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June 15, 2018

Do Core Democratic Values Belong in Schools?

It is a point of pride, really, having these core democratic values as an anchor in the Mitten State Social Studies standards. Here's a list of those identified values: Life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, justice, the common good, equality, truth, diversity, popular sovereignty and patriotism. Things we all agree on, right?

April 20, 2018

What Feeds Bias in the Education World?

I'm not naïve enough to think that schools could turn hearts and minds in a K-12 generation. But could they do significant good, given the right tools and incentives?

March 16, 2018

Sing On, Children! How the Arts Help Social Movements Take Flight

An urgent call to teach our children this: Making and appreciating art that reflects our collective joys and sorrows is part of what it means to be human. Art helps human movements and causes take flight.

February 14, 2017

Famous School Choice Pundit vs. Ordinary Teacher

While I toiled away at what you termed the retail level, you, Checker Finn, studied the research, analyzed the data, and made pronouncements impacting education across the nation. It's interesting to think that you have, in many ways, shaped the work that I actually did. For decades.

January 12, 2017

Students: You're the Reason I Come to School Every Day

School talk today is generally around rigorous content and 21st-century skills and how we can measure those to make schools accountable. There is, however, a much more powerful, if subtle, set of factors that makes going to school worthwhile for both students and teachers.

August 30, 2016

Colin Kaepernick and Every Marching Band Director in America

Every school music teacher in America has wrestled with the national anthem. Hard to sing (covering an octave and a fifth), written in an unfriendly key signature, lyrically confounding and attached to a disreputable tune, it nevertheless maintains a strange hold on public sentiment. We expect to hear it, for some hard to trace reason, every Friday night at football games, and a raft of other occasions. We expect citizens to show reverence for this music (although singing the words is considered optional, even embarrassing).

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.

June 16, 2016

Teachers, Tragedies and Politics

It's times like this that I'm glad not to be in the classroom on a daily basis. It would be hard for any teacher to pretend to be calm, neutral and gracefully able to push the world out of the classroom in favor of the spelling list and converting fractions into decimals. Like all teachers, I've experienced days when the curriculum was--whether you chose it or not--about what was going on in the world, your town or your school.

February 24, 2016

What's the Matter With Detroit Schools, Pt II: Charter Conversion 'Solution' Fails

So there's the micro-question: What does it take to keep something successful and amazing going--providing the same critical services, contributing to the value of the Detroit community and students' lives? Do you do whatever it takes, and deal with the consequences as they come? Then there are the macro-questions: When resources from a public system build something wonderfully useful, addressing a social need with persistence and imagination, what do you lose when you turn over control and management to a private company? What strings are attached when you supplement public monies with private funding?

December 07, 2015

My Dinner With Alfie

This was not an optimistic conversation. I don't have a list of all the things we touched on in my dinner with Alfie Kohn--from data mining to innovative curriculum to building better teachers--but there was little about which we disagreed. This is not a golden age for public education--or for the public's valuing of education (two different, but interwoven, things). We talked as two professionals--a veteran practitioner and an education thinker--deeply concerned, deeply worried about the direction that America has embraced, in an effort to improve our education system.

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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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