Quote from NYRB

Russell Baker surveys Stephen Miller’s new book, Conversation: A History of a Declining Art, in a recent issue of the New York Review of Books, .

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 of—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…

Teacher Education

Article by Zeichner/Conklin (2005) cites the following in describing the shape of teacher education programs:

“The dominance of a given program structure at a particular historical moment depends as much on compelling social forces as it does on the demonstrated strengths or weaknesses of the form itself.”

Feiman-Namser (1990, p.229)

Luke Wilson on playing the straight man

I think I’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 — and not really caring to understand or actually taking the time to study — 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, he’s trying. The poor bastard.

Early Normal School

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.

John Dewey Quote

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.”

Quote from David Tyack

“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.  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.)