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March 20, 2018

We Need Civic Online Reasoning in Our Schools

It's hard to imagine what could be more important than developing the critical thinking skills that facilitate our students' ability to discern truth from fake news. Media literacy may be in the standards, somewhere, but it's not on the test, so it gets short shrift in the classroom.

February 09, 2018

What Is a 'Quality' Curriculum?

Using a range of materials, and, more important, creating hands-on experiences and interactions with big ideas within a discipline, helps students construct and apply knowledge.

November 30, 2017

Are Schools Responsible for Teaching Boys to Respect Girls?

There isn't a teacher in America who has been able to avoid what happens on CNN or Fox News--children bring their families' values into the classroom. And the easiest path for educators is to reproduce the cultural norms of the communities where they teach. But maybe these past few days represent a sea change in national thinking about gender inequality.

October 31, 2017

Happy Halloween! Be Playful and Artistic in School on Holidays

Dressing up and playing (often challenging) "scary" music is good curricular and instructional practice. It encourages young adolescents to be kids again in an increasingly frightening adult world—playful and artistic, sharing their burgeoning talents with their community.

March 01, 2017

4 Reasons the Arts Are the Most Important Academic Discipline

For arts teachers, this is the ongoing, contentious, core issue in their pedagogical practice: What is the value of what I do? How do I share my conviction that the arts are essential in the lives of children? Why does artistic expression typically carry less weight than other fields and specialties?

October 04, 2016

Seven Things I Learned From Attending a Charter School Board Meeting

I have been to hundreds of school board meetings in my life, mostly in the district where I taught for 30 years, and neighboring districts. I have attended Board meetings in Detroit, Lansing and Denver. Recently--I decided to check out the board meeting of a local charter school. I did this because the charter in question had been co-opted by an unreliable and ethically challenged operator. Who was guarding the citizens' interest and tax monies?

August 06, 2016

Ten Non-Standard Ideas About Going Back to School

I had a colleague who spent most of August sorting books into leveled baskets, going steady with the laminating machine, and running up colorful curtains for the door to her classroom. Her husband, conversely, would mark the beginning of the school year by wandering around the house, trying to find his thermos. This was immensely irritating to her, of course. But it's hard to say who was the better teacher.

May 14, 2016

Raising the Common Core Bar Until Nobody Can Get Over

The Common Core is just another set of standards. We can raise and lower, tweak and replace standards until the cows come home, but until other things are in place (clean, safe classrooms, say--or books, supplies and experienced teachers), it's an exercise in blah-blah over reality. Most important: if we're going to dump everything we've been working on, let's put the rebuilding back in the hands of educators, not politicians.

April 05, 2016

In Praise of the Field Trip

What is a field trip's ultimate purpose? How will the students apply what they have learned? What are their takeaways? And--because these are the questions we hear most often in national policy discussion--was this content standards-based? Could it be delivered (and measured) more efficiently and effectively? Say, in a video or interactive computer game? I'm going to go ahead and answer that question: No.

March 23, 2016

Ignore Insults and Falsehoods About Public Education? Or Push Back?

Blaming public education for things over which it has zero control is now thoroughly woven into the national discourse on a myriad of issues. Stupid voters? Blame the schools. Lazy workers and economic downslope? Public education's fault. Anti-intellectualism? They must have learned it at school. Just another opportunity to take a cheap, unsubstantiated shot at public schools. Who does that? And believes they're justified in doing so?

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The opinions expressed in Teacher in a Strange Land 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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