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November 10, 2007

Changing the Bully (S)

Here's the last writing assignment: Download file

In Bly -- borrowed copies or copy on reserve in the library, read intro and pages 1- 47.

Make sure you are clear about these matters:

a. What does Bly think about he view that there are natural leaders and natural followers? What alternative idea does she offer?
b. What is the point of the story about the Airedale in the introduction to the book, and how does this story predict the overall attitude that Bly will take to serious social problems?
c. There are many different points one might get out of the essay “Death Games.� What is Bly’s main interest in this essay?
d. What does Bly mean by “partializing?� What good does this kind of conversation do for people?
e. What does Bly mean by “cultural abuse?� Why is the pastor’s comment, reported on page 33, an example of cultural abuse?
f. What does Bly mean by a “toady?�


October 26, 2007

Philosophy for Children (S)

Here is the Jackson handout from the last class: Download file

Here is the Jackson quiz: Download file


In the next part of the course, we will think about some practical initiatives that respond to some of the challenges presented by reading in the first half of the course. We will ask how these initiative help with the problems and the basic tasks that our authors have identified.

The topic for next week is “Philosophy for Children.� Over the next three days, please go to the library reserve secion) and read the first 66 pages of Gareth Matthews’ Philosophy and the Young Child. (Note: these are very small pages, with lots of examples. There are several copies on reserve. ) Also read the selection from Matthews in the Cahn text, pages 477-487. Finally, look at my piece on Margaret Wise Brown at: http://blog.lib.umn.edu/shea0017/philosophy/mwbfinal.htm.

Be ready for a quiz addressing these issues:

1. What does Matthews think a philosophic problem or question is like? How is it different from other kinds of questions? (Chapter 1)
2. In chapters 1, 2 and 3 of his book, Matthews shows respect for the comments of young children by explaining the philosophical strategies, concepts and problems that they raise. Be ready to identify the children’s version of these notions: the problem of induction (pages 3, 4); sense-datum view (5); the logic of relative terms (13); asteismus (14,15); purposive accounts of things (19); maximizing (29); empty names (31).
3. In chapters 4, Matthews criticizes Piaget’s view of the intellectual development of the child. What is that view, as Matthews summarizes it, and at what points does Matthews disagree? What reasons does he give for disagreeing?
4. In his article in the Cahn anthology, Matthews criticizes Kohlerg’s view of the moral development of the child. What is that view, as Matthews summarizes it, and at what points does Matthews disagree? What reasons does he give for disagreeing.
5. In Philosophy and the Young Child, chapter 5, Matthews illustrates how simple children’s books raise philosophic problems. Be able to identify some of the problems raised in these books: The Bear that Wasn’t, Many Moons, Winnie the Pooh, and Frog and Toad Together.
6. What two basic intentions does Margaret Wise Brown state as the guiding principles of her writing? What is my general thesis about the philosophic usefulness of her work? How do The Important Book, The Noisy Books, and The Dead Bird illustrate her basic approach to writing? How is her work related to the philosophy of the Bank Street School?

October 19, 2007

School and Society Assignment for Thursday after Reading Days (S)

On Thursday, October 18, we finished watching Delafield and then read together the essay "Becoming Native to Our Places," from Wes Jackson's book. It is very important that everyone review and study and try to make sense of this chapter, which is the educational culmination of Jackson's argument. It needs multiple readings and discussion, and, above all, connection to your own experience and to what you know about the loss of cultural information in your own contexts. Jackson packs a great many ideas into a very small space, and one will miss most of what he has to say if one reads him casually or quickly. He makes great demands, and he has an incredible breadth of vision. He is also sometimes not very charitable to his reader: he makes big jumps and leaves out the connecting material. You have to think along with him. Over the break, I will try to write something to make this book more accessible. I am convinced that it is an important contribution to our discussion.

I have revised the calendar. Here is the new version: Download file

At class on Thursday, each person was given a book or a movie to look at over the break. The assignment is to introduce this item to the class next Thursday by discussing its relevance to themes developed in this course so far and to the general topic: "School and Society." You will each have about five minutes; please do a couple of paragraphs as the basis of your discussion and hand those in at the end of class. Those who were not in class on Thursday will have a chance to select an item and report on the following Tuesday.

Some notes on this project:

1. Books and movies are often attempts to teach, and that is one way to understand how they relate to the course. One might think of Bird by Bird and The Important Book primarily in this connection, and consider the ways that they carry forward educational projects suggested or endorsed by Dewey or Freire or Horton.

2. Books and movies sometimes portray aspects of current educational practice and ideology in a critical way. One might connect such portrayals to criticisms we have encountered. The Child Buyer is an example of this kind of portrait.

3. Books and movies portray teaching or education in the broad sense we have come to understand after reading The Higher Power of Lucky. We see people trying to build attitudes and capacities in other human beings, to open up -- or close down -- possibilities for them. One might think particularly of A Thousand Clowns in this connection.

4. Some books make straightforward recommendations about teaching, related in interesting and complex ways to the suggestions we have encountered so far. Philosophy and the Young Child is an example of this kind of discussion.

5. Some works of art portray a social fact that is in need of educational attention: either ideals to be cultivated or human dead ends, warnings about the products of bad education. One might look at Remains of the Day with this idea in mind.

6. Some works of art say something about the point or task of human life. Any such work sets a challenge before the educator: to craft experiences that help people to accomplish the task that life presents them. This might be a helpful starting point for looking at Defending Your Life, for example.

The works you have selected are rich, and many of them can be approached from several different perspectives. Your introduction should help others in the class decide whether they want to check out your book or movie, out of general interest, or as a way to think about the material we have been discussing.

October 12, 2007

Wes Jackson for Tuesday (S))

Please read the introductory material and the first 60 pages of Jackson's Becoming Native to this Place.

Mis-education paper -- updated assignment (S)

Several people had difficulties with the second paper topic. It seemed in several cases that a different approach would allow people to connect better to the material, and so I revised the assignment to open some new options. You are still welcome to write on the original assignment, but you may find these other options easier to approach. Here is the assignment sheet: Download file

I also did some work to isolate the pieces from the Dewey reading that are most relevant to this assignment. Here is that collection: Download file

October 10, 2007

Democratic Education (S)

There will be some new options available for the second paper, in addition to the one listed on the blog. We will talk about those on Thursday, and I will post them. There is no new reading assignment: please review Horton and Freire and make a short list of the questions you have, after thinking about these three (with Dewey) versions of Democratic education.

October 5, 2007

Freire and Horton (SS)

For Tuesday, October 9, please finish (read from 143 to the end) Horton's The Long Haul. Also, read the Freire section in Cahn and think about the common ground among Dewey, Horton, and Freire and also about the differences and the reasons for their differences. Here are some notes on Freire reading: Download file

September 28, 2007

Myles Horton -- The Long Haul (S)

For Thursday, please read the first 143 pages of Myles Horton's The Long Haul, with particular attention to pages 56-143.

Here is the second writing assignment: Download file

September 26, 2007

Dewey contined (S)

There is not new assignment for School and Society for Thursday. Please review the Education and Democracy reading.

September 21, 2007

Education and Democracy for Tuesday, Sept 25 (S)

Please read the selection from Democracy and Education in Kahn (288-325). This is a long, dense piece. For the sake of your mental health, DO NOT try to read it in one gulp: you will remember nothing and it will hurt A LOT. Take it in at least 4 sittings, with space between for thinking and making notes -- lists of the points you remember and other lists of the thoughts you have, inspired by the reading. Try to build in some reward after each 10 pages: I use episodes of the West Wing to motivate me.

For overview and reading notes, use the Dewey articles in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (online), esp. the notes on Dewey's moral philosophy. If I have time, I will try to post something over the weekend that might be helpful also: check the blog.

I attach here a handout from class last night: my notes on the ten pages we looked at from Experience and Education: Download file

We will begin next class talking a bit about the "Can I Kiss You?" presentation. Please look at the editorial by Alya Aziz-Zaman in today's Weekly (page 14); it is helpful background for thinking about the context within which this presentation was made, the conditions that contributed to the effectiveness of this presentation.

September 19, 2007

School and Society for Thursday, Sept 20

Here is the summary handout for the first Dewey reading: Download file

For Thursday, please read the section "Criteria of Experience" from Experience and Education, 333-343 in Kahn. Bring your questions and puzzles to class.

September 14, 2007

Reading and Writing, School and Society, September 18

Here are the details of the review assignment, due Tuesday, September 18: Download file

The drafts should come to me as paste-ins in email messages.

Here are the details of the reading assignment from the Dewey selections in the Cahn anthology: Download file

September 7, 2007

Higher Power of Lucky -- review assignment (S)

Please finish the book as soon as you can and begin thinking about the first writing assignment, a review for a mythical publication called School and Society. Your final product needs to be approximately 1200 words. It also needs to begin with a reflection on your own educational experience, especially your experience around the age of the main character -- 10 or 11. Beyond that, all sorts of themes having to do with development, and the role of school and of society in individual development, and the nature of the "educational" experience, are appropriate at this stage of the process.

What I need from you by email Sunday is a list of initial ideas of what you might write about, what you might say, what direction you might take. This should not be a "raw" list of ideas intelligible to you alone. You need to do such a list: a long list of everything you are thinking about or care about with respect to the book. What you send me is some cleaned up selection of that, with the raw ideas filled out enough - in complete sentences -- so that I can see where you are going, and with just the most promising of the raw ideas included.

Once I have had a chance to look at the directions you are initially thinking about, I will give more specific guidance about the form of the project and also more specific particular and personal feedback about the projects. I don't want to say too much now, until you have an opportunity to explore the territory a bit.

Have fun!

September 5, 2007

Higher Power of Lucky --Thursday assignment

For Thursday, please read the first 74 pages of Susan Patron's book, The Higher Power of Lucky. Answer one of the following questions in a short paragraph -- under 90 words. If your name begins with A-E, answer number 1. If your name begins with H-P, answer number 2. If your name begins with R-Z, answer number 3.

1. This book takes place in a town called Hard Pan, at the edge of the Mojave desert. How are the location and the location name important for our understanding of what is happening in the story?

2. The first part of the book shows people learning from other people in informal, non-classroom ways. What are the common features of what Lucky learns in Hard Pan? What messages do the various encounters carry?

3. What is Lucky like, as a person and as a learner? What is distinctive about her personal style?

Bring the paragraph answer to your question to class on Thursday.