Friday, November 14, 2008

"Education is an act of love, thus an act of courage.” Paolo Freire

A friend of mine who was a SMACer several years ago told me that Paolo Freire used to be included in MAC reading lists. A brief explanation of his philosphy is available here: Freire

Having spent around 20 hours on my text analysis, which I experienced to be a demoralizing and frustrating assignment with few practical applications, I am wondering why we don't spend a little time reading and talking about the more inspiring and motivating writing out there on education. Perhaps the accusations that the MAC program was too theoretical and not practical enough led to the cutting down of philosophy readings? Personally, I think I would have much more use for philosophy right now than just about anything else. At a time when I've heard many of my colleagues questioning their reasons for teaching, I don't think even strategies to help struggling readers will be a useful tool for making bright, creative, educated people into dedicated, effective teachers if we don't have a reason for developing that commitment, a larger purpose. Just as you have to be prepared to make a powerful argument to any high school student as to why they should spend hours of their youth studying your discipline, I think that we who are studying teaching need to be reassured, need rationalizations and justifications for spending the enormous amount of energy that teaching (not to mention this program!) requires.

So this is my call for a philosophy of education component to the MAC program. It would be nice if everyone entering this program was already totally committed and hooked, totally sure that our decision to pursue teaching is a step towards what we want out of life. But that's simply not the case. Like Eugenie mentioned in one of our Foundations classes, even out of the people who get master's degrees in education not many stay in teaching long. While some of us have come to this as a second career and/or have reflected deeply on the purpose of education, others of us are trying to find out whether this is a path we're willing to take, are learning as we go, and need some context for this big profession we're peering into this year. Obviously right now all of us are really in it, talking about how much we love our kids and what good strategies are for getting them involved, making sure they're getting the most out of us. But I would argue that we also need a rationale beyond a degree to continue beyond a degree. And I know that Dewey and hooks and Freire are keeping me in it much more than any substantive conversation assignment.

Here is Chapter 2 of Pedagogy of the Oppressed
or for those who are scared of reading something from a Marxist website :), here are some hooks quotes from Teaching to Transgress from a blog I've recently discovered.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Every child is curious, intelligent...

It was really affirming to hear Andrea, a former MAC student and now educator who spoke to our ed tech class yesterday, say that she never had a student who was not intelligent, curious, discerning or who didn't want to learn. I believe that this attitude is necessary for successful teaching, because otherwise your students will perceive that you don't respect them, and are teaching in bad faith. James Baldwin put it really well in the footnote of one of our recent readings:

"A child cannot be taught by anyone who despises him, and a child cannot afford to be fooled. A child cannot be taught by anyone whose demand, essentially, is that the child repudiate this experience, and all that gives him sustenance."

I would even extend that to say that a child cannot be taught by someone who despises her classmates... growing up I always did pretty well in school and I would venture to say that most of my teachers liked me, but I was aware as anyone else of teachers who played favorites or were not there to serve all of the students. And I always went the extra mile for teachers who made it clear that they "loved their baddies," a turn of phrase one of my favorite English teachers used to use. It feels safer for the "good kids" as well as the "bad kids" to know that a teacher's caring isn't conditional, and that they are teaching in good faith.

Andrea also mentioned that "most students think that school is a waste of time because most of school IS a waste of time." She said that her sister, a high school dropout, and brother, who was a fifth year high school student, often felt that way. My boyfriend, my brother and I are very different kinds of students, too, and our differences have gotten me thinking a lot about how not to waste my very different students' time. I think it is worth noting that the three of us often responded best to the same teachers. I'd be interested to know what those of you reading this think successful teachers have in common, since it doesn't seem to be instructional strategies... :)

Resources for election 2.0

Jeff sent me the link to this edublog a while ago and I've been meaning to post it - for those of you in government classes especially I hope this will be useful!

Resources for election 2.0

When you think about it, this election will look (or should) like no other in the classroom. 

Monday, September 1, 2008

Good luck to my fellow SMACers on their first day of teaching! What is your educational philosophy from the outset?

So, I found this when I was looking through other edubloggers' sites this summer, and was interested in its implications for the use of technology in the classroom. Also, in our Foundations class we have been discussing educational philosophy, and am very curious to know about my colleagues' educational philosophies and how they might be stated in short form like this one. However, I think that this statement would be better balanced if it included a positive component (e.g. "IF ... then I will be a fantastic teacher!"), as well. So I am challenging my classmates to respond with a little summary of their feelings on teaching in their first week, with regards to technology and/or to their educational philosophy in general. :)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Learning so fast...

In my limited experience with myspace and livejournal page customization, I've taught myself a little bit of html and taken one workshop on web design. My accomplishment of the day (besides catching up on some sleep, eating two delicious meals made by my roommate and making a pot of coffee) has been figuring out how to add web videos into a post manually, without the help of the little "add this to blogger" button. It's actually pretty easy, but I'm proud nonetheless. Rather than being one of those people who proudly states that I'm "technologically impaired," like our fellow edublogger lamented, I am determined to learn how to do this stuff one step at a time, and have fun while I'm doing it.

If any of you are interested, you can see my addition on the other blog I keep with some friends from undergrad, Angry Poststructuralist Mob (the videos are really funny, although perhaps not totally relevant here). Despite the esoteric sounding name, it's really just a bunch of gender studies majors taking issue with the wack world around us. My friends who blog with me are witty, brilliant and a pleasure to read, so I'm honored to get to blog with them. If you click on my profile it will give you a list of my blogs and you can read that one, I'm pretty sure. Please let me know if there are any problems with the privacy settings.

Despite realizing that I'm going to have to work on my time management skills this year if I want to get my work done and have a life worth living outside of school, I'm really glad to be in this program right now. I'm feeling lucky to be among such inspired and interesting classmates and can't wait to get to know the folks in my content area - and everyone in Group B, for that matter - better. Make sure to check out Rena's poll about one potential method for doing this... :).

Also, I'm interested to know if any other SMACers (professors or students) have ideas about how to use technology in the classroom to cover the election in (social studies or other) classes this fall. Does anyone have any recommendation for a particularly good newscast site for this sort of thing?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

This picture of Carmen is my favorite use of technology 
so far...
Although Chatzy is pretty great, too.  It's taken some getting used to, but I think that this doing-five-or-eight-different-things-at-the-same-time-in-class-thing could really work for me.  And MAN do I want to keep this computer.  The last couple of weeks have been such a whirlwind of mastering new tools (from our snappy little cameras to Inspiration, Macbooks to CTools, Chatzy to Backpack and for some of us die-hard Mac users, even Word has been a struggle), I want to congratulate everyone in the cohort for not going all luddite on us and writing egomaniacal editorials to the New York Times.  I much prefer Eugenie's idea of sending a productive piece of poetry into the New Yorker of the Atlantic.  Everything else aside, what a luxury to get to master all of this stuff before we get into our classrooms.
Something I've been thinking about a lot, however, and that I'm looking forward to talking about in class, is whether many public schools have the kind of technology that we're learning about, and how much we can rely on all students having internet access.  If two or three students in my class don't, I don't want to conduct the class as if everyone does.  Despite the wealth of wireless on campus, my impression is that computers and connections are still a relatively major marker of economic status, and while I know it's important to teach all students how to effectively navigate and utilize web resources, I want to pay particular attention to how to do this in a fair and equitable way that doesn't advantage those who already have the privilege of advanced technology in their own lives.