EDU 111 Syllabus

Education 111: Perspectives in American Education (Spring 2018)[1]

Instructor:                      Dr. P. L. Thomas
Phone:                           590-5458 (cell); 294-3386 (office)
Class time:                     MWF 9:30AM - 10:20AM 
Room:                           HIP 106
Office hours:                   by appointment, 101F Hipp Hall

For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood...and the Rest of Y’all Too, Chris Emdin
ISBN: 978-080700640-5
Publisher: Beacon Press

The Poverty and Education Reader edited by Paul C. Gorski and Julie Landsman
ISBN-13: 9781579228590
Publisher: Stylus


Letters to a Young Teacher by Jonathan Kozol
ISBN-13: 9780307393722

Publisher: Crown/Archetype


EDU111 Perspectives on American Education (formerly ED-11)
GER: HB (Empirical Study of Human Behavior)
Introduction to teachers and teaching, the American school in an increasingly diverse society, and the historical, sociological and philosophical foundations of education. Must also enroll in EDU-001 (ED-01). 4 credits.

This course provides an introduction to teachers and teaching, as well as the American school.  Its most general purpose is twofold:

• to provide students with a basic understanding of educational issues so that they can make intelligent decisions as citizens;
• to give students an opportunity to assess their own interest (if any) in pursuing a career in education.

Please note the following:

Consistent with the Education Department’s conceptual framework, this course will emphasize, at various points, the issues of diversity, technology, school-to-career programs, and the teacher assessment system.  These items are identified, respectively, as: [D][T][STC], and [AD].


The Teacher Education Program at Furman University prepares educators who are scholars and leaders.


Furman University prepares teachers and administrators to be scholars and leaders who use effective pedagogy, reflect critically on the practice of teaching, promote human dignity, and exemplify ethical and democratic principles in their practice.  Furman is committed to a program of teacher education that calls for collaborative, interdependent efforts throughout the academic learning community.


During and/or as a result of EDU 111, students will be able to demonstrate the following:
  1. an understanding of the philosophical, historical, and sociological foundations of education*
  2. the ability to articulate their own philosophy of education*
  3. professional competence in written and oral communication*
  4. timeliness and thoroughness in meeting expectations*
  5. the ability to evaluate his/her own interest in teaching as a profession and potential career
  6. the ability to analyze how educational “systems” work
  7. the ability to explain and assess educational reform
  8. an understanding of how schools are financed
  9. the ability to synthesize the legal aspects of education
  10. respect for/understanding of the diverse talents, abilities, perspectives, and contributions of all students**
  11. sensitivity toward community and cultural norms**
  12. the willingness and ability to monitor student learning and adjust practice based on knowledge of individual students**

* These items are part of the “conceptual framework” for Furman’s Teacher Education Program.
** These items, also part of the “conceptual framework,” serve as the primary objectives of the field component of the course.


Course Objectives Met

Final Portfolio

a, h, i
Reflective Essay

a, b, c, d, e, g, j
Field Feedback
Virtual school visits

School Board

c, d, f, j
Tutoring Reflection

c, d, f, g, j, k, l
Book Response(s)

c, d, f, j
Oral /Group Presentations

c, d, f

Students With Special Needs

Furman University is committed to making reasonable accommodations, as per the
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 504, and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation 
Act, to assist individuals with disabilities in reaching their academic potential. If you have a disability that may impact your performance, attendance, or grades in this course and 
require accommodations, you must first register with the Student Office for Accessibility Resources (SOAR) ( 
The Student Office for Accessibility Resources is responsible for coordinating classroom accommodations and other services for students with disabilities. Please note that classroom accommodations cannot be provided prior to your instructor’s receipt of an accommodations letter, signed by you and the SOAR director. In order to receive appropriate accommodations this term, it is imperative that you make this contact in a timely manner.


Education 111 compresses a lot of material into an abbreviated format.  Keeping up with the readings and attending class are crucial for effective participation and a satisfactory grade.  Videos and class discussions will be used to reinforce and complement class sessions.  In the event of an extended illness, the student should consult with the instructor to determine if withdrawal from the course is necessary.

Missing an exam or turning an assignment in late will be excused only for emergency situations.  The instructor will be the final authority in determining if the situation fits the emergency criteria.  Also, all forms of academic dishonesty including (but not limited to) cheating on tests, plagiarism, collusion, and falsification of information will call for disciplinary action.  If there is any question about what constitutes academic dishonesty, please consult the instructor.

Students with disabilities who need academic accommodations should contact Furman’s Coordinator of Disability Services.  Please tell the instructor when and if you do so.  And please do this early in the term.  All discussions will remain confidential.



If at all possible, we attempt to assign you to the same one or two students throughout the entire term.  In some cases this is not possible.  For example, a few of you might work with a larger group of students or assist a teacher in an actual classroom.  These are equally valid and rewarding tutoring experiences.

When you arrive for a tutoring session, please sign the school’s guest list.  Also, don’t forget to have a school official, teacher, or at least a secretary sign your tutoring log; you will be required to turn in your log with your tutoring feedback at the end of the term.

Dress and act professionally at all times.  This means abiding by school rules and dressing in a manner that distinguishes you from the students.  If in doubt, it is better to be overdressed than underdressed.  Please obey any instructions given to you by a teacher or school administrator.  This includes wearing any sort of identification that might be required.

Participating in campus activities that are sponsored and supervised by school administrators is fine.  Do not, however, meet with your student off campus, including at his/her home.  Also, do not offer to provide transportation for your student.  Please check with school officials or your Furman professor if any situation arises that you are unsure how to handle.  Remember:  your role is being a mentor, not a “buddy” for your student.

It is very important that you contact school officials if you cannot make a scheduled tutoring session.  The relevant names and phone numbers are listed below.  We advise school officials to contact you if a session has to be canceled or rescheduled.  Please refer to a previous handout for information concerning days when students will not be in school.

We urge school officials and teachers to be sure that students have some sort of assignment that you can assist them with.  Sometimes, though, students show up for their tutoring session with nothing to do.  In that case, your imagination and creativity will be necessary.  Some constructive assignments might include having the student write a paragraph describing what they did the previous week; identifying objects around the school and using that as a basis for a spelling list; looking through a popular magazine and identifying/defining words the student doesn’t know; having the student try to figure out the main idea of short newspaper article; using a ruler to measure various items, then calculating their size, area, volume, etc.  Please contact your Furman professor if your student(s) consistentlyshows up without anything to do.

Other suggestions:

a)      Establish a routine for the tutoring session.  This will save time and establish a feeling of consistency.
b)     Have patience.  Progress can be slow and repetition is necessary, necessary, necessary.
c)      Change your approach if one strategy isn’t working.
d)     Have your student(s) alternate reading out loud and silently.
e)      Let your student(s) work independently for a few minutes; volunteer information only if your student(s) gets stuck, asks for help, or is off task.
f)       Draw pictures frequently to explain or illustrate the point you’re trying to make.
g)     Try to incorporate references the student will be familiar with.  This might require that you discretely find out what the student’s background and circumstances are.
h)     Make up games that involve the material.
i)      Try to keep antsy children doing something.  For example, let a child get up to look at a map or look up a word.
j)      Be aware of a student’s feelings and limits.  Don’t push too hard.  The student might be having a bad day; your talking with him/her will be more important on that day than explaining a certain concept/assignment.
k)     Be positive and supply plenty of encouragement.  Smile!

Tutoring Log/ EDU 111


Arrival Time
Departure Time
Time Tutored
Signature of School Official

Total Hours:

My signature below is verification that I did complete all the hours of tutoring as stated above in order to fulfill assignments in ED 11.

Student Signature:

Furman University
Dr. Paul Thomas

                        (LAST)                                     (FIRST or name you’re called by)             


Telephone number(s) and best time to reach you:                                                                             

Email address:                                                                           

Year in school:                                                                            Major:                                                  

Time(s) during the term when you WOULD BE ABLE to tutor (try to list blocks of 1-2 hours):







Subject(s) you would prefer to tutor:                                                                                                          














Group Presentation

Introduction and Purpose
During the semester you will give a 16-20-minute presentation on an educational topic. This assignment give you the opportunity to 1) demonstrate oral communication skills; 2) demonstration presentation skills using technology; and 3) demonstration knowledge of an educational topic. For this assignment, you will work in teams of two. The group will conduct the research, prepare and present to the class. The group will receive a grade based upon their presentation. In addition, each individual in the group will prepare an inquiry essay. Each student will be graded individually on the essay.

The Center for Collaborative Learning and Communication (CCLC)
( is available to help you with effectively communicating with technology. The CCLC is located in the basement of the library and is open in the afternoons and early evenings.

Potential Topics

*          Controversial Issues
*          Sustainability
*          Corporal punishment
*          Social promotion of students
*          School vouchers
*          Prayer and the Ten Commandments in schools
*          Teacher accountability
*          The digital divide
*          Phonics and whole language
*          Teacher quality
*          Creationism and Evolution
*          Desegragation/Affirmative Action
*          English as a Second Language/English Only
*          Tilte IX
*          The arts, music or physical education in the curriculum
*          Historical Topics
*          Biography of a prominent educator
*          Interview a senior citizen about their education
*          Describe the educational system of another country
*          NCLB
*          Testing

Requirement and Expectations
The students will;

*          Present a 16-20-minute presentation with each team member participating using multimedia software (Power Point on PC or Mac, must bring your disk to class and print a handout); groups may create a presentation blog instead, as well.
*          You need to use at least 6 slides (or equivalent on blog)
*          Include a slide/entry with your bibliography (with APA documentation); submit a reference

list in hard copy properly formatted as well
*          Prepare a handout for the students
*          The presentation should address the following:
Present key controversial issues regarding the topic
Present a summary of all sides of the controversy
Provide historical background
Discuss relevant contemporary cases
Summarize what are the key points that a teacher needs to know


Your oral presentations will be assessed according to a number of criteria. Each criterion will be graded on a 10 point scale. All of the points will be totaled. The course grading scale in the syllabus will be used to assign letter grades.

Group Presentation (100 points)
Content and organization 

Comprehension of content


Organization of content in handout

Oral presentation and enthusiasm

Attractiveness and mechanics of presentation slides

Originality of presentation and teaching strategies employed

Posture and eye contact

Adherence to time limit

Collaboration with peers



Rationale: Courses Taught by P. L. Thomas—
Welcome to the Occupation

Paulo Freire (1993) establishes early in his Pedagogy of the Oppressed, “One of the basic elements of the relationship between oppressor and oppressed is prescription. Every prescription represents the imposition of one individual’s choice upon another, transforming the consciousness of the person prescribed to into one that conforms with the prescriber’s consciousness” (pp. 28-29).

The course before you, your course, will be guided by some essential principles, beliefs, and research concerning the nature of learning and teaching along with the commitments I have to the dignity of each person’s humanity and to the sacredness of intellectual freedom within a democracy. The practices and expectations of this course are informed by many educators, writers, and researchers—many of whom are referenced at the end. But the guiding philosophies and theories of this course can be fairly represented as critical pedagogycritical constructivism, and authentic assessment.

Now that I am in my third decade as a teacher, my classroom practices and expectations for students are all highly purposeful—although most of my practices and expectations are non-traditional and may create the perception that they are “informal.” For you, the student, this will be somewhat disorienting (a valuable state for learning) and some times frustrating. Since I recognize the unusual nature of my classes, I will offer here some clarity and some commitments as the teacher in this course.

In all of my courses, I practice “critical pedagogy.”  This educational philosophy asks students to question and identify the balance of power in all situations—an act necessary to raise a your awareness ofsocial justice.  I also emphasize “critical constructivist” learning theory.  Constructivism challenges students (with the guidance of the teacher) to forge their own understanding of various concepts by formulating and testing hypotheses, and by utilizing inductive, not just deductive, reasoning. A constructivist stance asks students to recognize and build upon their prior knowledge while facing their own assumptions and expectations as an avenue to deeper and more meaningful learning. My practices avoid traditional forms of assessment (selected-response tests), strive to ask students to create authentic representations of their learning, and require revision of that student work.

Some of the primary structures of this course include the following:

• I delay traditional grades on student work to encourage you to focus on learning instead of seeking an “A” and to discourage you from being “finishers” instead of engaged in assignments. At any point in the course, you can receive oral identification of on-going grades if you arrange an individual conference concerning your work. However, this course functions under the expectation that no student work is complete until the last day of the course; therefore, technically all students have no formal grade until the submission of the final portfolio. One of the primary goals of this course is to encourage you to move away from thinking and acting as a student and toward thinking and acting in authentic ways that manifest themselves in the world outside of school.

• I include individual conferences for all students at mid-term (and any time one is requested), based on a self-evaluation, a mid-course evaluation, and an identification of student concerns for the remainder of the course. You will receive a significant amount of oral feedback (“feedback” and “grades” are not the same, and I consider “grades” much less useful than feedback), but much of my feedback comes in the form of probing questions that require you to make informed decisions instead of seeking to fulfill a requirement established by me or some other authority. Your learning experience is not a game of “got you”; thus, you have no reason to distrust the process. I value and support student experimentation, along with the necessity of error and mistakes during those experiments. My classroom is not a place where you need to mask misunderstandings and mistakes. I do not equate learning with a student fulfilling clearly defined performances (see Freire’s commentary on prescription above), but I do equate learning with students creating their own parameters for their work and then presenting their work in sincere and faithful ways.

• I include portfolio assessment in my courses, requiring students to draft work throughout the course, to seek peer and professor feedback through conferences, and to compile at the end all of their assignments in a course with a reflection on that work; my final assessments are weighted for students and guided by expectations for those assignments, but those weights and expectations are tentativeand offered for negotiation with each student. Ultimately, the final grade is calculated holistically and based on that cumulative portfolio. All major assignments in this course must be drafted in order to be eligible for a final grade of “A.” The drafting process must include at least two weeks of dedication to the assignment, student-solicited feedback from the professor, and peer feedback. Assignments must be submitted in final forms in the culminating portfolio, but documentation of the drafting process must also be submitted with the final products. Any major assignments that do not fulfill the expectation of drafting will not receive a grade higher than a “B.” Revision is a necessary aspect of completing academic work.

Welcome to the occupation. This is your class, a series of moments of your life—where you make your decisions and act in ways you choose. Freedom and choice, actually, are frightening things because with them come responsibility. We are often unaccustomed to freedom, choice, and responsibility, especially in the years we spend in school. So if you are nervous about being given the freedom to speak and the responsibility for making your own choices, that is to be expected. But I am here to help—not prescribe, not to judge. That too will make you a bit nervous. I am glad to have this opportunity in your life, and I will not take it lightly. I will be honored if you choose not to take it lightly either.

Ayres, W. (2001). To teach: The journey of a teacher. New York: Teachers College Press.
Brooks, J. G., & Brooks, M. G. (1999). In search of understanding: The case for constructivist classrooms. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Dewey, J. (1938/1997). Experience and education. New York: Free Press.
Freire, P. (1993). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Continuum.
Gardner, H. (1999). The disciplined mind: What all students should understand. New York: Simon and Schuster.
Gardner, H. (1991). The unschooled mind: How children think and how schools should teach. New York: Basic Books.
Greene, M. (1995). Releasing the imagination: Essays on education, the arts, and social change. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
hooks, b. (1999). remembered rapture: the writer at work. New York: Henry Holt and Company.
———. (1994). Teaching to transgress: Education as the practice of freedom. New York: Routledge.
Kincheloe, J. L. (2005a). Critical constructivism primer. New York: Peter Lang.
Kincheloe, J. L. (2005b). Critical pedagogy primer. New York: Peter Lang.
Pinker, S. (1994). The language instinct. New York: Harper Perennial.
———. (1999). Words and rules: The ingredients of language. New York: Basic Books.
Popham, W. J. (2001). The Truth about testing: An educator’s call to action. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
Popham, W. J. (2003). Test better, teach better: The instructional role of assessment. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Zemelman, S., Daniels, H., & Hyde, A. (2005). Best Practice: Today’s standards for teaching and learning in America’s schools (3rd ed.). Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

[1] Assignments and syllabus for this section of ED 11 are adapted from Scott Henderson in order to keep EDU 111 sections similar.

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