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Educational Experiment Conducted At BTS

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Educational Experiment Conducted At BTS<br><br>By Dennis Chase<br><br>One value of a boys training school is that of experimentation. At the Green Oaks Center of the W. J. Maxey Boys Training School here in Whitmore Lake, an educational program has been initiated that could have far-reaching implications.<br><br>Three months ago the Boys Training School program received a $137,000 grant from the federal government for educating disadvantaged youths. Green Oak received $6,500. This is the first time that a training school has received funds like , a public school v/ithout the state lhaving to “match” them with funds of its own.<br><br>Green Oak Center is a maximum security unit of the Boys !Training School. It is a residential institution for 100 delinquent | boys from 13 to 17 years of age,<br><br>|although some are older.<br><br>William Gipson, supervisor of education at the center, said that, although the unit was built more with the idea of security rather than education, and consequently lacks classrooms, the program has the advantage of size.<br><br>“We can have small classrooms, with only five or six boys in each one, and thereby give individual attention to the boys,” he said. “And when you are dealing with some who can’t even spell their own name, that is a help.”<br><br>school began a program based on the work of Dr. Donald E. P. Smith, professor in education and the Center for Research on Language ijehavio^ anddirector of fhr<br><br>versity of Michigan. Smith has been at the University since<br><br>in such things as reading improvement, writing, and spelling. Under phase two, which begins in September, more advanced areas like oral communication, and literature will be taught.<br><br>Smith’s program is called the Michigan Language Program. He is a consultant to it, and will be interested in the data when<br><br>Under Title I, Public Law 89-10, Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the<br><br>1952.<br><br><18 this program, the teachers are involved<br><br>Boys ^Training School Class On Unique Program<br><br>it is finally compiled in September by Mrs. Marlene Norton, a former student of Smith’s and teacher at Green Oak.<br><br>She said the chief purpose of the program is that it provides an atmosphere of stability that the child lacked at home. “It g’ves him a feeling of consistency, as well as a self image,” she said.<br><br>Dr. Smith described his program this way:<br><br>“In the past, teaching was a combination of a test plus the teacher’s skill. Now the material is completely programmed. We have to train the teachers for this type of system. It changes their whole role.”<br><br>The system, based on four years of tests, requires the teacher to read and not deviate from a programmed script, while the student answers questions in a programmed text.<br><br>The text is based upon B. F. Skinner’s work with continual reinforcement, that is, it presents a problem, and allows the student to answer it at his own speed.<br><br>“The teacher is an umpire, a classroom manager, who is re-<br><br>quired only to enforce two rules: ‘There is no talking’ and ‘Do not disturb others,’ ” Smith said. “And there are no exceptions.”<br><br>Smith said this reduces uncertainty. Every day, he said, something different happens, but the rules remain the same. He said questions are not permitted during independent work because they mean loss of attention, loss of control, and loss of independent thinking.<br><br>“There are no needs to answer questions because everything has been programmed, and therefore, covered,” he said. “We know from prior experiments, that all children can answer all questions on their own.”<br><br>Gipson said the program is working at Green Oak.<br><br>Said Mrs. Norton: “These kids aren’t criminals. They’ve been convicted of no crime. They need the consistent rules that this program gives them.”<br><br>Another, less permanent feature of MLP is an incentive system. At Green Oak, the teachers use money, one cent for every 10 correct answers.<br><br>“There are other incentives,” said Mrs. Norton, “like grades, and praise, but we chose money.”<br><br>Smith said that, in his recent experiments, he gets just as successful results with correct-answer or progress charts as he does with monetary reward.