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September 22, 2018

Thirteen Things I learned While Blogging for Education Week

This is the 500th blog I've written as the Teacher in a Strange Land, for Education Week Teacher. As it turns out, it's also my final blog for EdWeek. Here are 13 things I have learned in the past nine years of observing and writing about Ed World.

August 15, 2018

Book Review: What School Could Be

Dintersmith's take on what's going on in American schools seems to evolve throughout his narrative, built on daily experience through the lens of a non-educator-- going into school after school, meeting teachers, 'thought leaders' and honchos, then filtering their pitches, schticks and Big Ideas through his own Midwestern sensibilities. Is this real? he asks. Could this work everywhere? Should it?

September 08, 2017

Do Perks for Teachers Compromise Their Integrity?

Schools and teachers are the objects of commerce and policy, not co-creators or idea-generators or genuine partners. We get "gifts" from business, if we are producing what they need.

September 01, 2017

What It Takes for Families to Support Public Education

When it comes to education, we've certainly allowed all kinds of predators and vandals to chip away at America's best idea: a completely free, high-quality public education for every child. No matter what they bring to the table.

June 29, 2017

Self-Esteem Is Not a Hoax

The self-esteem egg comes before the integrity, courage and patriotism chicken, not to mention academic skills and knowledge. It's hard for students to build character and resilience when they have no self-concept. It's hard for them to learn, when they don't trust themselves or believe in their own capacity.

June 16, 2017

The War on Teachers and the End of Public Education

We have genuinely reached a tipping point, one where we're struggling to get young people to go into teaching as professional career (as opposed to two-year adventure before law school). Our state legislators are openly declaring that teaching is now a short-term technical job, not a career, and thus public school educators don't really need a stable state pension. That's not only a war on individual teachers, but a war on teaching itself.

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?

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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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