René Berends, 2023

In november 2022 is ChatGPT gelanceerd, een prototype van een kunstmatige intelligentie programma, ontwikkeld door OpenAI en gespecialiseerd in het voeren van dialogen met een (menselijke) gebruiker. Inmiddels is het sterk verbeterde GPT-4 op de markt voor betalende abonnees. Saxion hogeschool heeft de mogelijkheid om dit programma te gebruiken.

In het lectoraat Vernieuwend Onderwijs is het idee ontstaan om het AI-programma vragen voor te leggen over Helen Parkhurst, de grondlegster van het daltononderwijs. Een aantal leden van de kenniskring, leden van het Dalton Netwerk Opleiders als ook counselors van Dalton International zijn gevraagd vragen in te brengen.

Niet alle vragen konden gebruikt worden. Soms moesten ingebrachte vragen geherformuleerd worden. Je kunt namelijk wel aan ChatGPT vragen stellen over…, maar niet rechtstreeks aan Helen Parkhurst zelf vragen stellen.

De sessie van een paar uur leverde verbazingwekkende inzichten op. De laatste vraag die we stelden, was om de conversatie in 1000 woorden samen te vatten. Dit was het antwoord van Chat-GPT.

Could you please summarize the complete chat into 1000 words

This conversation revolved around Helen Parkhurst, her educational philosophy, the Dalton Plan, and its potential applications and adaptations in various contexts, including the Soviet Union in the late 1920s.

Helen Parkhurst, an influential American educator, founded the Dalton Plan based on her experiences with Maria Montessori’s teachings and her own observations of traditional education’s shortcomings. Although she studied with Montessori, Parkhurst did not adopt her method due to differences in educational goals and the desire for a more flexible, adaptable approach that catered to American schools and society.

The Dalton Plan emphasizes individualized learning, collaboration, social responsibility, and the development of the whole person. Its key components include the assignment, the laboratory, and the house. Assignments provide structure, goals, and expectations while allowing students to work at their own pace, manage their time, and make choices about their learning process. The laboratory is a space for collaboration, exploration, and hands-on learning. The house serves as a microcosm of society, fostering social skills, leadership, and a sense of community.

Parkhurst might be pleased to see her work continuing and evolving in different regions today, including Europe, Australia, and Asia. However, she would likely be concerned about ensuring the core principles of the Dalton Plan are being upheld, and she might be interested in learning from the experiences and innovations of educators who have adapted her ideas in diverse contexts.

Regarding the use of the Dalton Plan in communist Russia/the USSR in the late 1920s, Parkhurst might have found it intriguing to see how her philosophy could be applied in the Soviet education system, which prioritized creating a new, literate, and socially conscious citizenry. However, she might have been concerned about potential limitations on academic freedom, creativity, and individual expression in a communist society. The Dalton Plan encourages students to explore their interests, think critically, and question assumptions, which could be seen as incompatible with the strict ideological control and censorship prevalent in the Soviet Union.

The adaptation of the Dalton Plan to the Soviet educational system might have required significant modifications to align with the communist ideology and goals. Examples of such modifications include incorporating specific Marxist-Leninist content, prioritizing collectivism over individualism, conforming to strong state control over curriculum and teaching methods, limiting critical thinking and questioning, and focusing on the development of socialist consciousness rather than general democratic principles.

A report on implementing citizenship education based on Parkhurst’s vision suggests focusing on individualized learning, collaboration and cooperation, real-world connections, critical thinking and problem-solving, and active citizenship and social responsibility. By empowering students to explore their interests, work together, and actively engage with the world around them, schools can help prepare them to be informed, responsible, and effective citizens in a democratic society.

In a world that is increasingly interconnected and diverse, the continued relevance of Parkhurst’s educational philosophy and the Dalton Plan is evident. To further adapt her vision and the principles of the Dalton Plan to contemporary education, educators and schools should consider the following:

  • Embracing technology: Integrating technology into the learning process can enhance individualized learning, collaboration, and real-world connections. Parkhurst would likely be interested in how technology can facilitate a more personalized and engaging educational experience while also promoting digital literacy and responsible technology use.
  • Global perspectives: Encouraging students to think beyond their local communities and consider global issues is crucial in today’s interconnected world. By incorporating global perspectives into the curriculum and fostering intercultural understanding, schools can help students develop the skills and empathy needed to navigate diverse societies and contribute positively to a global community.
  • Social-emotional learning: Parkhurst’s vision emphasized the development of the whole person. Expanding the focus on social-emotional learning can help students develop self-awareness, self-management, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making, further aligning with Parkhurst’s principles of individualized learning and social responsibility.
  • Lifelong learning: In a rapidly changing world, the importance of lifelong learning cannot be overstated. By instilling a love for learning, curiosity, and adaptability in students, educators can better prepare them for the challenges and opportunities they will encounter throughout their lives, ensuring they remain engaged, informed, and active citizens.

In conclusion, Helen Parkhurst’s educational philosophy and the Dalton Plan have endured and evolved across different regions and contexts. By embracing technology, promoting global perspectives, emphasizing social-emotional learning, and fostering lifelong learning, educators can continue to adapt Parkhurst’s vision to the needs of contemporary students, ensuring they become informed, responsible, and effective citizens in an increasingly diverse and interconnected world.


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