Of Note: A Crucial Intersection, Then and Now

    A companion to John Dewey's Democracy and Education by D. C. Phillips
    University of Chicago Press; December 1, 2016

    Some books stand the test of time. One hundred years after its publication, John Dewey’s Democracy and Education continues to inform, incite, challenge, and inspire. Now, in a perfectly timely and needed way, comes a book to accompany Dewey’s thinking as it moves through the 21st Century. In his 2016 A Companion to John Dewey’s Democracy and Education, Stanford professor D. J. Phillips does two things to give a beloved but often challenging text a current context. First, he makes excellent use of relevant, brilliantly illustrative examples from schools today that show what Dewey meant when he said that his purpose was “to state the ideas implied in a democratic society and to apply these ideas to the problems of the enterprise of education.” Second, Phillips is clear and just personal enough to make the reader feel at home in the book, but he never strays far from Dewey’s text. Though he addresses head on, and often with humor and strong critique, some of the density of Dewey’s writing in Democracy and Education, he is also sympathetic to the message and meaning of Dewey’s work. This is not a watering down, nor a paraphrase of Dewey, but a welcome elucidation of a foundational book that advanced the principles of equity and justice in our schools and our society. Dewey articulates the potential of schools in a way that we cannot avoid. Phillip’s book is a respectful, renewing, and urgently relevant revisit of how, where, and why democracy and education share a crucial intersection.

    Submitted By Elizabeth Morley, Kobe Shinwa University, Japan


    A Definitive and Timely Resource

    National Geographic Special issue Gender Revolution by Susan Goldberg, Editor in Chief
    Full issue of Magazine and Film
    National Geographic, January 2017, Vol. 231, no. 1, January 1, 2017

    The January 2017 special issue of National Geographic takes the gender revolution as its sole topic, with special articles on the science of gender, a global perspective on how varying cultures see gender fluidity, how varying cultures initiate girls and boys into gender norms, the particular ways that girls in the US are socialized into femininity, and the dangers that girls face across the globe. There is also a section that clarifies terms used in talking about gender diversity. National Geographic partnered with Katie Couric to create a companion film that looks at the scientific and cultural underpinnings of gender diversity, outlining why our binary vision of gender can no longer be considered adequate or reasonable. Both resources will be helpful to schools seeking to help their student and adult communities to deepen and broaden their understanding of gender diversity and to make their schools more accepting, just, and healthy places for all. To further support the project, Journeys in Film has created an educators’ guide to Couric’s film, which is free and available for download. The articles and sections of the film can be used as a set or individually to create excellent foundations for professional development for teachers or for students in health, social studies, and science classrooms.

    Submitted By Stephanie Lipkowitz, Albuquerque Academy, Albuquerque, NM


    Loving Tech and Leaving Tech

    The Common Sense Census: Plugged-in Parents of Tween and Teens by Lauricella, A. R., Cingel, D. P., Beaudoin-Ryan, L., Robb, M. B., Saphir, M., & Wartella, E. A
    December 1, 2016

    Common Sense Media’s recent survey of nearly 1800 parents found that most (94%) parents highly value educational technology while simultaneously wishing to limit their children’s consumption of it. Two-thirds think that their child’s safe use of media is more important than maintaining their privacy. Fifty percent think that technology use negatively impacts children’s physical activity and 34% worried that it negatively affects sleep. More than half of parents are even concerned that their children may become addicted to using technology. However, parents themselves do not seem to serve as role models for limit setting. Parents consume an average of 9+ hours of screen media each day, including about 1 ½ hours for work. Paradoxically, 78% of parents think that they are good technology role models. The survey data are worth perusing as they offer fascinating results that vary by type of media consumed as well as by parent’s racial, socioeconomic, and educational backgrounds. Hispanic parents, for instance, tend be more concerned about and more involved in the types of media their children consume. In sum, the survey paints a fuller picture of technology use in students’ lives which may inform how we use technology in school.

    Submitted By Laurie Piette, Rodeph Sholom School, New York, NY


    Encountering Vastness

    Awesomeness Is Everything by Matthew Hutson
    The Atlantic (Jan/Feb 2017), February 1, 2017

    In a small but powerful article with far-reaching implications for education and life, Matthew Hutson overviews recent research on awe. The interdisciplinarity of his findings is striking for educators, as awe offers itself to our imaginations in every possible curricular and co-curricular area of study. Furthermore, Hutson connects (across time and space) these recent findings to the ideas of Edmund Burke’s sublime, Sigmund Freud’s oceanic feelings, and Abraham Maslow’s peak experiences, an interdisciplinary thrill in itself. Encountering vastness such that we struggle to comprehend, he explains, increases generosity, makes time “feel more plentiful,” and “just might be a prescription for world peace.” The range of possibilities for awe-inspirations both in and beyond schools is itself awe-inspiring; Hutson writes, “A waterfall might inspire awe; so could childbirth, or a scene of devastation.” Reminding us of the physicality of awe (its triggers as well as its effects), Hutson’s piece will affirm and renew educators’ commitments to active and experiential learning. The “study of studies” primes us for connections to brain researchlearning schema, and enduring understandings for our students. Apparently astronauts experience greater universalism, “the belief in an interconnected humanity,” something to bear in mind as we design courses and learning experiences at every level. 

    Submitted By Meghan Tally, Windward School, Los Angeles, CA


    A Game Worth Playing?

    Gamification in a Year 10 Latin Classroom: Ineffective ‘Edutainment’ or a Valid Pedagogical Tool? by Emily Evans
    Journal of Classics Teaching, Volume 17, Issue 34,  October 1, 2016

    This article describes one teacher’s experiment with gamification within a Latin classroom. Based upon research into the potential positive effects of game structures upon internal motivation, emotional growth, cognitive development, and growth mindset, author Emily Evans designed and implemented a game-based reward structure within her Latin course. The experiment aimed to promote resilience, intrinsic motivation, engagement, self-directed learning, and the acquisition of mastery of the course material (as opposed to simply proving competence). Evans carefully designed her reward structure to reflect these aims, using research to inform her decisions. The results of the experiment were positive, as students demonstrated motivation towards taking control of their own learning. This article does not in any way represent scientific research worthy of citation, but by articulating the primary aims and benefits of game structures towards student learning, it does provide some interesting and thoughtful insights into how one can implement gamification effectively within the classroom. If, as Evans says, a “gamified environment . . . provides a safe space for students to cultivate and channel their intrinsic motivation” while helping them “take responsibility” for their own learning, it is certainly worth exploring. 

    Submitted By Aaron Snyder, The Thacher School, Ojai, CA


    Introspection Before Negotiation

    Negotiating the Nonnegotiable: How to Resolve Your Most Emotionally Charged Conflicts by Daniel Shapiro
    Viking, January 1, 2016

    Explaining that negotiations are as emotional as they are pragmatic, Shapiro delves deeply into the psychology of conflicts and their negotiations. Beginning with the foundational nature of identity and the pitfalls that attend it, Shapiro offers cogent explanations for the emotional and spiritual forces at work in a conflict. He then provides practical structures for addressing and resolving them. He bases his approach on the intellectual work of Jung, Hegel, and other philosophers as well as on his own experience as a mediator in personal, corporate, and geopolitical conflicts. Shapiro advises negotiators to engage in intense introspection as part of their preparations so that they can understand their own underlying emotions and identity. This understanding will then allow them to relate better to the other side’s emotions and identity. This advice drives the thesis of the book: human connections allow any conflict to be resolved. While the figures and framework for introspection appear simplistic for such complicated issues, they do provide direction for preparing both hearts and minds for negotiations. Educators, who are often involved in emotionally difficult conflicts, will find this book useful as they seek to arrive at mutually satisfying, healthy, and enduring resolutions.

    Submitted By Shelby Hammer, River Oaks Baptist School, Houston, TX


    Clearing the Future

    The formative five: fostering grit, empathy, and other success skills every student needs by Thomas R. Hoerr
    ASCD, November 16, 2016

    One of the primary roles of educators is to prepare their students for success in a future world “in which the only constant will be change.”  What are those noncognitive skills required by students for success in such a world, and how can they be developed and assessed?  In The Formative Five: Fostering Grit, Empathy, and Other Success Skills Every Student Needs, author Thomas Hoerr identifies the five formative “success skills” (empathy, self-control, integrity, embracing diversity, and grit) that he predicts will be essential for the success of students in the future. The challenge of educators, however, is how to teach effectively these social-emotional skills in an educational landscape that focuses on academic outcomes. Designed as a proverbial “how to” book on teaching the five identified success skills, the book offers supporting literature on the importance of each skill, self-assessments for reflection and discussion, and specific strategies to help educators present each one to students. While it may not be seminal work in the development of noncognitive skills, Hoerr’s book provides clear, concise, and readily usable tools for all educators.

    Submitted By Brian O'Malley, St. Albans School, Washington, DC


    Joy in Practice

    Dancing in the Rain: Leading with Compassion, Vitality, and Mindfulness in Education by Jerome T. Murphy
    Harvard Education Press, October 11, 2016

    Through honesty, humor and compassion, Dancing in the Rain encourages readers to mindfully live with joy and purpose in the face of life’s inescapable downpours. Though it addresses top educational leaders, this text is useful for almost anyone; a meaningful distillation of historical and recent research in Eastern philosophy and Western psychology, it also reviews the burgeoning theoretical discourse around, and practical applications of, well-being practices. Murphy’s eloquent collation is married with his extensive experiences in educational leadership, including as the Dean of Harvard University Graduate School of Education, providing illustrations of the power and wisdom of the techniques he describes. Murphy normalizes struggle; rather than resisting such discomfort, ruminating excessively about flaws and failures, and rebuking themselves for not measuring up, leaders should look to their values for guidance in both smooth and stressful times. Readers are encouraged to avoid a typical leadership tendency to fixate on fixing and to instead gain a better sense of clarity in mind and heart. A lyrical and practical book, offering a series of activities and exercises, it stands apart from other leadership texts as a uniquely reflective and joyful tool for personal and professional development.

    Submitted By Sarah Shepherd, Ed.M. Candidate, Klingenstein Center

KlingensteinCenter Teachers College Columbia University

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