Of Note: Ready or Not

    “When Students Say #MeToo, Schools May Be Unprepared to Help” by Evie Blad
    Education Week, September 26, 2018

    “#MeToo influencing schools to teach consent in sex ed” by Amelia Harper
    Education Dive, October 2, 2018

    “Let’s Take a Stand Against Sexual Harassment in Schools” by Richard Weissbourd
    Educational Leadership, October 2018

    In the context of #MeToo, already present concerns about school readiness to address topics such as consent, power, and sexual assault were amplified recently by Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination and subsequent approval for the United States Supreme Court. In her article, “When Students Say #MeToo, Schools May be Unprepared to Help,” Education Week’s Evie Blad reminds educators that “under Title IX, the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in education, students can ask schools to address the fallout of a sexual assault, even if it occurred off campus.” Schools are responsible not only for the sexual safety and well-being of their students but also, to varying degrees, for their sexual and legal education. According to Amelia Harper of Education Dive, the  #MeToo movement has resulted in a growing number of schools adopting curriculum around affirmative consent (“yes means yes” rather than "no means no"), civics, and current events.  Also, as students are becoming more aware of their rights and are bringing to school administrators complaints regarding sexual discrimination, harassment, and assault, schools are moving to clarify policies and procedures and to bolster social-emotional learning programs. In his Educational Leadership article, “Let’s Take a Stand Against Sexual Harassment in Schools,” Richard Weissbourd of Harvard University’s Making Caring Common lists seven ways schools can take advantage of teachable moments and proactively ensure greater student safety and understanding of complex topics, including Dr. Christine Blasey Ford's allegations against Judge Kavanaugh. “Few things are more important,” Weissbourd says, “than to prevent or reduce misogyny and sexual harassment.” 

    Submitted By Jessica Flaxman, Shady Hill School, Cambridge, MA


    Important, Contested, Confusing, Defining, and Messy

    Am I Patriotic? Learning and Teaching the Complexities of Patriotism Here and Now by Mark T. Kissling (Ed.)
    Bank Street Occasional Paper Series , #40, September 1, 2018

    The Bank Street Occasional Paper Series #40 tackles the complexity of teaching and learning patriotism. It moves boldly, and with timely urgency, into necessary questions for schools, families, students, and teachers who look to define and shape respectful K to 12 curriculum around what it means to be patriotic. With five narrative-research papers that explore how we think about, live, model, and teach it, this collection looks at patriotism in critically diverse ways, including: patriotism in different countries, in different regions of the United States, in historical contexts, and in the immediate here and now. There is strength in the inclusion of four personal essays by prominent educational scholars who have widely divergent views about the benefits and costs of various forms of expressing patriotism. In fact, this entire journal issue is provoking – it tells, in remarkably human and memorable terms, how important, contested, confusing, defining, and messy it can be to weave patriotism responsibly into the classroom experience. This is a challenging but accessible read, and taken together or separately, these are pieces that could form the basis for deeply meaningful professional debate, student reflection, parent education, or policy development. The title question, “Am I Patriotic?” rejects easy answers – because we owe our students more than an unexamined answer.

    Submitted By Elizabeth Morley, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

    Opportunity Myth Report Cover

    Preparing the Unprepared

    The Opportunity Myth: What Students Can Show Us About How School Is Letting Them Down—and How to Fix It by TNTP, The New Teacher Project
    TNTP, September 25, 2018

    Independent schools, representing fewer than 1.5 percent of all schools in America, are granted tax exempt status, partly because the schools serve as models of R&D, showing what is possible for all students. With small classes, and freedom from mandated tests in most states, independent schools have been allowed to invent themselves to meet the needs of the students and families they serve. As a sector, however, independent schools have seldom served as models for public schools. A recently released study by The New Teacher Project (TNTP) offers a compelling reason to get involved. Public school graduation rates have reached record highs masking a troubling finding that many students graduate from high school unprepared for success in college or jobs. They enroll in college and land in remedial courses, or start jobs and discover that they’re missing skills for productive employment. Students have been told that doing well in school and meeting expectations will prepare them for the future. Unfortunately, researchers claim, that’s a myth, and not because they can’t master challenging material. Often, it seems, they are seldom given a chance to try. Most students, especially students of color, those from low-income families, and those with mild disabilities, miss out on four crucial components of learning: grade-appropriate assignments, strong instruction, deep engagement, and teachers with high expectations. These are the very practices independent schools have long claimed contribute to student success, opening the possibility for independent schools to be a resource.


    Submitted By Pearl Rock Kane, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, NY

    Screenshot of the Gender Achievement Gap whitepaper

    The Right Kind of Rejection

    “Gender Achievement Gaps in U.S. Schools Districts” by Sean F. Reardon, Erin M. Fahle, Demetra Kalogrides, Anne Podolsky, Rosalía C. Zárate
    Stanford University: Center for Education Policy Analysis, June 1, 2018

    Stanford University researchers from the Center for Education Policy Analysis present this riveting research paper, the first systematic study of its kind, based on data from 10,000 U.S. school districts, 2008-2015, for third through eighth grade students. Uniquely, this study measures achievement gaps locally, not just nationally, and ultimately reveals fascinating and, for educators, intensely relevant relationships between academic achievement and gender, socio-economic status, and race. For instance, CEPA researchers find that math achievement gaps favoring boys correlate with adult gender disparities in socioeconomic status; in communities where “men work and earn much more than women,” boys surpass girls in math. Additionally, “living in high-poverty and high-crime communities more negatively affects males’ achievement than females’ achievement.” The paper essentially finds significant correlations between achievement gaps and implicit messages to children about gender norms, expectations, and role models – messages that make up what some educators call the “hidden curriculum” in our schools and communities. The paper shows how children become aware of gender (and other) stereotypes as early as second grade and how “their educational opportunities can be impeded by negative stereotypes.” Thankfully, we should take note, “parents’ rejection of these stereotypes can also moderate their negative effects”—a compelling call for everyone working closely with children to reject stereotypes about gender, race, and class and to communicate those rejections clearly to students. There is much to ponder in this fifty-page paper, full of empirical evidence confirming patterns we have observed for decades—a worthy, enlightening read for anyone working in schools.

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

    Screenshot of the Disrupt Texts Website

    Slow, Urgent Chats

    #DisruptTexts by Tricia Ebarvia, Lorena Germán, Dr. Kimberly N. Parker, and Julia E. Torres
    June 1, 2018

    The four change-making women at the center of the #DisruptTexts movement have come together “to challenge the traditional canon in order to create a more inclusive, representative, and equitable language arts curriculum that our students deserve.”  Tricia Ebarvia, Lorena Germán, Dr. Kimberly N. Parker, and Julia E. Torres are inspiring educators, dedicated not only to disrupting traditional texts, but also to advocating for anti-racist pedagogies. Searching their #DisruptTexts hashtag in Twitter yields a rich archive that has been built up over months of “slow chats,” in which the facilitators pose questions that ask the eduTwitter community to apply a critical lens to a different text each week. There, inquisitive onlookers and participants alike will find brilliant, provocative suggestions for text pairings and counter-narratives, along with powerful resources on topics like decolonizing the syllabus, critically questioning the centered and marginalized perspectives in a text, and making sure to teach #ownvoices texts written by authors who share the identities of their diverse characters. Most of all, the clarity of moral purpose from these four leaders is inspiring and immediate: this work of disrupting the canon is work that all of our schools must do in order to honor our students and prepare them for the 21st century.

    Submitted By Kate Hewitt, Far Brook School, Short Hills, NJ

    The Knowledge Illusion Book Cover

    Gaining Our Minds

    The Knowledge Illusion by Steve Sloman and Philip Fernbach
    Riverhead, March 1, 2017

    This readable, insightful book offers an eye-opening treatment of the true nature of human intelligence. In spite of humanity's tremendous accomplishments, many the result of our uniquely powerful intelligence, there are still many ways in which our minds inhibit our ability to think clearly and carefully. Rather than lament human cognition's limitations, Sloman and Fernbach maintain that our intelligence is better conceived not as an isolated ability specific to each knower but rather a network of interconnected brains, somewhat like a cloud computer, pulling information, harnessing creativity, and working collaboratively in our pursuit of and use of knowledge. Intelligence is not innate; it's an emergent property of our communities and relationships. The authors explore some implications for schooling and politics, but the book is at its most compelling when it allows us to marvel at human cognition, intelligence, and ingenuity as a genuinely collaborative, interrelated, and ever-evolving aspect of our lived experiences.

    Submitted By Jonathan Gold, Moses Brown School, Providence, RI

    Not That Bad by Roxanne Gay (Ed) Book Cover

    How Bad it Actually Is

    Not That Bad: Dispatches From Rape Culture by Roxane Gay (Ed.)
     HarperCollins Publishers, May 1, 2018

    Educators spend a great deal of resources examining school cultures: the culture of students, faculty, even leadership. But the phrase “rape culture” is not often mentioned in the independent school vernacular. All around us, stories of sexual violence dominate the news cycle, and the ease with which the dialogue normalizes misconduct and assault embeds them in our collective culture. As such, the stories in the provocative anthology Not That Bad have relevance for all educators, regardless of the genders or ages of our students. Editor Roxane Gay has compiled a set of essays addressing issues of consent, power structures, and the ever-present concept of “the good girl.” Each story could serve as the beginning of important conversations about what we do (and don’t) teach our students about their roles and behaviors. The wide-ranging stories all reveal the systematic establishment of a deeply flawed spectrum of judgment about sexual violence and the need to move away from “not that bad” to “this is how bad it actually is.” This book is a difficult but necessary read for any educator who wants to fully understand a part of the culture that many might rather ignore.

    Submitted By Nidhi Pardue McVicar, The Overlake School, Seattle, WA

    Book Cover The Coddling of the American Mind

    Safetyism, Feelings over Facts, and Tribal Constructs

    The Coddling of the American Mind, How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas are Setting Up a Generation for Failure by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt
     Penguin Press, January 1, 2018

    The Coddling of the American Mind is an expansion of the 2015 Atlantic Monthly article of the same title (previously reviewed). As the divisiveness of our national politics reaches historical proportions, the book may serve educators as both a way of explaining our contribution to the current climate and a way of understanding how we might help the next generation return to productive, civil discourse. The authors establish a context for this work by exploring “three bad ideas” that they believe are setting up current students for future failure: the culture of “safetyism” that keeps them from encountering ideas that run counter to their personal beliefs; the encouragement of the primacy of feelings over facts; and the allowance of a tribal construct to develop and in turn suggest that those who share our beliefs are good and those who do not are evil. The authors explore how these ideas run counter to the traditional tenets of both academic freedom and cognitive behavioral therapy, and connect them to recent trends on college campuses (rioting at Berkley and Middlebury, as well as the events at UVA). Subsequent chapters explore how these ideas were developed and operationalized, and what educators might do going forward to reverse their effects.

    Submitted By Christopher Lauricella, The Albany Academies, Albany NY

KlingensteinCenter Teachers College Columbia University

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