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Campus Laboratory School (1900-1970) | Special Collections & University Archives

Name: Campus Laboratory School (1900-1970)


Historical Note:

Initially named the Training School, the Campus Laboratory School (or Campus Lab School) was established in 1900, and located on the State Normal School campus.  The school provided instruction for elementary, middle, and high school students in small classes where they could receive more individualized instruction.  Besides serving as a grammar school, the Training School allowed Normal School students the opportunity to instruct the students themselves, thus providing practice and teaching experience.  When Edward Hardy began his term as president in 1910, he discontinued the high school segment of the Training School because increasing enrollment (by 1910 the Training School had over four hundred students) was causing space problems.  To accommodate the growth in enrollment the school moved into a separate building. 

When the college moved to Montezuma Mesa in 1931, the Training School maintained its own separate building on the new campus as part of the science complex.  This new facility featured classrooms, a library, and a playground.  In 1936, the school set up a Child Study Laboratory for Home Economics students to earn credit towards their degrees.  In 1953, during a period of campus expansion, the Campus Lab School again relocated to a new building, and officially changed its name to the Campus Laboratory School.  Several years later, because of an influx of students in the School of Education, the Campus Lab School transitioned from its original purpose as a "practice" school to an observation and research center.  Although students in the teacher program were still able to student teach at the school, the majority of students observed classes and instructional techniques at the school, and received their student teaching experience at other San Diego public schools.

Despite this shift in function, the school remained extremely popular, and had a long waitlist by 1960.  In addition, the school's curriculum was innovative and on the cutting-edge of educational techniques, child development, and teaching training.  The school experimented with individualized curriculum, a non-graded organizational structure, team teaching, self-directed learning, creative teaching, bilingual programs, and programs for special needs and gifted students, all of which propelled the Campus Lab School and San Diego State's teaching program to national recognition.  In 1970, state budget cuts forced the closure of the Campus Lab School.  The old Campus Lab site was razed in 1991.

Sources: Starr, Raymond.  San Diego State University: A History in Word and Image.  San Diego:  San Diego State University Press, 1995.
Note Author: Amanda Lanthorne





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