Final Post- A Metacognition

Before this year I had never worked in the educational field.  After working in a bookstore for three years after college, I wanted to leave retail for something more meaningful.  This year I began substitute teaching, taking long-term assignments (mostly one month or more) in the Bronx.  I am learning a great deal from the teachers, paraprofessionals, and students who I meet.  Having this Principles of Education course alongside my classroom experiences has helped to deepen my understanding of what I encounter in the classroom and clarify what my role will be when I become a teacher.  I recognize the variety of teaching methods that we’ve studied throughout this course when they are used effectively in the classroom.  Some teachers use facilitator/delegator methods, others use formal/authoritative, most use a combination of them all (Grasha, 154).  Differentiation of instruction and assessment to meet the needs of students is a constant concern and we try to have students draw from their own experiences to make material relevant and meaningful for them (Willoughby, 2000).  I can also see that an eclectic blend of the teaching philosophies we have studied, such as perennialism, essentialism, and social constructivism, inform the practices of many teachers (Martin et. al, 38-67).  I feel that, because of this class, I have a palette of teaching philosophies and methods that I can draw upon in the future when I plan lessons and teach.  One of the most important things I’ve learned from this class is that teaching is an art as well as a science and I will need to bring my entire self, not just my subject knowledge and teaching skills, into the classroom to connect with students on a personal level and make them feel “valued and capable of learning” (Koch, 184). I was also glad to have gained more in-depth perspective on the social justice issues in our educational system.

I certainly struggled a few times throughout the course.  I mostly struggled with time management. I am new to online learning and am used to managing my time around one or two class meetings per week with discussion and two or three big writing assignments for the entire semester.  Managing my time around 3-4 small assignments per module and fitting 3-4 citations into each assignment was difficult.  I sometimes felt I couldn’t give adequate attention to any one of the texts because of the space limitations.  It was a challenge and I feel that I improved throughout the semester.  The discussion board itself gave this class an element similar to an on-campus course.  Learning about other students’ perspectives and ideas helped me to refine and rethink my own ideas about our course material.    It was great to have the classroom pool resources together (both resources from the internet and personal educational experiences) and learn as a community.  Looking forward to continuing to expand upon my knowledge and participate in the educational discourse.  Thank you.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

Grasha, A. F. (1994). A Matter of Style: The Teacher as Expert, Formal Authority, Personal Model, Facilitator, and Delegator. College Teaching, 142-149.

Koch, J. (2009). Chapter 10: Making the Decision to Become a Teacher. In So you want to be a Teacher? Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century (pp. 181-194). Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.

Martin, D., & Loomis, K. (2013). Chapter 2: Your Philosophy of Education. In Building Teachers: A Constructivist Approach to Education (pp. 38-67). Belmont: Wadsworth.

Willoughby, J. (2000-2005). Differentiating Instruction: Meeting Students Where They Are. Retrieved 03 23, 2015, from Teaching Today: canton.sln.suny.edu

 

Module 8

In this final module, we discussed what may qualify a person to become a teacher.  Traditionally, once teachers complete a teacher training program and pass a state licensing exam, they are considered qualified to teach in the public educational system.  However, in recent years, there have been many other avenues to become a licensed teacher, such as NYC Teaching Fellows and Teach For America which feature a model of teacher training where practical classroom experience is concurrent with didactic coursework instead of the traditional model (didactic coursework followed by student teaching).  Criticism of these programs is abound! Our textbook contends that, underlying programs such as NYC Teaching Fellows and Teach For America, is the assumption that “teaching requires little specialized knowledge, experience, support, or expertise” (Oakes et. al, 354) and that teaching is “more of a ‘gift’…and can be learned quickly on the job”(Oakes, et. al, 354).  The training for the program is very intensive.  Participants must complete a summer program in which they receive both didactic coursework and practical training coupled with coaching from experienced teachers. During the school year they must be enrolled in a graduate education program while at the same time teaching in the classroom where they receive mandatory mentorship from experienced teachers and monthly classroom observation from their graduate professors followed by intensive one-on-one coaching (NYC Teaching Fellows, 2014).

I have had the opportunity to work with several of the teaching fellows.  One of my co-teachers, with whom I am helping to teach a math class, entered the field of education through the NYC Teaching Fellows after a careetr on Wall Street.  My interviewee also entered the program straight out of college.  She now teaches Special Education and ESL.  Generally, although the across-the-board attrition rate for teachers is about one-third (Koch, 184), some estimate that number more is more like one-half of all teachers in high-poverty areas which are the areas in which Teaching Fellows and TFA teachers are placed.  Some researchers contend that it is the poor working conditions for teachers, rather than the students, that cause the high attrition rate (Simon & Moore Johnson, 2013).  The teachers in the school where I teach, whether they enter through traditional training programs or the teaching fellows, are extraordinary.  They devote more time and their own resources to the students than anyone could expect.  They try to create the “culture of caring” (Koch, 184) Koch describes in her article both for the students and among the teachers themselves.  I think that qualities that qualify a person to teach, are the willingness to create a culture of caring, the ability to persevere through setbacks (in part by being able to depend on others for support), as well as the “inner knowing” (Koch, 185) that teaching is what one is meant to do.  This holds whether one enters teaching through traditional methods or through alternative programs.

Interesting discussion of what qualifies an individual to be a teacher took place on our class discussion board this week.  Grace stated that, among the most important roles a teacher plays is a motivator and facilitator of student learning.  She believes that teachers must motivate students to fulfill their potential and use facilitator instructional strategies in the classroom so that students partially direct the course of their own education.  She sees the collaboration among teachers as crucial components of improving education.  I think the facilitator model is an excellent strategy.  The teacher for the Business English class I’m helping with uses the facilitator model and it definitely helps students develop their creativity and approach the material in a way that is meaningful for them.  Collaboration is also important in improving education.

Misty plans on pursuing a career in education and hopes to balance creating a caring and nurturing environment for her students with promoting academic excellence.  Although the two go hand-in-hand, she points out, it is hard not to emphasize one at the expense of the other.  For instance, ignoring academic achievement in favor of extending excessive kindness towards students.  It is definitely a difficult balance. If students struggle with issues in their personal lives it is tempting to want to make things easier for them at school.  However, this practice may be detrimental to students in the long run.  I think it is possible to be compassionate while believing in students’ abilities to persevere through difficult times.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Cummings, M. (2014). A Teaching Fellow Finds Her Footing. School Stories. Retrieved from http://school-stories.org/2014/04/a-teaching-fellow-finds-her-footing/

Koch, J. (2009). Chapter 10: Making the Decision to Become a Teacher. In So you want to be a Teacher? Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century (pp. 181-194). Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.

NYC Teaching Fellows. (2014). Training New Fellows. Retrieved from New York City Teaching Fellows Website: https://www.nycteachingfellows.org/program/training.asp

Oakes, Lipton, Anderson, Stillman. (2013). Teaching to Change the World. Boulder: Paradigm Publishers.

Simon, N., & Moore Johnson, S. (2013). Teacher Turnover in High-Poverty Schools: What we Know and Can do. Cambridge: Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Module 7 – Ideal School

I found this week’s assignment to be a bit more difficult than in previous modules.  I was asked to contemplate the type of school in which I would “thrive”.  With all college prep and even a few honors courses and a high GPA in high school, hadn’t I “thrived” during my elementary and high school years?  As I read through this module’s literature, however, I noticed that alternative schools emphasize skills and abilities beyond mere academic achievement. empathy

One element that some alternative schools include in education is emotional and social learning.  Research has shown that secure attachments and the development of empathy reduces instances of bullying in schools and also increases students’ willingness to intervene when they see their peers being bullied (Nickerson, 2008). It is interesting to note that the study found that gender and ethnicity played no role in the outcome.  Furthermore, the development of empathy and strong attachments also improves self-reported quality of life and relationships and reduces risk for mental health issues in later life (Mahedy, 2012).  The structure of alternative schools’ learning communities is often designed to foster close bonds between teachers, students, and even parents.  In Waldorf Schools, for instance, students spend first through eighth grade with the same teacher and homeroom class (Barnes, 53). I think this structure provides a much-needed consistency for children who tend to develop strong attachments to the adult figures in their lives and also helps teachers maintain ongoing relationships with students’ parents.  Creating a culture of empathy between all members of the learning community will help students develop the skills necessary for emotional health and personal development later in life.

There must also be opportunities for fostering creative capacities in students.  In addition to providing a well-rounded education in which students are exposed to all academic subjects (Barnes, 53) artistic and hands-on engagement with the learning material is also important.  Visual arts, drama, and music be available options for all students.  The schedule should also be taken into consideration.  When substitute teaching I notice that many students are more focused in the morning than in the afternoon.  It may be best to have academic activities in the morning, whereas, hands-on and artistic engagement with the learning material take place later in the school day in order to “overcome fatigue and enhance balanced learning” (Barnes, 53).

I think, perhaps, although I did well in traditional education, many of the largest setbacks in my life would have been made easier if certain elements, such as creativity and emotional learning, had been included in elementary and secondary education.  Alternative schools’ incorporation of non-academic elements in their curriculum creates a valuable educational experience for all students.

Interesting discussion of this week’s topic took place on our discussion boards.  My classmates had very interesting and creative ideas about what constitutes an “ideal school”.  Karen’s idea incorporated both structure and personal responsibility with opportunities for creative expression (a challenging balance to maintain).  She also utilizes the learning space.  Some educators refer to the learning space as the “third educator” and contend that the learning space should “encourage creativity and innovation” (Bray, 2013). Karen’s idea to provide a variety of furniture options and educational settings (both indoors and outdoors) will “encourage creativity and innovation” (Bray, 2013) in all students.

Lorainne’s idea to implement some elements of “free schools” in her ideal school is interesting.  Although not for every student, free schools can “trust in children’s innate desire to learn” (News Network, 2015). I was initially skeptical of free schools because I fear that, given too much freedom, students would spend the day socializing. Perhaps, however, they would be more willing to learn if they didn’t feel that it was forced and they had freedom to explore their own interests.  Also, she advocates for starting schools at a later time which would help some students focus.

Mary had an interesting idea about incorporating agricultural education in her ideal school.  The entire school would enjoy “farm to table” (Erwin, 2015) meals that are planned and prepared by the students themselves.  They would take part in farming and woodshop activities.  I believe this is an excellent idea because, regardless of whether students enter the field of agriculture they will have gained skills such as teamwork, cooking, and an appreciation and respect for the process that goes into putting meals on the table.

barn

BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

Barnes, H. (2002). Learning that Grows with the Learner: An Introduction to Waldorf Education. Educational Leadership, 52-54.

Bray, B. (2013, 08 09). Rethinking Learning. Retrieved 04 15, 2015, from Visualizing Learning Spaces.

Mahedy, W. A. (2012). The role of the caregiving environment in emotional development and its influence on adult mental health difficulties (abstact). Belfast.

News Network, B. (2015, 04 16). At Brooklyn Free School, Students Control Their Education. Retrieved from Bignewsnetwork.com: http://www.bignewsnetwork.com/index.php/sid/232027899

Nickerson, M. P. (2008). Attachment and Empathy as Predictors of roles of defenders and outsiders in bullying interactions. Journal of School Psychology, 46(6), 687-702. Retrieved 04 2015, from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022440508000290

 

Module 6 Blog

Blog Post 6

Our discussion on standardized tests is coming at an interesting time as they are currently the subject of media attention.  Throughout this module we have discussed the arguments for and against standardized testing.  Standardized Tests are intended to “determine whether students have become proficient on state standards” (Oakes et. al, 209) and also identify which schools are struggling so that improvements can be made accordingly.  While holding schools accountable for the quality of education is a legitimate endeavor, many have questioned whether Standardized Tests are accurate assessments of students’ in-depth knowledge of course content(Oakes et. al, 208).  These assessments are often comprised of Multiple Choice exams and students spend hours of class time learning strategies for taking the exams rather than engaging deeply with course content.  Furthermore, even when many students understand the course material, test anxiety can negatively affect scores.  Recently, some parents have chosen to opt their children out of state testing (Singer 2015).  Parents who can afford to send their children to private schools are already exempted from State Standardized Tests. Many parents don’t realize that they can opt-out of standardized tests without any consequence to their child’s education.  I think that this is great news.  I mostly sub in schools that are considered “failing” where less than 30% of students pass their Regents Exams.  Hours of class time is often spent preparing for the state exams.  Every learning unit centers itself around tasks that students will find on their Regents and teachers are reluctant to go beyond test content until after the tests have been administered.  If enough families opt their children out of state exams, educational policymakers may begin to change the way schools are evaluated and improved and the overall quality of education will increase.  With less emphasis on state tests, teachers will be free to deliver rich and interesting course content and projects.  And if school’s funding did not depend on the top test scores, more time and resources could be spent improving the overall community surrounding these “failing” schools leading to better opportunities for students and their families.  If educators are still looking for ways to hold schools accountable for student learning, they may consider alternative evaluations.  The organization Fairtest has proposed policymakers use trained teams of judges to “sample” classrooms and evaluate the quality of student work and teaching (Fairtest, 2012).  Using such methods may allow for multidimensional assessments of course content and instruction.

 

Some of the world’s top school systems are able to provide excellent education without the constant emphasis on standardized tests.  Finland, for instance, does not test their students until the end of high school (Turner, 2014).  In fact, students do not receive grades until the fourth grade, giving educators time to foster enthusiasm for learning as well as learning skills.  And although the final exam is consequential for the students themselves, schools and teachers are not evaluated based on students’ test scores. They are able to trust in the quality of their educators because teacher programs are already competitive and prestigious (Faridi, 2015).

 

On this week’s discussion boards, our class was asked to respond to a proposal to impose standardized tests at the college level and evaluate teachers accordingly.  Most of the class felt strongly that alternatives be considered.  Katherine pointed out that NCLB’s emphasis on Standardized Tests has done more to impede schools rather than improve them as teachers are forced to narrow their curriculum in order to teach the test.  Minority students are, furthermore, put at a disadvantage because students are already behind when they begin school and, because schools receive funding based on student test scores, they are never provided with the required resources to catch up.

 

Hannah, similarly, disagrees with this proposal.  She argues that teachers should not be evaluated based on their students’ test scores.  She pointed out that a teacher may be knowledgeable on their subject and convey the information in an interesting and informative manner, however, if students are unwilling to learn or have test anxiety, they may not pass their test. I agree that at the college level, students are self-motivated and responsible for putting the time and effort into learning.

 

Self Assessment: A- because I used multiple classroom resources, added an outside resource, cited discussion posts, Missing due date.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

Fairtest. “How Standardized Testing Damages Education.” 07 2012. FairTest: The National Center for Fair and Open Testing. Electronic. 03 2015.

Faridi, Sophia. “Happy Teaching, Happy Learning: 13 Secrets to Finland’s Success.” 24 06 2014. Education Week Teacher. Electronic. 31 03 2014.

Oakes, Lipton, Anderson, Stillman. Teaching to Change the World. Boulder: Paradigm Publishers, 2013.

Singer, Alan. “Join the Obamas and Opt-Out of High Stakes Testing.” Huffington Post (2015). Electronic.

Turner, Corey. “U.S. Tests Teens A Lot, But Worldwide, Exam Stakes Are Higher.” 30 04 2014. NPR. Electronic. 2015 31 03.

 

Module 5

It is always interesting to me how the subjects we study in class seem to relate so closely my experiences substitute teaching.  I have a placement for the remainder of the school year in a small Arts High School in the Bronx.  I am co-teaching in an integrated Special Education environment and have been able to observe some of the ways the teachers utilize Differentiated Instruction to meet the needs of a variety of learning styles and levels in the same classroom.  The integrated 12th Grade English class is perhaps most interesting.   The students have passed their Regents and the teacher has decided to teach them business skills.  Each student has been instructed to create their own business. They must write a mission statement, business description, create a poster, stationary, and business cards.  When they are finished creating their business, we will hold a mock “Shark Tank” where the students will pitch their businesses to a panel of potential “investors”.

Shark Tank

The main classroom teacher, in this case, is preferring an “expert/facilitator/delegator” (Grasha 144) method of teaching as the students are responsible for working on their own projects during class and consult with us as needed.  Some lecture, though very little, is required to explain some concepts. Both assessment and content appeal to a variety of learning styles (Willoughby, 2000-2005).  Students who are visually and artistically inclined were able to draw their own logos and posters, which were graded separately from the more linguistic elements of the assignment, the writing of the business description and mission statement.  The “Shark Tank” component, will benefit students whose strengths lie in interpersonal and kinesthetic/hands on learning.  The project allows students to utilize their strengths while also developing skills and abilities outside of their natural inclinations and also understand some of the experiences they may encounter in the workplace (we are utilizing Microsoft Office Suite and emphasizing touch-typing). The Special Education students in the class often work more slowly and require more support and attention from the regular teacher and myself, however, most of them are being held to the same standard as the rest of their peers unless specified in an Individualized Education Plan (IEP).  Most schools make every attempt to place Learning Disabled and Emotionally Disabled students in the least restrictive environment as mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (Oakes, 297).  Integrating Learning Disabled and students with emotional disorders into the normal classroom environment helps to combat ableism.  Ableism is the belief that the tools and skills used by disabled individuals to navigate the world are inferior to those used by their non-disabled peers (Hehir, 2007).   When students are integrated, those without disabilities are exposed to the variety of ways in which individuals navigate the world and learn. I feel very privileged to be working in an innovative classroom and experiencing the concepts and ideas we are learning in class.

Interesting discussions of this week’s topics took place on our class discussion boards.  Kassidi made an interesting distinction between teaching as an art and teaching as a science and mentioned her experiences with a teacher who added a “personal touch within strategy and approach” to inspire her learning.  She talked about how her math teacher used differentiated instruction methods to meet her learning needs.  I think those experiences are very rare and meaningful.

Susan made some very interesting comments on Grouping.  She characterized the issue of Grouping as being neither completely good nor completely bad.  She pointed out that students may feel more comfortable admitting that they are struggling in an environment where others are also struggling.  Some studies suggest that supplementing resource room time with an integrated classroom environment, as was the case with the reading class Susan described, was most effective in helping individuals with Mild Learning disabilities when compared to complete separation of LD students and integration without extra resource room support (Holloway 2001).

In regards to the issue of race, most of the schools in which I sub include a 100% (as is the case with my current school) black and Hispanic student body.  Spanish speaking students vary in their English Proficiency with some students barely speaking a work of English, while others are completely bilingual.    I found our textbook’s discussion of bilingual education very interesting. Bilingual education aims to teach school subjects in the students’ native language while they are learning English.  Research has repeatedly shown the success of bilingual education programs.  Students in these programs are less likely to drop-out of school than LED students who participate in “immersion” programs and they are more likely to match the achievements of their peers (Crawford 1999).  I think it would be very beneficial to provide bilingual education to the neighborhoods in which I sub.  Unfortunately it has been a trend in recent years to break large schools (that are considered “failing schools”) into smaller, specialized schools such that there are 3-4 separate schools with smaller student bodies in a single building.  Some teachers feel that this practice has hindered ESL and bilingual education programs because, while there may be enough LEP students within a school building, there aren’t  enough LEP students in a single school to merit bilingual education programs, putting LEP students at a disadvantage.

BIBLIOGRAPHYbilingual education

Crawford, James. “Rethinking Schools.” 1998. Does Bilingual Ed work? Electronic. 24 03 2015. <http://www.rethinkingschools.org/special_reports/bilingual/biside.shtml>.

Grasha, Anthony. “A Matter of Style: The Teacher as Expert, Formal Authority, Personal Model, Facilitator, and Delegator.” College Teaching 42.4 (1994): 142-149. Electronic. 23 03 2015. < http://www.jstor.org/stable/27558675>.

Hehir, Thomas. “Confronting Ableism.” Educational Leadership (2007): 8-14.

Holloway, John. “Research Link / Inclusion and Students with Learning Disabilities.” Educational Leadership (2001): 86-88. Electronic.

Willoughby, Jennipher. “Differentiating Instruction: Meeting Students Where They Are.” 2000-2005. Teaching Today. Glencoe/McGraw-Hill. Electronic. 23 03 2015. <canton.sln.suny.edu>.

Self Assessment: A- cited textbook, course readings, and outside sources, commented on other students’ discussion posts, used images.

Module 4- Relational Learning and Dinosaurs

A subject that piqued my interest this week from our study of the learning process was the concept of Relational Learning. Relational Learning emphasizes concepts, ideas, and methods as opposed to rote memorization of facts for the purposes of extrinsic rewards (a passing grade on a test). We can do all we can to memorize facts and figures as they are encountered but, according to theories of Relational Learning, information is not fully processed and understood until it can be connected to something personal or build upon something we already know (Cust, 1996).  I was contemplating this during this past weekend when I visited the Museum of Natural History. As I was wandering through the dinosaurs and early mammals section, I noticed something different about the way in which the exhibits were organized. The exhibits were no longer explained by small plaques simply stating the animals’ name, genus, time period, and when/where they were discovered. The exhibits emphasized the evolutionary links between the different animals. The fossils were organized in a circular fashion with evolutionary milestones as their centerpieces, moving forward through time the exhibit progressed. In short, the way in which the information was being presented emphasized links and the relation of the animals to one another. Where there were unexplained gaps, the short text explained what further information would be required to fill in the blanks and why we don’t have it yet. The new design of some of the exhibits made the information much more interesting and meaningful to me. I found myself much more engaged in the material that was being presented in a way that I hadn’t been previously. I also found that I retained the information much better afterwards. I think relational learning is becoming more prevalent at a time when technology dominates the learning environment. With google (literally) at our fingertips, details such as names, dates, and state capitals don’t necessarily need to be memorized. At any moment we can pull our smartphones out of our pockets and tell you which dinosaurs belonged to which time period. We now have time and space for processing information, understanding it in context, and finding meaning. I think that Relational Learning is very relevant to the time period in which we find ourselves.

The learning experience is also different for every individual. Piaget’s psychological theories heavily influenced theories of individual learning differences. Piaget’s Schema Theory posits that each individual processes his experience through his own individual filter(or schema), thus, each individual will experience the learning environment through their own individual lens (Oakes, 2013). There are also (at least) 7 ways in which learning is approached, as outlined in our “Seven Styles of Learning” Chart. Learning can be Visual, Spatial, Intrapersonal, Interpersonal, Kinesthetic, Linguistic, or Mathematical. Although an inventory I once took during Substitute Teacher Training indicated that I am a linguistic and intrapersonal learner, I think information does not become meaningful to me unless I experience it in my life (a kinesthetic/hands-on learning). For instance, the information I’m learning through this class becomes more fully understood an d meaningful as I attempt to incorporate it in my substitute teaching.

Interesting discussions regarding Learning Theories took place on our class discussion boards. Grace used the metaphor of a mountain to describe the will of individuals to “adapt to their surroundings and continuously progress in order to become successful members of society”. She indicates that learning is a challenging endeavor that involves personal sacrifice and risk-taking. It is definitely for those courageous individuals who possess a “Growth Mindset” and who believe that their talents and skills can be developed and who can persevere through setbacks.

Susan pointed out that the new learning theories that are being introduced “will be effective in expanding the minds of the next generation”. Further, she asserts, students are ambitious and want to learn to fly and need encouragement from their educators. I would agree with both of these assertions. The new information we have about relational and significant learning will be extremely important in helping students fly.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

Cust, J. (1996). A Relational View of Learning: Implications for Nurse Education. Nurse Education Today, 256-266.

Oakes, J. (2013). Teaching to Change the World: 4th Edition. Boulder: Bantam Books.

Self Assessment: I used several sources from our readings this week. I also related the material to something personal and commented on the work of two other students.  A-

Module 3- An Experiment in Perennialism.

On Friday I showed up to the last day of what had been a three day substitute teaching assignment at a Middle School in the Bronx.  My days had been a mix of giving my usual educational games and creative writing prompts and helping to proctor the students’ midyear Regents Pre-assessment.  On my last day I felt a bit weary of my regular bag of tricks and decided, in the spirit of our discussions on the varieties of teaching philosophies, that I would attempt something outside of my norm and incorporate Perennialist teaching methods in my lesson plan that day.  I started by presenting the students with the Greek Mythological Story of Pandora’s Box and pressed them with the question “What do you think constitutes Good and Evil?”   I suggested that they write their ideas on paper before speaking, however, as is often the case with Middle School-aged students, they preferred to talk.  The discussion began slowly with the students needing a little encouragement on the “What do you think…”portion of the question but I was surprised when the discussion picked up and the students seemed to be engaged in the topic.   Along the way we defined a few terms and I even used some Socratic Questioning, to which I had become accustomed in my undergraduate years, to help them think more deeply about the concept. The students, for instance, found out that they already had ideas about the nature of good and evil and, through further questioning, found out they already were aware that the line between the two could be sometimes blurred. I was surprised how we ended up dipping into other subjects that posed more philosophical questions (for which we didn’t have time and so I was challenged to steer the discussion back to the original question, more difficult than I thought).  I never had more fun in in my experience as a sub!  And so I reflected on the value of Perennialism in the education system.  In the article “Your Philosophy of Education” the author asserts that Perennialist educators assume that the classical texts contain universal truths and that those who read them will benefit from their wisdom regardless of the time period in which they are reading it.  But I would beg to differ.  I think that these classical texts/mythologies/stories hold value because they pose questions that are relevant to every generation because they exemplify the human condition. One of my favorites is John Milton’s Paradise Lost , which rather than being a mere retelling of the biblical Book of Genesis, presents highly complex characters who are grappling with questions of good and evil, freedom and power (Milton, 2004).  Aristotle in the Poetics points out the strong experience audiences watching Greek Tragedies can have when they empathize with the Tragedy’s protagonist and his loss; he refers to this phenomenon as “catharsis” (Aristotle, 1997).  These works have stood the test of time because they exemplify the human experiences in a most complex and nuanced fashion and are therefore suitable to aid students in their intellectual and emotional development.  I must admit that perhaps Perennialist teaching methods are my own personal preference because I gain a great deal of both pleasure and insight from classical works and philosophical texts.  I think perhaps there is something to be gained from each of the teaching philosophies that we have studied and teachers would do well to incorporate more than one of them in their lesson plans.

 

Bibliography

Aristotle. (1997). Poetics. New York: Penguin Classics.

Milton, J. (2004). Paradise Lost. New York: W.W. Norton & Company Inc.

Unknown Author-  Chapter 2 “Your Philosophy of Education”

 

Module 2 Reflection

This week’s topic was twofold. As a class we addressed both the purposes of schooling, both historically and in the present.  We also addressed the topic of School Culture and the conditions under which schools function most optimally.  Over the course of United States History, education has played a variety of roles.  The initial intent was for education to prepare people to participate as citizens in society and has evolved to include national and international security, and solving social problems.  Our textbook paid particular attention to economic inequality and the role that the Public Educational System has played both in helping to alleviate economic inequality and, conversely, training individuals to stay within their class.  In reading this chapter and reflecting on the role of education in class mobility, I was reminded of an interview with Lloyd Blankfein, conducted by Charlie Rose in July of 2014.  Lloyd Blankfein is the current CEO of Goldman Sachs and has a “rags-to-riches” story believed today to be unattainable.  He was raised in a project in Brooklyn yet was still able to graduate from an Ivy League University and have a successful financial career.  When questioned about the growing wealth discrepancy in this country he claimed that, among several changes “The best redistribution policy would be to spend more money and have an effective education system” (Blankfein, 2014).  He pointed out that those top 1% earners do pay for public schools in property taxes and send their children to Private Schools regardless.  Out textbook mentions that educational tracks and “deficit thinking” (Oakes, 2013) contribute to a school system that prepares students to remain within their own social class.  Although there are a variety of factors that start in the home and cannot be fixed by educational policy, a competitive curriculum that prepares students for college combined with social capital, particularly, social bonds that exist between staff, students, and teachers in a school can help facilitate an effective educational system.

A very productive discussion of these two issues took place on our class discussion boards.  Shelby pointed out the ways in which schools have changed over time in response to the needs of their respective eras.  She points out that the current job market demands higher education with an emphasis on a wide range of skills for all individuals.  Indeed, an emphasis on skills is essential in this new job market.  With the internet in the palm of everyone’s hand there is not much information that teachers can give their students that the student cannot look up on his smartphone. Students have all the information contained in their textbooks and much more! Passing on analytical and critical thinking skills as well as personal expression, all discussed by Shelby in this week’s discussion post, so that students know how to process and engage with as well as filter the seemingly unlimited onslaught of information with which they are confronted in this new technological world, is an extremely valuable component of the modern educational experience.

Gian and Renee decided to focus on Social Capital and the ways in which the bonds between teachers and students help influence students’ educational experience.  The quality of the bonds between students and teachers not only help students learn better but also faciliatate conditions under which students would actually want to learn.  When students feel that the school’s teachers and staff have their best interests in mind they will be more motivated to succeed.

 

Bibliography

Blankfein, L. (2014, 07). Charlie Rose Show. (C. Rose, Interviewer) Retrieved from http://www.hulu.com/watch/647659*

Oakes, J. (2013). Teaching to Change the World 4th Edition. Boulder: Paradigm Publisher.

*I watched this interview on television but have provided the HULU link for direct access.*