Build a better educational mousetrap

Most educational research programs never make a difference in our schools and colleges. But there's a new one that may: The Mina Shaughnessy "Learning from Practice" Scholars Program. Its grants go to problem-solving individuals rather than institutions -- individuals who have already come up with an ingenious idea and need help in writing it up for others in their field. Among the first winners:

* A colorado chemistry professor who will show how students can build low-cost laboratories for themselves.

* A Vermont state senator who will explain how adults become "hungry and aggresive" learners once they know what kinds of offerings are available.

* A teacher for the Amalgamated Clothing Workers Union will who will teach other worker-educators how to keep union people interested in learning.

The winners' average award is $18,000 to enable them to spend six months to a year and a half writing up their successful experiences for others' benefit.

Mina Shaughnessy, for whom the program is named, was just such a "practical scholar" -- her book "Errors and Expectations" explained and spread her innovative approach to teaching disadvantage college students how to write.

Shaughnessy awards information is available from the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW, Washington, D.C. 20202.

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