“Now it should be incandescently clear that no one who has any concern for the integrity and life of America today can ignore the present war.”
I think Iâ€™ve been playing the straight man ever since I first realized I was in over my head academically. Math in particular. And science, come to think of it. Not to overlook foreign languages. Not really knowing what was going on in class â€” and not really caring to understand or actually taking the time to study â€” I put a great deal of effort into my expression. Earnest yet vacant. Yearning yet lost. I had one simple goal for the teachers. I wanted them to think: This Wilson kid might not be that bright, but damn it, heâ€™s trying. The poor bastard.
The book that I’m going to use is Ted Sizer’s Horace’s Compromise.Â It’s older, but I’m struggling to find a text that addresses the philosophical dilemmas of being a high school teacher these days.
Great extended essay from the Nation.
I answer briefly, that it was my aim, and it would be my aim again, to make better teachers, and especially, better teachers for our common schools; so that those primary seminaries, on which so many depend for their education, might answer, in a higher degree, the end of their institution. Yes, to make better teachers; teachers who would understand, and do their business better; teachers who should know more of the nature of children, of youthful developments, more of the subject to be taught, and more of the true methods of teaching; who would teach more philosophically, more in harmony with the natural development of the young mind, with a truer regard to the order and connection in which the different branches of knowledge should be presented to it, and, of course, more successfully.
Cyrus Peirce, 1851
(founder of the first Normal School, Lexington, MA, 1839.)
Source: Borrowman, Merle, ed. 1965. Teacher Education in America: A documentary history. New York: Teachers College Press.
Reading Nancie Atwell’s wonderful “In the Middle” again; she quotes John Dewey on p.85:
“From the standpoint of the child, the great waste in school comes from his inability to utilize the experiences he gets outside of school in any complete and free way; while, on the other hand, he is unable to apply to daily life what he is learning at school.”
“One reason schools have been able to absorb outside demands for change is that they have been steadily expanding during most of their history and could reform by accretion.Â This kind of incrementalism has made it possible to smother conflict by acquiesence-to say, yes we’ll have that too.”
David Tyack and Elizabeth Hansot, Managers of Virtue (NY: Basic, 1982.)Â Â
“The development of this historical field (the history of American education) took place, consequently, in a special atmosphere of professional purpose. It grew in almost total isolation from the major influences and shaping minds of twentieth century historiography; and its isolation proved to be self-intensifying: the more parochial the subject became, the less capable it was of attracting the kind of scholars who could it give it broad relevance and bring it back into the public domain. It soon displayed the exaggeration of weakness and extravagance of emphasis that are the typical results of sustained inbreeding.”
Bernard Bailyn. Education in the Forming of American Society (NY: Norton, 1960.) pp.8-9.
A number of all-stars are quoted in this essay.
It concludes with Deborah Maier, who makes a great point:
â€œWhy is the word â€˜empowermentâ€™ in proliferation when weâ€™re actually taking more power away from teachers?â€ she said. â€œMaybe weâ€™re talking so much about reflection because we have no time to reflect at all.â€
The folks who are up in arms ought to be aware that reflection is the last thing someone struggling to prepare children for a high stakes test has time for…