I teach, but I find education as a whole rather befuddling. Questions abound: How do we know if we're really helping students? Should we prepare students for the workforce or should we aim to improve their character? How much of what I do matters in light of the power of their genetics and culture? Should we aim to help students do what they love, or should we be pushing them to explore things they aren't familiar with? Do subject areas matter? Does this school system work like it's supposed to? Thoughtful educators grapple with these questions on a constant basis.
Here are four resources I've enjoyed recently that each explore these sorts of questions in their own way:
Frank McCourt's Teacher Man
A coworker loaned me Frank McCourt's Teacher Man and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's an excellent book that both describes the social challenges of teaching and the difficulties in maintaining a seemingly normal life while trying to also be a teacher to a rotating cast of students. I could empathize with an enormous amount of McCourt's experiences, although it also taught me a little gratitude for the students I already have.
Alfie Kohn's The Myth of the Spoiled Child
Through my local library, I listened to an audiobook of Alfie Kohn's The Myth of the Spoiled Child and it surprised me a little. I agreed with most of the precepts in the book and I like how he consistently questioned the educational culture's fetishization of "Grit." Surprisingly, this book articulated the need for authentic assessment and evaluation better than most education books; in my experience, education books tend to put me to sleep, but this book was different. Kohn appears genuinely engaged with his content.
Jonathon Haidt has been on a podcast tour as of late, peddling The Coddling of the American Mind. I think this conversation's the best one I've heard so far in reference to the book. The hosts push him to clarify his ideas in ways that I didn't hear on CBC's Ideas. Haidt's ideas are interesting particularly in relation to Kohn's work (above). There's a lot of crossover in these people who insist that we need to learn to fail in natural ways as wee mature.
I enjoyed this episode of CBC's Spark because I struggle with my role in using Google in my classroom. I don't like using my classroom to teach students how to app. I know they use the language of "collaboration," but I fee as if the corporate nature of Google Classroom makes said collaboration more artificial. If you're collaborating in front of a screen... you're still spending more and more time in front of a screen. This episode is decidedly fair in how it treats corporate tech in the classroom.
YouTube: ephemeral ideas
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