Program Description - MIT 2002-2004

 "Teaching Against the Grain:
Resisting the Culture of Schooling"

       "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 2002­04. To learn to reform teaching, hence to reform U.S. schools, our exploration of educative practice in John Dewey's terms, will be integrated with larger issues of social justice in our democracy.

        The often irresistible pull of our own experiences in schools, in combination with the culture of schooling, can impede both the awareness of a need for change and strategies for inviting change. All culture is inherently conserving and preserves the way things were done in the past. Hence, we will look inside ourselves, at our own culturally shaped beliefs and confront our comfort zones in order to take steps beyond them. We will also investigate the larger culture to dismantle and then re-image what it means to learn, what it means to teach, and who our learners are in our culturally pluralistic society. MIT teacher candidates learn to become advocates of academic success for all children and youth while resisting school cultures which bureaucratically sort, track and rank students.

        We will examine the impact of development, motivation, emotion, cognitive processing styles, cultural context and recent brain research on learning. We will invent ways to encourage students to ask about ideas rather than recreate old ways of telling them what they should know. This exploration will take the whole student as learner into account mind, body and spirit.

        The MIT program that begins in September 2002 and ends in June 2004 will work to create a community of educators who are mindful about their own beliefs as well as the beliefs of school children and their families. The careful study of the history of schooling in the United States, of present practices, research and instructional modes and future visions of inventive pedagogy that are the heart of our work will inform and shape the academic and social environment of this program.

Among the questions that energize our study and practice will be:

Teaching with the whole student in mind

Teaching with diversity in mind