Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Rethinking the Course at Midterm

Thank you all for your feedback about the course at the halfway mark. Here are some thoughts in response and some ideas for how we should proceed (mixed in are some observations gleened from your midterm exams as well):

• We should look at how states are comparable (or not) based on standards and testing; this ties in with NCLB and other issue we have addressed. See this link from the Fordham Institute.

• What are at-risk students? And what should we do about them?

• Teaching as a career—pros, cons, and such.

• Types of schools: public, private, charter, magnet. . .

• More focus on the text—What is important?

• More on certification, alternative certification, and other avenues to teaching. Look at the Furman Education Department web page, the NCATE web site, and the SC Department of Education.

• More on the theories and practices (pedagogy) in teaching.

• More on poverty, and addressing it in schools.

• How to manage the real-world (that is traditional) if you are a nontraditional teacher?

• Teacher evaluation and retention.

• More on educational thinkers (like Freire and Kozol), except including the more traditional thinkers. See the link to Meirer and Ravitch for more on this. Some conservative/traditional educational thinkers to explore: Diane Ravitch, E. D. Hirsch, B. F. Skinner, Chester Finn.

• School choice, vouchers, etc. See this link to NCSPE for research on these topics.

Now, some responses. . .:

• I recognize that our textbook has a huge amount of information. I do not ascribe to the belief that there is a fixed amount of knowledge you must "learn"; therefore, I do not worry about "covering the right things" (those ideas are supported by Hirsch noted above). So I am not trying to identify for you the "right" material. Be patient. I believe you are learning a great deal of important things, but we will never learn everything. . .

• I will help with guidelines foe "graded" work, but please ask. If you do not ask, I am comfortable with you experimenting.

• Your writing needs to be MORE SPECIFIC. Your beginnings are vague and lifeless—push yourself to be specific and interesting from the first words. We'll work on this.

• I also recognize that I do not impose as much structure as you want (or feel you want). That is intentional. That is my educational philosophy so I try to practice what I preach. I believe you should create and follow the structure you want and need. But I certainly am available for input to help you make those decisions.

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