Twenty years ago, “mindfulness” was nearly absent from conversations in the education world. Fast forward to 2020, and we’ve witnessed an incredible surge of interest in integrating mindfulness from teachers, administrators, policymakers and researchers. What accounts for this interest?
We suspect one key reason is that under the stress of expanding classrooms and standardized assessments, the teacher-student relationship has suffered. Sharing mindfulness helps reclaim the emotional poignancy of learning, which is, in the end an exchange between two people. The following excerpt from our book about teaching mindfulness to adolescents focuses on the power of self-disclosure by both teacher and student as they build and navigate an authentic relationship that facilitates deep learning.
Continue reading “Trending in 2020: Mindfulness for Adolescents”
I confess. I still teach Sherman Alexie’s books. I value the quality of his work and the power it has on adolescent readers too much to give it up. That declaration has created confusion, consternation, and even condemnation by some fellow teachers who heretofore thought I was at least passably “woke.” How can I be a feminist and teach the works of such a serial abuser? You probably still watch Woody Allen movies, they sneer.
Similarly, despite the reasonable reconsideration of the dominance of Shakespeare in literature curricula, I am not swayed by the argument that his plays shouldn’t be taught because they are “triggering.” From my perspective, both the rise of trigger warnings and the #MeToo movement have reshaped and perhaps diminished the landscape of the politics of teaching literature.
Continue reading “Trending in 2020: To Teach or Not to Teach “Triggering” Texts”
Just after high school and before my first year in college, I taught mathematics in a rural village in Kenya. After a few months, the mayor of the town invited me to his home. I sat in an anteroom that had a swept dirt floor and freshly whitewashed walls. He left me to sit alone with a small battery-operated radio. The radio played loud static. There were no radio channels available. After 5 minutes or so, he returned to ask me what I thought of his radio. Being polite, I said, “Very nice, Mr. Mayor!”
Why did he do this? He had be aware that it was only noise. To this day, I think he was showing me that he was looking towards the future. The technology was an aspirational symbol. “I am taking this town into the future!”
Continue reading “Trending in 2020: Will Artificial Intelligence Replace Teachers?”
Almost daily, it seems, our social media platforms blow up with yet another story about why teachers are leaving the profession. We read reports by think tanks and policy centers, personal narratives from discouraged teachers—both new and veteran—and calls for change from professional organizations. Teachers are leaving in record numbers for many reasons, these sources tell us, but prime among them is this: Once respected as professionals, many teachers now feel as if their voices have been silenced—that their education, experience, and diligent commitment to students no longer have a place in the conversations about education. Standardized tests lead to standardized curricula and standardized teaching practices in far too many places. They create “teacher proof” approaches that ignore teacher creativity and contradict research based practices.
Continue reading “Trending in 2020: Recognizing Teacher Professionalism and Expertise in Trying Times”
Although the Common Core State Standards have lost something of their influence over the teaching and curriculum of the English Language Arts, I think it’s undeniable that a lasting legacy of the CCSS is that they increased the centrality of the teaching of argument in the writing curriculum. You can see the CCSS architects’ justification for this emphasis in a subsection of Appendix A aptly titled “The Special Place of Argument in the Standards” (http://www.corestandards.org/assets/Appendix_A.pdf). You can see it also in this famous (or infamous) statement by David Coleman, the chief of those architects, that was reported in The Atlantic: “A boss would never tell an employee, ‘Johnson, I need a market analysis by Friday, but before that, I need a compelling account of your childhood’” (Goldstein, 2012). Argument, Coleman argues, should be taught because it’s practical.
Continue reading “Trending in 2020: Have Educators Privileged Argument Writing at the Expense of Personal Narrative?”
I was asked to write a blog post about a recent trend in education that I find either exciting or concerning. I decided to write about a topic that is both exciting and concerning: the impact of trauma on learning and behavior.
First the exciting part: these days many educators are being trained to understand the impact of chronic stress and trauma on students’ development, behavior, and learning. Schools everywhere are devoting significant professional development time to this topic and prioritizing being “trauma-informed” or “trauma-sensitive.” Thankfully, as a result educators have far more empathy for how chronic stress and trauma can derail learning and be a primary cause of disruptive behavior in the classroom.
Continue reading “Trending in 2020: School Discipline is Trauma-Insensitive and Trauma-Uninformed”