Category Archives: Education

Thoughts, ideas, really anything that I’ve encountered that got me thinking


Friday afternoon, as I was sitting in a seminar pondering how I might write an editorial based upon my research, I failed to realize that Bob Herbert had a piece in that morning’s Times describing the need for new school buildings.

The only thing I might have added would have been a paragraph or two outlining the ways in which new schools could be used to re-make portions of the educational landscape and the inequality that characterizes American education. Why not guarantee federal funds to districts that want to use school construction to integrate communities or who want to erect multi-use buildings that can provide both education and jobs? Hard to imagine what such a bill would look like or how you’d close loopholes, but it seems like a decent way to address the issue of infrastructure, which as we all know, is forever crumbling.

what does this mean?

quote from Superintendent Ackerman, cited on the KYW1060 site:

“And I think we need to support them more in what they do really well, not ask them, one size fits all, so you’re an EMO, and you have to all do the same thing. I think that we build on their strengths and expertise. And as I’ve been talking to some of the EMOs, they really, really like that. They sort of cut for themselves an area or a sphere of expertise. And I think we should open it up for all schools.”

Selling lesson plans

Okay, so there’s an article in this weekend’s Times about teachers selling their lesson plans. This is fascinating stuff on all sorts of levels.

1. In a world where teachers and administrators, depending on their orientation, complain or brag about scripted lesson plans, how can a market exist for lesson plans?

Is scripted curriculum being ignored?
Are teachers doing the script and then looking to do “real” lessons?
Are teachers trying to work within the scripted curriculum but need a bit of help?

2. In a world where everybody copyrights everything, how long can this last? I’m sure that at least one textbook company has copyrighted a lesson plan that contains the most basic questions about pretty much any text that’s ever been assigned. So how will this sort itself out?

3. Similarly, I discovered last year that if you put “philosophy of education” into google, you get a number of teachers from all across the country who seem to have published the exact same teaching statement. How can this be? Are unit plans published by teacher cooperatives being, well, co-opted, and put on these sites?

4. Many, if not most, new teachers hate the idea of writing curriculum. It is my favorite part of teaching — figuring out which texts to use, how to structure a unit, how to design fun, effective assessments –but I know that I’m that sort of loser/intellectual. Teacher ed programs have varying degrees of success with this; some seem to feel that curriculum is the district’s job while others spend much of their time teaching you how to do it. But in a world where teachers have far too many responsibilities, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that a few teachers are willing to pay a few bucks to have something to do Monday morning.

Another Report

This report, released this October, seems pretty interesting. Any publication that has this paragraph in its introduction has already won me over:

Better teaching, in the long run, will come not just from attracting a strong pool of talent and giving them boosts in pay, but from changing the nature of the job. And the teaching profession is in many ways defined by the way schools are designed. Today, most teachers’ work is isolated and fragmented, with no defined pathways for career development, few mechanisms for feedback, and a schedule that is disconnected from the reality of what teachers actually do and what students actually need. As a result, many schools are insufficiently attractive to talented professionals, and they squander the talent of those they manage to employ.

I downloaded the whole report here..

Idea for next year SS methods

In order to create a library of units students could utilize in their classes, conduct a draft, first of US history and then of World History, where students “pick” their unit topic and then are responsible for presenting one from each.
These units would be posted as wikis at the end of the semester so that they’d have almost the complete run of US history and most of world history.

One of my major concerns this semester was that I focused overly much on American history — being an Americanist and all — but knowing that most of my students would be teaching World History during their first year, I’d better change this practice.

What would happen if…

a teacher came in and said, “I’m not here to teach you ______.  I’m here to teach you how to score well on ___ exam.”
In other words:

“I’m not here to teach you history. I’m here to teach how to score well on the AP US History exam.”

Would anyone honestly admit that the two can be incompatible?

Quote from J.M.Rice (1893)

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.