This reading, and the discussion questions below,

could be used in any social studies classroom.


In Autumn, 1975, alongside articles titled “Homage to Foliage,” “Down Country Roads,” and “A New Fashioned Barn Raising,” Vermont Life Magazine published a piece about our school: “Union 32’s Experiment in Learning.” 

The article gives a vivid snapshot of what U-32 was like 40 years ago, including a priceless description of one of our master teachers, Kathy Topping, at the start of her career.   

It’s also a glimpse of the mythical “old U-32” — the school that earned the “Zoo” nickname we still carry. Reading the piece it’s clear that our school has changed a lot in forty years.    

It can be interesting to consider complex cultural changes from a local point of view. In this case, our school can be considered as one small window into the shifting values and practices of our society at large.


Read the Article


For Discussion:

How have attitudes toward teaching and learning changed in our community  since 1975?  

What are the larger cultural changes behind the changes in our school?

Does U-32 more  accurately reflect the values of its community today than it did in 1975?    Explain.

Can a school benefit all its students equally?  Which kind of school seems more successful in this respect, the U-32 of 2016 or 1975?  Explain.

Is our move toward proficiency-based assessment taking us back toward the U-32 of 1975? Or farther away?  Explain.