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How to Teach Social Justice to the Privileged
What's injustice got to do with me? Pedagogy of the Privileged, by David Nurenberg

In this highly personal essay about teaching social justice to privileged suburban high school students, Nurenberg tries to reframe groundbreaking educational theorists like Paolo Freire (readers will recognize the allusion to Pedagogy of the Oppressed) as a way of responding to his own frustration as an English and Social Studies teacher. His bright students understand injustice from a removed, intellectual standpoint, but absent the direct experience of injustice, the stories of the oppressed seem remote and irrelevant. Here is an autobiographical study meaningful to every independent school teacher faced with 'diversity fatigue' and rolling eyeballs when students face another allusion to Gandhi or King or suspect another attempt to pique their latent powers of empathy. Nurenberg does not blame students; rather, he asks us to reconsider outmoded ways of teaching justice so that we can reach an affluent audience on its own terms. A useful reflection on the intersection between pedagogy and the "other" curriculum. (Note to readers: the link will provide only part of the article; the rest is well worth pursuing)

Peter Herzberg, The Brearley School, NY
  Harvard Educational Review, Spring, 2011  
Klingbrief is a free, monthly publication of recommended articles, books, research reports and media selected by and for independent school educators.  The Klingenstein Center for Independent School Leadership provides graduate programs and professional development for independent school educators throughout their careers. For more information about submitting to Klingbrief, please click here.
  May, 2011 VOL 22



Coordinating Editor, Associate Head of the Brearley School, New York, NY

Klingenstein Center Director, New York, NY

Head of the Park School of Buffalo, NY

Assistant Head, Albuquerque Academy, Albuquerque, NM

Principal of the Child Study Institute, University of Toronto, Canada

Trustee, Glen Urquhart School, MA

Head of the Carey School, San Mateo, CA

Communications Manager, Klingenstein Center, New York, NY

Assistant Head, Upper School
Montclair Kimberley Academy, Montclair, NJ

BuidingResilience   What Can We Learn about Training Resilient Students from Resilient Soldiers?
Building Resilience, by Martin E.P. Seligman

The Penn Resiliency Program:

This article and podcast are part of Harvard Business Review's "Failure Issue," focused on understanding, learning from, and recovering from failure. Martin Seligman is known to many as a founder of the "positive psychology" movement, a particularly American branch of psychology that in recent years has come under criticism for fostering the 'self-esteem' and 'self-healing' movements. In Building Resilience, Dr. Seligman, now at the University of Pennsylvania, describes the design of a program he has been asked to develop for the United States Army that aims to help soldiers become more psychologically resilient. Research on resiliency has become increasingly important recently as experts who work with young people have noted a steady decline in this key executive function capacity. Seligman's work partially draws from research and experience at the Penn Resiliency Program for young adults and children, which seeks to understand how resilience can be measured and taught. The article details discrete aspects of this work, including building mental toughness, building signature strengths, and building strong relationships. This article, and the research and curriculum material found at the Resiliency Center's website, may be of interest to educators who are seeking to understand deliberate research-based approaches to fostering resilience in students.

Chris Lauricella, Park School of Buffalo, NY
  Harvard Business Review, April 2011  
NextGenerationBook   Silent Students and Talking Books
Speaking Up in Class, Silently, Using Social Media, by Trip Gabriel
A Next Generation Book, by Mike Matas

Start talking about moving Twitter into the classroom or ditching books in favor of electronic platforms and you're bound to find some impassioned sparring partners. Stop talking about the possibilities inherent in the digital frontier and you (and your school) might miss the boat. As a pair, Trip Gabriel's article and Mike Matas' presentation provide a gentle entree to the conversation. Helpful for the purpose of stirring up debate, they address the bread and butter of many classrooms: classroom discussions and the books that fuel them. Echoing some older arguments about the value of message boards, Gabriel shares warm-hearted anecdotes about how offering a "backchannel" in class allows introverts to find their place and make meaningful contributions by engaging in real time digital discussion, though critics assail this technique as avoidance of social skill and intellectual engagement. Matas' subdued though gleeful presentation does not mention classroom applications directly, but the pure elegance and functionality of the digital "book" he displays has enough magic to convert the hard-hearted; it is thrilling to watch. This paired offering should interest anyone who uses books daily, anyone interested in the larger conversation about reading, and anyone who wants to peer into the future of textual interactions.

Stephen J. Valentine
The Montclair Kimberley Academy
  The New York Times, May 12, 2011, April 2011
Seduction   Pedagogy of the Re-engaged
The Seduction, by Paula Marantz Cohen

Paula Marantz Cohen is frank in her assessment that for nearly three decades her method of teaching could have been called the "endurance test" approach. Distinguished professor of English at Drexel University, Cohen used to subscribe to the ways that she had been taught. Her recent article is a narrative account of what led to her shift in practice and pedagogy. She details the reasons for her current belief that without a different measurement of student engagement, her long reading lists, her assignments, her rubrics and her notion that good students would keep up with her comprehensive coverage were false indicators of student buy-in. She began the change process with a determination to see the material to be taught through the eyes of her students. This led to abandoning a prescribed syllabus for one that emerged in response to student discussion, interest, capacity and commitment. As she engaged in listening to her students, Cohen found that after a term of rich discussion and short papers on a regular basis, much had changed including an unexpected outcome: no one asked for a higher final grade. She posits that "students focus on grades when they believe that this is all they can get out of a course. When they feel they have learned something, the grade becomes less important." There is a convincing honesty to this writer's account of lessons learned in the process of exploring what students think about what we teach.

Elizabeth Morley, Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study Laboratory School, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, CANADA
  The American Scholar, Phi Beta Kappa Magazine, Winter, 2011  
DumbingDownTexts   The Consequence of Dumbing Down Texts: A Practical Response
Advancing Our Students' Language and Literacy: The Challenge of Complex Texts, by Marilyn Jager Adams

In this well-argued and rigorously researched article, Marilyn Jager Adams, a research professor at Brown University in the department of Cognitive, Linguistic, and Psychological Sciences, gives a broad overview of the reasons that verbal SAT scores as well as adult literacy levels in the US have fallen sharply in the last several decades. In an earnest and well-meaning attempt to diminish the achievement gap, publishers and educators have diminished the complexity and richness of textbooks and other materials. The result is that students have fewer and fewer opportunities to learn new words, and fewer opportunities to gain deep content knowledge. This ends up in a terrible feedback loop: students are unable to cope with the kinds of texts they encounter in college and in the work world. Adams proposes some compelling solutions to this problem by having schools overhaul their reading lists with richer texts offered in a developmentally appropriate sequence with plenty of direct vocabulary instruction and other forms of more deliberate scaffolding. This article will resonate deeply with all educators who see that reading across disciplines is the base from which all success in school arises.

Stephanie Lipkowitz, Albuquerque Academy, NM
  American Educator, Winter 2010-11  
InternetLiteracy   The Illusion of the Digital Natives
Internet Literacy: Young People's Negotiation of New Online Opportunities, by Sonia Livingstone

Livingstone does an excellent job of supporting a suspicion that many technologists have had for years. She asserts that children are not "digital natives," who have an innate ability to interact with technology, but rather the adults making these claims have a very shallow understanding of how the internet functions. In her research, published by the MIT Press with support from the McArthur Foundation, Livingston follows three families longitudinally, comparing parental perceptions of how their children use the Internet with the children's actual behavior. In one particularly telling anecdote, a researcher observes British parents trying to help their thirteen-year-old daughter access a German website. No one in the family knows how to accurately enter the URL or effectively use a search engine. After ten minutes of typing incorrect addresses, the family concludes that the German website is broken and abandons the search. The findings of Livingston's study have serious implications regarding the need for faculty development before the Internet is introduced in classrooms. While the scenario described above is frustrating when played out at home, teachers have a professional responsibility to know how to use their resources effectively. The stakes and the learning curves are higher than we think.

Charles Vergara, Ethical Culture School, NY
  London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Media and Communications, 2008  
workingWithYourHands   Head, Hands, and Heart
The Case for Working with Your Hands, by Mathew Crawford
Kindergarten Shop Class, by Julie Scelfo

In these two articles from The New York Times, the authors make compelling cases for the importance of teaching children and young adults how to use their hands in order to give them self-confidence and as a way to nurture the creative spirit. Crawford speaks from the vantage point of his own personal journey leaving the world of academia, one that he was encouraged to pursue by all who "cared" for him, into a career as a motorcycle mechanic. A Ph.D. in philosophy eventually led him to understand that by working with his hands, he was living a life marked by purpose with meaningful intellectual challenge tied to real world application. Similarly, Ms. Scelfo traces the burgeoning business of woodworking classes and camps for children as a way to teach them resiliency and "as a way to counteract the passiveness of logging on and tuning out." Taken together, these articles speak to the growing momentum of having students apply knowledge and skills rather than passive demonstration of knowledge. Asking students to use their hands to create, imagine, fix and re-invent the world empowers them as learners, and shows that as adults we trust their ability to navigate the potential hazards that come with experiential learning.

Eric Temple, The Carey School, CA
  NY Times Magazine, May 24, 2009
NY Times, March 3, 2011
ClosingDoors   Manifestos Nailed to the Schoolhouse Door
The Shanker Manifesto

Closing the Door on Innovation: Why One National Curriculum is Bad for America

Since 2009, when the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers agreed to join to develop common K-12 academic standards, a debate has been raging between policy makers and educators. The impetus comes from international comparisons with countries that score much higher on international assessments, particularly in math and science. Singapore, Japan and South Korea, for example, provide teachers with clear guidance on key ideas to be explored and mastered in each grade. Fueling the debate is the injection of federal dollars and foundation support (note a May 22 article in The NY Times on Bill Gates) to fund initiatives to develop national curriculum models, national curriculum materials and national assessments. A public manifesto issued in March by an institute funded by the teachers' union argues that raising educational standards for all students requires a roadmap with explicit knowledge, skills, and understanding of content to help define the day-to-day work of teachers. This month a counter manifesto, Closing the Door on Innovation: Why One National Curriculum is Bad for America, was issued and signed by over 100 education leaders opposing ongoing federal government efforts to nationalize curriculum and testing. Whether or not the fear of nationalization described in this manifesto is legitimate, the well-crafted arguments point to the ways politics and policy influence public education, reminding us how critical independence is to independent schools and why such independence is valued.

Pearl Rock Kane, Klingenstein Center, NY
  The Albert Shanker Institute, March 2011
FailureOfAmericanSchools   A New York Reformer Vents
The Failure of American Schools, by Joel Klein

It is not unusual for a frustrated leader to leave a post and then blame others for failure. This prescient article in The Atlantic by former NYC Schools Chancellor, Joel Klein, certainly does some of that, with Randi Weingarten of the AFT as the main whipping-girl. Independent and suburban schools receive his ire too: students and teachers are elitists, unengaged with the need to reform education for the majority. But the article delves deeply into why no one can succeed against the political behemoth that teachers' unions represent in America. Klein found himself blocked at every turn by what he calls the union's adult-centric mentality; protecting teachers represented the union's ultimate purpose, from the mediocre to the ineffective to those who ended up in New York City's infamous Rubber Room. Klein details one union blockade after another, praises the late Albert Shanker for his forward-looking stance (not shared by Weingarten, he writes), points to highly successful charter schools in New York as examples of what could be, cites the brilliance of Michelle Rhee in D.C. (and how the union there did-in the mayor for supporting her reforms), and offers a blueprint for the future that includes real accountability.

Bruce Shaw, Trustee, Glen Urquhart School
  Atlantic Magazine, June 2011  
  If At First You Do Not Succeed....
Better by Mistake: The Unexpected Benefits of Being Wrong, by Alina Tugend

Writer and journalist Alina Tugend brings together a body of research supporting the positive consequences of making mistakes. She comes at the topic through summaries of current research including interesting examples from surgery and flight. By being deliberate about learning from problems, surgeons and pilots were able to dramatically reduce infection rates and improve flight safety. By discussing her own flaws as journalist as well, she gives to this book a personal flavor. Her own work was motivated by her desire to explore a key paradox we encounter as we grow up. On one hand, we are told that we can learn from mistakes; on the other, we are conditioned to dread and hate error. One of her most interesting chapters describes the contrast between cultures in their attitudes towards making mistakes. Her final chapter discusses the value of apologies. In the high stakes world of the independent school, this book, along with a growing body of literature on failure and resilience, is well worth considering.

John Dollhopf, The Hill School, PA
  IRiverhead Books (Penguin Group), 2011  

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