NYTimes piece here.
John Mayer Rice’s 1893 expose on public school systems caused quite a stir. Here are some of his comments about Philadelphia:
The public schools of Philadelphia offer a striking example of the difficulties involved in advancing schools, when those in authority use their offices for selfish motives, whether political or other, instead of for the purpose of furthering the welfare of the children entrusted to their care. And these schools show again the evils consequent upon a school system conducted without a responsible head, a circumstance which gives rise to constant conflict among the hundreds of irresponsible heads, who, in struggling against each other for the purpose of preserving their own rights, forget that none of them has any rights; for all rights belong to the children for whom the schools exist.
This 2004 film documents the travails of a Native American basketball team. What was striking to me was the resemblance of these players to the African American students I taught at West Philadelphia High School.
Barton, Keith and Linda Levstik. Teaching history for the common good. Mahwah, NH.:Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2004.
Several good quotes:
“a Democracy is more than a form of government; it is primarily a mode of associated living, of conjoint communicated experience.” John Dewey, D&E, p.87
Friends: slowly making this transition; bear with me.
Baker, Russell. “Talking it Up.” New York Review of Books, May 11, 2006.
What I liked was his description of what makes a good conversation:
Both participants listen attentively to each other; neither tries to promote himself by pleasing the other; both are obviously enjoying an intellectual workout; neither spoils the evening’s peaceable air by making a speech or letting disagreement flare into anger; they do not make tedious attempts to be witty. They observe classic conversational etiquette with a self-discipline that would have pleased Michel de Montaigne, Samuel Johnson, or any of a dozen other old masters of good talk whom Miller cites as authorities.
This etiquette, Miller says, is essential if conversation is to rise to the level ofâ€”well, “good conversation.” The etiquette is hard on hotheads, egomaniacs, windbags, clowns, politicians, and zealots. The good conversationalist must never go purple with rage, like people on talk radio; never tell a long-winded story, like Joseph Conrad; and never boast that his views enjoy divine approval, like a former neighbor of mine whose car bumper declared, “God Said It, I Believe It, And That Settles It.”
I’d like to snip this and put it in the opening portion of my next few syllabi…
Like it, although is Conshohocken really a forest?
Like it, wish I could rebuild this way.
Questions I’m pondering as I think about what our kitchen will look like:
Why is everything white these days? Do none of these people have children?
Are we picking modern designs that won’t work in this space?
Are most of the designs we’ve identified as to our liking “cold” when one of our key things is to have a “warm” kitchen?
General principles (churned up by exhausted school teachers who are not architects)
*Simplicity: in thinking about what we want for all of these spaces, we want things to be as clean and as simple as possible. We are never going to be folks who can carefully put a room together or folks who can manage a lot of stuff; we want the various rooms to be as straight forward as possible.
*Functional: we like cooking and we like being in the kitchen. We want a space that makes people want to be in the kitchen.
*Light: To me, light goes along with simplicity. As much natural light as possible and as open as possible.
*Fidelity to the original design/purpose of the house: we don’t care much about this. I think our front room will remain the only room that has most of the original features but it’s pretty much the only room at this point.