EDFS 255 – SCHOOL AS A SOCIAL INSTITUTION The University of Vermont College of Education and Social Services Summer 2013
3 graduate credits Instructor: Connie Krosney, Ed. D. Telephone: 802-658-3764 June 17—July 12, 4:15 pm – 8:20 pm. Reading Week: June 17 – 23 (readings available May 15) Class meets: June 24-27, July 1-3, and July 8-11.
email: email@example.com and/or firstname.lastname@example.org Please note: 1. Readings should be completed in advance of course dates. Books are available through the UVM bookstore or online sources, and articles and chapters are available online. 2. The final paper and self evaluation are due on July 12. Introduction: Looking back over the last thirty years, we see a fairly long stretch of time during which public education has been under siege. Commission reports, the media, and even sometimes town meetings have seemed dominated by concerns about almost every aspect of education in the United States, currently fueled by a moderately new administration in Washington. Seventeen years ago in Vermont, Act 60, since modified, attempted to address inequities in funding, with some success. More recently, No Child Left Behind and its relative, Race to the Top, have inspired a renewed passion for standardized tests and test scores, concerns about special education costs and issues have spiraled upwards, and media images of our schools as failing have undermined what public confidence remains. Indeed, there are many theorists, journalists, and politicians who are convinced that the very nature and existence of public education is under attack. Yet the challenges we face are much more deeply rooted than may be apparent, and can, many researchers believe, be traced to some basic contradictions and tensions in our societal structure. In Vermont, we have seen some fairly substantial attempts to “restructure,” “revision,” and “transform” schools; some of these efforts have included service learning and internships, individualized learning plans for all students, professional learning communities for faculty, differentiated instruction, and discussions about the Common Core and standards. Strangely though, when one enters a school, one is likely to find the environment very familiar, echoing our own school experiences from years past. Even though some of the tones have been altered, the language become more specialized, and the funding less certain and more complex, the school still seems like the school. We continue to be unclear and unsure about what we want and expect from our schools, with wide variations. What is (and should be) the relationship between school and society, between the school and the local community it serves, between the school and the state, between the school and the federal government? Are we giving superficial
answers to very deep questions, ones we are afraid or unable to consider? Should we expect our schools to offer meaning to the lives of young people, or even to help and encourage them in their own searches for meaning? Should our schools prepare young people for the society and social world as it is, to participate as economic individuals, or should the schools help them to envision a better world? Should schools somehow prepare the young to fight terrorism, to become rich, to reach for the stars, to lead fulfilling lives, to be innovators and entrepreneurs, to participate in happy families? Questions arise related to school (and societal) purpose in terms of preparation for/participation in work in the local, national, and global economy, in a democratic society, and in a community. More questions arise about the meaning of moral and social preparation for adulthood, individual self-realization and development, and fulfillment of intellectual and other potentialities, including those required for meaningful relationships. Recent national pressures have resulted in Vermont’s use of standardized tests (such as the NECAP for students and Praxis I & II for new educators) to measure student learning, teacher competence, and school success. There have been ambitious efforts, and many education professionals doubt that they are appropriate, or even relevant, to respond to the challenge of the deep questions we face. Education is sometimes defined and (hopefully) experienced as a forum for the “Great Conversation.” In this course, we will center our own Great Conversation on purpose, policy, and practice, and attempt to find both meaningful and applicable insights and understandings to some of the deep questions which face us as educators, parents, and citizens in a democratic society. The school’s role as a social institution, that is, as an instrument of maintenance and/or change of the society, will be our major focus. You have already, perhaps unknowingly, many of the tools of sociological analysis in terms of language, experience, knowledge, and insights. We will use these tools and add to them in our exploration and examination of education in the United States. Course Goals: 1. Increase awareness and understanding of the relationships among selected educational purposes, policies, and practices, and the forces operating in this society; 2. Gain understanding and knowledge of different sociological perspectives, and the ability to apply these perspectives to the analysis of education; 3. Increase knowledge of critical issues in education, including those surrounding diversity, policy and law, equity, and school purpose; 4. Develop and articulate an understanding of social class and other issues affecting societal and educational challenges, and an understanding of courses of action possible to work towards a social vision. Required Readings (books to be purchased are *asterisked): Bambara, Toni Cade (1972). The Lesson, from Gorilla My Love. New York: Vintage. (online)
*deMarrais, K. and LeCompte, M. (1999-3rd edition). The Way Schools Work. White Plains, NY: Longman. Freire, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the Oppressed. (selection) New York: Continuum. (online) *Hesse, H. (1953/1988). Beneath the Wheel. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
*Johnson, A. G. (2006). Privilege, Power, and Difference. New York: McGraw-Hill Kohn, A. (2004). NCLB and the Effort to Privatize Public Education, in Meier, D. & Wood, G. (editors) (2004). Many Children Left Behind: How the No Child Left Behind Act is Damaging Our Children and Our Schools. Boston: Beacon Press. pp. 79-97 (online) *Kozol, J. (2005). The Shame of the Nation. New York: Crown. (selections) (Chapters 1, 2, 4, 10, 11, 12) McIntosh, P. (1987). White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack. From White Privilege and Male Privilege: A Personal Account of Coming to See Correspondences through Work in Women’s Studies. Center for Research on Women, Wellesley College. (online) Noddings, N. (2007). When School Reform Goes Wrong. New York: Teachers College Press. pp. 64-72 (online) *Purpel, D., & McLaurin, W. (2004). Reflections on the Moral & Spiritual Crisis in Education. New York: Peter Lang. (selections) (Book 1: Chapters 1, 3, 6; Book 2, Chapters 1, 2, 3, 5) *Rothstein, R. (2004). Class and Schools: Using Social, Economic, and Educational Reform to Close the Black-White Achievement Gap. Washington: Economic Policy Institute. Sadker, D. (2002). An Educator’s Primer on the Gender War. Phi Delta Kappan (Vol. 84, No. 3) Additional articles may be distributed by the instructor. Choose ONE of the following 4 books for small group presentations: Au, W. (2009). Unequal by Design: High-Stakes Testing and the Standardization of Inequality. New York: Routledge. 3
Ayers, R., and Ayers, W. (2011). Teaching the Taboo: Courage and Imagination in the Classroom. New York: Teachers College Press. Bolgatz, J. (2005). Talking Race in the Classroom. New York: Teachers College Press. Johnson, A.G. (2005). The Gender Knot: Unraveling Our Patriarchal Legacy. (selection) Philadephia: Temple University Press. Course Requirements: I. Complete all readings; come to class prepared to discuss the readings and other assignments. Small Group Presentation: scheduled throughout the course. Each student will be part of a small group which will present one of the optional readings (above) to the rest of the class. These presentations should be interactive, and aimed at getting the whole group to think about, understand, and discuss the author’s key questions and main points, especially as related to course concepts. Some limited planning time will be incorporated into the sessions. Written assignments: All written work to be submitted should be typed or word-processed, using 12 pt. font, with 1” margins. All work should be proofread and revised before submission. Evaluation of written work will be based upon clarity of expression, appropriate use of the ideas/positions of others, appropriate use of accepted form/format, and the development, support, and justification of a position or an idea. Students are encouraged to write in the first person, and should avoid, except if writing a letter, the second person. Quotations or paraphrases should be correctly documented/cited, using APA style. Each student will keep an Academic Journal, in which s/he reacts and responds to seminar readings, activities, and discussions. While these will not be collected, they will form the basis of the two “Readings Response” papers due during the course, and the Letter of Learning. (see below) A. Introduction, Questions, Goals: due (by email) Thursday, June 20 In 2-3 pp., letter format (Dear Connie), each student will write: essential information about him/herself: work, home, school; what questions each student brings to the course; and what goals each has for him/herself. B. Readings Response #1: due Thursday, June 27 Drawing upon your academic journal, write a 5-6 page response to the readings of the first half of the course. What has been particularly exciting and/or challenging for you, and why? Have you found yourself thinking differently? You may keep this informal, but be sure to respond, even if briefly, to each of the readings. What questions have been raised for you? C. Reaction to Beneath the Wheel: due Monday, July 1 4
Beginning in your academic journal, consider these questions (others too): What do you see as “school purpose” in this system? Is the purpose of schools here explicit or implicit, and how do you know this? Are schools in this system “effective?” How does this relate to our schools and society? In what ways does this novel increase your understanding of our schools and the issues we’ve been discussing? What questions does the novel raise for you? Your responses will help to inform our in class dialogue. Please condense your reflections into a 3-4 pp. paper to be turned in. C. Readings Response #2: due Tuesday, July 9 Again drawing upon your academic journal, write a 6-8 page response to the readings of the second half of the course. What has been particularly exciting and/or challenging for you, and why? Have you found yourself thinking differently about schools, or about the relationship of school and society? What questions remain for you to delve into more deeply? D. Creative Expression: due Thursday, July 11 At the term’s last class, each student will share/perform a creative expression of what s/he has learned during the seminar, or highlights. Someone might write a song and perform it, or create a performance piece (pantomime or spoken), or write a poem or story, or create a visual representation. Hopefully, this will allow each person to explore a different “intelligence” or way of communicating, and be both fun and moving for the group.
E. “Final” Paper: due Friday, July 12 (or no later than July 15), by email: email@example.com Choose either option #1 or option #2 Option #1: Vision (or Purpel) Paper. Write an 8-10 page essay responding to the following questions: a. What is your current vision of the purpose of education? How does your vision relate to that of David Purpel, and to other course authors? b. Prophecize, in Purpel’s sense, about the future of American education and society. Where and how will you, as an educator-prophet, shine your light? What sorts of policies need to take shape? c. What actions will you commit to take within the next two years to bring your vision to light (practice)? Of primary importance here is your vision and what you will do to gain progress towards it. Be sure to bring at least some of the course’s other readings into your discussion, as appropriate. Option #2: Critical Issues Paper. Write a 9-12 page paper on a critical social, political, or economic educational issue of your choice. Some examples of topics are: equitable funding, gender bias, anti-racism education,
multicultural education, social class issues in schools and/or the curriculum, public versus private schooling, education for students with disabling conditions and/or special needs, sexual orientation issues in schools, educating toward social justice. Students may, of course, choose another topic, but must have instructor approval before July 8th. The paper may be organized as follows, or should include all the features here: a. Define and describe the issue (2-3 pp.). Why is this a critical issue? What is the problem? What are the major points of contention? Make specific reference to readings from our course that inspired or challenged your thinking about the issue, as well as the research you have read. b. How do you, as a critical theorist and/or sociologist of education, interpret the issue? What questions do you bring to this (or any) issue? (4-5 pp.) Again, use the readings from the course, and the additional readings you have done, to inform your interpretation. c. Create a course of action you can/will take to address the issue and/or case you have described, either from your current position or from a position you hope to hold in the near future. What are the obstacles? Who are your allies? Show how your plan responds to and uses course concepts (3-4 pp.) Papers must cite a minimum of 3 additional resources (academic journal articles, chapters, books) in addition to at least some (say, three) of the core seminar readings, as appropriate. F. Letter of Learning (self-evaluation): due Friday, July 12 (or no later than July 15) Reflect upon your learning as a result of this seminar. What was most important, most transformative, most surprising to you? How have you changed as a person involved in education as a result of the reading, writing, and discussing in which you have engaged in the seminar? Have you been inspired to change anything in your professional life? If not, why not? This letter should be 2-3 pp. long, and should be written to me (Dear Connie). The idea here is to reflect upon your own learning! IV. Journal, Participation, Self-Evaluation, and Attendance A. Each student will keep an academic journal for the course in which s/he reacts to course readings, discussions, and other activities and events. There should be entries on each required reading, and questions recorded which might be raised during the class. At the end of the course, each student will present a creative project (see III.D. above) based upon the learning as recorded in the journal. B. Students are expected to be active participants. The course is based upon dialogue and discussion. In order to be “informed” class members, students must be current with the readings and assignments. A large part of participation is active and engaged listening, enthusiasm, and preparation. C. Students are expected to attend all classes, and to be punctual. If you are unable to attend any sessions, you may be required to submit additional work,
and you should be aware that attendance is part of your grade. It is your responsibility to make arrangements with me to make up for any unavoidable absences. V. Re-cap of Assessment A. Intro, Questions, Goals B. Readings Response #1 C. Hesse Response D. Readings Response #2 E. Vision/Critical Issues paper F. Small Group Presentation G. Letter of Learning H. Participation, Creative Expression Course Schedule (preliminary, changes possible): Please use the month prior to our first meeting to complete all reading for the course. The official reading period begins June 17. Our first in person meeting is June 24. June 24 Introduction to the Course In class: review of syllabus purpose brainstorm video: Freedom, other determine small groups on choice readings Reading due: deMarrais & LeCompte, Chapters 1 (theory) and 2 (social organization) Writing due: Academic Journal Wearing Ourselves In class: videos: Giroux Boys (part) Reading due: deMarrais & LeCompte, Chapter 5 (social class) Freire, McIntosh, Bambara (all online) Writing due: Academic Journal Equal Opportunity for All? In class: video: Off-Track Boys (part) Story: “I go along…” Reading due: Rothstein (whole book) Writing due: Academic Journal Inequality, Rage, & Despair In class: Video (Princess) and art activity Value 5% 15% 10% 20% 25% 10% 5% 10%
Reading due: Kozol, Chapters 1, 2, 4, 10-12 deMarrais & LeCompte, Chapter 7 (ethnic minorities) Writing due: Reading Response #1 July 1 Knowledge and Control In class: Small group: Bolgatz Reading due: Hesse, whole book deMarrais & LeCompte, Chapter 6 (what is taught) Writing due: Academic Journal Pictures of Privilege In class: Video: The American Dream at Groton Difference and power Reading due: Johnson, whole book Writing due: Academic Journal Gender as a Lens In class: Small group: Johnson (Gender Knot) Videos: Killing Us Softly III Miss Representation (selections) Box activity Reading due: Sadker article (online) deMarrais & LeCompte, Chapter 7 (gender) Johnson (Gender Knot), selection Writing due: Academic Journal : Redefining: Choose a., b., c., d., or e. In class: Video: Closing the Achievement Gap Small group: Au Reading due: Noddings, pp. 64-72 (online) Kohn, pp. 79-97 Writing due: Academic Journal Moral, Spiritual, and Democratic Crisis In class: Small group: Ayers Reading due: Purpel, Book I, Chapters 1, 3, 6 Writing due: Reading Response #2 Diversity, Unity, Respect, Tolerance, Affirmation, Celebration In class: Baldwin video (selections) Purpel video (clips) Reading due: Purpel, Book II, Chapters 1, 2, 3, 5 Rethinking Schools piece (to be handed out) Writing due: Questions for Purpel
The is not the End, but the Beginning: Celebrating Commitment In class: Creative Expressions Bring self-addressed envelope for return of work.
Office Hours and Telephone: I am always glad to meet with students either individually or in small groups to discuss concerns about course materials, concepts, or ideas, or just to get to know each other better. As I am not on campus except for the time of our course, we will need to schedule these meetings in advance. I may be reached at my home number: 658-3764. There is voice mail on this number, and I try to return calls promptly. My cell phone number is 802-233-6550. I check email regularly and will answer brief questions on email very quickly: firstname.lastname@example.org