Education 200: Critical Issues in Education Course Syllabus

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Education 200: Critical Issues in Education

Course Syllabus
Fall 2016 Heather Curl

T/TH 9:55-11:15 ` Classroom: Bettwys Coed 127

HC Office: Founders 028 / Wed 4 to 6 pm Email:

BMC Office: Betwys Coed 114 / Tuesday 11:30 to 1:00 503-320-5883

Course Overview
This is designed to be the first course students take if they are interested in pursuing one of the options offered through the Bryn Mawr/Haverford Education Program. These options include state certification at the secondary level and a bi-college minor in Educational Studies. Courses in the Education Program address students interested in:

  • The theory, process, and reform of education in the U.S

  • Social justice, activism, and working within and against systems of social reproduction

  • Future work as educators in schools, public or mental health, community, or other settings

  • Examining and re-claiming their own learning and educational goals

  • Integrating field-based and academic learning

While ED 200 is designed specifically for students with some interest in pursuing education as a career, and while priority for enrollment goes to students enrolled in the certification program and the minor, Critical Issues in Education is also open to students who are not yet certain about their career aspirations but have a general interest in educational issues. In this course we explore and analyze some of the major issues in education in the United States within the conceptual framework of educational reform.

Learning Goals
Through course texts, class discussions and field placement experiences, we will investigate different philosophical conceptions of education and its varying purposes. Students will learn to consider, discuss, analyze, theorize, recognize, and create education as:

  • An experience-based framework which centers on the natural curiosity / learning inherent in all children

  • A standardizing experience which ensures production of “successful” citizens

  • A deficit oriented purpose which positions children in need of help / saving from the education system

  • A reproducing structure meant to keep social actors in the status to which they were born

  • A liberating force which inspires and prepares those who are dominated to challenge the structures within which they are constrained

  • A way through which an individual might achieve success over their peers and colleagues

  • A way through which a community might collectively achieve success

  • A force for national economic competition and/or patriotism/assimilation

  • A catalyst for new, and new combinations of, knowledge

  • Others we articulate and discover together, as well as the tensions and interplay among these

All students considering taking the course need to know that it is demanding in terms of reading, writing, time spent at schools, and class participation. If you choose to take this course, please be aware that you will be expected to demonstrate:

  • Reliable and consistent attendance at and participation in your field placement

  • Active, engaged participation in a collaborative, group-graded project requiring students to work together interdependently.

  • A high degree of independence, responsibility, and intellectual resourcefulness (ability to search out and make connections across theory, practice, sites, ideas, people) in all of your work, both collaborative and individual

  • Willingness to evaluate your own participation in the course's activities in a number of ways

  • Willingness to take an active role as teacher as well as learner.

Course Policies

  • This course will involve students as critical readers and writers of texts, active contributors in class discussions, and contributors in other education-related settings. Your presence and active engagement are essential. If the need arises for you to miss a class, be late or leave early, please email me ahead of time if possible. Missing more than three classes may lower your grade; excellent attendance and participation will enhance your grade.

  • This course is Writing Intensive. Assignments include four reflective/analytical papers; a lesson plan with rationale; and a portfolio. Please try and make every deadline for the course. If there is a reason why you cannot complete a paper by the due date, speak to me about an extension before the date that the paper is due. Please limit your use of this option to one paper.

  • Course papers may be revised and re-submitted for a new grade based on the revision. Please consult with me on the revision process. Revisions are due the last day of classes.

  • In all written assignments, please take care to edit and proofread your work so that needless errors do not distract readers from the strength of your thinking.

  • Bring each day’s readings to class with you so that you can use them in our discussions (this includes articles printed from Moodle and/or notes taken from the readings if you choose not to print out articles.

  • Feel free to bring personal devices to class (particularly to refer to readings, for example), but please limit your use of devices to course-specific activity and do not use social media during class.

Campus Resources

  • Special Needs/Access Services: Students who think they may need accommodations in this course because of the impact of a learning, physical, or psychological disability are encouraged to meet with me privately early in the semester to discuss their concerns. Bryn Mawr students should also contact Deb Alder, Coordinator of Access Services (610-526-7351 or, as soon as possible, to verify their eligibility for academic accommodations. Haverford students should contact Access Coordinator, Sherrie Borowsky Deegan (610-896-1324 or If you have already been approved to receive academic accommodations and would like to request accommodations in this course because of a disability, please meet with me privately at the beginning of the semester.

  • Academic Support and Learning Resources at BMC: Students are encouraged to reach out to the Academic Support and Learning Resources Specialist to explore effective learning, studying, test-taking, note-taking and time and stress management strategies that are essential to success in this course and college life. Students can schedule a meeting with Rachel Heiser, the Academic Support and Learning Resources Specialist by calling the Dean's Office at (610)526-5375. Visit: for more details.

  • Office of Academic Resources (OAR): Located at Haverford in Stokes Suite 118, the OAR offers students many resources, including communal study spaces, peer tutoring, workshop series, and individual coaching with the center’s trained staff. See their website for more information or contact Kelly Wilcox ( for more details.

  • BMC Writing Center: The BMC Writing Center offers free appointments and experienced peer tutors who are there to help you at any stage of the writing process. The Writing Center is located in Canaday Library. You can get more information at

  • HC Writing Center: At Haverford, the Writing Center is located in Magill Library, Stokes, and Zubrow Commons. You can get more information about hours and how to make an appointment at

  • Canaday Library and Magill Library: For help with research, multimedia and technology the folks here stand ready to help! Email Olivia Castello ( or Brie Gettleson ( to ask questions or make a research appointment.

Course Materials
Books available at Bryn Mawr Bookstore:

  • Dewey, J. [1997 (1938)]. Experience and Education. New York: Simon &Schuster.

  • Freire, P. (1998). Pedagogy of Freedom: Ethics, Democracy, and Civic Courage. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

  • Fabricant & Fine (2013). The Changing Politics of Education: Privatization and the Dispossessed Lives Left Behind. Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers.

All other readings are available on the Moodle site.
1. School Placements and Class Participation
Visit and Observe: You will make 8 visits to a school, in which you will spend approximately two hours per week. Keeping a regular field journal will help you keep track of issues, events, and questions to pursue in course papers and the portfolio. You should observe the neighborhood, the school building, the school culture, the structures (political, social, institutional, etc.) of the school, the classroom culture, the teachers, the students, and what happens in all of these places. But beyond these observations, you need to participate in a constructive way in the classroom in which you are placed. It is up to you and the teachers with whom you are placed to negotiate your participation in the classroom.
One page letter: To facilitate that process of negotiation, you need to compose a one-page introductory letter of yourself to give to your placement teacher. In this letter, which should be typed, error-free and in letter format, you should introduce yourself, say something about your interest in teaching, and express something about how you think you might be able to participate constructively in this teacher’s classroom (make suggestions and requests, not assumptions or assertions, about what you will be able to do). The purposes of the letter are for you to think through these things for yourself and to share them with the teacher. Remember that you are a guest in this teacher’s classroom, and must therefore be respectful of the values and practices he or she embraces, but you may also make known your own enthusiasm about teaching and your willingness to assist the teacher in whatever ways you can. This letter should be prepared (i.e., ready to be given to the teacher) by week 4 (or earlier/later depending on when you receive your placement).
Field Notes: During or after each visit, write field notes using one of the two forms on Moodle, or a different format if that works better for you. Drawing on your observation notes, and soon after each visit to your field placement, take the time to write a short (one paragraph or list) reflection, revisiting your observation notes and taking the time to articulate, in some way, what you learned from the time you spent in the classroom during that specific observation. These will become incredibly useful as you work on your reflection papers and portfolio. Please turn in these observation notes and short reflections at the end of the course with your portfolio. You might use the following questions to help you in writing these observation notes/reflections if you are stuck (but are not required to):

  • Describe an interaction (teacher-student or student-student) you observed today. Think about what conditions helped support this interaction.

  • What was a key topic or issue addressed in class today?

  • What was something that students learned from today? (You may choose to focus on one or several students here.)

  • What one student stood out to you today? Why?

Placement Experience in Class and Edtalks: Draw on your experiences in your placement to contribute to class discussion each week and to explore the connections between the theory we discuss and what is happening in actual classrooms. You should incorporate direct quotations, vignettes, and references to your experiences into as many forums as possible (short papers, class discussions, etc.). You will also be required to attend at least two “Edtalks” – hour long meetings led by an advanced education student – throughout the semester during which you can discuss what you’re observing in your placement and bring up any questions or concerns. You can attend as many Edtalks as you would like to, but are required to go to at least two. At the end of the placement, we ask your cooperating teacher to write an evaluation of your participation. Your cooperating teacher’s evaluation will contribute to your final grade for the course, and it will have an impact on your candidacy for student teaching, should you choose to pursue that option through the Education Program.
Thank You Note: At the end of your 8 weeks in the school, you should write a thank you note to the teacher(s) with whom you have been working. These teachers allow you into their classrooms for no other reason than to support your education; they receive no remuneration. Teachers generally do not get the recognition that they deserve for the challenging job they embrace, and therefore all teachers appreciate any thanks and feedback they can get. In your thank-you note, be sure to identify at least one (if not more) thing that you really appreciated and learned from being in that particular classroom.
It is ESSENTIAL that you complete all of your placements: many teachers, administrators, and students expect you to be present, and if you miss days or show up late, the relationships we have with these teachers and schools are jeopardized. (One school no longer lets us place students because a student didn’t show up for his placement.) This portion of the course (along with in class participation) accounts for 15% of your overall grade, based on observation notes turned in at the close of the semester (with the final portfolio), comments from placement teacher, attendance at Ed Talks and participation in weekly classes.
****Important Note: All course writings referring to your field placement must use pseudonyms.
2. Reflective Writing in Response Groups
At the beginning of the semester, we will form response groups, which will then provide an ongoing audience and forum for the exchange of ideas. Four short (1,000-1,200 word) reflective/analytical papers are required for this component of the course. You will be writing for your own reflective, analytical purposes and for an audience of your peers (classmates) as well as your instructor.

  • Paper 1 – Educational Autobiography: In the first paper you will draw on your own educational experiences as data for beginning to investigate educational issues and assumptions. Write a Table of Contents that outlines the chapters of your (imagined) educational autobiography. Then select the chapter that most interests you to draft; this should include your narration of an experience in your educational history (from a single interaction to a day or an overview of a longer time period) as well as some interpretive framing of the piece. The intention of this paper is to develop the skill of analysis based on personal experience.

  • Paper 2 – Theory Paper: The second paper will be more analytical in nature, and asks you to interpret one of the three major theoretical perspectives we read during the first six weeks of class, reflecting on the significance of the text or theory and/ or the ways in which you see the theory enacted in the lived experiences of students (yourself included). The intention of this paper is to develop the skill of analysis based on theory.

  • Paper 3 – Assumption Analysis: During the first section of the course we identify and interrogate a range of assumptions about education — both others’ and our own. In the second and third sections of the course, we will witness the ways in which some of these assumptions play out in reform efforts and perspectives of education’s role within society. For this third paper you will select an assumption that you see as significant to the way schooling has been constructed. You might focus on a reigning assumption in education writ large, and/or on an assumption of your own about education. For this paper, you will:

  1. Identify and describe the assumption you are examining, including how it may have affected such matters as schooling structures, curriculum and pedagogy, and views of students and/or teachers.

  2. Make the assumption problematic, that is, explore questions, refutations, contradictions, and so forth that would help us to interrogate or complicate this assumption and its staying power.

  3. Suggest other perspectives or possible ways of seeing the situation.

  • Paper 4 – Placement Paper: The fourth paper should explore what you are learning / have learned in your field placement and how what you are witnessing in your placement is informing your emerging conception of the “purpose of education.” Attempt to articulate what you see as the purpose of education dominant in your setting. How close or far it that from your own values/beliefs? The intention of this paper is to develop the skill of analysis based on observations / qualitative research and to document the learning you are accomplishing via your placement.

Please send a copy of your reflection paper to each member in your group (and cc Heather) on the due dates as indicated in the syllabus (always a Tuesday) and read your group’s papers in preparation for the following class (Thurs). Take notes to help tailor your comments. Be sure to identify at least one area for improvement and one area of strength for each paper you receive from your group members. You will meet in groups during the Thursday class session and offer this feedback for each other in class. A final version of the paper will then be due to the instructor at midnight on Sunday of that week – providing a chance to learn, practice and make use of revision in writing. Please take your role as reader seriously. The instructor will assign an overall grade for this portion of the class based on your own reflection of your growth and effort through these papers, documented in a self-grading activity in class, as well as the instructor’s grades / comments. This represents 40% of your final grade.

3. Teaching Project
This project takes place during Section III of the course and is an opportunity for you to put the work of the first two sections of the course into practice, using our classroom as a “laboratory” setting and an aspect of education reform as the content. The project counts for 20% of your final grade.

  • Topic: Each individual in the class will join a group of students with similar interests in an area of interest in education reform. Possible areas include: family-school community partnership; restructuring schools; professional development of teachers; finance/funding; inclusion; youth, education, and sexuality; religion and secularism in education; charter schools and bilingual education. With your group, you will narrow your topic for the teaching project into something that can reasonably be taught in one 65-70 minute class period.

  • Research: Research your topic using the library (meeting with Brie Gettleson as a group is required), academic or popular texts found online, and/or interviews and observations in the field as sources. Since a reference list citing the range of texts you consulted for this project is due with your lesson plan and rationale (see below), please keep track of the sources you consult. Try to be as comprehensive as possible in learning about the topic. The majority of these texts (particularly those you chose to assign as reading) should be well researched and from trusted sources. Information gathered just from websites, for example, does not meet this requirement.

  • Bibliography: Prepare a group-generated bibliography (using an appropriate citation format) of resources you have consulted to learn about your topic in enough detail that you can teach a class about it. Make this bibliography as comprehensive as possible (around 15-20 sources) and, as mentioned, from a variety of academic sources so that it truly reflects your knowledge of your group’s educational reform topic.

  • Selected Readings: From your bibliography, select relevant, varied readings for the class (approx. 30 pages) to help teach our class some of the key facts, concepts, and conflicts engaged by your topic. Please make these available on our Moodle site one week before the class you’ll be teaching. Write the class an email about the readings, telling us why you selected these, and how we might approach them (and any specific assignments) to prepare for the class you’ll teach. Your thoughtful choice of readings will contribute to the final grade for this project.

  • Meeting with Instructor: Each group is required to meet with the instructor both before and after your teaching date. There will be a signup sheet outside of Heather’s office in Bettwys Coed and each group will have a chance during the initial meeting on Oct 25th to sign up for a time. Each group should prepare the following (if possible) for that meeting:

    • A unified objective for the lesson you are teaching

    • A list of articles and books that were read in preparation and a list of readings you plan to assign.

    • General plans/ideas for what activities your group may want to do for the 65-70 mins you have the class – with a breakdown of what people want to lead and/or are becoming experts on.

  • Lesson Plan: Collaborate with your group to develop a focus/objective within your group’s theme and design a lesson plan. You will have 65-70 minutes of class time. You should consider diverse pedagogical approaches to teaching us your material. Conclude your lesson with a few questions the class can use to give you feedback. The lesson plan you turn in explains what you will teach and how, and it should be written in a detailed and clear manner, including information about who will take what roles during class and time estimates. Be creative in your planning and feel free to think outside the box (especially when you have theory to support your decisions). Each lesson plan should have the following components (we will go over these in class) but can be in any format that works for your group:

    • Objective / Materials / Activities with timing and leadership / Transitions / Assessment / Closure / Feedback Form.

    • A sample lesson plan template can be found here:


    • And some practical guidelines:




  • Rationale: Attached to your lesson plan, as a separate document, please include a group-written (1,500 word) explanation for your group’s rationale for why you will teach this material in the ways you have chosen. You must link the pedagogical choices your group has made in a clear, direct way to one or more of the pedagogical approaches we have studied in class (for example, you will try to teach the lesson using multiple intelligences, or you will attempt to enact the pedagogy described by Dewey, Freire, Duckworth, etc. in your lesson). The rationale should include specific explanations of your ideas and choices about what to teach and how, in pedagogical terms, and should cite course texts and texts your research has uncovered. Explain which pedagogical approaches you are ‘trying out’ through your lesson plan and how your lesson plan accomplishes this goal.

  • Teach: As a group, teach the class. Turn in your lesson plan, rationale, and bibliography at the beginning of class. Be sure to work together, plan which aspect of the lesson each of you is in charge of, and practice the parts you are teaching prior to the lesson.

  • Group Reflection: As a group, you will sign up for a 30 minute time to debrief your lesson and how it went with Heather. Please come having read the evaluations from the lesson you taught, and send them to Heather ahead of time so she can prepare for the meeting as well. To prepare for this group meeting, you should consider:

    • How do you each feel the lesson went? What might you do differently?

    • What did you learn from the student evaluations about the lesson? What seems consistent?

    • What have you learned through this experience in general?

    • Which group member completed what aspect of the project and when? What kind of effort did each of you put into the preparation of the lesson (through research, imaginative thinking and listening, participation in meetings, and writing)?

    • Did you communicate consistently with group members and/or in what ways did your group members contribute to (or detract) from your learning through this project?

  • Optional Individual Reflection / Assessment: Each group member is invited to have an individual debriefing meeting with Heather to discuss how they felt in the teaching position, what they might have individually done differently to improve the lesson and any other details about the group working project that might be important to share. This is optional and occurs only if the student requests it. To request it, just email Heather (

NOTE: It is essential that you work hard to collaborate with your classmates on this project. Please make consistent, strong efforts to include everyone in your group as much as possible. Nearly all students do collaborate with their classmates in an equitable (and often an exemplary) manner on this project. If this is not the case in your group, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Heather during the project and to request an individual reflection meeting after. This represents a moment where communication during difficult times can be practiced and insight on group work learned.

A list of potential blogs / sites where you might find inspiration for ideas for teaching projects is below. Check out any others that seem of interest! Browsing through some sites prior to our topic selection day may be useful.

    • The American Federation of Teachers - “issues”

    • The Coalition of Essential Schools website:

    • Topical Teaching:

    • The Philadelphia Notebook Blog:

    • Diane Ravitch’s Blog:

    • The Innovative Educator:

    • Mindshift:

    • Christopher Lehman Blog:

    • Mindful Schools:

    • Meenoo Rami’s blog:

    • Annie Murphy Paul’s blog:

    • danah boyd’s blog:

    • Jesse Hagopian’s blog:

    • Ilena Jiminez’s blog: (you'll see that Ilieana Jiminez also recommends a number of other blogs in the blogroll section of her site)

    • Sarah Ahmed’s blog:

    • Teach for America’s blog:

    • Kathy Cassidy’s blog:

4. Portfolio
Throughout the semester you will be composing and revising your ideas about the purpose of education. Keep all of your work and any related artifacts, e.g. student work or other documents from your field placement because they will very likely to useful to you in completing this final project which asks you to present what you now think the purpose of education is in the form of an online portfolio. A portfolio is a systematic presentation of and reflection on your learning over the course of the semester. The final assessment associated with this course will be a reflective portfolio constructed and displayed using an online platform of your choosing. Given the independent work you will each be completing within the online sphere, take time throughout the semester to investigate different platforms before choosing the one you would like to use. Some which have been used in the past include; Wix, Blogspot, Wordpress, google sites, Squarespace, Jux, to name a few. Powerpoint and Prezi will not work for this assignment. Those of you journeying with us in the Ed Program will continue to build this portfolio throughout your studies – so a platform on which you can continually add content and build knowledge is the goal. In some cases, you may choose to do a hard copy which is okay as well.
The portfolio consists of a series of (6-8) artifact-reflection pairs that gather together and push your thinking about a key question or theme of interest to you related to the purpose, context or experience of education we explore throughout the course. It is also an opportunity to draw together your learning in this course in a way that matters to you individually. The point is to use the portfolio as a focused way of creatively deepening your insight and learning and the chance to share that insight in a comprehensive (and in some cases, public) way. As a whole, the portfolio should reflect your engagement with our various class activities and requirements. Possible resources to draw from include: class discussion, in-class writing, other writing assignments, fieldnotes and reflections, learning from your placement, teaching project, readings, in-class activities, and writing groups. An artifact is any object or item that connects to or symbolizes a point you want to make. Anything can be an artifact: a tangible object you take a photo of, a picture that you take or create, a snippet of dialogue you recount or conversation you describe, quotes, lyrics or poetry that you copy…the list of possible artifacts is endless. A reflection is an approximately 400 word analysis that corresponds with the artifact in some way and explains what connection the artifact (or something it relates to or symbolizes) has to your central question or theme. In the reflection, you explore the meaning of the artifact as it relates to the central question or theme of your portfolio as you tackle what YOU think the purpose of education is. This is where you explicitly demonstrate your insight and learning. The final portfolio counts for 25% of your final grade and is due at the end of finals.
All assignments are due on the day they are listed.
Part I. Exploring Philosophical Frameworks for Education’s Purpose

In this first section of the course we read, write, and discuss key texts that will help us develop frameworks for identifying and questioning a range of assumptions that undergird schooling. Among these questions are: Who are our students, and how do historical and social contexts affect their learning experiences both in and out of classrooms? What are the purposes of education? How can we explore these questions by observing teaching and learning as they take place? We begin with the challenge of knowing ourselves in the context of developing capacities for reading education critically.

Week 1:

Tuesday, August 30: Orienting to the course
Thursday, September 1: Observing in Educational Environments

  • Carini, P. (2000) “A Letter to Parents and Teachers on Some Ways of Looking at and Reflecting on Children.” In From Another Angle: Children’s Strengths and School Standards: The Prospect Center’s Descriptive Review of the Child (pp. 56-64). M. Himley and P. Carini, eds. New York: Teachers College Press.

  • Frank, Caroline. (1999). An Ethnographic Perspective. In Ethnographic Eyes: A Teacher’s Guide to Classroom Observation (pp. 1-14 and 82-93). Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann Press.

  • Discussion of Field Placement Notes

Week 2:

Tuesday, September 6: Educational Autobiographies

  • Allison, D. (1995). Two or Three Things I Know For Sure (pp/ 60-66). New York: A Plume Book.

  • Chambers, V. (1996). Mama’s Girl (pp. 123-131). New York: Riverhead Books.

  • hooks, b. (1994). Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom. (pp.2-6). New York: Routledge.

  • Jennings, K. (1998). Half Breed. In Telling Tales Out of School: Gays, Lesbians and Bisexuals Revisit Their School Days (pp. 56-59). K. Jennings, Ed. Los Angeles: Alyson Books.

  • Mooney, J. and Cole, D. (2000). Jonathan. In Learning Outside the Lines: Two Ivy League Students with Learning Disabilities and ADHD Give You the Tools for Academic Success and Educational Revolution (pp. 29-50). New York: Simon & Schuster.

  • Coates, T. (2015), Between the World and Me. New York: Spiegel & Grau. (excerpt)

Thursday, September 8: Purpose of Education: History and Culture

  • Oakes and Lipton. Teaching to Change the World. Chapter 2, first section; pages 35-50.

Week 3:

Tuesday, September 13: Dewey Introduction and Framing

  • Dewey, J. 1997 (1938). Experience and Education. New York: Simon and Schuster. Chapters 1-4

  • Writing Due – Response Paper #1: Educational Autobiographies (email to response group and cc instructor by midnight). Read papers for Thursday.

Thursday, September 15: Progressive Notions of Education’s Purpose

  • Dewey, J. 1997 (1938). Experience and Education. New York: Simon and Schuster. Chapters 5-8

  • Read response group papers. Meet in Response Groups: Discuss each group member’s paper.

Sunday, September 18:

  • Writing Due: Final Response Paper #1 to Professor by midnight

Week 4:         

Tuesday, September 20: Bourdieu: Forms of Capital and Intro to Lareau

  • Bourdieu, P. (1986). “The Forms of Capital.” In J. Richardson (Ed.) Handbook of Theory and Research for the Sociology of Education. New York: Greenwood.

  • Lareau, Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race, and Family Life. Berkeley: University of California Press. (Chapter 1 and Appendix B).

Thursday, September 22: Applications of Bourdieu - Social Inequality and the Role of Institutions

  • Chapters 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 in Lareau, Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race, and Family Life. Berkeley: University of California Press. (Pick two of the four data chapters, 8, 9, 10 or 11).

Part II. Contexts of Teaching and Learning

In this section of the course we focus on the inter-related challenges of knowing our students and deepening our understandings of pedagogy. What do our students need to know and be able to do? What constitutes teaching and learning? Where and in what contexts might teaching and learning occur? We aim to develop and refine language, including the use of the concept of culture, with which to extend and build from your experiences in your field placements. Together we will seek understanding of useful approaches as well as barriers found within multiple practices of teaching and learning.

Week 5:

Tuesday, September 27: Definitions of Teaching and Learning

  • Freire, P. Pedagogy of Freedom: Ethics, Democracy, and Civic Courage, Chapters 1-3.

Thursday, September 29: Purpose of Education as Liberating

  • Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy of Freedom: Ethics, Democracy, and Civic Courage, Chapter 4.

  • Freire, Paulo. (1987). “Letter to North-American Teachers” In I. Shor (Ed.) Freire for the classroom: A sourcebook for liberatory teaching. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Week 6:

Tuesday, October 4: Education as Enculturation

  • McDermott, R. & Varenne, H. (1995). “Culture as Disability,” Anthropology & Education Quarterly 26 (3): 324-348.

  • Cook-Sather, A. “Movements of Mind: ‘The Matrix,’ Metaphors, and Re-Imagining Education.” Teachers College Record, August 2003.

  • Books, D. April 11, 2011. “Poetry for Every Day Life” New York Times. Can be found on moodle, or here:

  • Browse the philosophy of unschooling:

  • Writing Due: Response Paper # 2: Theoretical Analysis Reflection (email to response group and cc instructor by midnight).

Thursday, October 6: Education as Students’ Individual Development and Growth

  • Duckworth, E. (1988). “The Having of Wonderful Ideas” and “The Virtues of Not Knowing”

  • Tim Walker, (2015), The Joyful, Illiterate Kindergartners of Finland, The Atlantic.

  • Peter Gray, from Free to Learn:

  • Read response group papers. Meet in Response Groups: Discuss each group member’s paper.

Sunday, October 9:

  • Writing Due: Final Response Paper #2 to instructor via email by midnight.

Week 7:

Tuesday, October 18: Social Justice: Language and Pedagogy

  • Defining Social Justice Pedagogy:

  • hooks, “engaged pedagogy” from Teaching to Transgress

  • Baker, J. (2001). Trinlingualism. In Delpit, L. & Dowdy, J.K. (Eds.) The Skin That We Speak: Thoughts on Language and Culture in the Classroom. NY: The New Press.

  • Flores, N (2015).

Thursday, October 20: Social Justice: Race and Violence

  • McIntosh, P. White Privilege and updated interview in the New Yorker: “The Origins of Privilege”

  • Baldwin, James. (1988). A Talk to Teachers. In Rick Simonson and Scott Walker (eds.), The Gray Wolf Annual Five: Multi-cultural Literacy. St. Paul, Minnesota: Gray Wolf Press.

  • Rethinking Schools,

  • Philadelphia Teacher perspectives:

  • Role of schools:

Week 8:

Tuesday, October 25: The Teaching Project

  • Come to class prepared to share information from your blogs / website independent learning and research. Come to class prepared to describe in general terms 3 different examples of educational reform to other students and contexts in which these reforms are taking place.

  • In class, we will get started on the Teaching Projects: explain the assignment, decide on topics, get into groups, select teaching dates and each group will determine areas of focus for initial research.

  • Writing Due: Response Paper #3: Assumption Analysis (email to response group and cc instructor by midnight).

Thursday, October 27: Individualized Purposes of Education in Practice

  • KIPP: Read a pro -- KIPP’s Charter Schools Outperform Peers: and a con --“Why I stopped Teaching Like a Champion:”

  • Summerhill: Summerhill School and the der-as-yer-like kids, Democratic Schools are Stupid and Chertoff (2012). The Atlantic:

  • Green dot: Read about the Green Dot public schools on their website: Visit also the “press” page and browse through the articles:

  • Mission Hill: Read about the Mission School in Boston here: and watch a video about their teacher focused approach here:

  • Read response group papers. Meet in Response Groups: Discuss each group member’s paper.

Sunday, October 30:

  • Writing Due: Final Assumption Analysis (reflection #3) to instructor via email by midnight.

III. Educational Reform

In the final phase of the course, we consider responses to the issues and perspectives emerging from our work together. Through student-led classes as well as shared readings and lecture-presentations we explore pre-existing models of reform as well as seek to imagine and enact new ones. We also look ahead to the final course portfolio.

Week 9:

Tuesday, November 1: Purpose of Education – To “Fix” Society / Mitigate Inequality

  • The White House & The Department of Education. (2014). Setting the Pace: Expanding Opportunity for American’s Students Under Race to the Top

  • Kopp, W. (2011). A Chance to Make History. Chapter 1

  • Watch Waiting for Superman trailer: and the first six minutes of a response video The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman:

  • Jellig,G. “In Defense of NCLB” Education Week. November 12, 2013:

Thursday, November 3: Purpose of Education – To “Raise Standards” and Increase “Knowledge”

  • Christodoulou, D. (2014). “Minding the Knowledge Gap: The Importance of Content in Student Learning.” American Educator

  • Listen to the following npr article: Also - browse through the Common Core website:

  • Watch Angela Duckworth’s TED talk on “Grit:”

Week 10:

Tuesday, November 8: Privatization and Reform

  • Fabricant & Fine: Read chapters 1 and 4

  • Described in Forbes:

Thursday, November 10: Teachers, Charters and Testing

  • Pick two of the following chapters to read from Fabricant & Fine: Chapter 2: Restructuring the Teaching Workforce, Chapter 3: Charter Schooling and Chapter 5: High Stakes Testing

  • Read response group’s Response Paper #4. Meet in Response Groups: Discuss each group member’s paper. Meet in Teaching Project Groups to prepare for projects!

Sunday, November 13:

  • Writing Due: Final Field Placement Paper (reflection #4) to instructor via email by midnight.

Week 11:

Tuesday, November 15: Circuits of Dispossession and Public Education

  • Fabricant & Fine: Chapters 6 and 7

Thursday, November 17: Teaching Projects, Group 1

  • Group 1 assigned readings (see moodle)

  • Response Paper Self-Evaluation

Week 12:

Tuesday, November 22: Teaching Projects, Group 2

  • Group 2 assigned readings (see moodle)

  • Portfolio Workshop

Thursday, November 24: Happy Thanksgiving!
Week 13:

Tuesday, November 29: Teaching Projects, Group 3

  • Group 3 assigned readings (see moodle)

  • Portfolio Workshop

Thursday, December 1: Teaching Project, Group 4

  • Group 4 assigned readings (see moodle)

  • Careers in Education

Week 14:

Tuesday, December 5: Teaching Project, Group 5

  • Group 5 assigned readings (see moodle)

  • Teaching Project Reflection / Learning

Thursday, December 7: Purpose of Education revisited

  • French, Jennifer (2002). Idealism Meets Reality. In Darling-Hammond, L., French, J., & Garcia-Lopez, S.P. (eds.), Learning to Teach for Social Justice. New York: Teachers College Press. (BP)

  • Greene, M. (2003). “Teaching as possibility: A light in dark times. In The Jossey-Bass Reader on Teaching. (pg. 62-73). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

DUE: Final Portfolio and field notes due by noon on Friday, December 16th

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