Winnetka plan

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Winnetka Plan is an educational plan implemented by Carleton Washburne in Winnetka , a suburb of Chicago , Illinois . It takes into account the social education but also the individuality of the student. Because of this, the working time is divided into individual work and group work . In addition, the age groups are being replaced by performance groups in which the students have the freedom to choose their field of work . Here the teacher only has the role of the helper. Students are judged on their performance as well as how they integrate into the community.

Historical classification

The Winnetka Plan is based on three principles and models of educational reform that were summarized and elaborated by Carleton Washburne.

  • The first "source" of the Winnetka plan can be found in 1912 in Winnetka. A group of men wanted to set up a private school here because they, as businessmen, attended one. Edwin Fetcher then made the proposal to improve the public schools to such an extent that private schools are no longer needed. This proposal was initially rejected, but Fetcher was later elected President of the Teaching Board and introduced many changes in the public schools (e.g. the introduction of art classes and home economics). In addition, many observations and analyzes of the children's learning behavior were made.
  • The second source is found in San Francisco around the same time . There Frederic Burk was director of the San Francisco State Normal School, in which elementary school teachers received a two-year course in history, philosophy, psychology and teaching techniques as well as a short practical training at the institute's elementary school . Frederic Burk was known for thinking very progressively and innovatively, and for having graduated from the State Normal School very well educated. By observing elementary school students doing an experiment, it became clear that there were large fluctuations in student performance. Some learned quickly and others were overwhelmed. This led Burk to present the students with an individual teaching program. He then wrote a monogram in which he criticized the current “military” school system very sharply.
  • The third source is Carleton Washburne himself. In 1912 he was the headmaster of a rural school and in a sixth grade noticed large differences in student performance in arithmetic. Therefore, he divided the class into smaller groups in which students with the same learning behavior were now together and learned together. Every child got the job that suited them. Washburne noted that students study better in these groups than in the large class. In 1914 Frederic Burk brought Washburne to California to present his theory there. Burk was delighted and gave Washburne a job for the next four years. Now Washburne proceeded from two sides of learning. On the one hand, he tried to find out what general knowledge the children needed and, on the other hand, he tried to ask the children what they would like to learn. After four years of refining his theory, he went to Winnetka to run a school based on this model.

Lesson design

Lessons consist of two components of learning:

  1. individual work : morning lessons in individual groups, which are adapted to the learning behavior of the children. Here the students work independently on the tasks that are explained in their books. The students in the groups help each other and they can ask the teacher for advice. The basic subjects like reading, writing and arithmetic are covered here.
  2. group and creative activities : Afternoon classes in mixed groups (e.g. according to interests). The focus here is not on learning, but on social conditions. The historical-geographical and musical-artistic subjects are taught here. Students also form meetings to decide what to do in the near future.

Evaluation or diagnosis sheets

Three different evaluation forms are used:

  1. individual lesson diagnosis sheets : each student has this. They list in a table the subjects to be covered throughout the school year. They are filled out by the teacher and record: 1. when the student worked on a chapter independently, 2. whether the work performed could be improved (every three months), 3. at which level the student is in a particular discipline and 4. for example, which book was read when.
  2. Assessment sheets for parents and teachers : these are given out before a parenting interview with the teacher and are divided into:
    1. Parents' notes: Parents should answer the following question, for example: "What does your child say about school at home?" Or "How does your child deal with authority and control?"
    2. Teacher's notes: are subdivided as follows:
      1. academic progress: verbal inventory of the student over the entire school year in English, social studies, maths, natural sciences, taking into account their abilities and the performance of their ability group.
      2. then the teacher answers in writing questions about the following characteristics:
        1. work habits ("Is the student paying attention?" or "Are tasks being done properly?")
        2. growth as an individual ("Does the student show initiative?")
        3. participation ("Does the child take part in the class?")
        4. growth as group member ("Does he respect others?")
  3. Diagnosis sheet for developing teamwork skills : Every 6 weeks, the teacher and the student explain whether he or she is working in a group. B. has worked in the group in an absolutely cooperative and motivated manner or has perhaps more or less contributed to the group or has perhaps shown no interest in joint group work. Regularly scaled assessment and documentation in a table make it easy to understand the development of a student over a longer period of time.

Stages of the assessment process

  1. Performance agreement :
    • Clear demarcation of the necessary knowledge and skills
    • Relation to practical life (what every child needs to know)
    • Requirements considerably lower than those of a normal school course
  2. Service provision :
    • Acquire basic individual knowledge and skills
    • Service provision in "individual work" is constant, here time is the variable factor
    • Service provision through "real tests"
    • Time in the "group and creative activities" constant, individual service provision is based on the group members
  3. Performance monitoring :
    • Teacher takes a back seat (self-teaching and self-correcting work material)
    • Division of the students into "self-reliant group" and "supervised group"
    • "Real tests" for diagnosis ("where help is needed") but also through:
    • Self-control of the students
  4. Description of services :
    • Lesson diagnosis sheets
    • Assessment sheets at the end of the school year
    • Sheet to describe the ability to work in a team
  5. Performance evaluation :
    • Correction task necessary due to errors
    • Teacher retains decision on progression and non-progression of the student
    • Service is deemed to have been provided when it is correct
  6. Performance evaluation :
    • verbally and in writing at the end of the school year
    • The opinion and experiences of parents and students are taken into account
    • Transfer of performance in the basic subjects dependent
    • Cognitive, subject-specific tasks, which are processed either in writing or orally, are assessed diagnostically in the "individual work"
    • In contrast, social, emotional, practical and personal achievements are the basis if the teacher addresses the "development of the child as a group member" (growth as a group member)

Reference standards

Mostly designed individually. The individual assessment is based on the “performance progress” made by the students, whereby the assessment basis is the “periods (6 weeks)” and the performance in the “real tests”. The diagnostic sheets show how far the social skills have progressed. The central function of the assessment here is to provide orientation.

Quality criteria

The theoretical test quality criteria cannot be objectively complied with here, since the student is always judged with his or her social behavior. But they can be reliable and judgmental, since the assessment takes place over a very short period of time, a good prognosis can be given and even if there are any weaknesses, action can be taken. Here the pedagogically motivated quality criteria are in the foreground, as the student participation is very high and they are given a high degree of personal responsibility.

Mission statements

The concept of this teaching system is based on the independent learning of the students (independent work and correction). With separate morning and afternoon lessons, the technical-content-related areas can be worked on in the morning and the social-communicative areas at lunchtime. In this way the students develop a self-confidence which helps them to help the other students.


  • what is the specific design of the first two years of school?
  • Role of the teacher contradicting itself: on the one hand only “retrospective helper”, on the other hand he divides pupils into “responsible” (self-reliant) and “supervised” pupils.


  • E. Hylla: The school of democracy. Berlin / Leipzig 1928
  • T. Schwerdt: Critical didactics in teaching examples. Paderborn 1952
  • C. Washburne: Winnetka. In: School and Society issue XXIX 1929
  • C. Washburne: Winnetka. The History and significance ... Englewood Cliffs 1965
  • C. Washburne: The experiments at the Winnetka schools. In Röhrs (ed.): The reform pedagogy of abroad. Stuttgart 1982
  • B. Michael, M. Fischer: Differentiation in school lessons. Weinheim / Basel 1973
  • B. Michael: Self-education in class. Weinheim 1963