmer position on scholarship, for example.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Lamkins, Pepperdine University on January 11, 2000
Format: Paperback
Horace's Hope
Theodore Sizer, the Chairman of the Coalition of Essential Schools has written his third book about the experiences and observations of Horace Smith, his fictional representation of an American high school English teacher. In Horace's Hope, Sizer returns to many of the schools he studied and chronicled in his two previous books, Horace's Compromise and Horace's School. Though many of their problems still exist, the changes that have been implemented offer Horace and all of us hope for the American high school.
Many of the schools in Horace's Hope are now members of CES and have adopted the nine essential principles. These general principles, Sizer contends are only as good as the positive changes they create and the perseverance of those who implement them. Sizer contends that communities need to come together. Teachers and principals alone cannot get the job of education done. The community needs to be highly involved but mostly the parents and the students themselves, the focus of education reform. Some of these principles call for a change of philosophy, a change in action, are rather expensive and, all together, take time.
I recommend this book to those who might have anything to do with education whether they are teachers, parents, employers, or community leaders. We all have an investment in how our youth achieve in the 21st century and our involvement and productive community partnership is a major key to their success. Horace's hope has not been diminished but strengthened by the chaos, difficulties and torturously slow progress of positive change because progress is taking place even if a little at a time.
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