Boston — This is not a new idea for most British schools, but it's not all that common on the Continent or in the US. Every junior high school or middle school (generally serving pupils aged 10- 15) should be directed by a head teacher, and not by a principal.
Three qualifications are required: administrative skills, sound scholarship, and a compassionate, caring nature. And not in that order.
Junior highs and middle schools should look first for a carer, a nurturer, a compassionate and understanding academician.
Next for a scholar with an advanced degree in the subject area to be taught, whether it's math, science, music, art, social studies, or whatever; with the exception of athletics and physical education.
And finally for an academician to whom gentle administering is a natural activity.
The teaching load for this head teacher must be worked out in each individual case with the central administration and the school board. But it's a fact that many of the "chores" presently done by building principals might well be done by clerks, secretaries, assistants to central business managers, and so forth. And this would free the school head to do some teaching.
These are enormously important years for young pupils, and what's more needed than a manager of a building is a head teacher who can set the tone for the whole school.
The disciplined scholar, who loves teaching at this educational level, who is a compassionate carer, and has a natural sense of order is what junior high pupils deserve.
Of course school-plant efficiency is important; so are bus schedules, and prompt school maintenance. These should not be sacrificied.
But schools directed by administrators who are not scholars are misdirected. And this level is a key one for introducing a head teacher.
Elementary schools, with home-room teachers, and with administrators who see their role as "mothering," might not need teaching principals. Also, senior high schools, most using scholars as heads of academic departments, might well be administered by a man or woman who doesn't have to devote time to class preparation. (It's not possible, of course, to convince those senior high principals who do teach at least a class a day that the two jobs aren't not only "essential" but "pleasurable.")
Why not try this change from principals to head teachers at your junior high or middle school this next school year? Next week: A job for women