Sunday, February 27, 2011

some things i've been meaning to post

its been so long since i last posted i doubt anyone will ever read this, but i will post anyway. its good just to write a blog post, once again. i believe in doing things even when it seems pretty likely that nothing will ever come of it. usually something does, in the end. but even if it doesn't, its still important to do it. hope is, as the punks say, a muscle. one must exercise it.

anyhow, there's a lot i've been thinking to post in the past year. but i'll start with recent things.

First off, I'll just say that i wish i had the time to write a formal response to several of the debates that are raging (re-raging?) about how to reform public education. there's one strand of this debate that i've been thinking about a lot the past week: that is, the recent call to take teacher education out of the university context. the idea is that future teachers need more clinical preparation, less studying in formal classes, more time apprenticing in k-12 classrooms.

For instance, this week, the chronicle of higher education published this article by the policy director for this think tank called "education sector."

In this piece he references another one he published in 2009, wherein he raved about a newly-created clinically-oriented teacher credentialling program created by the founders of two charter school networks. its called Teacher U. Teacher U basically does away with the requirement that future teachers take much in the way of formal classes. Instead, "Students teach full time during the week, then meet one Saturday a month, when they're taught by a combination of Hunter faculty members and master teachers from the charter schools."

Now, I'm all for reforming teacher education. In my years working in teacher education programs, i have seen a lot that could be improved and reworked. But doing away with classes where students learn things like how to think historically, how to think critically about pedagogy, how to make sense of global politics and literature? This is not the change that teacher education programs need. If anything-- and I'm speaking most confidently about future history teachers-- students need MORE classroom time. Seriously, i can't tell you the amount of historical errors my students make on the work they do for me in the history teaching methods class i teach most semesters. One student recently wrote that European settlers developed slavery because they were Catholics. There are so many ways in which this is problematic-- and this student was in her last semester before going off to student teach. That was an especially egregious situation, but its extremely common that my students don't know enough history--or enough about historical methods of thinking-- to do their job well.

I do think we should rethink the clinical aspect of teacher training--perhaps students could graduate and then have a year of apprenticeship working closely with another teacher; or perhaps we should develop a long-term mentorship program in which new teachers have a lighter load, and get to participate in a deep ongoing apprenticeship program, co-teaching with master teachers and visiting other teachers' classrooms. I think its fucking ridiculous to substitute clinical training for coursework in content and critical thinking strategies. omg, seriously. why is education reform always so crappily done? why? why?

don't answer that.

second, i've found a few new podcasts to fall in love with. First, is citizen radio-- allison kilkenny and jason kilstein's project. i think jaime talks a bit too much about his dick, but they're funny and smart and i could spend many many afternoons drinking tea and listening to them do their thing. Second, and this one i found last year sometime and it has helped me cope with many an early morning or late night drive to/from work upstate: law and disorder radio. its basically the national lawyer's guild's heidi bogosian, the center for constititonal rights' michael ratner, and a guy i don't know much about named michael smith talking about legal events from a radical lawyering perspctive. very very good source of info.

third, my pals' new excellent book is out, Queer (In)Justice.

ok, over and out. for now (i hope).


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