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September 23, 2017

Should 5th Graders Be Studying the KKK?

Will difficult student conversations go awry and get muddled? All the time. But that's the precise reason why we ought to be holding them now, with our young citizens. One of the central purposes of public education is developing core understandings of democracy and hey---no time like the present for that.

January 25, 2017

My Top 10 Reads of 2016

Ten books that rocked my world in 2016. A mix of fiction and non-fiction, all delicious.

November 04, 2016

Amusing Ourselves Into Oblivion

When the election is over, schools will still be expected to exemplify neutral public spaces, accepting all students and honoring all family beliefs. Media and money, helped by attractive electronic technologies, have reshaped our values, and we will not be able to acknowledge that, as public institutions.

September 18, 2016

What Is the Purpose of School? Who Knows? Who Cares?

I can't help wondering what would happen if the question were phrased as a constructed response. What if we asked parents, childless millennials or retirees: What's the purpose of public education? Why do we collect taxes and build buildings and elect school boards and argue about phonics vs. whole language? What's the end game?

November 22, 2015

So You Think You Can't _____?

It strikes me that we are shaping our education system around the media-driven idea that only some ideas and abilities matter and must be pursued, full-bore. Other ideas--say, the potential of representative democracy, or caring for our fellow humans--may be nice, but are completely secondary to striving and winning, nose to the grit stone. What good is a growth mindset if the things you feel most passionate about doing and being are undervalued?

October 02, 2015

How to Teach Introverts

Finding the ideal environment--solitary or collaborative, active or passive--for each student's optimum performance, when you see them four and a half hours in a week, if there's no pep assembly? Not likely to happen. Not that teachers don't try. That's what bothers me most about these "if schools would only" articles: the assumption that teachers are blindly plowing ahead, happily adopting "fad" educational trends, heedless of the needs of individual students.

February 27, 2015

The Four Things You Need to Create a Good School

It's a scenario that's been posited before, many times: If you could start over--no residual assumptions--and build an ideal school from the ground up, what would you keep? What would you discard? Thoughts: There are no silver bullets, but there are no fatal-flaw structures or technologies, either. When you come down to it, schools are mostly about getting the right people together.

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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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