The InterStudent Mini-Course Program: Endorsements

Harry Pollard

[From a 1970s promotional brochure for the InterStudent Program, offered by the Henry George School of Social Science, Los Angeles, California]

Not all teachers express the enthusiasm of the New Yorker, who swept into the faculty room after her first brush with InterStudent and gleefully announced "Ten of the paralytics are working!" but the Program does receive an extraordinary number of rave reviews. Any teaching material gets better results with an enthused teacher, but InterStudent tends to strike sparks and catch fire.

But, at first teachers won't believe it.!

"I was skeptical at first, fearful that InterStudent was just another gimmick. But I am convinced that what we are dealing with is a program consisting of fundamental principles of learning and human behavior that works..."

"Original pessimism re the program's language and approach was soon dispelled by their enthusiastic response ..."

Something happens -

"…below average grade students come out of their shells and become involved in discussions I would have considered beyond their interest and depth."

"Rarely have I seen such genuine enthusiasm . . ."

".. . they became totally involved ..."

"The students were visibly stimulated, they became involved. Most of them discovered a 'new high' --thinking for themselves."

The content is exciting and useful --

". . . students who had been taught only what to think quickly found it not only necessary but terribly exciting to learn how to think."

"I found that a special virtue . . . was that each Mini dealt with a basic concept. Questions were so designed to lead a student by easy stages, using his own knowledge of what he knew to be true . . ."

". . . it teaches ... the valuable skills of critical thinking, research, debate and group cooperation and interaction. …there is a noticeable change in the classroom. Students begin to look for intellectual integrity in fellow student and teacher alike. They examine statements for contradictions and consistency, and they begin to trust their own ability to make valid judgements and to defend valid positions."

"Much buzzing concerning the course took place around the school and affected students not even in the course."

It's used in any course --

"We found the ideas could be augmented in every historical period we covered ..."

". . . classes in international Relations, U.S. History, Contemporary American Problems, and European History. In all these classes, representing fairly wide divergences in ability level, his program was effective."

-- and with any ability

". . . provides a wide range of interest … for many students at all grade levels."

"It was especially gratifying to see the response of some of my poorer students. The format ... caught their attention and interest and they became valuable contributors..."

"Oddly enough, the final scores of the very able Academically Enriched class did not differ from the spread of scores in other classes. The AE kids are a little concerned about this, since it seems to suggest that other students may have their strong points too!"

Some surprises -

"The results have been astonishing, amusing and stimulating, ft became quickly obvious to me that students are not necessarily unmotivated, they simply need to be thrust into a demanding, self-motivated situation. Without question, InterStudent is that."

"Some unexpected sideplay -- Two students with exceptional truancy records were suddenly 'dropping in'. Peer pressure revealed some previously hidden talents -- not always positive ones at that."

"One of these meetings was of particular significance in that a number of parents were also present. Family conversations had been so stimulated by the repetition of classroom and afternoon discussions that students arranged for their parents to join us one evening ... this meeting was extremely successful and set an educational precedent in that such a demonstration of positive interest in academic activities had never been exhibited in such a manner."


" The InterStudent Mini-Course Program … develops a system of ideas in a logical fashion from two basic axioms and four definitions. The value of the program is that it -- (1) gives the student a working exposition of the Classical Analysis and … (2) helps develop the use of logical and systematic thought. ...The student is faced by a series of propositions all of which derive from the two universal axioms by means of the intervening propositions. He is obliged to function under certain 'non-normal' definitions which require that he associate new concepts with familiar names. This seems terribly confusing at the start. …Yet the successful participant in the program has profited by learning how to orient himself … and how ... to think in a clear and reasonable manner. " [Robert Means - 12th Grade]