Margaret Finders Piece – Ch. 2

I am mortified by the story that opens Chapter 2 of Finder’s piece on ELA.  I noticed the FOR DISCUSSION questions that followed the scene in Mr. Owen’s 7th grade classroom, and I would love to tackle those!

1.  What do you make of this scenario?  I find Mr. Owens’ classroom plan for the day to be a great example of not-so-meaningful busy work, which takes very little effort on the part of Mr. Owens.   Next, I find principal Mr. Jones’ choice of introduction to the new classroom segregation to be highly insulting.  If I had a child enrolled in Mr. Jones’ high school, I would be furious with his contribution to the drop in my son or daughter’s self esteem.

2.  What do Mr. Jones and Mr. Owens seem to assume about the purpose of school?  Both educators assume that school is about product-centered learning, as Finders describes on p. 28 of this second chapter.  Mr. Jones and Mr. Owens focus their curriculum on assessment on tests, quizzes, workbooks and formal writing.  This approach excludes personal expression among students, as well as sociocultural and sociopolitical literacy. 

3.  When do you think this incident took place?  I can imagine that this incident took place any time from 1959 to just yesterday.  As Finders tells us, “This school of thought maintains that only behaviors can be empirically measured…goals for students had to be phrased in terms of easily measured outcomes.”  Of course, we know that the easily measured outcomes of standardized testing are maximized upon in our great state of New York via Regents exams.

Overall, I found this article very helpful in reaffirming the following goals of our 541 Class:

  • Adolescent students should use literacy for self-expression and personal growth, and so it is crucial that they pick their own texts and share their reading and writing with others in class.
  • Adolescent students should learn how social and cultural contexts shape language, and reaching out with others who are more diverse can promote the collaboration of perspectives in ELA class.
  • Adolescent students should use literacy as a tool for social action and change.  Popular culture, race, class, and gender are all aspects of literacy that should be critiqued and explored by students.

 Click here for more on Margaret Finders.   -Sofia

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