Dalton Plan

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The Dalton Plan is an educational concept created by Helen Parkhurst. It is inspired by the intellectual ferment at the turn of the 20th century. Educational thinkers such as Maria Montessori and John Dewey influenced Parkhurst while she created the Dalton Plan. Their aim was to achieve a balance between a child's talent and the needs of the community.

The Dalton Plan was introduced in 1914 by Parkhurst at the Children's University School (now the Dalton School) in New York City, a private school. It was adopted in the state schools of Dalton, Massachusetts, four years later. At her request it was afterwards known as the "Dalton Plan." The idea behind the plan was to give grammar school pupils the freedom and opportunity to develop initiative and self-reliance. This allowed older children to be introduced to the Dalton Plan.

The Dalton School continues to operate in accordance with Parkhurst's plan.


Parkhurst's specific objectives were as follows:[1]

  1. To tailor each student's program to his or her needs, interests and abilities.
  2. To promote each student's independence and dependability.
  3. To enhance the student's social skills.
  4. To increase their sense of responsibility toward others.

She developed a three-part plan that continues to be the structural foundation of a Dalton education:[1]

  1. The House, a social community of students.
  2. The Assignment, a monthly goal which students contract to complete.
  3. The Laboratory, a subject-based classrooms intended to be the center of the educational experience. The laboratory involves students from fourth grade through the end of secondary education.

Students move between subject "laboratories" (classrooms) and explore themes at their own pace.


On May 27, 1920, a very enthusiastic article describing the working of the Dalton Plan in detail was published in the Times' Educational Supplement. Parkhurst "has given to the secondary school the leisure and culture of the University student; she has uncongested the curriculum; she has abolished the teacher's nightly preparation of classes and the child's nightmare of homework. At the same time the children under her regime cover automatically all the ground prescribed for examinations 'of matriculation standard,' and examination failures among them are nil."

The Dalton Plan is a method of education by which pupils work at their own pace, and receive individual help from the teacher when necessary. There is no formal class instruction. Students draw up time-tables and are responsible for finishing the work on their syllabuses or assignments. Students are also encouraged to help each other with their work. The underlying aim of the Dalton Plan is to achieve the highest mental, moral, physical and spiritual development of the pupil.

In the spring of 1921, English headmistress Rosa Bassett went to the Children's University School and stayed with Parkhurst. They spent hours talking about education. Parkhurst found Bassett in complete agreement with her ideas: "She was Dalton," Parkhurst wrote 50 years later. She described Bassett and Belle Rennie as the two people in England who were most enthusiastic and most helpful about the introduction of the Dalton Plan.

It was in 1922 that the UK Board of Education gave official approval and many hundreds of schools in England adopted some form of the Dalton Plan. That same year Parkhurst published Education on the Dalton Plan. In time it was claimed that there were a thousand "Dalton" schools in Japan, another thousand in India, and many in the Soviet Union, Poland, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.


Today there are a number of schools around the world and that employ variations of teaching methods based on the Dalton Plan. Most of the schools listed below interpret the Dalton Plan according to their needs. In some cases, they retain only a minimal part of the original Dalton Plan.[2] Currently, the only schools that have strong affiliation with Helen Parkhurst's Dalton School in New York are Dalton Tokyo and Dalton Nagoya.



  • Europaschule, Wien


  • Basisschool De Kleine Icarus, Gent
  • Basisschool De Lotus, Gent
  • Basisschool Dalton 1 Hasselt
  • Basisschool Dalton 2 Hasselt
  • Middelbare Dalton school VanVeldeke Hasselt


Czech Republic[edit]

  • ZŠ a MŠ Chalabalova, Brno
  • ZŠ a MŠ Husova, Brno
  • ZŠ a MŠ Křídlovick, Brno
  • ZŠ a MŠ Mutĕnická, Brno
  • ZŠ Rájec-Jestřebí
  • Gymnázium Slovanské námĕstí, Brno
  • ZŠ Benešova Třebíč
  • Základní škola, Brno
  • Základní škola Brno, Brno







United Kingdom[edit]

United States[edit]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]