April 2009


I have often been discouraged with the idea of education as a process wherein one person (the teacher) implants or imparts knowledge into the participants (students), however willing or unwilling, as though students are merely vessels to be filled. I have fought this misconception as a teacher, but my irritation is somewhat less important to me than the fact that there is such an attitude toward teaching that exists and is even moderately prevalent.

This trend is not new, of course; educator Paolo Freire was writing about the idea in a very interesting way in 1970, when he published his book, Pedagogy of the Oppressed. One chapter in particular, entitled “The Banking Concept of Education,” sheds light on the traditional model and its effects on education and the world at large.

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Since I have largely completed the work for my education degree at this stage, I thought I would make a rotation back: before student teaching, I wrote a lot about theory, and during student teaching, I wrote almost exclusively about practice, but now I’ll return to theory, relating it to practice (now that I have really had some of it!) where possible. In order to focus my thoughts, I’m returning to a book that a professor and I used to teach freshman composition, Considering Literacy: Reading and Writing the Educational Experience, edited by Linda Adler-Kassner. (Here is an entry on a composition instruction blog on this text as a textbook for a first-year university writing course.) I have previously blogged about essays contained in this collection, specifically Mike Rose’s literacy history entitled “‘I Just Wanna Be Average‘” and Mark Edmundson’s essay “On the Uses of a Liberal Education: I. As Lite Entertainment for Bored College Students“; however, there are a number of other works in this collection that deserve attention as well.

One such of these essays is “Engaged Pedagogy” by bell hooks, the nom de plume of Gloria Watkins.

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I was privileged to have this blog included recently in a list created by Joel of So You Want to Teach? entitled 20 Blogs I Wish Were Around When I Started Teaching. As I told Joel, the company I share in that list is humbling (and intimidating!) in the amount of useful information that is contained in those blogs. Any of you who are looking for good information about what it’s like to be a teacher or resources that you can use in your own classrooms, I highly recommend adding many of these blogs to your RSS readers and/or daily blog reading, and there are a variety of different perspectives (grades and content areas) that these blogs represent as well.

Student teaching, that is. (I thought the title would be appropriate given the day.)

Yesterday was my final day at my school, a half-day before the beginning of Easter break. All of my classes had parties scheduled, and it was a very enjoyable day. Some highlights:
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No, not student teaching (not quite yet – 1.5 days left).

I’m referring to my culminating projects of my undergraduate career: two Candidate Assessments that are essentially the capstone of my degree program. I am exhausted and probably not ready to do much more reflection (I did probably 15 pages of it just tonight!), but at least I can rejoice at this fact: it is done!

The only real step between me and certification now is the APT (Assessment of Professional Teaching) test that I’ll be taking in a few weeks, and then graduation…and then two weeks of middle school certification courses. But then I will really be done, and this teaching thing will be mine. (And of course, the job hunt continues in the meantime.)

Now I must go sleep, briefly but (hopefully) blissfully.

Only three (and a half) days left.

It’s very difficult for me to believe that my student teaching experience is almost over. After 13 weeks, I find this realization sort of bittersweet: I am ready to relinquish the responsibility and stress that goes with the job, but I am equally regretful about missing out on all the good things – my students, mostly, and all of the little things that have gone along with teaching them.

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