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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 years."

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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