Emile

This winter, as I began reading more about the history of progressive education in the US, it seemed to me that some of the most interesting critics were the ones the textbook I was reading called “The Romantic Critics” (Herbert Kohl, Jonathan Kozol, et al.) because of their indebtedness to Romantic forefather Jean Jacques Rousseau.  I told myself then that I had to go back and revisit Rousseau’s seminal work on education, Emile.  When I saw this book on a list of the thirty best ed books, coming from a blogger and author whose opinion I respect, I ordered the book.

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The Criticisms of Free Speech

This has been an incredible time for free speech debate in the United States.  Like all true free speech advocates, I love it when people air divergent views — even about the importance of free speech itself.  I say this because, deep down, I continue to feel optimistic about our ability to arrive at truth through reason and argumentation.  I really do believe in the notion that through a clash of viewpoints in the marketplace of ideas comes the closest thing we can get to truth and consensus.

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Reform

The last month has seen unprecedented social activism and debate that cuts to the very core of who we are as a country.  While much of the advocacy has focused on police reform or political reform, some, inevitably, has focused on educational reform.  

In fact — a fun side note — the NBA is allowing its players to choose various social justice slogans to put on their jerseys this year.  Examples include, Black Lives Matter; Say Their Names; Vote; I Can’t Breathe; Justice; Peace; Equality; or Freedom.

One of the choices is “Education Reform.” 

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New Pens

The other day, I bought my first pen.  I have purchased pens plenty of times, but never bought a specific pen as a deliberate act.  I have always chosen my pens rather thoughtlessly — taken whatever was cheap and generic, or accepted whatever was handed to me by the woman who handles the supply closet where I work.

I did, back in 2015, start asking for green instead of red pens.  As an English teacher marking up student essays, I worried that red was too harsh. Green was more forgiving, more humane.  Did it change the way I graded?  Did I become more “green” than “red,” more compassionate, less inclined to slash or stab at tangles of verbiage, leaving a trail of blood?  Perhaps I did.  Perhaps it was a self-fulfilling prophesy.

It’s always a self-fulfilling prophesy, right?

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Are Teachers “Experts”?

Since the COVID-19 school dismissal, or really going back through this spring, I’ve been on an ed reading tear.  Since I no longer have access to the library (or, even worse, my university library), my newest pleasure has been ordering old or obscure ed books for increasingly low and improbable sums of money.  Robert Welker’s book, The Teacher as Expert: A Theoretical and Historical Examination, I think I picked up for something like $2.58.

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The Problem of PBL During the Time of COVID

“Learning is the constant and time is the variable,” is a central tenet of Proficiency Based Learning (PBL).

Unfortunately this time of COVID-19 school dismissal is magnifying an unpleasant reality.  In the modern school system, given the exigencies of a complex system, under the existing school calendar, and under the reality of the traditional teacher contract, time is most decidedly not a variable.

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The Paideia Proposal

In my ongoing, self-quarantined quest to read some of the “classics” in ed philosophy, I’ve just sat down and read The Paideia Proposal.  Written in 1982 by Mortimer Adler, the PP was on Grant Wiggins’s list of ed classics, and I’d heard about it before.  I think I first read about it in grad school, when we read a chapter on ed philosophy.  There were six or seven basic philosophies laid out in the book, and the activity called for you to identify yours. 

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Education as Portrayed in The Game

After the last few days of slogging through a mammoth blog post about a book that I frankly didn’t agree with much or even particularly enjoy, I thought it would be a welcome change of pace to write about one I do.  That book is The Game, by Ken Dryden.  I’ve probably blogged about this book before, but to me, prolific consumer of sports literature, this is very best one I have ever read.  

Since I’ve been writing so much about education, I thought it would be interesting to look at The Game through the lens of an educator.  What does The Game have to say about education?  What are the implications that can be drawn from the conception of teaching and learning put forth by the book — one that is done at the absolute highest levels of excellence — professional sports.

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Pedagogy of the Oppressed

I had never heard of Pedagogy of the Oppressed until a few years ago, when a teacher at a PD session recounted her seminal first reading of Paulo Freire’s famous 1968 book . . .  and everyone else was nodding except me. Since then I’ve done more reading in ed theory and paid more attention to ed reform trends.  Not surprisingly, I’ve been seeing Pedagogy popping up everywhere.  In ed circles, if there’s one patron saint, it’s either John Dewey or Freire.  Since I just spent a few months reading Dewey, I figured it was high time to read Freire.  This past month, I finally did.

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