Hitchens on Harry

Christopher Hitchens, professional literary bomb thrower, has a great review of Harry Potter in this weekend’s Times. My favorite line:

“The schoolchildren appear to know nothing of Christianity; in this latest novel Harry and even Hermione are ignorant of two well-known biblical verses encountered in a churchyard. That the main characters nonetheless have a strong moral code and a solid ethical commitment will be a mystery to some — like his holiness the pope and other clerical authorities who have denounced the series — while seeming unexceptionable to many others.”

How do you teach…

Thinking about my secondary student teacher seminar and wondering if the traits I perceive as most valuable for a new teacher can actually be taught in a seminar:

Humility ?


Intellectual curiosity?

Liking teenagers?

I feel as though — at least on good days — I might be able to inspire number three. By my example, perhaps I can demonstrate why humility and patience matter in a classroom, but I’m somewhat dubious as to how deeply that will penetrate…

As for liking the energy, the angst, and the smell of teenagers — either you have it or you don’t.

Teach like your hair’s on fire

Usually I can’t stomach former teacher books but this one is excellent… perhaps because Esquith is still in the classroom ?

Many great lines — his portrayal of literacy coaches is devastating and all too true — but one favorite of mine is his description of a quiz his students composed about reading:

1. Have you ever secretly read under your desk in school because the teacher was boring and you were dying to finish the book you were reading?
2. Have you ever been scolded for reading at the dinner table?
3. Have you ever read secretly under the covers after being told to go to bed?

My only question: can you bring high school students to this point? Is it ever too late?

Esquith continues, “If a child is going to grow into a truly special adult — someone who thinks, considers other points of view, has an open mind, and possesses the ability to discuss great ideas with other people — a love of reading is an essential foundation.”

Equith, R. (2007). Teach Like Your Hair’s on Fire: The Methods and Madness Inside Room 56. New York: Viking, p.33.

One other good line:
“there are so many charlatans in the world of education. They teach for a couple of years, come up with a few clever slogans, build their Web sites, and hit the lecture circuit.”

Add a line about really nice suits and it’s perfect.

How to change a drive letter

How to assign a drive letter
To assign a drive letter to a drive, a partition, or a volume, follow these steps:
1. Log on as Administrator or as a member of the Administrators group.
2. Click Start, click Control Panel, and then click Performance and Maintenance.
Note If you do not see Performance and Maintenance, go to step 3. Performance and Maintenance appears in Control Panel only if you use Category view. If you use Classic view, Performance and Maintenance does not appear.
3. Click Administrative Tools, double-click Computer Management, and then click Disk Management in the left pane.
4. Right-click the drive, the partition, the logical drive, or the volume that you want to assign a drive letter to, and then click Change Drive Letter and Paths.
5. Click Add.
6. Click Assign the following drive letter if it is not already selected, and then either accept the default drive letter or click the drive letter that you want to use.
7. Click OK.

I Heart Microsoft

While opening a new word document in Office 2007, I clicked on letters, than academic templates.

Within this collection were the following:

Complaint about teacher
Complaint about teacher to principal
Complaint about teacher to school board

Make it as easy as possible to poop on those damned teachers.

Studying teachers

I spent much of the past three days putting together a proposal for the major conference on education. In documenting teacher work, I based my argument on the notion that the only way to explain how it feels to teach is to actually teach.

Today I got the link for the new TCRecord and the lead article was a statistical analysis of survey data taken from thousands of teachers. I just can’t help but feel that no matter how clever the survey author, and no matter how clever the analyst, you miss something by not talking to teachers directly.

Similarly, the summer issue of the HER features some great articles gathered under the heading of VIS (voices inside schools). Wonderful — the words and thoughts of students, counselors, and teachers ! Maybe in four years we’ll see another edition that embraces a similar approach.

I suppose it’s just my own wariness regarding how certain kinds of “research” are perceived and my fears that now matter how rigorous and theoretically grounded, the kids of teacher research that I think actually helps folks in the field will continue to be forced underground.

AERA abstract

Submitted tonight; damn APA guidelines with their parenthetical citations.

The “We” Problem: Patriotism, Democracy, and Teaching American History in an Urban, Comprehensive High School

This paper explores notions of patriotism as they emerge over the course of an academic year in an American history course offered in a high-school class composed of working class teenagers of color. The teacher/researcher will document the process as the students grapple with their coursework, coursework framed by an inquiry into the origins and trajectory of democracy in the United States. The end project seeks to illuminate both effective social studies practice and the power of history to enhance student analysis and foster student activism, particularly in a setting where few other resources exist.

Student Teaching Seminar

I’m still thinking about how to frame this seminar; I had finished planning the course as a recapitulation of the coursework students had already completed.

But then I encountered R. Esquith’s Teach Like Your Hair is on Fire. I wondered if the texts for our class couldn’t all be first hand accounts of what it means to be a teacher. My only concern is that most (not all) of these books are written after someone has quit teaching, usually after four or five years. Then I got to thinking — what if I used the money chapters from some of the thousands of education dissertations folks have written about good teachers?

Will make a list and post later.