Social Justice Teaching, Eduwonkette's blog, where are you on this?

Here's a great blog entry about Social Justice Teaching, by Eduwonkette. I read this post and the guest bloggers' (Bill Ayers' and Sol Stern's) replies to the post, and then the readers' replies to each section. Can not get enough of it. What a debate. Thank you, Eduwonkette--this is the sort of essential question that deserves a lot of thought. Bill Ayers: pro SJT. Sol Stern: anti SJT.

from the guest blog by Sol Stern on Eduwonkette's site:
"So it seems to me that the question isn’t precisely how widespread social justice teaching is right now (although more studies would be welcome) but rather what public school leaders – state education commissioners, teachers union leaders and district superintendents – might do to make sure that intrusion of left wing or right wing political ideology into the classroom doesn’t spread any further. We need a professional code of ethics for teachers, a Hippocratic Oath if you will, that makes clear that our public school classrooms are not laboratories for social and political change, with the kids serving as guinea pigs. Perhaps Stanley Fish put it best: 'Teachers should teach their subjects. They should not teach peace or war or freedom or obedience or diversity or uniformity or nationalism or antinationalism or any other agenda that might properly be taught by a political leader or a talk show host.'”



Personally, I can't decide where I am on this issue. I don't think people should teach subjects as much as teach children, if you know what I mean. But I can't decide how much "activism" to impart to the students, how much experience they should have with "making a difference," and what sorts of experience. Then I also wonder how Nel Noddings' Ethics of Care figures in--is caring political? Is it "off-subject"?

What's your view about teaching for transmission, teaching for social justice, teaching for caring?

Connie
http://firesidelearning.ning.com

Tags: Ayers, Eduwonkette, Stern, social+justice

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Hi Connie,

Nice to meet you here. I think this is an important issue. Are kids able to learn in a vaccuum? Are they motivated to learn without being engaged in learning? Are we preparing them to be problem solvers who can deal with personal, family, community and societal issues as they go through life?

My hope is that some teachers will see the value of social involvement, and will understand how good involvement and decision making is based on good learning, thinking and communications skills. I use the library at T/MC to provide research people can read about poverty. I also provide information people can read about knowledge management, innovation and collaboration. If students are encouraged to study the issues, reflect on them, map their own solutions, and communicate their ideas to friends and familes, I feel they will be learning many more skills than if they just focus on basic academic curriculum.

With such learning they will understand that this is an on-going process, and the habits they build in formal schooling need to continue throughout their lives. They also will learn to think in complex terms about social and work issues, and they will learn to connect their own talents and resources to places where people are in need of extra help either because of health issues, natural disasters, or poverty. If we create a generation of leaders who stay connected to an issue for many years, rather than flit from topic to topic with a 3-month balance sheet mentality, maybe the world they create for their children will offer more hope for all people on the planet.

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