Weekly Blogs: Nov 10th

a.       What was the most significant thing you learned in class this week?

I am not quite sure how to explain what’s been going on in my head, so please bear with me if this doesn’t quite make sense.  During the course of Thursday night’s discussion, a lot of little thoughts and ideas I’d had floating about my head began to coalesce into something like a perspective.  On Tuesday, in Adolescent Development, Karen made a comment about our readings for the week having been “radical.”  In my reading, the passages were basically arguing that rather than dismiss adolescents as young stupid people whose behavior isn’t supposed to make sense, we take them seriously as people and work with them to help make schools the kinds of places students want to be, so that they don’t feel like seeking deep and meaningful experiences elsewhere.  To me this is something we ought to be doing, not some radical fringe theory.  In our Thursday class I was surprised to hear so many people seemed to have such a negative view of video games in general.  Even games like GTA: San Andreas must be fulfilling some sort of need that young people feel they have, or they wouldn’t bother spending so much time playing them.  Of course, many adults also play these games.  Why dismiss them in such an out-of-hand manner?

What Robin said about banned books also got me thinking.  I suspect that it’s the same urge behind the drive to ban certain types of video games.  I remember my first encounter with this kind of thinking: my junior year of high school two of my classmates refused to read Siddhartha because they were god Christians and believed that to read such a book was to tempt the Devil.

I was also reminded of why it was the Athenians sentenced Socrates to die: by walking around asking young people to question why it was the held the beliefs they did, the state felt threatened and accused him of corrupting the youth.  Not because he was convincing them to drink or party or anything.  Because he was showing them how to think (at least, that’s how Plato tells it).

To me this is evidence pointing toward the conservatism of our public schooling, and apparently of many of our future teachers.  This is probably something that’s already been well documented.  It does make me wonder how we can expect to really reform our educational system.  In my experience people who are conservative tend not to like change.  Yet its difficult to solve problems if you can’t change any of the factors.

I usually think of myself as an explorer.  I like trying new things.  I like to experiment.  But in the discussions we’ve been having this quarter, both in this class and in adolescent development, I am beginning to see myself as more of a subversive.  I don’t believe it’s a good idea to do something, just because it’s something we’ve always done.  There needs to be a better reason for me than that.

I am glad that next quarter is the class about learning to understand oneself as a teacher, because this first quarter is really giving me a lot to think about.  I hope that class will help provide me with some space to sort some of these things out.

b.      What questions do you have and what do you want to learn more about?

Mary and I talked with Carrie a bit on Thursday about the Betty’s Brain article.  We both thought it was very good, and were excited about the ideas presented.  I’d really like to know where this research is currently and whether it’s being used regularly in a class or classes.  I am also curious about what sort of similar efforts are being made by other researchers.

c.       What applications do you see to classroom practice based on what you learned?

I don’t know how to answer this question briefly.  I will need to think about it more.

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