Who can be unhappy when purple flowered friends line the path? Who can be sad when yellow bits adorn the way? Who wants to cry when pebbles, bits of trees, and little weeds glisten and sparkle from the sun's touch? People, circumstances, and bad luck all fight to take away your joy. But remember, my friends, you hold the lockbox with your feelings and reactions neatly stored inside.
Every second of the day since arriving at Pink Shell Resort in Fort Myers, Florida has been about spending time with Athena, but in the evening, when she's already in dreamland, Darren and I watch the sunset from the balcony. Each night, it has been completely different yet postcard perfect every time.
Which one is your favorite? 1? 2? 3? 4?
Rothschild, Eric. “Four Decades of the Advanced Placement Program” The History Teacher 32.2 Feb 1999
In oder for the educational system to enact a radical change there has to be a series of events or outcomes that make change necessary. In the late 1940′s and early 1950′s, educators, students, and parents were all ready for a change. The acceptance of new things to come grew out of several factors:
- college students feeling that the classes were way too easy
- The ever-increasing gap in rigor between high school and college
- The Cold War/Korean war and the need to fight communism.
“While the Cold War is often associated with a nuclear arms race or space race, Harvard in the postwar years found itself in the midst of another critical contest. Fifty years ago, Harvard and other American universities competed against schools in other countries to reach a perpetually rising bar in the battle for superior education.
“There was certainly a pressure to do more,” said Christopher S. Jencks ’58, currently a professor of social policy at the Kennedy School, who wrote numerous articles on education for The Crimson as an undergraduate and went on to publish work in the field of higher education. “We didn’t want to be behind in anything, least of all behind the Soviets.”
The Cold War climate facilitated academic competition among countries, due to the USSR’s Oct. 1957 release of the first man-made satellite, Sputnik, into space. But changes in the landscape of higher education suggested more than just a race against Russia, and the 1957-1958 academic year saw discussion of a range of reforms that reflected shifting ideas about what education should look like and what its role should be.”
– http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2008/6/1/cold-war-conflict-prompted- education-arms/
As I write my paper about AP testing, I am ever reminded of cultural context. Things change out of necessity. That’s how it’s always been and how it will always be. Education is no different. Back in the 1950′s, we were afraid that Russia would beat us at everything: Nuclear arms, scientific advancement, and education (to name a few).
As a result of our need to fight communism, we (the US) felt the pressure to increase rigor in the classroom and to start paying more attention to our high-achieving students – - kind of like an investment in the future.
So this leads me to ask a question. How are we responding to culture today? Are we doing the “right” things? Some of the trends happening in education today are reminiscent of 30, 40, 50 years ago. I just don’t feel like we are reacting to the cultural needs of our society.
It IS interesting to look at each shift in composition theory and analyze it according to the cultural context. One could only wish that the administrators in charge of educational policy were researching historical trends as well.
I like this article and thought I would share with fellow teachers.
Published Online: April 3, 2013 • •
“Complete Coverage Inspiring Creativity Through Nonfiction Texts” By Nathan Sun-Kleinberger
This February, I wrote about how schools inhibit our students’ capacity to think creatively. Soon after, my coworker Kira sent me an email expressing her fear that the common-core literacy standards would further slow our students’ creativity. She wrote, “Our kids seem to fear being creative, and I can’t help thinking that this informative text-driven direction we’re headed will continue to cultivate that fear.”
The Common Core State Standards in English/language arts require that by 12th grade, 70 percent of what students read in school is nonfiction. Kira articulates the concern many educators share about the common standards: that our students will get less exposure to fiction and poetry while being inundated with dry nonfiction like the copy found in traditional textbooks.
David Coleman, President of the College Board and chief architect of the common standards, tried to allay fears like Kira’s in a recent NPR interview: “The idea is that things like Lincoln’s second inaugural address and Martin Luther King’s letter from the Birmingham jail … are worthy of close attention. … Not just in a historical context, but also for the interweaving of thought and language.”
I agree with Coleman. My AP Language and Composition class focuses on nonfiction texts. I teach my students how great writers compose poetic essays and eloquent speeches. The Art of Prose How do I use nonfiction texts to inspire my students to be creative? I prove to them that when a writer makes purposeful choices to achieve an effect, nonfiction can be as creative a genre as any other. When students mimic great writing, they learn the DNA of writing great prose.
Here are three examples of how I encourage this in my classroom. 1) To expose my AP students to great political writing, and to give them a civics lesson about the roots of American oratory, I teach a unit on Thomas Jefferson’s influence on American rhetoric. We begin our journey looking at the Declaration of Independence.How do I connect an 18th-century text to a class of 21st-century teenagers? I teach Jefferson’s masterpiece as a breakup song, asking my students to choose a popular breakup song for comparison’s sake. This year my students selected Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.” We examine both Swift’s and Jefferson’s use of suspended syntax, as well as their use of the personal pronoun as an insult. We map out the structure of each text. As a homework assignment, my students construct their own declarations. Some declare independence from their parents, while others declare independence from homework. One student declared independence from tuna fish sandwiches because he has eaten them every day since kindergarten. When students mimic Jefferson’s structure in the Declaration of Independence, they learn that Jefferson’s rhetoric is as effective today as it was in the 18th century.
2) Another way to connect the rhetoric of the past to the rhetoric of the present is by examining presidential speeches. We examine inaugural addresses by Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy to see how presidents mimic and allude to one another throughout American history. Then, I ask my classes to analyze a State of the Union address from the current president. After we analyze the speech, I introduce them to blogger Pat Dunnigan’s satirical essay”The American Family: Oh the State We’re In.” Satire is especially effective in teaching kids creative writing. Through humor, they can express views or make light of subjects they normally wouldn’t have the courage to address in school. Then students write their own satirical state of the unions, which cover diverse subjects such as texting, zombies, drama queens, the NBA, reality television, and Velcro. By instilling a little humor in a traditionally serious genre, students unleash their creative potential. A Birthday-Card Rubric 3)
My students also read Amy Chua’s parenting memoir Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother for a summer reading assignment. One of the most controversial parts of the book is when Chua rejects her daughter’s handmade birthday card. Chua writes: “I gave the card back to Lulu. ‘I don’t want this,’ I said. ‘I want a better one—one that you’ve put some thought and effort into.’ … I grabbed the card again and flipped it over. I pulled out a pen and scrawled ‘Happy Birthday Lulu Whoopee!’ I added a big sour face … ‘Ireject this.’” My students are appalled by Chua’s bluntness. I turn their disgust into a teachable moment. The class discusses what elements make a “good” birthday card. Then I share the 1–9 scale the College Board uses to assess essays on the AP Language exam. The class works together to create a rubric that assesses how well a birthday card meets the Chua standard. Their homework assignment is to create a birthday card they believe meets the standard on the class rubric.
The following day, I run a class gallery walk where students use the rubric to assess one another’s birthday cards. My students are brutally honest and revel in being as blunt as Amy Chua. This exercise allows my students to understand the AP standard and to be creative by composing birthday cards as a writing assignment. I began this piece with an email from my coworker Kira who fears that the common-core literary standards will hinder our students’ creativity. In Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s first inaugural address, he famously declared, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” to ease the country’s fears about the Great Depression.
I share Kira’s apprehension in accepting and adapting to the common standards. However, fear should not lead us to be paranoid that our students will exclusively read drab textbooks by the time they are seniors. On the contrary, nonfiction can awaken our students’ creativity by connecting texts to the real world. If we have the courage to embrace nonfiction writing as an art form, perhaps we will inspire our students to freely speak their minds like King, Lincoln, and Roosevelt. Nathan Sun-Kleinberger teaches English at Kentridge High School in Kent, Wash. He is a National Board-certified teacher and is affiliated with the Center for Teaching
Quality. Feel free to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source Notes: Late 1800’s
In the late 1800’s, rhetoric and composition was not a primary focus in literary or English studies. So, although students were learning the classics, “there was no methodical instruction in rhetoric and composition” (16).
Today, the rhet/comp departments of most every university Still have to fight for the esteem that they deserve. Even now, the top Shakespearean professors get paid much more than those who teach others how to write. Why is this? Over a hundred years ago, teachers of English realized that there was an urgent need to teach the basics and to relinquish the hold that style and flourish had on writing instruction. (I am not saying that style and finesse are not important, but when you have a majority of immigrants who are smart, hard working, and willing to do what it takes to succeeed, you have to create a program that accomodates them. This is what had to to happen in many universities in the 1880-90′s.)
Franklin Genung of Amhurst decided in 1881 to change the face of teaching composition by incorporating Germany’s popular “laboratory work in which each of the courses was a ‘veritable workshop, wherein, by systematized daily drill, details are mastered one by one, and that unity of result is obtained which is more for practical use than for show” (17). I can see how back then the need for drills was imperative. For students who couldn’t write at all or for whom English was a second languge, rote drills were the only solution. Yet rote and drill somehow stuck with American schools for a hundred years (and it’s still here today, albeit under a different alias).
Proofreading was thought to be very important in the teaching of composition (17). I chose to highlight this quote because the element of proofreading is the foundation of writing and of everything I believe to be crucial to the writing process. And yet, about 60 years later, timed writing tests would be developed that would determine the future of students’ academic careers. Were those students able to proof and edit for these tests? No.
And yet, the influx of foreigners influenced education – especially secondary education – because teachers had to adapt to the lack of knowledge of the basic rules of English. I can see how this started the need for more regulatory lessons in composition. More formulaic lessons, in fact. If you are a teacher and your job is to teach the fundamentals of English, how are you supposed to do that without some kind of script or formula?
Even though by the 1880’s teachers of composition decided that style should take a back seat to the ability to “think straight-forwardly about subjects in which they are genuinely interested, and…to express themselves clearly and connectedly” (18), there was still “no place” for composition studies before the turn of the century.
For a long time, the study of rhetoric and composition has taken a back seat (and it still does!). This is nothing new to scholars and students; however, the truth is disturbing considering that so many leaders in composition pedagogy have recognized the importance of the genre for over 100 years.
The more I read of composition studies from a hundred+ years ago, the more I realize that so much has remained the same. Is my quest to change the way we teach too much to ask? Is my claim that now, with the Internet, we really have changed, false?
Of course I need to read more to find out.
- Elocution and the Generosity of Scholars (dissertationgal.com)
- Goals Goals Goals and some Focus (dissertationgal.com)
- Thoughts on the English Major (kscenglishstudies.wordpress.com)
- The Rhetoric of Twitter (dissertationgal.com)
- The Rhetoric of Democracy (osgapusgov.wordpress.com)
- The Top Colleges in NY for English Majors (college.answers.com)
- The Top Public Universities for English Majors (college.answers.com)
- English 275 work from 2012 capstone students (englishndsu.wordpress.com)
I think I’m just about finished reading my background information on Harvard and the culture of education in the late 1800′s. So interesting that although so much has changed, nothing really “changes” in education.
So my goal for today is to draft a couple pages of thoughts just from my head that summarize everything I’ve learned and read. I want to make sure I’ve synthesized my sources and “get” the cultural impact on education and writing assessment. Then I will go back, add in my relevant quotes, and see where the holes are.
Next – on to the next phase in history and writing assessment, which all leads up to my work on AP Testing.
1. Free Write/Synthesis of what I’ve read so far.
2. Fill in quotes
3. Find holes. Read more if I need to.
4. Gather a few more sources on my next historical phase.
5. Fill out those forms for archival research
My question for anyone out there is, Why does nothing ever change in education? That proverbial pendulum that goes back and forth from this trend back to that trend just keeps swinging, no matter what happens in society.
And yet, we have to react to cultural change, especially in education–especially with technology and the ubiquity of the Internet. That’s my whole point. I want a true shift and am wondering if it’s possible.
This is my 2012-13 school picture. I know I’ve certainly changed in the last ten years. How will the next ten be?
- International Woman’s Day – Why Girls? (agirlcalledlynsey.com)
- Education: How Games Help Your Academic Achievement (youtopia.com)
- Teaching standards to fix a ‘crisis’ that doesn’t exist (theconversation.edu.au)
- Improving Communication without Letter Grades (darcymullin.wordpress.com)
- The Public, and The Digital Public Library of America (librarianshipwreck.wordpress.com)
- Education Nation: What you need to know about race-based academic goals (nbclatino.com)
Source: American Educational Review XXXI, 1910, Vol 7
Today, it feels like the educational institution is under attack (understatement, right? “It’s just a Flesh Wound”). So I wanted to read some journals from the late 1800′s/early 1900′s and see what those scholars felt about education in general. If I’m going to talk about writing assessment in my dissertation, I need to a comprehensive picture. I have to say I am quite humbled and shocked at some of the things I have been reading.
Perspectives in Early 1900′s: In a way, the attitudes of the “working man” toward education remind me of “Downton Abbey” – They looked down on those who had white-collar (or any) jobs. In 1910, scholars were already worrying about what would happen if everyone became educated. They wondered who would do the “rough work” (4).
So let’s define “rough work”. Hmm. that would be any job that requires home maintenance, clean-up, fixing, replacing, building, etc. In essence, “rough work” has always been a valued and necessary part of culture. People would own shops for just one aspect of the “rough work”. And yet, today our students look on any kind of technical or manual job as below them. But what if they are naturally good with their hands? I just don’t want to discourage a generation of students from trying to build, to invent, to DO because they think it is beneath them.
Back then when college was a relatively new thing for the middle classes, parents would send their kids to college if they were perceived as being lazy – at least they’d get an education. This is so different from where we are now, but I can see the ramifications of this attitude. A hundred years later, who is going to do the “work”? Also, those who do the manual labor (especially for their own business) seem to make a decent salary today.
Today, students and parents are absolutely obsessed with what college they (students) will attend. College and education is everything; however, don’t you think the label of “college degree” is changing a bit? Now, we have to go further. Some say that the undergraduate degree doesn’t even matter in the scope of career. The only benefit of the undergrad degree is to show employers that you can get through college and to get into the expected graduate school.
And yet, to get a corporate job you need business experience. This means that education can only get you so far. So I am wondering just how much value the corporate world places on education. Do they just want results? I have to believe that the best combination is results PLUS education for prestige and ethos.
So how important is education today, in 2013? In my school, many of the “tech” classes have been removed – Auto Mechanics, Horticulture, etc – classes that were the saving grace for some kids who felt that English literature was a Hell on earth. These classes have been eliminated from our school program and instead there is an emphasis on AP classes and “college-readiness” courses. It seems that the powers that be feel that everyone is “college ready”. But you know what? I’ve had several of my top Advanced Placement students tell me that they wish they could just take a couple of years off after high school, work, save money, figure life out a little bit, and then go to college. But that’s unacceptable for most parents. People are afraid that if students are “off the market” for a while they will lose their chance at a good career. This makes me sad. Our teens under 18 are already in the rat race and they can’t even vote or have a beer yet.
I remember a few years back when one student loved his horticulture class. He’d bring me plants; in fact, I still have the Dusty Millers he gave me in my front yard. My husband planted them and I can’t look at them without thinking about our now defunct horticulture program.
So here is where I am divided. I teach AP Language! I am all for the AP class. I want my students to be successful.
I want to be able to call someone to fix my AC, to change the tires on my car, to shingle the roof. These are honorable jobs. When did that change? And, as a wife of a small business owner who walks through buildings and does air testing, asbestos testing, and lead-paint testing, I respect people who live in the trenches to do their jobs. We need those people. How would we exist without them?
In a way, education had a “bad rep” because people thought that it was just about bombastic words, etc. But this author is saying that it is up to educators to dispel that myth. Interesting. So even in 1910, education itself was often looked at as a Lazy man’s job. Of course that would all change.
How about the people today who say “those who can’t do, teach”? This is the same misconception that I am hoping will someday die out. Those who CAN do teach. They can also do something else: they can put into words how to do what they can do. That’s hard.
Today, education is so crucial to success. Completing college shows future employers that you can stick it out, even through the tough patches.
- Teaching Teaches Me (then & now) (kchapmangibbons.wordpress.com)
- Technology and Education (jcsprenger.com)
- Boys’ lack of effort in school tied to college gender gap (sciencedaily.com)
- Academic Integrity Redux, Part III (insidehighered.com)
- ‘Hope and Change,’ Meet ‘No Hope, Cosmetic Change’ (Part I) (lawschooltuitionbubble.wordpress.com)
- GARDNER:’College-for-all’ policy bad for students, bad for jobs (washingtontimes.com)
- Engineering Scholarships | Construction Scholarships | MortgageRefinanceRates.org (mortgagerefinancerates.org)
- Renew The American Commitment To Opportunity (ourfuture.org)
Today was a special day. We had normal class, but since this next weekend is Prom, I decided to bring in my vintage prom dresses for my students. They imagine that they are “retro” 1980′s, but THIS is the real deal. Don’t you love it?
The fact that my students were willing to try on these dresses in the middle of class was truly special. I appreciate my wonderful students.
In the last year, I made 8 bucket list dreams come true for my readers. Skydiving, heli-skiing, piloting a helicopter, driving a NASCAR, riding in a limo, enjoying a spa day, touring wine country, and attending a ballet were all items on the bucket lists of my readers. I found ways to sponsor them or offer their dreams for free.