"Can prospective teachers learn to be both educators and activists, to regard themselves as agents for change, and to regard reform as an integral part of the social, intellectual, ethical and political activity of teaching?"
This provocative question, posed more than a decade ago by Marilyn Cochran-Smith, nationally prominent professor of education at Boston University, provides the contextual framework for our study in MIT 2005-07. Our exploration of educative practice, in John Dewey's terms, will be integrated with larger issues of social justice in our democracy.
Among the questions that will energize our study and practice are:
- What are the impacts of development, motivation, emotion, cognitive processing styles, differing abilities, cultural contexts, and recent brain research on teaching and learning?
- Are there ways to teach that encourage students' curiosity and lead them to shape their own questions and pursue their own answers?
- What encourages and what inhibits students from struggling with something that is difficult? . How do learning theory and teaching practices inform each other and contribute to children's and adolescents' successes or failures?
- What are the implications of the State of Washington's Educational Reform and the federal legislation, "Leave No Child Behind," for our students and for us? . How will performance based education affect what and how we teach?
- How are questions of democracy, equity and excellence related to success or failure in our public schools? How can understanding social justice help us help our students?
- How are the more traditional literacies of reading, writing, and quantitative reasoning related to personal, economic, and political oppression and power?
- How can teachers respond to and work with family and cultural belief systems that shape children's lives when those belief systems may or may not be the same as our own? In other words, how can teachers who are socialized to accept the values of the dominant culture learn to educate children and youth without ignoring, denying, or rejecting their cultural heritages?
- How can we as teachers find the courage to recognize and address our own biases so we can better serve the diverse students with whom we will work?