City, Country: San Juan, Puerto Rico
School: Central High School
Central High School is a school [grades 8-12] that focuses on the visual arts as well as the core subjects – both are equally as important. At CHS, students participate in almost just as much art-time as they do in core classes per day. The end result, by the time a student graduates, is that the student has both an art certificate as well as a high school diploma.
Even though Puerto Rico is jokingly thought of as “the 51st state of the USA”, the main language in Puerto Rico is Spanish. So, of course, instruction in Central High School is in Spanish. However, the students spoke better English that the teachers.
Students are enrolled in six core subjects per semester and one massive art class.
Three core classes [90 minutes each = 5.5 hours]
English, Spanish, History of Puerto Rico, Art History, Math, Science, and Health. Physical Education is also a core class, but is only during certain academic years [8th grade and 11th grade].
Art class [180 minutes total = 3 hours]
Day 1: Core 1, Core 2, Core 3, Art
Day 2: Core 4, Core 5, Core 6, Art
Day 3: [repeat from Day 1]
Central High School is absolutely amazing to walk through. The art on the walls is gorgeous – paintings, huge murals, phenomenal photography, sculptures, screen-prints, paper mache, drawings, graphic design, etc. It’s better than 99% of all museums I’ve been to! I loved just walking around looking at the fantastic talent and vibrant colors.
But I didn’t go there in place of going to a museum; I went there to get comparisons to U.S. education… so let’s talk about those vibrant colors…
Aside from the art in the hallways, all the classrooms were equally as impressive. It was difficult to remove my eyes from the hallways, but then I caught a glimpse of a bright turquoise classroom… and then neon green… and then yellow… I then realized that in fact, all the classrooms, the teacher’s lounge, the office, and every little nook-and-cranny you can think of was painted a radiantly cheerful color! Wow.
The most subtle classrooms were the math classrooms [always, for some reason] – they were painted a light brown color but they did have amazing murals that read “Geometria” and “Algebra” in huge letters. I thought these were great!
I loved the use of talent and the implementation of color for a more cheerful environment. It was great to see lively classrooms and a school with museum-quality-work showcased throughout.
I think having a school that is concentrated in one area is developmentally appropriate for high school students. If a student at age 15 knows that he/she wants to pursue photography, then why not have a school that will jumpstart that student’s career?
1. Mini-College. I’ve only heard of a few high schools in the U.S. that focus on one discipline. Why aren’t more high schools like this? Wouldn’t it be more interesting for students to have the majority of their classes of a topic that they are really interested in? What if there were high schools in the U.S. that focused on any of the following: science, math, history, the visual arts, music, politics, social sciences or cultural studies, agricultural and environmental studies, architecture and interior design, the performing arts, linguistics, philosophy, psychology, etc.? Would this theory of a mini-college be an easy concept for the U.S. adopt?
2. Color and Behavior. Many schools throughout the U.S. have very plain and boring classrooms: white walls, white floor, white ceiling. But the ridiculous part is that teachers are forbidden to paint THEIR OWN classroom with THEIR OWN money. Why?! I’ve heard every excuse possible from administration… Nevertheless, do you think that color influences behavior and overall learning or is learning achieved purely by great teacher attitude and student obedience?