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January 31, 2006

The Great American Educational Debate


A TALE OF THREE SPOKESMEN:

We have looked at various philosophies of education in our class so far; among them are the following:

CRITICAL PEDAGOGY (Peter McLaren):
The search for social revolution and social justice takes precedence in this educational philosophy as teachers serve as "change agents" and "de-school" the poor before they can be assimilated into a ruthless and unfair global economic system where the dominant metanarrative excludes and exploits the disadvantaged "Other" (excluded by virtue of their gender, race, socioeconomic status, or sexual preference). If you do not against militate against the iniquitous status quo, you are serving it either consciously or unconsciously.

THE LIBERAL (Willard Daggett): The United States as needing to update its antiquated educational system to compete against India, China, and Eastern Europe in an increasingly globalized economy where the Internet and competition have put America at risk as a preeminent world power. No Child Left Behind as both a civil rights and a economic competitiveness issue as America tried to balance the need for academic excellence and academic equity.

THE CONSERVATIVE (John Stossel):The American public educational system in crisis because of a calcified, monopolized system of mediocrity and worse where the teacher's unions hold school choice, voucher programs, and merit pay hostage with their political influence. In comparison to Belgian students, American schools are "stupid" and produce "stupid" students.

Which story do you find most convincing and true to life? Least convincing? Why? PLEASE EXPLAIN!

January 30, 2006

Feminism and its Discontents


BOYS AND GIRLS:

In our class we have studied "Feminism" as an educational philosophy that holds women to be disadvantaged in the educational setting, as well as in larger society.

The "traditional" feminist argument ran something like this: teachers call on and give more attention to boys than to girls in the classroom; that these questions directed to the boys were often more academically challenging than those directed to girls; and that boys were rewards for their intellectual contributions, while girls were recognized for their looks and general deportment.

This view has been increasingly challenged in recent years by a growing body of data that shows that boys are the ones poorly served by the public schools. New arguments claims that women now outnumber men in universities and outscore them on almost all standardized tests in the K-12 system -- "Very well-meaning people," says Dr. Bruce Perry, a Houston neurologist who advocates for troubled kids, "have created a biologically disrespectful model of education [for boys]."

But is that true? Drawing from your own experiences as a student as well as an adult, please explore the phenomenon of gender in American public schools and speculate on where you come down in the dialectic between the "traditional feminist" claims and the new arguments on behalf of boys, as evidenced in the recent "Newsweek" article.

January 16, 2006

Your Personal Philosophy of Education


Teacher and author Frank McCourt

WHAT AN EDUCATION AND AN EDUCATOR SHOULD BE, ACCORDING TO ME...

An important facet - perhaps the most important! - of apprenticing to become a classroom teacher is to develop, revise, and seek to put into practice your own philosophy of education. What should students learn? Why? Towards what ultimate end? How can you best serve in this process? Not simple or easy questions, obviously. A teacher will wrestle with these questions on almost a daily basis over the years and decades of a career. It never ends.

Still, to the extent that you have clearly thought through the process of education and the role of the teacher in it, the further down the road will you find yourself in the process of learning the craft of teaching. Let us begin now then!

In this blogsite posting, please identify and explain your preliminary ideas about what is your philosophy of education. What should an education be, for your students and in your classroom? What should the job of teacher be? How should you go about performing your duties? Why? EXPLAIN! Feel completely free to integrate any/all of the larger philosophical frameworks we have identified in class up to this point.

At almost the end of a thirty year career teaching in the New York City public high schools, author Frank McCourt related the following conversation he had with a beginning teacher:

"A young substitute teacher sat beside me in the teachers' cafeteria. She was to start her regular teaching career in September and could I offer any advice?

Find what you love and do it. That's what it boils down to. I admit I didn't always love teaching. I was out of my depth. You're on your own in the classroom, one man or woman facing five classes every day, five classes of teenagers. One unit of energy against one hundred and seventy-five units of energy, one hundred and seventy-five ticking bombs, and you have to find ways of saving your own life. They may like you, they may even love you, but they are young and it is the business of the young to push the old off the planet. I know I'm exaggerating but it's like a boxer going into the ring or a bullfighter into the arena. You can be knocked out or gored and that's the end of your teaching career. But if you hang on you learn the tricks. It's hard but you have to make yourself comfortable in the classroom. You have to be selfish. The airlines tell you if oxygen fails you are to put on your mask first, even if your instinct is to save the child.

The classroom is a place of high drama. You'll never know what you've done to, or for, the hundreds coming and going. You see them leaving the classroom: dreamy, flat, sneering, admiring, smiling, puzzled. After a few years you develop antennae. You can tel when you've reached them or alienated them. It's chemistry. It's psychology. It's animal instinct. You are with the kids and, as long as you want to be a teacher, there's no escape. Don't expect help from the people who've escaped the classroom, the higher-ups. They're busy going to lunch and thinking higher thoughts. It's you and the kids. So, there's the bell. See you later. Find what you love and do it."

So what do you love? Where do you as a teacher fit into the school system and the lives of your future students? What do you hope to accomplish?Why? What kind of student would you seek to foster? What kind of society would you hope to help build in the United States as a teacher? EXPLAIN!

What is your personal philosophy of education?

To help get things rolling along, here is a short video clip encapuslating your teacher's teaching philosophy; and here is John Dewey's "Pedagogic Creed."

January 09, 2006

An Important Influence on Your Own Education

TAKING STOCK OF YOUR OWN EDUCATION...
and we are talking about "education" in the widest sense!

Think back to a person who has been highly influential in your life. It could be anyone from a parent, a coach, a teacher, a priest, a co-worker, a boss, a child - it could be anyone! It could be a book. It could be a religion. It could be someone (or something) who didn't even intend to teach you the lesson that was taught.

Why exactly did this person influence you so much? How and why did this person change you?

Was their approach to education "idealist" or "realist"?

There is already provided an example of what is desired, more or less, in a response.

This blogsite posting will come due Monday January 7th at 5:00 p.m.