I was quite excited to read that Robert Yagelski will be coming to class on Tuesday night. This also makes me quite nervous to be facilitating the discussion on his chapter.
This chapter begins with an interesting question: “What, ultimately, are we educating our students for?” (Yagelski 275).
This reading reminded me of the Apple reading, because it takes up the issue of ideology in academic institutions. The conclusion of this chapter suggests that we use the power of the institution for change, rather than sustaining the status quo.
Here are some points that I would like to bring up for discussion.
1. Last week we all blogged about our beliefs regarding the teaching of English. Does this article change your beliefs at all?
2. Yagelski says that we need to “understand our selves as beings-in-the world and to adjust our educational practices accordingly.” Who are you as a “being-in-the-world” and who are the students? What is your relation to the rest of the world? What is your students’ relation? How can your educational goals reflect these relationships?
3. Yagelski examines the roles of modern and post-modern thinking on English education. Do you think one or both of these theories should be abandoned? Can we teach without the ideology of social and economic utility? Based on this quote from McNeil, “Our present high schools were organized, and their reward structures set, at a time when schools were being overtly and deliberately used as agents of economic and social control,” do you think that schools can achieve something besides a reinforcement of socieo-economic divides? Can schools work outside of this system while it’s still in place?
4. Criticism of standardized tests have become commonplace. This chapter takes up this criticism. In what other ways can students show their aptitude? Be creative!
5 . Can teachers change society be engaging students? I am particularly interested in the response from those who already had teaching experience. It seems that in many schools, the students “don’t want to learn.” I put this in quotes because I know this categorization can further disable already unmotivated students. Last week, Professor Stearns mentioned working at Fowler High School. This school is a perfect example of a school that would be hard to change. Is it possible to bring change in these students lives? Why haven’t we seen more change occurring when there have already been so many efforts at reform?
6. There is a strong political charge to this chapter, especially at the end. Is politics an inherent part of teaching English? Is it a vital necessity? Would ELA survive without it?
Hopefully these questions, along with Ray’s thoughts will help make this article more meaningful for everyone!