Wednesday, October 24, 2007

10.23.07 response to class 8 - Noddings chapters 2,3

The presentation of today was all on the chapters 3 and 4 of Noddings. The classmate to present did mention something at the beginning that reflected my own feelings when I read that chapter. She disagreed from Noddings at first, because she believes in liberal arts education, and she was a little confused whether or not she agreed or disagreed because she wasn't sure when Noddings was referring to college or pre-college education.

I had many mixed feelings when I read this text. I don't think liberal education is a bad idea or a bad option. But also I grew up in a family that has always highly valued formal education and college level education; my grandmother and most of my aunts are teachers and it was simply expected from me that I would finish school with honors and go on to college to make something out of myself and not be stuck in some low qualified profession. So even then some of Noddings arguments contradicted things I have been taught to pursue for my life. The reason why I am in Grad school is not because this particular field is so especially important to me that I had to go to grad school for that, it is rather because I was taught that the more education (degrees) you have, the more educated you are and that makes the difference between you and the garbage truck person.

Two major things in this chapter challenged my view of education then. One is the fact that I have always believe liberal education, college, to be the desired form of education to form a well rounded professional, someone who knows a little about everything and can function in the world, as an educated, respectable person. Two is the fact that I always thought of college education as being something that all people should pursue to get rid of the lower status occupation.

That latter one is actually one of the reasons why this text spoke so much to me, even though I still don't know if I agree much with it. I made me think about one of the main reasons I fight with my boyfriend, who has nothing more than an Associates degree, which I dare not mention to my family or friends in Brazil, and sees absolutely no value for further higher education like a BA, an MA or anything. All he really needs for his occupation are certificates. I do not know whether or not he is right, my mind has been trained to think that the number of degrees you have define what kind of a value you have in the work market.

But in this chapter of Noddings she refuses to accept the idea that all children can learn everything that we propose to teach them. Children have different abilities, and no matter how fine the teaching is, there are always going to be differences in achievements. We all have our strengths and weaknesses.

She even mentions the question about algebra, which is her field of teaching. In real life many people will never use algebra, so why should people struggle through it? The classmate who presented this also started had an idea to refute Noddings argument, an idea that many times in my school life has been the only thing that kept me going in those subjects I hated, and made me actually enjoy them – sometimes is not the subject that matters, but the learning of the technique of getting through that, overcoming something that is not your strenght is a lesson in itself, because that kind of situation is going to be part of life.

Noddings questions how equal access to education can not mean one same education for everybody. Our classmate disagrees with her, saying she always thought that we should let children be exposed to all things. If we do have the chance to choose whatever they like, and education is based on that, what would happen if in 10 years they realize that it was exactly not what they wanted. Then it will be too late to go back, because througout their lives they had been trained for that one thing they thought they wanted. That is why I defend liberal education and disagree with the education tailored for the child.

Noddings says some people are never going to learn certain things and that this fact doesn't make them worse people, we just have different abilities, some are more oriented towards the academic, some are more manual. The problem is that in our society manual work is looked down upon comparing to reflective, philosophical work. I wonder though, if everyone is properly trained they will learn everything – some people just don't get theology or art, because they were not properly exposed to it...? I wonder if everyone got proper exposition to every subject from the liberal arts curriculum, they would all prosper at an acceptable pace. Now the question would be if that curriculum is really meaningful to constitute a fine educated person. Also, even though she says that everyone should not have identical education, but an education that will enhance their talents, one-how would you discover hidden talents, especially in the timid children like me? And how would you decide up to where in education the curriculum should be universal?

She does mention that there are certain things every child should learn, but then I question how democratic that is? At some point we can't talk about democracy. We do have to do things in a dictatorship model.

Noddings points that the liberal arts system is based on political issues, and that is fighting a losing battle. She gives the example of Dr.Seuss story of the star-bellied Sneetches vs the no star Sneetches. She also gave the example how the inner city schools are using a more prestigious model , teaching the children to discuss and create arguments, while the wealthier schools were drilling children for standardized tests. So privileged knowledge is not necessarily the best one. That is a good point. But I guess we can say that there is such a thing as a better model of education. At least in this specific case, the children in the poor school are not getting prepared for the tests but they are learning something important, which is the ability to think critically. But then again, a classmate even raised that argument in class, what is the definition of success? For some might be academic achievement, education, personal satisfaction, or financial success. Financial success will probably come for those who do well in standardized tests and will go to the better schools and get a profession that makes good money. Not necessarily the thinkers.

If we go after this model, everyone succeeded, everyone would go to white collar jobs. Those who did not do as well just as today would go to menial jobs that they fell into because they could not get where they wanted, not because that is what they are good at. But if our society looks at certain occupations as low status, undeserving, really who will want to be in them? Even if I know I have the makings of a great plumber I would probably look into some academic position, just because my family and my society taught me that this is the good type of occupation.

I have the feeling that she defends liberal education for early school grades though. After all how else are children supposed to be exposed to all the abilities they can develop? She does mention that children that have more manual abilities don't have to be doing a menial job, but they can also study the history of their fields. That somehow sounds like she believes that academic knowledge is important.

One of the impressions I get from all this reading thought, is that we are talking about things that are not really going to happen. This confuses me. She mentions that now she is just dreaming. I think it is great to dream, but I really wonder if there is a practical point in all of that or if this is all beautiful talk to stay in the books and in the discussion classes of graduate or teacher prep schools.She talks about a school in which children would be educated to learn about every occupation and profession. That school just doesn't exist, and it is unlikely it will.

10.16.07 response to class 7 - Greene's chapter 1

I had the opportunity of discussing the text with Vivian before she presented it in class and I noticed that we identified with some of the impressions we got from Maxine greene's chapter on Freedom and Education and Public Spaces. We both thought Greene was very dense, so I tried helping her doing her presentation because I thought it would help me better understand Greene's language, but we ended up losing communication over the week. It turned out our works came out very similar. Actually Wendy Kholi's review of Greene's book was a great help to figure out the book.

Greene's main topic is to imagine things to be able to act on them. So, she gets the idea of freedom and contests it - the individual is free to do what he or she wishes to do,within the context of self; she brings a new concept, that freedom is within the context of a community. It is about responsibility.

Vivian mentioned the movie Blood Diamond and how that made her think of that concept. Responsibility to the society. I have not seen the movie, but it has been suggested to me by my family ever since I started asking my boyfriend for a ring. I really am curious to know what the implications are of buying cheap diamond here. How is that part of my responsibility as part of a community.

Another example that Vivian mentioned was the fact that the rapper 50 cent visited a high school in Bridgeport – what role models are we bringing to children? Who should they look up to? Greene's view is that people don't care about the community. We have an industry of violence that targets children today – video games and movies. How is that a good role model for them? If a child sees violence over and over again, how will she/he think that violence is not the norm? I think though, that as parents and care givers we have a choice of changing that. According to Greene, freedom is the action we take before the situations we encounter. Therefore the action we take to protect our children from possible harm will define our exercise of freedom. I have a little brother, and I remember not letting him sit through certain video games with my older brother. It would have been easy to let him sit there and play with my brother, but I decided to take action. I think parents can do that today, if they care about raising whole human beings.

We should protect the young mind as a society. I guess that is Greene's point. The society should care about making sure the industry of violence doesn't target kids. An exerpt from Bill Clinton's speech was read to the class. The speech says that even though we have freedom of speech we will restrain ourselves from producing certain things that will harm young minds. A classmate argued that there can't be freedom of speech and restraining. I do believe it is possible. I think that has to do with personal and social responsibility. I will keep myself from certain aspects of my freedom in order to protect others. Ultimately of course it is up to each parent what their children have access to or not, but the whole society should be concerned with creating the best environment possible.

I do have another look on this matter of violence though. The professor did mention that there was violence when he or we were growing up, cartoons like Tom and Jerry are filled with violence. And our generation did not come out terribly wrong – not perfect though, but not terribly wrong either. Sometimes I wonder if today's parents worry more than normal about violence. Cartoons that 30 years ago would be considered harmless fun, today are viewed as evil by parents. I wonder if today's parents are over-concerned about violence.

Maybe, even though all this concern is exaggerated, the fact that today's children are the worry of our generation is grounded in the fact that we (and they) are being exposed to more violence than ever before. And today's youth has been the protagonists of horror stories like school shootings and other similar acts of violence. And this is on TV all the time, and most chidlren watch tv all the time.

The professor and the students think Greene's cause is very noble, if there are problems, changes need to be made. And it needs to be a social approach, because there are too many pieces to it.

So is Maxine Greene's banner unfair? Society has changed. Children see violence all the time. But I also saw violence in cartoons when I was growing up.

Is it TV's fault? Is it the newscast fault then? Well, yes, there are ways of reporting the news that can make it not so sensationalist and glamorized, but the news are the news, we can't really run away from it. It there is more violence being reported children who watch tv news are more exposed to violence. If the games are more and more real, children, who obviously play video games, are more exposed to pretend violence that looks real, then real violence becomes not so much of a big deal. A classmate gave an account of her personal experience – she lived abroad, and watching American television there, she realized there was a lot of violence on her country's tv.

I believe though, that as one classmate mentioned, children are not just growing up with war lately, many of these problems are simply true of human condition. That means there has always been violence in our world. Not only violence, but other evils. Children have always been exposed to death and tragedies. In a world that brings violence from afar inside our homes through TV and games, we over protect our children to a point where some of them can't deal with death or violence, because they have been over sheltered. Some Christian parents I met were afraid of telling their children about hell for instance, for fear they would be traumatized. Well, if that is the faith you are teaching your children, you should teach it as a whole, or the child will have a handicapped faith. Children should also learn about life as a whole, or they will be handicapped individuals.

Ben made a wonderful comment in my opinion: he said television and radio don't create captive voices, you can always hang up. What is being lost in our society is the teaching of character values. Ben is always mentioning how he views every moment he has with a child as a teaching opportunity. And the truth is most of us don't think of it this way. Most parents shelter their children from violence because they do not want to deal with explaining to the children what is going on or they don't know how to deal with the children's reaction to it. I am afraid that my child will be exposed to violence and become an assassin because I really don't know how to deal with the reaction that child will have to that kind of violence.

Ben was actually arguing against the presidential speech that I agreed with, but I think he made a good starting point to talk about parent's responsibility. I do think that society should feel responsible too, but not to the extreme of censorship. Another student for instance mentioned that we put so much emphasis on all the academic education, but we forget that ethical behavior is equally importatnt. You wouldn't have to tell people to act with restraint, because if they had that ethical education they would know how to do it. We judge our society for the lack of morality today, but morality is the very thing we are forbidden from teaching in schools today. Greene also made that point. And I think that is the one thing above all others that should be reconsidered in our schools.

10.09.07 response to class 6 - video and Greene's chapter 2

On this class we watched another video. This one was about the SAT tests. The video questioned its validity. What do they measure? Are they really fair? We are talking about a 3 hours multi choice exam, in which today most children taking it are aiming for the perfect score of 600pt so they can enter top universtities. For that goal preparation starts earlier and earlier and it costs more and more.

It was a complicated subject for me. Coming from Brazil I am used to something called vestibular, which I think is worse than the SAT. SAT and GPA are the 2 most importatnt criteria the university admission looks at, but they are not the only ones. Vestibular is a test and its score is the sole determining factor of whether or not you enter college. At least up until a few years ago. Now skin color also matter. And to me that is really more a form of reversed racism than social justice.

It looks like now many schools here in the US also consider skin color as a criteria to admit students, so they can have diversity in their campus. Again, i think this is a form of racism. The argument used by the schools in the video was that they want to keep their campus diverse and give everyone a fair chance. When California population banned racial preferences in college admission, the number of blacks and latinos dropped amazingly. Well, I guess that is unfortunate. That means that probably these groups are not getting that great of a basic education. But their color or ethinicity should not give them the right to get into school. One way that seems fair is that grades are not the only thing looked at, personal history and academic efforts count too. Some schools do that. That is not racism, that is just another way of evatluating whether or not a student is a good fit for a university.

If it is not going to be solely like this then i guess we should either decide for racial quotas for everyone ( so many whites, so many blacks, so many reds) or SAT scores for everyone. Not one and the oter, so a black student with a very low SAT gets in while a white student with that same score would be out. That to me is not only racism, it is also an isult to the black people. The gap is not of color , it is of class and preparation. If the preparation is not adequate, than it is not the tests fault

The problem with the SAT is actually the efect it has on the students. Those who fail it feel awful about themselves. Those who did not get into college after having spent so much time in preparation for it went on to community colleges. That was so disturbing! It means it is either all or nothing – either the top notch schools or community college.

The discussion of the text was Greene's first chapter. The classmate in charge of it felt lost in her task to deliver Greene's message. It was indeed a dense chapter, but I thought I lot of it was a repetition of wha twe had already read in the review of her work by Wnedy Kholi.

Concern for freedom is a recurring theme in our life time. Freedom is always there, we have to talk about it. It can olny be obtained thru ressistance agains toppresion, is it not to be give, it has to be achiveed.

The student who presented this chapeter thinks her idea is really unrealistic, bc she doens't think it can happen in the real world.

Schools don't allow children to be free from automatism Children are taught what society requires them to know, not what they want to know. Certain requirements are needed to work in society

Someone gave one example from Korea; there, it is hard to get jobs bc there's a huge competition, the school you graduated from plays a big part in job selection. Too many people are out of jobs. It makes people who want to try their best very disappointed. Are we talking about the struggle for freedom? I am still trying to figure out her point and how it relates to the text.

We talked about the difference in the concept of Democracy and the concept of freedom. There is a basic difference. Freedom is almost non-existent in some countries. But what about in America? How free are its children? They have pre-selected courses – are they free?

There was a movement in the 70's to try to have children selct their classes. And i wonder how much successful would that movement have made the country's children, had it succeeded?

Greene says sometimes poets and artists are closer to the idea of being free bc they had their piece of work in which they expresses their freedom . Children are not free, bc what they learn has been pre-selected. Democracy is an empty word.

Another's classmate comment was that kids still have the freedom to want to learn . If the course is not their passion they can choose not to learn. It is an element of freedom. The things is that freedom will then entitle responsibilities that will come with those choices right? If Ichoose not to learn, fine, but I will get penalized for that and that might determine the rest of my life opportunitites and restrictions.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

10.02.07 response to class 5 - greene's review by Kholi, religion in schools

Today's class dealt with a very rich theme. Religion or religion related subjects being taught at public schools. The professor showed a video about the decision of the public schools in Kansas to teach criationism at schools, together with the theory of evolution.

The text discussion was on Maxine Greene's idea of freedom. The text discussed on this day was actually not her book, but a review of her book by Wendy Kohli. I actually tried reading Greene's book before starting this review, and I did find it much easier to do the opposite. After I started reading the review, many concepts that were difficult to understand, became clearer to me.

Well, I will start by the right order in which things came in class. The Kansas case video.

As a Protestant Christian there are so many things I could talk about here, or to respond to what was presented. I do have to say that many times I feel that my rights as a Christian are violated when a theory is considered truth at the expense of another theory that is part of my set of beliefs. Some scientists in that video did make evolution sound so certain that if that was wrong all of science would colapse. That does make it sound like the common belief that faith is the enemy of reason is true. And that does make it sound like no one has a right to question evolution. Sometimes it seems like evolution is more a religion than a scientific theory, by the way people defend it. So we have no right to question something in the field of science? How is that different from many religions that do not allow its members to questions their dogmas?

Another thing that was upsetting was the idea that every Bible believing Christian believes in creation as an oposition to evolution. Many Christians I know see no contradiction between evolution and the book of genesis, they actually believe that the 2 intertwine. So the idea that faith and science are in a battlefield is really offensive.

On the other hand there are non Christian scientists that do not believe in evolution, like those who defend the theory of intelligent design. I read a book my Mike Clark, and he claimed to not believe in God. But his whole book was devoted to contesting Darwin's evolution. That means all these theories are really are just theories.You can't defend them as if the reputation of the whole sicence field depended on it.

One question that was raised was that it was not fair to children to teach them that there were opposing views. That should be taught at universities. And then a question was raised in my mind – it is not fair to children to let them know that there are contradictions in the field of science? Why not? Are we trying to teach children that science is infalible? That sounds a lot like religion.

The next topic went on to discuss religious faith in universities. It mentioned how students feel their beliefs are suffocated when they go to college. There is a common belief today that faith is the enemy of reason. Unfortunately that happens today, because it used to be the opposite – religion has been viewed for centuries as the beginning of wisdom. That is how this country's universities were founded.

What happens today is that students that go to universities have their religion as an important part of their lives and are told that that important part of who they are has to be left outside the school's gates. Their gods are not welcome there even though that is a vital part of their beings.

Today we question why we have professionals with no morals or sense of right and wrong. Could it be that lack of religion might lead to lack of moral vision? Most religions are responsible for teaching moral to their followers. The reason why I think we don't need to make morals about religion is because most religions have very similar morals. So we don't need to favor on religion or another. I really don't know how to teach morals without a sense of respect for a higher being, like God. I really don't know how to teach morals based on an atheist humanism. But that doesn't mean I have to teach morals promoting the God of the Bible. I can teach about God through the teaching of morals, if I want to, and that is probably what I would do in a Christian school or at Sunday School, not in a public school.

The article read was about freedom - what is the meaning of freedom after the enlightment. Before it was being able to make choices. After it, it was a meaning of gettign things and be independent in captalism.

Considering that freedom is a way to make choices, some contemporary critical educatoors, like Paulo Friere, think that educators should be a mean to improving the current conditions of people, bringing them freedom, freeing them from oppression. The more oppressed people are,the less they have room to act, to make choices.

Greene, the author of the text being discussed, believes in being part of the community and try to better one's views trhough education. That to her is real freedom. Freedom is social rather than individualistic.

Her father was a very traditional jew. She isnsited that freedom cam e trhou chosing how to interpret your role in life. It was about making choices of how to live, but how to live in a community.

She complained that people don't care anymore, but that is because we have become individualistic, that is our notion of freedom. When all that matters is my own success and my own pleasure, the community is not important, morals are not important.

She mentions how not everyone has the freedom to take for granted. Many groups are oppressed in our society. And also people that have more means think they are entitled more freedom.

She mentions the reason why people search for freedom barriers. We all meet barriers, walls, ism's. We have to fight. So according to Greene, freedom is achieved not received. And it is not easy, because we are used to being oppressed.

Greene identifies a lot with Paulo Friere idea of education. He was exiled from brazil bc he was teaching people to fight for their rights. He had a movement called concientizaĆ§Ć£o. Reflectiveness on what makes a better community. We have to work together. Freedom is found thru resistance (ex. Rosa Parks), one has to be resistant to bring things around. (The exmple was give in class about the story of the RED LETTER – the kind of people we should be, choosing how to act in our role, the lady in the Red letter chose to act in a way that beneffited the community).

Taking about this concept of freedom one question was raised in class - Can students feel safe to speak their minds in a classroom? Hwo would you do that? One classmate said that the tone had to be set on the first day. But when you are younger you are much more succesptible to being teasing, and the teasing doesn't occur in front of the teacher. How can we avoid that? Students are afraid to express their views bc there are afrid they will be laughed at. A possibility was having a bulletin board online where studetns can contribute anonimously

A few things that were discussed in class:

It is terrifying when the state controls individuals.

Shouldn't the public school be free for the community to express their religions?

If I live in a democracy and don't believe in democracy I am not free. None of our teachers could say they don't believe in democracy. Or they would lose their jobs. Is that freedom? Freedom is a very lose idea.

Good pedagogy offers freedom for children. But at early grades freedom should be very limited. As we know children can hurt each other.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

10.16.07 Maxine chapter 1 and Noodings chapter 3, 4

Greene – the dialectic of freedom

Chapter 1

Today freedom = self determination, self reliance, independence

If we are independent we can do what we want, we have power.

If that is true we should be celebrating today, but the times are troubled with irresponsibility, illiteracy, unethical behavior and relativism.

Greene questions if todays notion of freedom is a good one. She believes today's troubles are due to it, and questions what we are teaching our children – what kind of culture we are perpetuating.

Many poets in the 20th century have realized this carelessness, thoughtlessness, lassitude, but we keep on celebrating our “freedom”.

She complains of som sort of apathy. We have this one idea of freedom as of being independent, but that type of freedom leads us to not question what is wrong. We take everything for granted.. Few of us do question. Even those who do, lack a set of shared values in their solutions. The general feeling is that of not caring about public concerns.

The reason is that people do not have a desire for thinking. Thought = freedom to reflect, to distance yourself from the subject and look at it and at what it could be. (look at things as if they could be otherwise.)

Because we have no desire for thought, we don't feel need to gather in public spaces and establish a “sphere of freedom”- maybe that means getting involved with community issues. That sort of lack of involvement leads to a feeling of victimization and powerlessness, which makes the concepts of freedom, bill of rights, like “inalienable rights” meaningless ideas, simple slogans.

Freedom = the capacity to reflect, the capacity to distance yourself from your life and look at it as it could be, “look at things as if they could be otherwise.”

She says we are in a time of reform (what reform is that?)

In this book she wants to explore alternative modes of being in the world, and the implications of this idea for education.

She mentions ideas of freedom of Dewey, Sartre, Foucault and Merlau-Ponty, Freire.

To Dewey freedom is about consequenses not antecedents. “we are free as we become different”. So freedom to him is about the ability to change ourselves?

Freedom is to be attained in to be attained in a context of social situations, making transactions with conditions and people. “whatever is chosen and acted upon must be grounded [...] in an anwareness of a wolrd lived in common with others.”

To Sartre freedom is an opening of spaces or perspectives dependent on our actions, motivated by our becoming conscious of a deficient reality. The movement only happens when we feel there is a challenge.

The problem she sees with our culture today when she thinks about this view is that accomodations come too easily – in life and in school.

Contemporary schooling doesn't challenge children to interpretive thinking, to relfect on the reality of their lives. They are supposed to attend to what is given from the outside world. This leads us to view reality as objective and to take things for granted, to not care.

What are the consequences of this way of living:

-unreflective consumerism

-having more instead of being more.

-freedom being self dependence instead of relationship (freedom is supposed to be social)

-people consider themselves free if they can get what they want, or if they have no obstables on the road to success.

To Freire freedom has to be grounded in accepting a situation as ours, “overcoming alienation”, that means to affirm oneself as a human being capable of decision, and recognizing the situation we are in.

This means that what we have today dehumanizes us. We need to find our true vocation, to become human again.

Greene talks about the dialectic of freedom. She wants to eliminate the either/or relation. For instance, she wants to reaffirm the significance of desire and the significance of thought. I am not sure if she means that she wants to go beyond what other philosophers believed and find a relation between what they consider to be bad – the desire to have more things – and what they consider to be good – the reflective thinking.

She repeats that every human situation is marked by a type of dialectical relation, there is always some tension, not the kind that can be overcome or synthesized peacefully.

Freedom will only be achieved when obstacles are perceived as obstacles and not as given. The examples she gives are: an immigrant that suffers indifference or neglect, minorities that face discrimination, children that face barriers imposed to them in the search for the creation of their authenticity. If those hardships are perceived as natural, you can't imagine a better state of being. SO you might even be proud of your autonomy, but you won't try to change your situation.

Another option for these option for these people is not to stay accommodated to their situation, but to simply uproot themselves and leave their traditions behind!

She mentions a book that deals with the uprroting situation – it is the Czech “the unbearable lightness of being”. This book talks about a person who leaves home and moves to the US, and does what she wants, but has no real realationships. She is free, but her freedom is meaningless. The lightness of being means the lack of links.

That is used in opposition to kitsch, which means slogans that are part of a culture, but are usually taken for granted. Slogans like “our traditional vaules” or “the barbarism of communism”. The people that break out from that and leave their traditions have some sort of negative freedom, and she examples Daniel Boone, and the hippies.

In another Czech book that deals with freedom , she thinks the author is trying to say that freedom is not missed if you don't have anything to be obstructed. Like in a dictatorship, you may feel free if there is nothing you might want to say that will get censored. If you don't feel that you are being restricted, you take freedom for granted, like breathing.

Under dictatorships some people want to say things they are not allowed, those people are the ones that feel like they are in a gas chamber – that is when you finally fight for freedom as someone who desperately need air would .

She thinks that is why freedom is usually a very strong value for people from eastern europe.

All of these things she is describing are relevant for education because education should be the means to lead the people to go beyond themselves, to think about what they are doing to open a world of learning and reflective thinking. But that doesn't occur very often today.

What happens is that the schools are required to prepare the students to feed the world of economic competitiveness, consumerism, lack of ethics, with the students being prepared to accommodate to this world, and not to think and challenge it. Almost nothing is done to solve the problems we faced today like homelessness, pollution, crime...

but schools are asked to prepare people for being successful in this world and put a stop to the problems that they are challenged with, like suicides and teen pregnancy.

She mentions how the teachers, even the ones who had other plans, are constrained to adapt to the present demands and prescriptions. Many educators might have chosen to be silent even if they are those who find it “difficult to breath”. And they are so important to model to the children the search for their own freedom.

She talks about how important it is to this current system that people feel no need to rebel. If they believe the promises of this world (wealth, security and happiness) they will stay quiet and do what is prescribed. They will be passive audiences.

She says that the world today is interpreted that way, people are given things to believe in, so they keep passive. And when the world is so interpreted, it is not easy for people to see something wrong with it. They just live in this world of symbols that is presented to them.

These symbols are like the gas chamber. No one feels that the air )freedom) is being taken away.

But she mentions there were instances in which people challenged a reality that seemed unalterable. She mentions the French Resistance in WW2. Those people took action become they had beomce challengers. They belived a different reality could come, and that Nazis were the obstacle they had to come together to overcome. They could have used excuses such as the fact they needed to take care of their families, but they preffered to fight for the possibility of transformation. They only did that because they thought that their current situation was unbearable and it could be otherwise.

She brings this case because those men believed they could come together and fight for a change. They could have simply complained and done nothing to change anything. Also they veiwed freedom as something that is was coming to them for the first time. It was not a gift, but something they had to fight for. She suggests that people find freedom when they have a project they can mutually pursue.

It is unlikely that people think about breaking through the structures of the world if they don't have any attachements to others. We create a society of strangers, where noone cares about anyone's problems.

She talks about two ways of withdrawing from the challenge of thinking. Some people play the game of society, they identify with the notion of freedom and just move through it looking for success. Some others go into the search of themselves and create their own shelters inside their minds, but they keep on playing the game in their real lives. Both of these groups refuse to take consciousness. The cooscious person is always engaged with others.

It is taking all of that into consideration that she wants to explore the problem of freedom and to develop a view of education for freedom, that would take our realities and our human condition into account.

Finally she mentions that she knows her book is not the first to talk about the need for an awakening. She knows of the problems a pluralistic country faces, and she is aware of ambivalences regarding equality and justice, and of the tragic dimension in human life. She belives that tragedy brings challenges though. She mentions it might be time to confront this challenges and empower the youth to recreate a common world and rediscover what it means to be free.

Noddings – the challenge to care in schools

Chapter 3 – beyond the disciplines: a critique of liberal education

She will argue that liberal education is a false ideal of universal education

(what is liberal education exactly? - it is a set of disciplines designed for general education rather than specific occupations)

Main argument – inadequacy of traditional subject matters as the ideal universal education.

Question left open in the end – is there a set of subjects that are deisreable or necessary for all?

It is considered the ideal education for college people.

It is standard for sceondary school, as college prep.

She will focus on qustioning the use in secondary school. I assume then that she assumes that primary education must be identical and universal for all children.

Her arguments will be in this order:

-it is inapropriate as universal education bc it is a small set of human abilities, which will lead to unequal outcomes.

-the political rational for it is misguided

-the content is not what all children need.

-popular arguments agains tracking can be used against liberal arts.

Some people argue that true democracy comes only with equal education for all children.

But equal doen't mean identical. And besides, equal should include something beyond subjects, like decent schools, adequate coaching, encouragement and advice.

One author says that there are no unteacheable children, but failing parents and schools. Noddings believes that most children can learn most things, but children should have educational opportunities that enhances their talents and not that measures their ability to do algebra. If they are not good at algebra, they are considered inferior.

Some people are never going to learn certain things. That doesn't make them worse people. (I wonder though, if everyone is properly trained they will learn everything – some people just don't get theology or art, because they were not properly exposed to it...? I wonder if everyone got proper exposition to every subject from the liberal arts curriculum, they would all prosper at an acceptable pace. Now the question would be if that curriculum is really meaningful to constitute a fine educated person. Also, even though she says that everyone should not have identical education, but an education that will enhance their talents, one-how would you discover hidden talents, especially in the timid children like me? And how would you decide up to where in education the curriculum should be universal?)

There must be some body of math that every children should know (she answers my argument), but she will not discuss that at this point of the book.

She mentions for instance drug babies, many of them might not even be able to learn. Some of them might want and be able to, but liberal arts might really not be their top priority when they have so many other needs to learn. Once they meet their basic needs, they should have a curriculum tailored to their interests and abilities.

It is a waste of money and talent to insist on liberal education for all.

She questions “the best education for the best is the best education for all.” Who can decide which curriculum is the best education?

It would be ideal if we could design a curriculum that gives attention to every human capacity and that people were incentivated to develop the ones they identify with.

And should capacities be unqually valued? A curriculum that values only a couple of these capacities, creates unequal and unfair results.

Some arguments are strong in favor of liberal arts. The political aspects – it has been historically associated with the people that were privileged with power and wealth. So why should we deny children the opportunities of getting privileged education usually reserved for the cream of society?

But she is not convinced that this type of education is really the best for everyone, neither for the mass nor for the elite. Except for those with talent in linguistics or math. Although that wouldhave to be modified.

Also she uses Dr. Seuss story of the sneetches, to talk about the power structures, and how the notion of best shifts to accommodate those who are privileged. From this point of view, giving all children the education of the best just for this political standpoint's sake is useless. This education is only privileged because those who are privileged claim it as their own. Privileged knowledge will change more easily than the power relations.

She requires instead an educational, not political, argument for requiring all children to take those privileged subjects. Because this approach fails to address the question of whether or not this knowledge should be important.

She thinks a good test to evaluate this type of privileged education is the question “what would happen if we succeeded?”

Everyone would follow on to college and to white collar jobs – the question she raises is – would everyone want this? Then a bunch of intellectuals would share blue collar jobs (unlikely), or those who did not do well in the system would end up in jobs by default (what happens today), without an opportunity to really develop their own strengths, they'd not be in the best job for them.

This type of ed indeed preprares students for a class of jobs. And the children might learn to view the other types as contemptible.

A more familiar argument to liberal education (mine for isntance) – the contents are things that everyone in society should know.

Her argument is :

teachers of different areas will complain that students or people have no culture if they don't know certain things particular to their own fields. But so many people excell in their fields without really mastering the core contents of others.

She is distressed that 17-year-olds don't know certain things, but more that students are not learning what schools are teaching now. The situation here is not this one: The students are not lacking the knowledge because the knowledge is not part of the curriculum. The situation is: the students are not mastering the content. If they think no one cares, they can't find a reason to attend to the content.

Students will listen to people who matter to them and for whom they matter. The ignorance of today is because children do not find meaningful adults in their lives to comment on meaningful content. “Relation preceeds engagement in subject matter.”

now most of the curriculum content is not really necessary for everyday life. It is just a mark of the “best” (the elite), because it has been like that traditionally. That is why oppressed minorities make it a point of having it universalized.

(did not understand the point of page 38 and 39. but...) she mentions how we are so worried about not getting into each other's field. We even withdraw from giving any sound advise that any sensible person would, fo rthe sake of not entering someone ele's field.

At public schools, teacher's refrain from talking to students about morals, bc they say it is the pastor's or parent's role. But intelligent adults can and should talk to children about values.

Next argument has to do with trying to put everyone on the same track, but lowering the quality of the course for some so much, that it doesn't prepare them for anything really.

So she argues for tracking, I think that means putting students in tracking according to their interests, either in liberal arts or in commercial, or industrial tracks. She says there is nothing sacred about the liberal arts curriculum. The arguments agains tracking are not educational – they are political and economical. (WHAT IS TRACKING?)

So we strive for placing everyone in higher tracks instaead of attacking the hierachy of those tracks, because we are disturbed about the fact that minorities are usually placed in lower tracks at large numbers.

Schools could focus on giving the students an integral kind of education, by taking them to cultural events, having them participate in discussions with adults from the community at meal time and talk to occupational models from society who would take some of them as apprentices.

Many people reduce the responsibilities of the school to academic only, bc they believe schools are being asked to much, and that is why children don't learn anything. The one writer's argument is that schools should value only academics, and students that fail here should learn that this failure is only in one type of failure, and that there are many other areas that person could succeed.

Noddings argues that a student that has spent 12 years receivein gthe message of failure at school will be unlike to realize that there are other areas in which he might succeed. That is why other abilities should be part of the school curriculum.

She doesn't completely ignore the validity of his argument. Schools maybe have too much that is asked from them, but that is because schools are burdened to accomplish something society doesn't want to itself, like getting rid of racism.

Next chapter she will look for an alternative to morally deficient schooling.

She compares the fact that rich and poor schools are so different from each other in their conditions, and that to bring them to equality would require the wealthier to be willing to share their resources or sacrifice a little and they are not willing to do so, yet they are the products of the current education we have, which goes to show that morally this education is deficient.

The 2 authors she counter argues here are Robert Hutchins (the best for the best), and Mortimer Adler (evry child can learn everything-identical education for al)

Noddings – the challenge to care in schools

Chapter 4 – an alternative vision

Imagine a world in which education was designed by people that valued relationships above all.

Dewey believes that the community should want for all children what the best parents want for their own children. He disagreed from Adler and Mortimer.

Dewey admired Plato's idea that a child should be educated according to his own needs and talents.

Plato only believed there were 3 categories of admirable occupations. Dewey disagreed from him.

It says that Dewey did not think that the children should be educated based on societal needs and occupational destinies and I thought that this was what Plato defended.

She asks us to imagine that we have a large family with many different children to raise – how would we want them to turn out.

This is a complicated experience bc since we have different cultural perspectives, what we want as the best for our children may vary. Because more than intelligences we are concerned with the development of characteristics important to the groups we belong.

But most parents would say they want their children to be happy, escape severe illness, develop talents, and be loved and respected.

Parents want to preserve the live of the children, to foster growth, shape them according to what is acceptable. Some times these 3 ideals conflict.


Ruddick puts together 3 schemes we should consider in order to successfully answer this question, even though we are so different:

1-there should be one set of different programs that will work on the children's different intelligences (7 to Gardner), and for those subjects that every child should learn, there should be an adaptation to capitalize on their abilities. There should be no testing unless requested by the parents or child. The most iportant shuld be the interests, not the testing of cpacities.

2-because moral and acceptability are still missing from that, there shuld be another set – human activities – that concetrates on activities and behaviors that enable to children “to live productive and acceptable lives”.

3-The next set to be part of a child's education, the one that will teach the different forms of care, is the set of basic affiliations (race, gender, class, religion). This set of affiliations will influence the way we will teach the children the different types of care, and which of these types will have priority over which.

When talking about care she speaks from her own perspective and afiliations.

Not talking about any special school organization in this chapter, she is just giving way to dreams. What should this ideal education for this large family of many children have.

Care for self – what that means from Noddings perspective.

She wants the children to be educated for physical health and grace.

Grace – key word for her here – means integration of body, mind and spirit – it is about recognizing that we can't control everything and that we all have gifts and limitations we are born with.

There are several aspects of self. Physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual. We can't separate them in real life, but it is easier to label them to talk about them.

Physical self – nutrition, hygiene, exercise, appearance.

It should not be reduced to physical education and classes that talk about parts of the body, like biology. Things that really matter to teenagers should be dealt with – complexion, stature, missed periods, unbidden erections, drugs. Drug education today is only in some curricula because drug is a problem, but it is usually not with the intent of explaining to the student that this is not a problem that is particularly evil or unique to them.

Spiritual self – almost no attention at public schools. Students have a lot of questions about spiritual things, about god and life after death, and these could be discussed without violating the establishment clause. A particular religion can not be taught in a public school, but the students can “learn something about the human longing for god or spirit.” Some students are going trhough the worries of rejecting their parents religion. It is also important that they can ask important questions concerning religions, so they will not accept non-sense, so they will not confuse indifference with respect.

Occupational self – choosing an occupation comes in addition to finding out who they are and what they want to become. Students whose talents fall in the spatial and bodily categories are usually diagnosed with some learning disability, anf their parents generally fight to prove that the kid can fix that, bc he is a bright kid. These kids would be the leading ones if all children were to have access to manual works of various kinds. Such students would feel much better about themselves if school credited them for their talent.

This would not necessarily doom these students to a set of narrow curricula. Academic skills could be learned focusing on their interests. Eg.Learn the history of machinery, visit museums, debate and investigate ethical and enviromental problems. I had a teacher who wanted us to do that. When she saw students that were failing in her subject, she would ask what they were interested in. I had a classmate who was a surfer, and the teacher asked him what good articles about surf he had read lately, what what his favorite surf magazine was. She wanted him to see, that he could become learned in the subject that really interested him and at the same time learn his language skills.

Care for intimate others – intimately related to self. The kind of persons we are affect the quality of relations we enter.

Forming relations with friends, relatives and mates are part of our aspirations in shaping an acceptable child.

If we can't agree on how to do that at schools, because we are culturally diverse, should the children suffer the lack of that learning? (I think children should learn that at home. They can practice it at school bc school is part of society, but how will teachers teach something that parents might not be happy with?)

Her expectation is that boys and girls would be prepared for the work of attentive love.

She questions how we see it as a problem that women have little room entering occupations typical of man, but no one seems to see a problem the fact that men have little participation in occupation typical of women. There should be more men in childcare.

Also the students should learn about the cycles of life.

Because families don't provide experiences in this area anymore, the school must do it.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

getting a little behind with my responses. will do them tonight!!!!

greene's outline of the first 2 chapters will also be here at the end of the week.

10.09.07 Intro, chap 1 and 2 outline of Noddings' Care

Nel Noddings - Care


this is a second introduction to this book. Noddings mentions that on the first one she argued against too much emphasis put on test scores and acquisition of information.

>Differentiates traditional education and current standardized testing system – she argues that we must know that traditional or classical education should not be confused with this heavy emphasis on testing. - she will refer to both things

>We all agree that schools should be held accountable for the results they produce. The question is ACCOUNTABLE FOR WHAT? They “should be accountable for the achievement of their stated purposes.” Whatever these purposes might be, depeding on the school philosophy.

>People differ on their definition of “caring” - the traditional educators have one notion, whereas the progressive have another one.

>Both traditional and progressive educators care. But in different ways.

>Progressive notion – carer and cared-for contribute to the relation; if cared-for denies he/she is cared for there is no caring relation. This might be the fault of the stubbornness of the cared-for, no fault of the system. - which is the case with many schools today.

>Traditional notion – the virtue of caring belings to cares, whether the cared-for likes it or not. “It's for your own good” notion.

>Responsiveness – the hallmark of caring - is argued as the solution for the satisfaction of the two points of view.

Schools need to be more responsive.

>Swings of the pendulum – this occurs because both sides fight to get education the way they believe it's best. It is more a shift of power than of mind and heart. It doesn't work.

>A system that allows both ways to flourish is the alternative Noddings believe in. People should have the chance to opt between both, according to their needs and beliefs.

This has happened in some public schools, but the very small schools can't afford to do so.

Trying to keep a homogeneous staff in one philosophy or the other is what contributes to “the swing.”

>The living other is more important than any theory – this is the reason why she believes people should be able to choose, even believing firmly in one approach. A lot of people forget this and put the theory above the child.

>The 2 philosophies can actually improve each other when they incorporate things from the other that might make the way they do things better.

>Belives privatization is not an option for 4 reasons:

1)economically restrictive – a family that gets a basic voucher will not have the same choices of a wealthy family that can spend much more money on one kid.

2)Competition is for consumer goods not for educational goods. Competition is good to close down bad business, but closing down a school is closing down part of a child's world. When it comes to consumer goods, with competition we get what we want at a price we can afford. When it comes to children's education we should hope all children get a good quality education.

3)secatarian groups could apply for vouchers and money from public funds would be used to support values that are not supported by the state. Some people argue that the money should follow the child, it should be made available for the families to decide how to spend it – but the government has the responsibility to ensure that the children be at least exposed to the notions of democracy. The basic test for the funding should be educational, not religious or ideological.

>In the next section of the introduction she will talk about the themes of care discussed in the book.

-What the questions that progressive educators worry about responding. How shall I make a living? -What do I owe to non-human animals?

-The things that are learned labouriously are easily forgotten and organizing schools around themes wuld be a better idea. Encourage the students to seek answers for their own quiestions.

-Would prefer a completetly reorganization fo the curriculum , but mentions how just that does not bring change and it might even make things worse. And it is unlikely to happen.

-Students can learn about caring in a variety of forms, not only the classic ones. And the classics should not be imposed, but encouraged.

-Extends the idea of caring to animals and plants, objects and ideas.

-recognizes that non-college bound students have been neglected and, because we decided that everyone should go to college they are doubly cheated since they are made feel like they are failures in the system, and are deprived of the classes they could be profiting from .

>Invitation – pretend we have a large family to raise and educate – this family includes children from all kinds of backgrounds and we want them to pursue their own interests, but also have a core of knowledge that we want them all to have access to. How will we do it?

Chapter 1 – Shallow educational response to deep social change

>There have been deep social changes since WWII and schools have not responded in effective ways to it.

>In today's typical classroom there are many different family structures and some children claim that no adults care for them. The author mentions that children really want someone to care.

>Because many children arrive in school by bus most teachers have no idea where they live. As children get older they don't think the teachers care about them, nor do they respect the teachers anymore.

>Students are exposed to a lot of nasty stuff and their schools are so big and impersonal, that it is not a wonder they believe no one cares. Most teachers can't tell students from strangers.

>When the author was going to school, she felt that school was like a second home. The teachers were the same throughout highs chool for instance. She says the curriculum wasn't that great , but the relationships built with the teachers were meaningful.

>Curriculum reform is not the answer. Except of course if it is such a drastic change that will contribute to a new environment at schools.

>3 movements of curriculum changes are described:

1- “structure of disciplines movement” - when she was a math teacher. This movement brought a prescription for bigger schools, which brought about so many problems. She believes it was not an entirely wrongheaded movement because the old curriculum was really out of shape.

2-behavioral objectives, or competency based curriculum – teachers had to state exactly what students were to do. She thinks it sounds sensible, because you decide what the students are to do and them tell them. But she thinks it is not a sensible way to start teaching, bc when we learn info for a specific purpose we quickly forget it. Besides breaking down the info did not help the children do better in the standardized tests, because they could not do the whole thing together by the end of the year. This is not a bad method, it has its proper uses. To state objectives and then drill the students to find out if your instruction has been adequate is appropriate when you want them to learn information that will be used in a broader subject. This science is mute though when it comes to stating how those objectives are to be accomplished.

3-Standar-lesson. It puts the emphasis on a lesson made up of a humber of steps to get from point A to point B. There is no way a student will not learn if the method is followed correctly. This for of reduction is called automation and it is not a good idea for interpersonal relationships. It fails to consider thought that students might simply not want to achieve that goal. So if the learning fails, it was the instruction that was faulty.

This sounds a lot like CCAA methodology – a number of steps established, to get from point a to point b, regardless of who the student and teacher are, learning will be achieved because the method is universal.

>The method is a universal approach to skill development. This induces boredom and it lead to what it has been called

>“random behavior”, or off-task behavior or in the old days “disobedience”, that is when the students' are not tuned in to the teacher's goal. This thinking fails to recognize that students have goals and purposes of their own.

>To get rid of ramdom behavior, “assertive discipline” came up – a strategy to free teachers to perfomr their main task – teach the subject matter.

>But this is not to be the teachers'main task.

>the one main goal schools should have is the growth of students as healthy, competent, moral people.

> the 3 approaches described are led by a search for method as if it was the way to make any student learn anything the school wants them to.

>Dewey contests that search. He believes school should be a model for education and democracy. Children should be involved in constructing the objectives of their learning.

Noddings thinks he didn't go too far because he was constantly fighting accusations of anti-intelectualism.

>Noddings advocates new priorities for schools. She bnelieves that intelectual development cannot be the main aim, because that doesn't ensure us against moral perversity. A product of such a thought is the Nazism.

>She belives that it is ok that the children don't know as much of the subject matter as long as there are better people. And qwuestions whether or not parents would have accpeted that as a goal for the open school approach.

>She is really concerned that school's first priority is intellectual development and that any institution have one stable main goal that eliminates the establishment of other goals.

>Open education had a shot in some schools but because the parents were afraid of letting the standardized test scores go down (and they did), I belive parents were not just worried about their status, but indeed in our world noone succeeds academically with low test scores.

>That means we need a radical change, not only in means but also in ends.

>She contests the critics to her claims. Critics are that schools spend too much time and energy with so many other things that it is no wonder the kids can't read and write. The system is strained with so many social activities.

> The system is strained because it doens't know a different way of doing things, and the only reason why the social works are done is because of the academic goal. Feed the children not because we want to help feed the hungry, but because hungry children can't learn. Children are fed, but they don't feel that anyone care.

Children are valued for their academic achievements. If they don't try hard to learn what we want to teach them they are made feel like traitors. They don't have a chance of working hard in what it is really important to them. That is why they believe no one cares.

>School cannon achieve academic goals without providing caring and continuity.

>To achieve that we must ask -

-what does it mean to care?

-how is care manifested and focused in human life?

-can we make caring the center of our educational efforts?

Chapter 2 – Caring

She defines caring as a relation between 2 human beings.

> Describes the state of consciousness of the carer:

-engrossement (attention) – it is essential in moral life. It is full reception of what the other is trying to convey.

-Motivational displacement – a moment ago I had my own projects in mind, now I am concerned with this other person's .

These two things don't tell us what to do. They caracterize our state of mind.

>the consciousness of the cared for:

Reception, recognition, response.

>>This dones't place a burden on the carer bc mature relations are characterized my mutuality. But even when a relation doens't allow the parties to change palces, the cared for response is not negligible and it makes caring a rewarding experience. There is a genuine reciprocity.

>The desire to be cared for is almost universal. Everyone wants to be received. Children don not want to be treated as numbers.

>Caring is a relation not a virtue. But caring can also be applied to capacities people have for caring.

> In a teacher-leraner relationship another responsibility of the teacher is to teach the studetns to care. This happens by modeling, bc human being sneed to leanr to care.

>Not everyone develops the capacity to care for people, living beings, objects and ideas. Some belive these types of caring (fro living and non-living things)to be transferable, but Noddings doesn't think so. Intellectuall attention cannot be transferred to interpersonal attention.

>An approach to edcuation that begins with care is not anti-intelectual. Part of what we receive from people is their interests and intelectual passions.

>it is not a very helpful thing to say that all children can learn anything we want to teah them, bc they might simply not want to learn those things. There are a few things all students need to know and they should be free to reject some other things to pursue the one that really excites them. Caring teachers listen and respond differently to their students.

>Studnets need to learn to care for objects. How to teach that in a society of planned obsolescence”? Caring for objects and ideas leads to a response from the cared for. Do we let the students hear about this?

>last, there is another sense of care – we care what happens to us. The students, especially adolescents, have many existencial questions, and the school spend little time in them.

>the structure of current schooling is agains care and there is a great need for care than ever.

The debate in ethics

> it is important to discuss the ethic of care.

> there is a type of morality that is tyupically female that is based on the recognition of needs, relation, and response. Women's reasoning is contextual.

>the ethic of caring rejects the universal idea that our moral dicision making has no relation to who we are , whom we are related to and how we are situated

>from this perspective, moral eduation has four components:

-Modeling – we must show the students how to care by forming caring relations with them. The capacity one has to care may be dependent on the adequate experience as a cared-for.

-Dialogue – Dialogue is open ended. It is a common search for understanding, empathy and appreciation. It connects us – we respond more effectively as carers when we understand the other's needs and the history of those needs. Knowledge guides our responses.

-practice – attitudes and mentalities are shaped by experience.

-confirmation – affirming and encouraging the best in others. We spoot a better self and encourage its development. We must find something that is morally acceptable bc we can't confirm people in ways we judge wrong. We find the best morally acceptable motive, a real motive, and though we disaprove a particular act, the other will fell relieved that we envision a better self that can develop from that.

It contrasts with religious moral education, bc this one starts with guilt and that sustains separation.

It also contrasts wit freud's theory (not sure how she makes her point ).

> Caring is the bedrock of all scuccessful education.

> Liberal edcuation has been the western ideal for centuries. What is wrong with it and why shuld we reject it as a model for universal education?


10.02.07 outline of Kohli's review of Greene's dialect of freedom

Education and Freedom in the American Experience: Critical Imagination as Pedagogy

Wendy Kohli

  • The problem of freedom

  • in 1939, Dewey questioned “what is freedom and why is it prized?”

facing the Hitler assault on democracy, freedom was no longer taken for granted.

  • Maxine Greene challenges us to question freedom in our present context.

The majority don't exercise their minimal rights anymore.

Freedom is taken for granted again.

Greene reminds us of those who were never privileged enough to take freedom for granted.

Stresses the need of an “education for freedom” - it demands a critical stance, a willingness to question, a commitment to search and the exercise of imagination.

  • Why do 2 prominent philosophers are concerned with this matter?

  • Freedom and reason were hoped to bring education and democracy.

  • With capitalism reason came to serve accumulation, it became an instrument of domination and confined freedom to the individual as a citizen and a consumer. (what is that notion of freedom? It is unclear to me)

  • The critical tradition challenges the use of reason as a dominating tool and its correlate notion of freedom.

  • Critcal reason returns as freedom's ally.

  • Maxine Greene is heavily influenced by these ideas, by existencial phenomenology, by critical marxism.

  • The individual is free in the way he chooses to intepret reality not in the way it is determined by it.

  • in the dialectical approach to understanding and knowing , there is constant interaction between the known and the knower.

  • Her search is done through dialectical analysis.

This article is a review of Greene's book “The Dialect of Freedom.”

In this book Greene:

  • invites readers to open themselves to a multidisciplinary quest

  • looks at culture and history through the lenses of freedom and democracy.

09.25.07 Response to class 4 - ignatian pedagogy

There is no outline posted for the referred class, bc I did not write down notes as I read this text.
Ken's presentation though was pretty acurate, and I tried to include also things that I retained from my reading in this response. Sorry if anyone was looking for an outline for ignatian pedagogy.

The initial class discussion today was about freedom of speech. The starting point was the question should the Iranian president be allowed to speak in the University of Columbia? Another question raised in the same line was : Should the Iranian president be allowed to say things like “there was no holocaust”?

I was confronted with the freedom of speech a few days ago while listening to the radio, and similar questions came to my mind. Not referring to the Iranian president, but to the conservative commentator on the radio show.

This person would tell everyone who disagreed from him to shut up because they did not know better than to say those stupid things and embrace those stupid ideas. Having conservative tendencies myself, i was outraged by such a lack of respect for the opinion of the other. I thought He was the one that should shut up, because he had no right to say someone had no right to speak out their mind. But on the other hand – isn't he also allowed to speak out his mind? Then where is, if there is one, the limit for freedom of speech? Does freedom of speech imply that we can put others down and tell them they can not say certain things? Does it imply that evil people that hate democracy can be invited to talk in a university?

The professor's opinion was that when your statement is not of truth, it is a way of distorting history, therefore this is no longer freedom of speech, this person should not be allowed to say those things. I think then, and I believe other classmates might have had the same thought, certain things cannot be said. Offensive speech people goes beyond freedom of speech because it causes evil. But then how is the Columbia incident justifiable? Another classmate mentioned that the reason why that was possible is because it was in a setting in which you already know what to expect when going there or in another case when turning on the radio.

The Internet is another instrument that is braking down the barriers to free speech.

Because the discussion was going back and forth with the names democracy and freedom of speech someone did ask a valid question in my opinion “Are we limiting in this discussion the notion of democracy to the notion of free speech?” And then I think a solution came up from a former law student “There are limits to free speech – it is not absolute, and these limits are imposed by law – we can't do it ourselves, based on our preferences – free speech is based on law and so are its limits.” That makes a lot of sense to me. Freedom of speech is not a license to kill, to hurt anyone, or to say harmful things. Unfortunately it seems, people take freedom of speech to an absolute level and forget that this is actually a privilege granted by and limited by law.

Then the discussion turned to the natural way a class on philosophy of education would turn. “What things can be talked about in class?” It really confuses me sometimes though, how we move from one subject to another, when many times I see no connection between one thing and the other. How from this question we moved on to separation between church and state, religion, creationism and homeschooling. Thinking about it later i can see a connection between all those subjects, but not on the way they were presented then. It is indeed a very slim connection.

Here I am, after having thought about it, wondering about the question and the way it connects to the initial theme. Should we talk about creationism in school? Then my question is should we talk about evolution in school as if it were scientifically tested and proved, when it offends so many children's beliefs, and it actually to this day it is no more than a theory? Creationism being the greatest opposition to evolution should not be mentioned? What about intelligent design, which is the non-religious opposition to evolution? Then I ask if freedom of speech of those who do not believe a widely accepted theory should be ignored. Someone asked what is the relationship between education and democracy - democracy is so strong that it can protect everybody's freedom of speech. Is that so?

In terms of our readings it was said that democracy is so fundamental that free speech should be protected, but when we begin integrating all the variables of rights of individuals, things start falling apart. That's when it is time to break things down.

Maybe certain people have the right to choose depending on their social-economic status. For instance, people that are wealthy can choose boarding school. People that are not have to go to public schools and put with the teachers apparently neutral discourse, that ends up being extremely disrespectful to the young Christian students who are taught their views are incorrect.

Also, when it comes to opportunities, some school systems have more opportunities than others.

The presentation today was by Ken. Ken is Jewish and talked about the Ignatian pedagogy text, including his experience of going to a Jesuit school. In the brochure it says that every student must take core subjects – including theology and philosophy. He did take those subjects. The brochure shows that its goal is to prepare the individual to lead and serve the world, it's about training the individual for action, either for God or any worthwhile pursuit.

According to Ken's presentaiton the text presents the Ignatian Pedagogical Paradigm as being composed of 5 elements, that in his opinion is pretty much how every teacher should understand his relationship to students.

The 1st element is context – teacher must become familiar with students experience, determine how these experience shapes the student – teacher should really know the student's world and share love with him.

In order to be a teacher, says Ken, you need to care about the students, because the kids pick up on whether or not the teacher likes them.

He mentions one thing I had never heard about – the melavine concept in which you profile the students by talking to parents and previous teachers so you can teach them as individuals. He got this concept from the book “One child at a time”. He also provides ideas on other ways of getting to know kids – advisory, class meetings, get-to-know-you projects ( I wonder what these project are supposed to be like).

The 2nd element is experience. And there are 2 types of experience. Direct experience and Vicarian experience. Now how do you create a direct experience to the students? According to ken through field trip, sports, and similars. What about a vicarian experience, the one that is lived through someone else? It could be done through analysis of texts, video watching.

3rd elem – reflection – reflection and experinece go hand in hand

4th elem. Action – doing something about what you learn – learn about the poor, then volunteering to help them.

5th element – evaluation – post learning element – assessing the growth of the student of a person and mastery of knowledge.

Jesuits expect this paradigm will guide the students through life. These are indeed great guidelines. For teachers and students. Teachers become better teachers. And the text highlights that this methodology develops a strong relation between teacher, student and subject matter.

Ken mentions how reading those characteristics reflected the kind of education he received. Having worked with Jesuits, he has a lot to say about reflection and the idea of being a teacher.

Our Professor says he has changed his way of teaching in the past years – he believes teaching is a way of sharing – he made a choice of talking about his personal life. He thinks story telling is a fantastic pedagogical tool. Ken agrees with that, and uses with his students. He says that the children love it and it helps build a bond with the students. Because the teacher personalizes himself as a human being.

It is interesting to actually have someone with that kind of experience presenting this text specifically. Because it really makes the ideals from the text come to life. Especially when the text is about how to implement the jesuits ideal for teaching.

But we did get back to something talked about the class before though, because of the personalization issue. The counselors are not supposed to personalize, is what we hear. Why not? Does this kind of professional must separate himself so he can be objective and help that person? I believe that is the most appropriate answer. Counselors have to make sure the focus is the person on the chair – if you personalize as a counselor your moving the attention from that person to you and the whole point of counseling gets thwarted. I guess the whole idea behind counseling is that – the person stands alone, the counselor is not supposed to be an influence, but a tools. It is different from teaching, when you teach you are sharing stories, you are becoming part of the child's world. When you are teaching you are creating an environment. There is a fine line – you don't want the students to get too comfortable to be telling you too much. It is still a professional situation.

The last comments on this class has to do with one of the last interesting things I heard. And one of my favorite points - Jesuits see everything as a opportunities for education. When a kid is doing something wrong, use it to show them the difference between right ans wrong – not only reprimand. Teachers today are legally required to report bullying (years ago there was no need to). Regardless of the religious side, this does make sense in a secular classroom setting – there is much moral that has to be taught through lessons.