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March 30, 2017

The Disadvantages of Competitive Learning

I told my students I had assessed their prowess as musicians, and tried to divide the groups evenly, so nobody would be in the "top" band--or left behind. Our job was to play well all the time, to live up to our potential as performers--not to be better than the other band. It took a while, but this policy eventually led to greater achievement, especially from students who did not start out at the top of the skills spectrum.

March 23, 2017

What 'Hillbilly Elegy' Doesn't Say

"Hillbilly Elegy" is impressive personal narrative--plaudits to Vance for his persistence--but hardly illustrative of poor habits and prospects of an entire region of the country. Nor does it illuminate any of the very real problems--crises, per the book's title-- facing working-class families in America today, beginning with the dangerous income gap between the haves and the have-nots that threatens the social order.

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.

January 24, 2017

We Can't Keep Quiet: What the Women's March Means for Teachers

I'm still processing the experience, considering what it means, today and for the next few years. As a teacher, an advocate for public education and for children, how do I reconcile "alternative facts" and fake news with the essential and important truth of millions feeling compelled to gather and organize? How can any of us put our heads down and do as we're told, knowing what we know?

December 12, 2016

Terminal Charterism: The View From Michigan

If you want to know what end-stage, terminal charterism looks like--how it impacts the educational ecology, when it is fertilized by policy tweaks, and allowed to flourish--take a look at the reality of Betsy DeVos's accomplishments in Michigan.

September 14, 2016

Washington: A Love Story

We've got information and images a-plenty, if we want to look at states which might have some educational moxie. Teachers are now talking to each other across district and state boundaries, sharing information about how education policy is impacting their daily practice, where market-based reforms have the deepest roots and where teachers' judgment and experience is most devalued. Where would YOU go, if you could go anywhere, as an educator?

September 11, 2016

Fifteen Years Later: Have We Learned Anything About Unity and Community?

This seems to be the long-term outcome of being attacked on our own soil: more division, self-indulgence, and deepening racial fault lines. Winners and losers. To hell with unity or even civil behavior--dominance has become our national goal, our trickle-down response to all conflict.

August 16, 2016

The So-Called Right to Teach

There is no "right to teach," in a public institution, for compensation. None. Nobody has the right to decide--hey! I think I'd like to work with children, mold their little minds. I'm smart! I'd probably be great--with no preparation or experience whatsoever. The "right to teach" and "teacher shortage" blah-blah masks a darker truth. We're not willing to solve problems--health care, clean water, racism, rampant childhood poverty, neglected schools--with hard work and investment in our collective future.

July 31, 2016

The Glass Ceiling in Education

Women are role models for each other in all fields, including those that are supposed to be open to females. We've got nobody else. It was downright heartening to see a woman my age who successfully made it all the way through a grueling presidential nomination, the ultimate glass ceiling in America, because she was just that stubborn--no matter what you think of her politics.

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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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