Segment Four Reflection

Henry Giroux, Education Incorporated?
I think there is one largely overlooked piece that corporate America underestimated on its way to dominate schools: that information finds a way. Open source brings the power of the crowds to bear against the power of many corporate interests. The wikipedia, moodle, blogs, and RSS stand as a bastion of freedom against product placement, textbook publishers and those who would control our kids and their education for their profit.

Competitiveness rather than community; commodification of knowledge rather than coherence and creative synthesis: these are fruit of an evil spirit. In what concrete ways might your school demonstrate, in the “nuts and bolts” of the teaching-learning process, fruit that grows on the tree of the Holy Spirit?
I think my school has done a ton to emphasis community. The next thing that they could attack to reducecompetition is change how we sasign grades. This needs to be based less on two things: work done and big stakes tests. It needs to be based more on what student understand. In our school one of the ways we are moving towards this is with one to one laptop program. It allows you see deeper into what kids are thinking and their participation in what happens. It allows you to work together and evaluate individually.

Jean Anyon, The economic is political.
Poverty is real in America. For many years I have attended a church with great economic diversity. I quickly learned that no one works harder than the poor in America. Often with two jobs per adult (if there are two adults) and childcare and other pressures there is little time or money for involvement in any community. I remember once sitting in a council meeting discussing how the church council did not represent all incomes in the church. Later that night I was tired, I had worked 10 hours at school that day and the council meeting was going on into its fourth hour. As we discussed nominations for council time after time people who worked two jobs were taking their names out of the running. They could not meet in the evenings, they worked. I wondered to myself if I had put 80 hours in at a manual labor minimum wage job if I would even want to be at a 4 hour deliberative council meeting. My answer was obvious. I work a 56 hour a week classroom and desk job. I could not handle 4 hours.

Education is a piece of the answer. Being deliberative and discerning are skills that we should teach. I worry though that the skills that need to be taught are exactly the skills that politics is demanding we not teach. Politicians rarely want thinking voters. That is why the push for standards that teach facts and algorithms instead of thought and discernment. Being thoughtful about time and money are things that can reduce dependence on two jobs.

Are these concerns too political for schools to address? Or is it also to take a political stance to refuse to address them?
Yes to both. Sitting pat is a political skill and tactic that is used incredibly effectively in America. Earlier we read an article that showed us that you cannot teach without values. This truth lead us to know that you cannot teach without a political value coming through. I think this has a ton to do with the push for standards. No one want to loose the battle for the perspective that things are taught from. Unfortunately we then land on our students only getting the least common most agreeable facts. This is politically expedient because it leads to non-understanders, who vote the way the best media tells them too.

Must matters of social justice await consideration until the later levels of schooling, because they require developed cognitive capacities? Or, touching affective, evaluative, and discerning capabilities, should they be addressed at all levels, by seeking to inculcate tendencies, habits, dispositions, or virtues that are life-enhancing?
I think that all issues should be address at all levels. I think that as long as you interesct with the subject at all you will be developing a sense of the justice issue. Take you five year olds to the mission. Allow your students to hear from other cultures and continents. That alone will expose students to the learning about justice that you want.

Brian Walsh and Sylvia Keesmaat, Colossians Remixed, 180-200.

“Knowing the world in love is the only viable alternative to a knowing aimed at objective mastery. But such knowing is never divorced from doing” (p. 196). What are the implications of such an “epistemology of love” for curriculum, instruction, assessment, etc?

There are two parts that work in contrast to each other. How we treat others and how we are treated. Right now in schools we need to treat our students right. This is doubly difficult because society as represented by our politicians is trying it hardest to destroy schooling. By destroy I mean make it as cheap and generic and ineffective as possible.

“Biblical wisdom is the tracing of the divine wisdom of creation. Such wisdom—such an understanding of things in their interrelatedness—is in short supply in [our] fragmented culture….” (p. 198). How may your curriculum be structured so as to better reflect this interrelatedness?
We have to go beyond the basics and look at much more and look at it from every perspective in the room. No options, even if it seems ineffective or ridiculous.

Jeannie Oakes & Martin Lipton, Policy and law, 429-457.
What is the impact in your own school setting of the spirits and forces Oakes and Lipton discuss?
We feel pressure from ACT, SAT and AP more than NCLB. However it rarely drives our curriculum. Our students can get through the Michigan standards pretty quickly and move on to the real stuff of teaching and learning.

Whether or not Kimberly Min’s third grade students knew what her question about “science” meant, her claim that “an inclusive curriculum” is a social justice issue deserves consideration. (In a Christian school, this extends to the question of how one includes a Christian perspective in a skewed or crowded curriculum; for a Christian teacher in any setting, it is the question of how one respects the interrelatedness of creation that displays God’s wisdom.) Taking your cue from her example, what are some steps you have taken and could take to make your curriculum more inclusive?
I have been adding a lot of talk of energy on the grand scale into physics as we talk about it on the micro level in the book. I am not sure that this matches the genius of Ms. Min. I am also always seeking to mkae students more aware of the digital literacy that they need to be aware of as we use online resources and engagement.