Please post prompts/musings for discussion of course readings.
Here are some questions that we can think about and hopefully discuss on Tuesday, in addition to anything Alison wants to address.
1. The quote found at the very beginning of the article states that “no other people ever demanded so much of schools and of education as have the Americans…” (Schrag, 36). Although this was written in 1951, do you agree with this statement? In your opinion, was this ever true? Why or why not? Do you think America demands more in some classrooms/subject areas than others? How much do we demand in ELA classrooms?
2. Schrag writes about the mandates facing the education system today and states, “given the mandates, is it any wonder that so many Americans think the schools are lousy?”(Schrag, 36). Do you find the complexity of this list of mandates (on page one) to be a valid excuse for those who complain that the quality of American schools is declining? Are each of these mandates even being appropriately/effectively addressed in the school setting? For example, would you be satisfied, or are you–if you are currently a parent, with your child’s school experiences in any of these areas?
3. The quote on the top of the second page which begins, “Sputnik reinforced prior attacks on the alleged academic system….”, highlights how present educational reform has been a 50 year long process (Schrag, 36). As future or current educators, how does this make you feel? In your experiences, are we any closer to solving any/all/some/none of the education issues highlighted in this article? Although educational reform is very broad issue, what reforms would you specifically suggest for ELA classrooms to address increasing proficiencies in English, dropping scores in the reading section of the SAT’s, the number of students who need remedial help in English when they enter college, etc.
4. The last page of the article Schrag writes that “Schools do make a difference…when disadvantaged students have good teachers, they gain…Put students with such teachers for five years or more….and they can overcome their handicaps” (Schrag, 42). How would you define a good teacher? What is the mold for a good ELA teacher? How would you/how do you overcome poor pedagogy to still be a “good” teacher?
5. A Nation of Risk called for “the development in American students of ‘a deep vein of creativity that is constantly renewing itself”, in order to compete with other students in other countries (Schrag, 43). Do you agree with this concept? If so, what can be done in the ELA classroom to promote or increase creativity? How would you increase creativity output, but still maintain relevance to the course and course material ?
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