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March 30, 1999
Mary the American Advises Schools
Mary Radnofsky from Alexandria, Virginia (United
States), is spending two weeks in Caen at the elementary schools
of Bosnieres and Sainte Marie. In the context of a partnership with
The Socrates Institute, she has come here to demonstrate a different
way of teaching children. After a week at the Bosnieres school,
she will start upon the second at the Sainte Marie School.
With students from the Bosnieres School, Mary Radnofsky
weaves all classroom subjects around a single theme.
What is the nature of your collaboration with the Bosnieres and
Sainte Marie Schools?
"In fact, it consists of joining the Socrates Institute of
Alexandria, USA with schools in Helsingborg, Sweden and Caen. This
combined project has two main phases: the first took place in October
when seven teachers from Caen --- three from Bosnieres and four
from Sainte Marie ---- joined three teachers from Helsingborg and
came to Alexandria for a week-long workshop studying our teaching
methods. For Phase Two, I will be in Caen for two weeks, the first
at Bosnieres an the second at Sainte Marie School."
What is the Socrates Institute's method?
"I founded The Socrates Institute in 1995 because it was necessary
to find a way to teach that would correspond to the needs of today's
children. We help schools with professional development by showing
them interdisciplinary teaching strategies and practices. The idea
is to establish a connection with different school subjects such
as history, French, art, the sciences, math and music.
Teachers infuse the state-required course content through a central
theme, for example: nutrition and food. We can see the art of cooking,
the concept of harmony in food preparation, and the history of certain
foods. Anything is possible. We also try to bring in business and
professional people, because it is vital to establish a link between
children's work in schools and what they will see and do in later
How have students from Caen responded?
"We've already worked on several themes: the human body and
food.We use supporting materials such as magazines and the Internet.
I don't tell them anything; I ask them questions until they
find the answers themselves. We approach everything this way.
Children are very creative. So, when they have the opportunity to
use this capability, they find things fascinating. Each time we
work together, they are very receptive, right up to the end of class.
It's a very rewarding method for the kids."
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