The Global Concept of the Middle School (Junior High)
مفهوم المدرسة المتوسطة عالميا
Hasan A. Yahya, Ph.Ds, Former Professor of Education and Sociology
The concept of Middle School (or Junior High or intermediate school) dates back to 1909, with the founding of Indianola Junior High School in Columbus, Ohio. The Middle school serves as a bridge connects a period of the Elementary (Primary) school and secondary school education. The terms can be used in different ways in different countries.
For example, the concept was introduced to certain age, not young and not old, it is between two personality stages of life, namely Adolescence. It was introduced to deal with the physical and emotional changes and developments in this period.
Junior high schools were schools in the United States that contained seventh through ninth grades. The junior high schools in the United States were mostly replaced with the middle school concept with sixth through eighth grades. The ninth grade was moved to high schools.
In Asia, Korea, Japan, Taiwan and Mainland China, apply the concept to include 7 to 9 years old in Korea, Japan and Mainland China . however, it consists the three years of the 9-year compulsory education. In Taiwan they called it Junior High and those who passed the 12 to 15 years.
In many Arab countries, they distinguish between elementary schools (6 years) and the secondary school (in Jordan t was 5 years until 1963, then became 6 years) . At the end of the ninth grade, it was decided to give a test to enter the high school (called secondary school) , like China which gives exam to college-bound students to enter High School to give the opportunity to those who wish to continue training in technical schools called vocational schools, like commerce, carpentry, or agriculture.
In Jordan, a case study, and other Arab countries followed the British educational systems, two division were also distinguished two types of graduates, scientific or literal. The first may continue natural sciences, the second may continue art and humanities studies. In Jordan, however, the level distinguish between the two divisions after the 10th grade was 65/100.
In the west, or the more advanced, the Middle school system was applied in United Kingdom, New Zealand, and the United States. In the United Kingdom, the system was introduced selectively in the 1960s and 1970s, The notion of the Middle school was proposed by Plowden Report of 1967 which proposed a change to a three-tier model including First Schools for children aged between 5 and 8, Middle Schools for 8-12 year-olds, and then Upper or High Schools for 12-16 year-olds. Different authorities applied the system. Some authorities introduced Middle Schools for ideological reasons, in line with the report, while others did so for more pragmatic reasons relating to the raising of the compulsory age to 16. Inspite of the difference between authorities, three models were used: The Middle school from 8-12 as suggested by the report. 9-13 years , and 10-13 years of age. In addition, combined schools were also found to provide 5-12 age range as a combined elementary and secondary stages.
In early 1980s a National Curriculum was introduced, by not followed by all schools. Middle and combined schools remain in practice. But the new curriculum differentiates Key Stages at age 11, which encouraged the majority of Local Education Authorities to apply two tiers system of Primary and Secondary Schools.
In New Zealand Middle schools were known as Intermediate schools, consists of 7 years called Form 1 and 8 years as Form 2.
In North America (the United States and Canada, Middle School refers to a distinct form of school organization rather than a general term for the middle level of education. In fact the middle school concept contrasted to Junior High concept is a relatively new model for the middle-level grades introduced by as the National Middle School Association. (NMSA). Some areas still use both systems. But in general they are specifically deal with adolescence age between elementary and secondary stages . It became a new major in Universities graduate students to specialize in educational system called Middle School Administration. (1)
Michigan State University was and still a leading Candle in this regard, the College of education graduates became members in MAMSE, founded in 1973. In these days, it claims 30,000 plus members representing central office personnel, professors, principals, teachers, college students, parents, community leaders, and educational consultants across the United States, Canada, and 46 other countries. An equivalent organization called “The National Middle Schools’ Forum, (NMSF)” operates in the UK .
Importance of the concept: Noting that many Middle Schools do not pay sufficient attention to the emotional, physical, and social development of their students, Professors Georgiady and Louis G. Romano at Michigan State University as a reflection to a report called” Turning Points: Preparing American Youth for the 21st Century” authored a book titled: “Focus on: Successful Characteristics of a Middle School.” (1992) They published a report presented a program dealing with these characteristics as recognized by scholars in the Middle School movement..
In the abstract they described Identifiers such as: Developmentally Appropriate Programs: Middle School Students: and Program Characteristics.
Each characteristic is accompanied by an explanation of “what and why.” And a further elaboration on application in learning and teaching covers seventeen areas like: teaming; self-contained classrooms; guidance service; creative, exploratory and enrichment experiences; independent studies; community relations and personalized student evaluation; socio-clutural experiences and auxiliary staffing; multi –material approaches; flexible schedules and physical and intramural activities. (2) (913 words) www.askdryahya.com
1) The writer graduated from Michigan State University with a Ph.D in Educational Administration . Professor Louis Romano was the Head Advisor of his Dissertation Committee in 1988. The writer also was a member in the Michigan Association of Middle School Educators (MAMSE).
2) Georgiady, Nicholas P. and Romano, Louis G. Focus on: Successful Characteristics of a Middle School.” (1992)