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EDU6989 Final Paper

Can be found here.

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April 27 Journalizing

 

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Taking Sides

Issue 8:  Should School Discipline Policies Be Stricter and Include “Zero Tolerance” Provisions?

Yes
Public Agenda, from “Teaching Interrupted,”  Public Agenda.  (May 2004)

No
Russell Skiba, from “Zero Tolerance:  The Assumptions and the Facts,”  Center for Evaluation & Education Policy (Summer 2004)

“It’s almost unanimously accepted among teachers (97%) that a school neds a good discipline and behavior in order to flourish, and 78% of parents agree.”

“Lack of discipline in schools engenders other serious costs as well.  The findings in Teaching Interrupted reveal that problems with student discipline and behavior are driving substantial numbers of teachers out of the profession.”

[type summary of arguments here]

Personal Opinion (before reading):  I think the difficulty here will arise from the inability of one person or a limited number of people to carry out effective due process.  Emotions flare, time is tight, there are many observers, and so fairness is not often guaranteed.  For justice to be effective it needs to be swift.  Zero tolerance allows for sentencing to be quick and to not quibble over the level of involvement in the infraction of all parties.  I do not want to see a school bogged down in legal procedures, but I also do not the education process hindered by a relatively small percentage of those who need more intensive direction and attention.  As such I am probably leaning here towards the yes side.  There are a majority of students for which stricter policies are no issue.  There will be a few caught in the gray area that might have heretofore not been affected.  There are a few caught in the wrong that need to get a appropriate message.

Personal Opinion (after reading): 

Issue 15:  Does Participation in Sports Provide Positive Benefits to Youth?

Yes
Jordan D. Metzl, and
Carol Shookhoff, from “The Benefits of Youth Sports,”  eNotAlone (2002).

No
Josephson Institute of Ethics, from “What Are Your Children Learning?  the Impact of High School Sports on the Values and Ethics of High School Athletes",”  Survey of High School Athletes, (February 2007).

[type summary of arguments here]

[type summary of arguments here]

Personal Opinion (before reading):  Anyone who has taken EDU6120 from Dr. Scheuermann knows how he feels (very PRO!) about athletics for students.  Thus I must tread lightly here!  But first, let me give some context.  I myself did not participate in school sports, at any level.  I became interested in cycling first in college and enjoyed a few years of regular activity.  I suppose the PRO side of this argument will posit that competition and teamwork, victory and defeat are lessons that students need to learn in life as well as in school.  Anyone who has ever been the “best” at something knows the elation of that achievement and the arduous path it took to get there.  It takes singlemindedness.  It takes dedication.  However, sports without academics is a powerful temptation as is academics without some sort of physical exercise.  No truly great athlete neglects their mind.  No academic genius can do so without some physical exertion or knowledge of self.  My only question is:  do we need to be so competitive at all levels of school sports?  Is there some other physical activity that does not compete with academics for students’ time?  There was also a recent study

Personal Opinion (after reading): 

Evans, D. (2008).  Taking sides:  Clashing views in teaching and educational practice.  (3rd ed.).  New York, NY:  McGraw Hill.

 


Teaching to Change the World

Part IV:  Teaching for the Long Haul

Chapter 12:  Teaching to Change the World:  A Profession and a Hopeful Struggle

Personal Opinion (before reading):  This is the last chapter of the book and thus I expect it will be rife with powerful reflection and motivational quotes.  Teachers should be in the game for the long haul, and should go from strength to strength, from success and growth, to recognition and acclaim.  That does not happen in all cases, and the defection rate for new teachers is still significant.  Looking forward to reading the chapter to see if there are some antidotes or preventatives suggested for burnout and frustration.

Personal Opinion (after reading):

I love the quote from Judy Smith (pg 507)

Hey, don’t get me wrong. There was a cost moving from high tech to high school.  In corporate America, luxuries such as fabulous holiday parties and access to the latest technology seduced me for a while.  I love the fast pace, salary, travel, and interesting problem solving.  I learned about business, professionalism, and working with others.  All valuable.  However, that cost, when evaluated in heart and soul dollars, changes.  In high tech, we did not take much time to examine values, biases, and different cultures.  High tech didn’t teach me about human suffering and triumph at the same time.  High tech didn’t expose me to our children and to their critical role in our future and our democracy, or offer intellectual stimulation on history, literacy and politics.  High tech didn’t teach me to be a better human being.  Teach high school does.

This chapter does a good job of highlighting some coping mechanisms a teacher might use to survive in what is admitted by all to be a pathologically dysfunctional career.

 

At the end of the chapter there is a sidebar excerpt from an essay by Herb Kohl.  Here’s another excerpt that spoke to me from Kohl (

 

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[Bonus]  Chapter 10:  The Community:  Engaging with Families and Neighborhoods.

Personal Opinion (before reading):  I am adding this chapter since I believe this is a key topic, and I was impressed in our class on Diversity (EDU 6133) that we were asked to “throw in the kitchen sink” to get at how we might engage families and neighborhoods.  I think some creativity here is needed, and I am looking for some ideas.

Personal Opinion (after reading): 

Oakes, J. and Lipton, M. (2008).  Teaching to change the world.  (3rd ed.).  New York, NY:  McGraw Hill.

A Reflection on Schlesinger, A.M. Jr. (1998) The Disuniting of America: Reflections on a Multicultural Society. 3rd ed. Norton .

I read the whole book over the Christmas Holidays, so wanted to go a little slower in light of what we have been talking about in EDU 6133.


Foreword & Chapter 1:  A New Race?


Historically

Historically America has been exceptional.  In its founding principles, in its composition, and in its flaws, this country has walked its own path.  Schlesinger trumpets this with quotes from George Washington, Hector St. John de Crevecoeur, Alexis de Tocqueville, John Quincy Adams, Abraham Lincoln, Millard Fillmore, Teddy Roosevelt, W.E.B. DuBois, Woodrow Wilson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Gunnar Myrdal, Martin Luther King, F Scott Fitzgerald, to Mario Cuomo.  In fact, there is no shortage of reflectors or reflections, paeans and perspectives on the American Experiment.

This destination of countless million immigrants has survived thus far by forging from those alloyed masses, a single identity, i.e. that of the “American”.  The retrograde sentiment of reviving class and clan is seen as a positively backward step, and one that does not bode well for the Republic.

Politically

There is tremendous fodder here for politicians on left and right to propose and lament, diagnose and comment, what our course should be moving forward.  Where Schlesinger sees European heritage as a historical fact, and thus valid, he knows that folks across the aisle see that hegemony as the root of the evil that almost caused the fledgling Republic to be stillborn.  Schlesinger is mostly quiet on the duties of the existing status quo to right old wrongs or continue striving for equity in all forums and in all forms.

Personally

Personally I find the book eminently thought-provoking.  I believe in American exceptionalism.  I am proud to be an American.  I do not turn a blind eye to her faults.  I believe in progress and the ability to right old wrongs or prevent new ones.  I subscribe to the Myrdal’s “American Creed”.

The schools teach the principles of the  Creed, Myrdal said; the churches preach them; the courts hand down judgments in their terms.  Myrdal showed why the Creed held out hope even for those most brutally excluded by the white majority, the Creed acting as the spur forever goading white Americans to live up to their proclaimed principles, the Creed providing the legal structure that gives the wronged the means of fighting for their rights.  “America,” Myrdal said, “is continuously struggling for its soul.”

 

Summary

Schlesinger decries the new factionalism under the name of multiculturalism, asserting that diversity fanatics are taking us in the wrong direction.  From our class we have consistently defined diversity as race, ethnicity, spiritual practice, sexual orientation, gender, age, socio-economic status, physical abilities, political beliefs or other ideologies.  This book is only treating dangers he perceives in emphasizing the pluribus of race and ethnicity over the unum of the American experience.  Thus I don’t believe he is really countering multiculturalism in all its dimensions.  Nor do I think he would argue against acceptance and respect in those other dimensions.  That he would admit that fundamentally a system made up of individuals could be racist and need reforming is doubtful.  That he would approve of active means to correct wrongs done to individuals in any of those aspects of diversity is also doubtful.

Looking forward to re-reading the other chapters and Epilogue and commenting further.


Chapter 2: History the Weapon


Historically

In this chapter Schlesinger argues that those who write history have often interpreted that history for their own ends.  As examples he cites:  Russian, German, Japanese and Czech civilizations that have all suffered under the effects of history as weapon.  In this country, historically marginalized communities like the Irish, or the Catholics or the Jews have risen up and asserted their voices in history.  Most notable to Schlesinger in recent times are the African Studies scholars and proponents of Afrocentrism.  

Politically

Schlesinger writes that “the corruption of history by nationalism is instructive (p. 53).”  Nationalism is one “fever” sweeping the world, and also seems to infecting the US.  There are two types of history that are used to protect the ruling class, “top-dog history” also referred to as “exculpatory history” and “underdog history” which he also refers to as “compensatory history”.  The struggle between those is a main topic of the rest of this chapter.

Personally

I find this chapter non-controversial.  It was Winston Churchill that said “History is written by the victors.”  This saying has been played out over and over again in the course of human experience.  That te pendulum of historical reporting swings back from one side of the story to another side seems inevitable.  That Afrocentrism was a response to Eurocentric histories and an attempt to reverse their biases and remedy their shortcomings seems laudable.  I do not disagree that marginalized cultures need some sense of history and a means to mediate their claims and contributions. 

Summary

I believe the following quote sums up this chapter:

Salvation lies in breaking the white, Eurocentric, racist grip on the curriculum and providing education that responds to colored races, colored histories, colored ways of learning and behaving. Europe has reigned long enough; it is the source of most of the evil in the world anyway; and the time is overdue to honor the African contributions to civilization so purposefully suppressed in Eurocentric curricula. Children from nonwhite minorities, so long persuaded of their inferiority by the white hegemons, need the support and inspiration that identification with role models of the same color will give them. (p. 70)


Chapter 3: The Battle of the Schools


Historically

Politically

Personally

Summary


Chapter 4: The Decomposition of America


Historically

Politically

Personally

Summary


Chapter 5: E Pluribus Unum?


Historically

Politically

Personally

Summary


Epilogue: Multiculturalism, Monoculturalism, and the Bill of Rights:  Update on the Culture Wars


Historically

Politically

Personally

Summary

What I have Learned from Banks so Far

The biggest lesson I have learned from Banks so far is that there is really no down-side to being a culturally diverse teacher and striving to build a more multicultural education. Especially in math and science, there is an incredibly diverse body of contributors to past and current understanding in both fields. And yet, studies continue to indicate that race, gender, SES all contribute to a student’s prospects for success in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). By not seeking transformative multicultural education, I believe we are impoverishing these fields, that is, we are limiting the progress of ideas in these areas of knowledge by not questioning the cause of limited aspirations of historically marginalized groups. The key to changing this, according to Banks, is to work actively to transform education, to forge equity pedagogy in classrooms across America.

The transformation starts small with building a corps of teachers that value cultural competence, that practice regular and deep content integration in their daily lesson plans. These teachers will not be blind to the diversity in the classroom, but will engage it, and will celebrate it in each individual. They will work to reduce prejudice by interrogating their own assumptions, their students’ assumptions and the assumptions in their texts and sources. The transformation continues as more teachers revise their curricula, differentiating their instruction to recognize and celebrate the backgrounds of the students in their charge. These teachers will encourage others to do the same. They will assume their role as facilitators of knowledge construction to create environments where all students identify that their own implicit cultural assumptions, frames of reference and biases are real and yet they still have a role to play, a contribution to make to form a more just community, a more fair society and a more hospitable world. Finally, progress is assured if the entire school culture is transformed to empower students. We as teachers must strive to increase proportionality in student achievement; to end grouping and labeling practices; to foster healthy interaction of students across ethnic, racial and SES lines. It rests on teachers to start this process of transformation and to see it through.

I am convinced that it is only up-side benefit and positive potential to help inspire students from different race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, spiritual practices, political beliefs and other ideologies. By enfranchising these students, we build a stronger country, a stronger future.

References

Banks, J.A., & Banks, C. A. M. (2010) Multicultural Education Issues and Perspectives (7th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley. p. 22.

How does gender bias, prejudice against the LGBTQ community, Native Americans, ELL and students with disabilities play out in our schools?

Fisher, Komosa-Hawkins, Saldana, Thomas, Hsiao, Rauld & Miller (2008) state:

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and questioning (LGBTQ) students are likely to be in every classroom in every secondary school in the United States; yet, their needs are often overlooked. LGBTQ students are at risk for developing academic, social, and emotional problems due to harassment and bullying experienced at school. Although schools have an ethical and legal duty to provide a safe educational experience for all students, few schools implement policies and programs to support LGBTQ students.

For all the groups under consideration here, this is sadly a model for how these prejudices play out.  Curricula is insensitive.  Pedagogy is undifferentiated.  Facilities are unfriendly and resources are characterized by inequity.  But most importantly culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) students are often bullied, ridiculed and harassed by their schoolmates.

Chambers, Van Loon & Tincknell (2004) observed that among boys and girls, misogynistic namecalling or disrespectful language was used and was hardly even noticed by the teachers and administration.  This fact should point to us a way out.

When the New York City Department of Education had a “Respect for All” Training Program, even after one year students gave their schools a friendlier rating (Greytak, Kosciw, & Gay, 2010).  The price of a more civil educational environment is vigilance to inequities that are encountered every day.

When Native American or English Language Learning are disproportionately represented in Special Education, the inequities caused by rough speech or subtle segregationist attitudes have become entrenched  (Ferri & Connor, 2005).  The use of respectful language, and fair evaluations of ability with an eye to accommodate the needs of all the learners in a classroom will also promote fairness for exceptional learners.

Our schools do not need to be places where incivility and disrespect rule the day.  Our response cannot be indifference, though, we need to meet the prejudice head on and head it off before it does its damage to another generation.

References

Chambers, D., Van Loon, J., & Tincknell, E. (2004). Teachers’ Views of Teenage Sexual Morality. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 25(5), 563-576. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Ferri, B. A., & Connor, D. J. (2005). In the Shadow of "Brown": Special Education and Overrepresentation of Students of Color. Remedial and Special Education, 26(2), 93-100. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Fisher, E. S., Komosa-Hawkins, K., Saldana, E., Thomas, G. M., Hsiao, C., Rauld, M., & Miller, D. (2008). Promoting School Success for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, and Questioning Students: Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Prevention and Intervention Strategies. California School Psychologist, 1379-91. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Greytak, E. A., Kosciw, J. G., & Gay, L. (2010). Year One Evaluation of the New York City Department of Education "Respect for All" Training Program. Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Reflection: Political Correctness

A] What is important for us to recognize about being politically correct in our position as teacher?

After a brief survey of current and past usage of the term political correctness, I’m dismayed to see that there is little descriptive power left in the term. To be sure, there is polarizing power in the label, but it seems to be devoid of any of its original intent namely to denote

language, ideas, policies, and behavior seen as seeking to minimize social and institutional offense in occupational, gender, racial, cultural, sexual orientation, religious belief, disability, and age-related contexts.  In current usage the term is primarily pejorative… (Wikipedia, 2011).

Most importantly a teacher today striving to be politically correct is inviting criticism.  I think that is warranted since this concept of “minimizing offense” is most curious and seems untenable for real teaching. Poole (1998) describes the positively stifling effect of such thinking.

I object to any form of political correctness–Left or Right–that attempts to limit deep and thoughtful examination of complex cultural issues. …Students become reticent at speaking out or taking positions on these issues for fear of alienating faculty or offending their colleagues.  (Poole, 1998)

In the interest of open discussion in the classroom, I would rather expose the closet white supremacist in the classroom who thinks Hitler was a dynamic leader, or the bigoted student who thinks it is "OK" to condone physical abuse of homosexuals, or the student who just naturally and uncritically assumes that boys are better than girls in school.  I would rather encounter those sentiments in open discussion, versus driving them further underground.  As long as the discussions were civil and conducted with respect, I would not try to censor them in an effort to be politically correct. 

That is not to say that I disagree that words have power, or that words belie potential action (Andrews, 1996).  On the contrary, it is out of respect for words, and recognition that words and concepts can change ,that I would allow discussion on potentially taboo subjects.  These discussions are uncomfortable, and as a white, privileged male, I cannot begin to grasp the breadth of sentiments deeply held, or their profound ugliness to certain segments of our diverse society.  However I would not wink at a euphemistic replacement for the offensive term.  My counterproposition to these beliefs would be the golden rule, that we fundamentally should treat others as we would like to be treated.  That equity combined with the power of free inquiry and free society will cause these ideas to fall flat under greater scrutiny. Muzzling them is not good for the classroom and not good for society.

Personally, I counter all hate speech with "love speech", namely the two greatest commandments. Jesus says: "love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself."

B] What are the negative aspects of being politically correct in our position as teacher?

As mentioned above, enforcing political correctness for ourselves as educators and students in the classroom tends to stifle dissent or differing opinion that could be instructional. In the realm of moral education Plantinga (1995) points out the inherent weakness of political correctness when it comes to values.

To be sure, the politically correct … are still willing to make moral judgments — but only of those who make moral judgments. They say things like this: “It is always wrong to make moral judgments (Midgely 1991).”

C] What is the difference between being politically correct and culturally sensitive?

Political correctness implies subscription to an orthodoxy, i.e. some agreement on what terms and concepts are most acceptable.  Political correctness can often come at the expense of plain or easily understandable speech.  In contrast, a person that is culturally sensitive is characterized by an openness and awareness of social, racial, ethnic and class issues.

According to Google labs, the term “culturally sensitive” is gaining more usage in print. While it has not supplanted the term politically correct from 1980-2008 it is occurring almost as frequently as “politically correct”, especially if “culturally sensitive” is combined with “culturally competent”.  See Exhibit A.

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Exhibit A.
Google Labs Books Ngram Viewer (2011)

 

References

Andrews, E. (1996). Cultural sensitivity and political correctness: The linguistic problem of naming. American Speech, 71(4), 389. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Google Labs Books Ngram Viewer. (2011) “politically correct” versus “culturally competent” versus “culturally sensitive”.  Retrieved January 20, 2011 from http://ngrams.googlelabs.com/graph?content=politically+correct%2Cculturally+sensitive%2Cculturally+competent&year_start=1980&year_end=2008&corpus=0&smoothing=1

Midgely, M. (1991).  Can’t we make moral judgements?  (p. x) New York:  St. Martin’s Press.

Plantinga, C. (1995). Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin. (pp. 100-101). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Poole, D. L. (1998, August). Politically Correct or Culturally Competent?. Health & Social Work. p. 163. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Wikipedia. (2011). Political correctness.   Retrieved January 18, 2011 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_correctness

Garrett Keizer, No Place But Here, last paragraph from the chapter “Souls in Prison”

Dr Samuel Johnson 1709 - 84, John Opie RA

 

 

 

Opie’s portrait of Dr Johnson shows the brooding intensity and uncompromising directness of the celebrated lexicographer. His original compositions are seldom read these days, but his observations on life, his contemporaries and English literary have become gnomic and he occupies a central a position in the development of English literary criticism. He was also, of course, a superb conversationalist, and the members of his Club included some of the foremost figures of the mid-georgian intellegentsia, men such a Sir Joshua Reynolds and David Garrick.

 

Dr Samuel Johnson
1709 –84 
1783c.

John Opie RA 
1761 – 1807

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Keizer, G. (1988). No Place But Here. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England. 159

Rosie, the Dutch Belt, of Brownington Vermont.

well not really, but at least a reasonable facsimile

A good read, left me wishing for more, or more of me left wishing for time to read it all again and be struck as I was the first time.

Applebaum, A. (2010) The Worst of the Madness. The New York Review of Books. a review of “Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin” and “Stalin’s Genocides”

Link

Ravitch, D. (2010) The Myth of Charter Schools. The New York Review of Books

Link

Recommended Reading

Book Recommended By
A Special Mother, Anne Ford Laurie Reed:  “

The book is an outstanding resource for getting through the IEP process, and making sure that the services that your child is receiving are the services that your child needs.  “

The Pact:  Three Young Men Make a Promise and Fulfill a Dream, Sampson Davis, George Jenkins, Rameck Hunt, Lisa Frazier Vanessa Tucker

Amazon:  “As teenagers from a rough part of Newark, New Jersey, Sampson Davis, Rameck Hunt, and George Jenkins had nothing special going for them except loving mothers (one of whom was a drug user) and above-average intelligence. Their first stroke of luck was testing into University High, one of Newark’s three magnet high schools, and their second was finding each other. They were busy staying out of trouble (most of the time), and discovering the usual ways to skip class and do as little schoolwork as possible, when a recruitment presentation on Seton Hall University reignited George’s childhood dream of becoming a dentist. The college was offering a tempting assistance package for minorities in its Pre-Medical/Pre-Dental Plus Program. George convinced his two friends to go to college with him. They would help each other through. None of them would be allowed to drop out and be reabsorbed by the Newark streets.”

Letters to a Young Teacher, Jonathan Kozol, 2007  
Why Great Teachers Quit:  And How We Might Stop the Exodus, Katy Farber, 2010  
The Paideia Proposal, Mortimer J. Adler, 1984 Dr. S. held up in lecture 11/1/2010
Dostoyevsky as Teacher (essay?, book?) Dr. S. mentioned in lecture 11/1/2010
WWhatever it Takes, (2009) Paul Tough Diane Ravitch recommends this book about Geoffrey Canada and HCZ in her NYT Review of Books article.
Among Schoolchildren (1990) Tracy Kidder In an Essay by Arthur Ellis, read for EDU 6120 week of 11/1/2010.

" Christine Zajac teaches fifth grade in a racially mixed school in a poor district of Holyoke, Mass. . . . Through Kidder’s calmly detailed re-creation of Zajac’s daily round we come to know her students’ fears and inmost strivings; we also share this teacher’s frustrations, loneliness and the rush of satisfaction that comes with helping students learn," wrote PW. "A compelling microcosm of what is wrong–and right–with our educational system."
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Schoolteacher.  (1975) Dan C. Lortie Recommended by Tracy Kidder
How Teachers Taught:  Constancy and Change in the American Classroom 1890-1980. (1984) Larry Cuban Recommended by Tracy Kidder
A Place Called School:  Prospects for the Future. (1984) John I Goodlad Recommended by Tracy Kidder.
   
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