Schooling and Society (PED 3102 P) – An Introduction

No profession more than education provides as exciting an opportunity to understand the society in which we live: how it has changed, will change, should change. Will there be problems, frustrations, ups and downs, second thoughts, even despair? Of course. Is personal, intellectual, professional “growing up” easy? Of course not. End of sermon! – Seymour Sarason, The ‘Nonreading’ Professional
Learning to teach is a complex and life-long project that involves an often paradoxical and sometimes uneasy combination of socialization and imagination. Teaching is bounded by conventions, obligations, and social realities that impose on the choices that can be made in the classroom, the school, and in broader community settings. But teaching is also an imaginative act that promises to engage students and teachers in the excitement of generating personal knowledge and establishing individual and collective meaning. Teachers both shape and are shaped by the institutional, social, and cultural settings of their work.

The required readings in our section of PED 3102 address various societal factors that affect teaching and learning in contemporary classrooms, schools, and school systems. The readings call upon us to critically examine our assumptions about ourselves, teaching, teacher preparation, classrooms, schools, students, communities, and learning from a number of different but interrelated viewpoints that reflect diverse and often contentious perspectives.


The readings required for the course are intended to push us, sometimes uncomfortably, to reconsider our present ideas and to explore what may be new ways of thinking about societal and professional issues that are central to the work of teaching and to the experience of schooling. The readings are intended to open an encounter with challenging ideas that can help us understand more fully what it means to teach thoughtfully in contemporary classrooms and to appreciate the social realities that give context and content to teacher and student experience. Our aim throughout is to understand how we can help to make schools and classrooms better places, places where teachers and students can live and learn together with sensitivity and care.

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Schooling and Society (PED 3102 P) Common Readings
We will read the chapters, articles, essays, and short stories in this section as a group. All of these texts are intentionally provocative as they urge us to think deeply about the enterprise of public schooling and to reconsider the assumptions we bring to teaching, learning, and the formally structured education of students.

I. Visions of Knowledge, Schooling, & Teaching
●Beginning with Ourselves
1. David Foster Wallace, Transcription of the 2005 Kenyon College Commencement Address – May 21, 2005 [http://www.marginalia.org/dfw_kenyon_commencement.html; accessed 3 May 2009]

●Provocations to Re-Think Schooling
2. Deborah Meier, “Reinventing Teaching” [Teachers College Record, 93 (4), Summer 1992.]
3. John Taylor Gatto, “Biographical Note” & “The Seven-Lesson Schoolteacher” [Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling, Gabriola Island, B.C.: New Society Publishers, 1992, pp. ix-xiv & 1-21.]


●Re-Thinking Teaching & Teacher “Training”
4. Andy Hargreaves & Noreen Jacka,“Induction or Seduction?…Preparing to Teach” [from the Peabody Journal of Education 70 (3), Spring 1995, pp. 41-63.]


II. Alternative Realities: Voices from the Literary World
Another View of Childhood
5. Ray Bradbury, “The Playground” [from The Stories of Ray Bradbury, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1981.]
Children of Difference
6. Conrad Aiken, “Silent Snow, Secret Snow” [from The Short Stories of Conrad Aiken, Freeport, New York: Books for Libraries Press, 1971/1950.]


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Beginnings: thinking through the difference between schooling and education...


Here are two video clips that should get you started in thinking through the important distinction between schooling and education. One is a short segment about the great and still influential American educator and philosopher John Dewey. The other is a short clip that allows Ferris Bueller to share his insight into schooling with us.






Geoffrey Canada, The Harlem Children's Zone -- From CBS 60 Minutes


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