I Can Teach

For the first time I have laid witness to John Deweys’ guiding principles of progressivism within a classroom. I had an opportunity to speak to 4 sessions of 8th grade science classes at SAAS and found how student centered learning can be operated. These kids were given the materials to explore what interests them and came prepared with questions about what they found. This active inquiry based system allowed for the students to draw lessons from the content and engage their curiosity for how our lab did things, the process of getting us to our findings, how much it cost, personal stories of the pediatric patients etc. They were very interested in the stories behind the science, and this engagement I attribute to this experimental learning, and the way the teacher let the individual pupil difference influence instruction.

I am all about inspiring optimism for societies future, mixing up the disciplines across ages, and can appreciate the sentiments of school as “home”, class as “family” and teacher as “parent-guardian”. I can teach the content and find ways to provide for that lifelong means of intellectual development. There is a pendulum that swings between student centered vs. knowledge/society-oriented education and I believe that in the moderation between the two, we can find relief.


All Things Considered

Ellis wrote about the fact that “The Melting Pot” never really happened. In the sense that in this melting pot old customs would be left behind, languages would be forgotten and differences would be melted together.  I appreciated the shout out to the fact that teaching immigrants to read and write English was an incredibly difficult task that had never been attempted before.  They did this so that the disadvantage of not knowing the language could give them the tools to rise above the lower stratum. In essence to get better jobs,  and it isn’t for the faint of heart to challenge this idea.

So during this time (late 1800’s early 1900’s) it looked like this melting pot might happen! Ellis contributes a few culturally damaging circumstances out of this zeal for assimilation, like negative stereotypes, racism, discrimination, and segregation (Ellis, 4). I appreciated his honesty in saying that perhaps the teaching profession is that of a reactive and defensive posture. That “Teachers have been demoralized by tight budgets, declining enrollments and increasingly hostile public” (Ellis, 5). He does offer some hope in our ability to understand, and therefore increase of understanding through exposure.

This note from him about Robert Muller was particularly touching, as it relates to my future profession:

United Nations official Robert Muller recently noted that a child born today into a world of 4 billion people will, if he or she reaches the age of sixty be sharing the earth with three times that many human beings. Muller goes on to say that “A child born today will be both an actor and a beneficiary or a victim in the total world fabric, and he may rightly ask: ‘Why was I not warned? Why was I not better educated? Why did my teachers not tell me about these problems and indicate my behavior as a member of an interdependent human race?” (Ellis, 7).
He goes on to offer advice based on recommendations from Gilliom and Remy on how to gain global education. My particular favorite is that global education should involve learning for something, rather than about something (Ellis, 8).

P.S. I wish there was an end of chapter “culture inventory” questions posted as the paper suggests.


Search for Meaning

Millennia of experience can help provide the sense of cultural legacy to build the moral sense within young people. The treasure of accumulated knowledge is now dependent on curiosity and available through technology. Herbart in the age of enlightenment came to the imperative that education is to cultivate humanity to a natural morality. That the educational challenge isn’t to impart knowledge but to promote students desire to be good and productive citizens.

With this age, I find people to be self guided in their search for meanings in the teachings technology provides. Making the responsibility to find persuasive means to move their understandings to a position that it is in their best interest and the interests of others around them to promote social values even more pressing. This responsibility is also spread out to not only the academic teachers, but the teachers of the general public. I am finding suggestible youth in public forums being guided by these public teachers unburdened by responsibility of immediate personal consequence. I feel more-so now then ever, that as a society “rising tides lifts all boats” (not in relation to the economy) and have hope that we can all move forward together in our search for meaning.



Key Idea Identification

I loved how the reading (Ellis, 5) started out with something known, but often ignored. “Each of us has a personal philosophy which we apply, consciously or unconsciously, to our daily life. While some people are more informed than others, most people have established a basic framework within which to view life.”

And something of note from last weeks readings was that teachers are salaries are not high compared to other professions because they are assigned a work year of 180 days while the rest in our society considers 240 days to be the norm. This is working under the assumption that teachers are not preparing for the next school year during that time. And I have yet to meet a teacher for that assumption to be true.

Things from the lecture:

Solicit what the kids are interested in to make an impact beyond themselves – affecting change. Don’t teach until kids react negatively.