Thursday, March 25, 2010

on teaching

"…Teaching is an interactive practice that begins and ends with seeing the student. This is more complicated than it seems, for it is something that is ongoing and never completely finished. The student grows and changes, the situation shifts, and seeing becomes an evolving challenge. As layers of mystification and obfuscation are peeled away, as a student becomes more fully present to the teacher, experiences and ways of thinking and knowing that were initially obscure become the ground on which an authentic and vital teaching practice can be constructed.”

From: To Teach: The Journey Of A Teacher By William Ayers, Teachers College Press, 2001

Monday, March 22, 2010

books on my nightstand

I'm reading a lot of books at once. All are great. Especially Lost at School. Can't say enough about Collaborative Problem Solving!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Without the right conditions, nothing grows

Thank you Ken Robinson. I very much agree that teachers must create conditions that allow students to flourish. Not conditions that stifle students or scare students into compliance.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

By Heart: This book sounds good...

By Heart

Poetry, Prison, and Two Lives
Judith Tannenbaum, Spoon Jackson

"A boy with no one to listen becomes a man in prison for life and discovers his mind can be free. A woman enters prison to teach and becomes his first listener. And so begins a twenty-five year friendship between two gifted writers and poets. The result is By Heart — a book that will anger you, give you hope, and break your heart."
— Gloria Steinem

Judith Tannenbaum and Spoon Jackson met at San Quentin State Prison in 1985. For over two decades they have conferred, corresponded and sometimes collaborated, producing very different bodies of work resting on the same understanding: that human beings have one foot in darkness, the other in light.

In this beautifully crafted exploration – part memoir, part essay – Tannenbaum and Jackson consider art, education, prison, possibility, and which children our world nurtures and which it shuns. At the book's core are two stories that speak for human imagination, spirit, and expression.

Resources for evaluating power, privilege, values, and status

In Good Work: Ethics and Community Cultural Development with Children and Youth, Stephani Etheridge Woodson examines what it means to do "good work" with kids. I found the below resources valuable. I've done status mapping and value mapping, but I thought the matchstick autobiography was cool.

A few activities I use to tackle this ethical responsibility include:

  1. Status mapping

    Social Indentity Membership Status
    Primary Cultural affiliation
    Physical Ability/Disability
    Sexual Orientation

  2. Field work observing the performance of power and status

    Observe diverse sites, for example, the ASU gym and pool, a preschool playground, or a high-school basketball game. In each location, look for how social identities are performed and maintained. Look for status as related to those membership categories.

  3. Writing your own obituary

    Write your own obituary, putting into it all of your life‘s accomplishments, and include why you are proud of these accomplishments

  4. Matchstick autobiography

    In the space of time provided by one lit match (before you burn your fingers) give your autobiography to the class. What is most important that we know about you?

  5. Value mapping activities

    1. Design a crest and motto for yourself.
    2. Create digital “I am” poems.
    3. As I read each of the below statements, vote with your body, ranking your values on a continuum of “agree” on one side of the room and “disagree” on the other.
      • Spending time with my family is important.
      • It is more important to save money than it is to buy things I want, but don’t necessarily need.
      • Being physically fit is an important part of my life.
      • Creative time is important to me.
      • It is more important to be honest than to spare someone’s feelings.

Becoming competent culturally is a process of self-reflexive pondering, questioning and awareness of how power dynamics operate. I believe that CCD youth-focused practitioners have an ethical responsibility to acknowledge power, to understand how their own status operates in any given situation, and to be able to honestly address difference with children and youth.