Dulton Plan

The Dalton Plan is a method of school organization and teaching to enable children to do a large amount of individual and, up to a point, self-chosen work. Its full name is the Dalton Laboratory Plan, and the organization consists in arranging the classrooms as special subject rooms (the laboratories), having a specialist teacher in each, and preparing for the children assignments, that is, printed outlines of the work to be done in each subject within a given time.

A child under the Dalton Plan, instead of having a time-table which shows he will be taught English, arithmetic, history, science, etc., at such and such hours of the week, will be given assignments, or drafts of the works required from him within the next month, (though other time periods are also used), this work being divided into units, which represent one days work each.

He gets a separate assignment for each subject. He is then freo to start on whatever part of the work he prefers, and he can tackle his job in any order. For his English work he goes to the English laboratory, for his arithmetic to the mathematics laboratory, and so on. In each the specialist teacher is present to help and advise him. Some part of each week, however – usually of each day – is spent in classwork.

The Dalton plan was evolved in 1912-13 by Mrs. Helen Parkhurst of New York, and first used with children between 8 and 12. It is now used also with older children; but not with younger. There are infinite variations of the Dalton Plan; in no two schools is it applied in exactly the same fashion – this, indeed, is the deliberate intention of the founder. But the mam principles are the same.

The advantages claimed for the Dalton Plan are that it develops initiative, that children learn how to learn, and can each go at his own pace, the quicker not being held back by the slower.