Dear Deborah, You and I have advocated for different approaches over the years, though they are not contradictory. I have stressed the importance of content in the curriculum (history, literature, the arts, science, foreign languages, etc.), and you have stressed the importance of “habits of mind” (“How do we know what we know? What causes what? How might things have been different? Who cares?”). A dynamite school would do both, I expect. Why would anyone teach history or literature or science without asking the questions you raise? Yet the puzzle that neither of us has figured out is why most ...


Dear Diane, How many of our friends 10 years ago would have imagined that in 2008 you and I could almost be writing each other's columns? At least when it comes to NCLB, and quite a lot of other things—but not all! More or less amen, amen, and amen to every word you wrote on Tuesday. By the time folks see either of these columns we'll have discussed this in public at NYU (Monday) and I'll have moved on to Pennsylvania to try to add a vote here and there to Obama's column, and visiting an old friend (Ruth...


Dear Deborah, As this election nears a close, it is sad to note that very little has been said about education. In a way, that's a good thing, as we really don't want the president deciding what should happen tomorrow in our schools. I assume that more important tasks are at hand, such as the economy and foreign policy. On the other hand, the candidates have been unfortunately silent in letting us know what they plan to do about the abominable No Child Left Behind law. By now, even its defenders understand that the people who must implement the law ...


Dear Diane, I'm sitting here in the hotel lounge in Winnipeg with my third try at this blog, plus one I tried hurriedly before I left. So far I've lost them all somewhere. But, as in schooling, there's nothing more important than persistence. Well, maybe not. My colleague, Jane Andrias, who is up here with me in Winnipeg, reminds me that persistence—doing the same thing over and over—can also be sheer foolishness. It's interesting how we use the same words sometimes to suggest rather different ideas. My view of tinkering, and "hands-and-minds" on—like play and imagination—don't...


Dear Deborah, I loved your last column. I really enjoyed your references to craft and tinkering. I admire hands-on work, especially since the only work I seem to do these days with my own hands is to type and occasionally to make a salad or scrambled eggs. I would only caution that handiwork, as satisfying as it may be, can never take the place of knowledge, the sort of knowledge gleaned from books and study of the experiences of others. One’s own direct experience of the hands-on kind will take you just so far and no farther. We can’t...


The opinions expressed in Bridging Differences are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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