takin’ it to the streets (aka bringing detail about education to the public sphere)


IMAGE CREDIT: The Public Sphere, New Media and Politics

I’m so fortunate to be teaching another writing course this semester! As I said in so many words at this same time last year, the two acts of writing and supporting fellow writers–be they students or colleagues–have animated my work since I started this gig way back in 1987. (Am I old, or am I resilient? Draw your own conclusions.)

Having met my latest class on Tuesday, I’m eager to begin writing with them during Thursday’s class. In anticipation of our work together in CO301D: Teaching Writing in the Disciplines–a course that aims to deepen personal knowledge of the field of education in order to share that knowledge in the public sphere–we just started reading Mike’s Rose’s profound little book, Why School: Reclaiming Education for All of Us (2009/2014). In the Introduction, Rose makes the following claim:

The challenge in [writing about education] is how to bring the cognitive detail and intimacy into public view, how to render it, and how to apply it to broader social and political issues. The public sphere is where the detail belongs, for collecting it is a testament to who we are, a tribute to our intelligence as a people (p. 21).

In that same vein, the following excerpt from my CO301D syllabus describes what our work together will entail this semester. Speaking now directly to my students: 

I’ve designed this course to help you, as future English Language Arts teachers, develop expertise in current issues in the field of education (especially literacy education) that will inform your writing for public and practitioner audiences. That means you’ll read and analyze multiple texts written in print and multimodal genres (because that’s what writing looks like these days), you’ll construct and refine your own theories about education (because we all already have them, whether we’ve articulated them or not), and then you’ll write (A LOT) to make better sense of what you, your classmates, and other experts know so that you can communicate your views via public writing.

“But isn’t all writing public?” you may be wondering. Technically, perhaps, but in school, writing tends to move along a one-lane street connecting the student and the teacher only. This class aims to move the vehicle of your thought onto a multi-lane information super highway with lots of on-ramps and off-ramps so that others can traffic with your ideas, and you can traffic with others’. On that freeway, we’ll consider the following questions, among others:

  • If anyone can Google any information, “Why school?” as Mike Rose puts it. Assuming that there is a point (otherwise, you’re wasting a whole lot of money on tuition), what is it that every educated person in a democracy, including students and teachers, should be able to know and do as a result of her/his schooling? What role do you as a future teacher, as well as schools in general, have to play in expanding access to equity for all students? What does it mean to be ambitious on behalf of youth?
  • For that matter, why write? How do other educators communicate what they think in regard to the above questions? For whom do they write? How do they craft their messages, and for what purposes, so that their ideas can be heard? Where do educators’ voices fit in today’s political debates about education? How can they shape public conversation and educational policy instead of being pawns in it?
  • Which brings us to you. Why should you as a soon-to-be-teacher engage in public writing about literacy and education? Who needs to hear what you have to say and why? Since everyone has been to school, what can you tell them that they don’t already (think they) know about education today? How will you communicate your ideas for colleagues and others outside of the field of education, including students, colleagues, parents, and the general public?
  • And when you do write, what will that writing look like in our digital, multimodal age?

Driving down this information super highway is likely to be daunting indeed, but the good news is that we’re all on the bus together. I hope our road trip will be safe, but boisterous. I know our conversation will be unpredictable, but interesting. Let’s make it our goal to have some good stories to tell when we reach our destination.

Now buckle up and let’s go! To do so, choose one or more of the italicized questions above and respond in the comments section below. In other words, write in public. Right now. On purpose. Because I know you have something to say.

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39 thoughts on “takin’ it to the streets (aka bringing detail about education to the public sphere)

  1. cassrhodess says:

    I think one of the most important things in life, which can be gained from educating/ learning, can be that there is no correct way, or as Mike Rose puts it, there is no “one size fits all” standard in most aspects of one’s life. By this, I mean that there is no one “correct” way or “finalized” way of thought– education continuous on throughout the entirety of a life time. I believe that for the most part, the instructor sets the standard for a class, meaning the beliefs and attitude of the instructor influences the way students feel in the classroom. For example, if a teacher pushes against one student, that is opening the door for other students to treat others as lesser than. It is also important to be righteous in teaching; fight for and believe in the students. EVERY student (though this may be difficult).
    Writing has many benefits. For the most part, I use it selfishly. I write for myself–to further explore who I am, sort out my mind. It also has the power to influence others. The bible, for example, has driven mass amounts of peoples faith, and that simply is writing. Take “Why School?” for example as well. Rose has the chance to expand his readers minds and perspectives on schooling. Though, people are becoming more and more incapable of listening to that but the screen in front of him or her. It is important that there are educated writers; writers willing to understand that what they are saying does not “fit all”; flexibility is important while writing in a public sphere.
    As a soon-to-be-educator, it is important that I start to LISTEN. Listen and try and understand- rather than listen in order to reply. My job will not be to influence students to believe what is right and wrong, but rather guide them, help them figure out what works well for them; what is right and wrong for him or her as an individual as well as a larger community. We are the future of the country. As future teachers, we are setting the stepping stones to the foundation of America. We are the one’s in which will shape the country on a larger scale. We have to be able to communicate and listen–

    • shutchyblog says:

      I think the idea that there is no “one size fits all” is extremely important to education. In a classroom, every student learns in a different way and has different influences from their lives that might impact how successful they can be. It is important to understand the differences in every student and find ways for every student to achieve. Similar to this class with the different badge options, I believe in allowing students to take their somewhat individual paths to find success in education.
      I think your point on learning to listen is interesting. Now that you point it out, I realize I often also just listen in order to respond, rather than to learn or better understand. I think listening can be important in a teacher-student relationship or even a student-student relationship to better develop as people and learners.

  2. jailit says:

    It is important that every educator write in a public sense, but I think that it is important that I write what I am thinking along the lines of education because I want people to see how I am thinking that things should be done, and I want people to respond to me as an educator so that I can more fully understand more ways of thinking. I think that education in todays world tends to be a little too pressured onto students, and when students are pressured to take all of these classes throughout school whether it be high school or even college, it becomes an issue. Students will find certain classes irrelevant, thus not putting their best foot forward. Along with these extra classes that aren’t needed, there are a bunch of classes that are required by certain programs and those classes are a lot of stress. Stress on top of more stress on top of the stress induced by simply living in today’s world is insane for students to deal with. A great deal of todays generations are experts at coping with large amounts of stress, but where is the glass ceiling that sets the maximum amount of stress a person can be subjected to? It may sound whiny and petty, but when students can barely find the motivation to get out of bed in the morning, only to find themselves in classrooms for 6-10 hours a day, and then go to work to pay the rent on an apartment they can’t afford and the tuition they’re going thousands of dollars into debt with each year, I believe there needs to be a glass ceiling. There is a big stigma or belief that every countries students need to be the brightest and most successful, but I think that maybe we should ease up on our students, help them out a little more financially somehow, and I think that once some of this impending stress is lifted, our countries students will start showing significant improvement. When you give a person or animal or plant room to grow, they will grow. I think that this room to grow is exactly what this countries education system needs. And people need to see that, and I plan to write about this idea of mine in every chance I get so that more people can see this idea, and hopefully comment back, and make a change in the system.

    • “When you give a person or animal or plant room to grow, they will grow.”

      This is a lot like the activity I did the other day where I was given 10 seconds to draw a picture, and then given 10 minutes to draw a picture. Obviously, I was able to draw a better, more creative picture in 10 minutes. This could be like the way that we’re asked to write SO MUCH, SO QUICKLY, and you’re correct, we’re doing this on top of all our readings, working, transporting, eating, sleeping, and answering your mom’s phone calls. I agree that we don’t usually have enough time to do great work, and maybe if leaders wanted us to be so “advanced” in comparison to other countries, then maybe we should be allowed more room to innovate and create.

  3. Sulav Magar says:

    As a soon-to-be-teacher, it is tremendously essential that I engage in public writings about literacy and education. I have a voice, just like everyone else, and what impact would I be if I never exercise or use it? But, it’s not just “soon-to-be-teachers” that need to hear what I have to say, it should be everyone. Everyone is my audience, because everyone has been impacted by education at some point in their life. It’s incredibly relative. However, a lot of people only focus on the “benefits” that education offers later, and fail on recognizing how much more it impacts one’s life than that. Literacy and education gives people the tools, methods, and strengths to expand and empower their own minds. As a soon-to-be-teacher, that’s my focus. I want to educate others while still empowering them to never stop growing and educating themselves. Sometimes your own words are far more powerful than those of a textbooks’. However, the textbooks’ are necessary to inspire your passions and interests.

    • Kendra Brecka says:

      I agree with you, and I think that simply speaking to students in a classroom setting is something that allows voices to be heard. And you’ll be heard in a massive way, impacting multiple students.

      I like that you mention more than just the benefits of school, but also the practical aspect. It reminds me of how children in other countries or the US in the past, can’t get an education and how even just learning to read is a crucial skill for them. Besides teaching kids one skill, teachers can deposit their opinions, stories, and lives into those of others. Knowledge is important, but it comes in multiple forms.

  4. What will writing look like in our digital, multimodal age?

    I have done my best to delete my old social media accounts, because when I looked back on what I had to say, I realized that I had changed and grown so much that I didn’t want those words to represent me anymore. I worry now, as I am required by my courses to write publicly online, create a twitter, blog, and website, that I will look back many years from now and also be ashamed of my previous thoughts and beliefs.

    My hope for the digital age is that we all emphasize media literacy. I hope people not only read a post or see an image, but think about its context, when it was written, what it was influenced by, and how things might have changed since then. I want to write publicly with confidence, but I also want to know that this work will not define me forever.

    Writing is a great way to figure out what you believe. Sharing your voice publicly provides you with an opportunity to share perspectives with others, and in turn, change what you may have originally written about. It is still just a hope in my mind that others will take advantage of the opportunity to collaborate productively through these technological communications, and understand and accept the way that, perhaps if someone is writing, they want to be influenced by other ideas, because they’re still working through their own thoughts and beliefs.

    • jailit says:

      I understand completely where you are coming from with this point, but if I may offer my own opinion on this, I like to keep some glimpses of my past self around so that I can see how much I’ve grown as a person, and what kind of thoughts 16 year old me was having that I presented to the world. Granted, a lot of these thoughts are ridiculous and no one told me I was spelling ‘tomorrow’ wrong until I was almost 18, it is important that I see what I’ve come up from. A ‘go up’ if you are internet meme savvy.

  5. 1) I think that the purpose of education should be to improve quality of life, not just for yourself, but for the people around you. Education coupled with a thirst for learning will give people the tools they need to be successful in life, whether it be managing personal finances or articulating what’s needed on paper in their various careers. Every educated person in a democracy should know basic grammar, spelling, and communication skills to help themselves succeed.

    2) Writing is the building block of education. As a teacher, being able to put together lesson plans, syllabi, etc, is an integral part of the career. You need to articulate to your students what’s needed and expected, and being able to put that on paper is necessary. Thus, writing skills will help you dramatically.

    3) As a soon to be educator, we represent the up-and-coming voices of education. We need to make our voices heard so that people know what’s coming. It is important to engage in public discussion about education to show our peers that we are ready to “take the torch”.

    • lnhunt says:

      I love how you have stated, “We represent the up-and-coming voices of education.” Love it.

      In my senior year of high school I became a little political fighter for my fellow students, and as a teacher, we really do hold the weight of future education. I agree, our voices need to heard and it entails public discussion. However daunting, we truly do need to interact in public discussions, whether that be located directly in one district, one state, or the entire country.

      Education is oh so important, and as it changes we need to make sure that the students are first (a statement I am thoroughly passionate about). If not, what are we doing?

  6. charlieich says:

    In response to the question, “why should you as a soon-to-be-teacher engage in public writing about literacy and education,” I think you have to start with the prior question, “why write”. We, as people, write to remember and share ideas. As a student, I write because it helps connect neuro-pathways in my brain that help me remember. But when I write to share ideas, not only does it help me remember those ideas, but it also immortalizes them by allowing other people to connect. It makes the idea infinite.

    As someone who may someday be an educator writing will become an essential part of my career. Perhaps it won’t be in writing novels or short stories or plays (as I may once have dreamed and/or imagined), but as a teacher, the words that I write on a blackboard (or type onto a powerpoint onto a projected screen) will be presented to students. I mean, that’s the idea right? And, if what I said about writing and sharing ideas is true, then hopefully those students will engage with and interact with those ideas in such a way that they carry some part of them on into their lives.

    A teacher once told me, “you have to be pretty narcissistic to write.” Now, I’m sure that idea wasn’t original with him. In fact, I may have read it elsewhere. However, it is true. I think it applies to the career of teaching too. From the first day that you walk into the classroom you have to believe that the material you are presenting is going to influence the students in your classroom in such a way that it makes their lives better. Otherwise, why are you doing it? Perhaps a more accurate way to think about this would be to say, a teacher ought to be enriching the lives of their students every time they interact (though of course, this is a perfect situation, and won’t always be the case. There’s grace for that).

    Bringing it back to writing, whatever I write, be it as an educator or otherwise, ought to be bringing something of value. It should bring ideas that invite students to think about or understand the world in a new way. It should encourage me to be more critical of the ways that I write and think, and why I do so. And hopefully, it would do so in a way that is enjoyable to consume.

    I think that this can apply to our other interactions as well. The Islamic proverb, Is it true, Is it kind, Is it helpful, in regards to whether a thought ought to be voiced should permeate all interactions, whether written, or voiced.

    • Alice Through The Monitor Glass says:

      I agree. Writing in general is important. If you are writing, you are writing for one reason or another; this there must be some value, something to take from your writing as a reader (let’s just ignore the intentional and affect fallacies here). One can always grow in the area of writing communicating one’s thoughts, and as a teacher communication is essential, so why not hold the desire to strengthen that by writing since doing so also helps those that are listening.

  7. lnhunt says:

    I would like to respond to your question: Why write?

    I guess you could say that everyone should ask that question, whether you are simply writing for school or you have a calling to be a writer. There is almost always a purpose behind writing, and for me there are many purposes.

    At first, I wrote for myself. It was a way to escape, a way to create, a way to be something or someone else. I could explore language, and words, and ideas, and different meanings, and play with the way words are structured and how words rhyme with one another, and even how each word can refer to one another without being directly mentioned.

    But then writing shifted. I wrote for school: analytic papers, essays, bibliographies, etc. It grew my skills, but it was for the purpose of a grade or for the purpose of answering a prompt that was either extremely specific or ambiguously vague.

    Now, I find myself writing for a deeper purpose, because my outlook on life has changed, quite drastically if I might add. I still write for me, but it for the sake of others, and not just for myself.

    I write for the unheard. I write for those without a voice. I write so that points may be taken with weight, especially when it regards the student voice. I write for those who are mistaken. I write to understand emotions, and I write so that I and you and everyone can better understand the world around them – emotionally, physically, spiritually – so that our reality can be better felt. I write for education. I write for truth, real truth.

    And I write for fun.

    I honestly enjoy it. I would have to say, though, that I don’t always enjoy the many essays my professors give me, especially all at once, but there are moments – small epiphanies – in my writing where go, “Ah, that’s it.”

    And I love it. I have been writing for, geez, sooo long. For school, since forever; for fun, since 7th grade (maybe even earlier). I write poetry, I’ve attempted to write a book, I want to write more books, and even recently I have wanted to write some non-fiction pieces.

    Within this last year and a half my faith has grown exponentially, and I find my purpose of writing to be for my God, but also his children.

    So I write for you. I write for me. I document what we don’t always notice, and I love to write about something real and raw.

    So, I guess you could ask, why not write?

    • From one soon-to-be-rejected-by-publishers-novelist/poet, I one hundred percent can relate to the writing for oneself bit you spoke about in the beginning. Writing to me is releasing the thoughts in my head and letting them rest elsewhere as if to no longer plague my minimal brain space. It is within the recognition of those words, from others, that I find self-validation and a reason to continue. Through writing for myself, I too, write for others.

  8. Kendra Brecka says:

    One of the problems that arises with simply being able to google everything is the incredible amount of information that can be found online or in databases. Sometimes I do get the aching feeling that my education is utterly useless because if knowledge is my only pursuit, I shouldn’t be paying thousands upon thousands to obtain it. However, this is a filler thought.

    In addition, a problem with the googling crisis is that the humanity of education is lost when everything turns digital. For instance, over break, I volunteered at a school called “Greater Heights.” It’s essentially an alternative to the (terrible, awful, poorly funded) high school in Leadville, CO. At GH, they focus on a primarily online platform. This is great for kids who work well alone and learn quickly, but some kids are still left behind. Because the humanity of education is not present in their learning, they are detached. This is an example of the internet being a benefit but also a terrible downfall.

    When I feel these “utterly useless” feelings, I need to remind myself that I do this terribly expensive education–stuff–for a reason. And the same goes for writing. When thinking “Why write?” and “How to write in this day and age?,” I think we all need to be adaptable.

    By this, I mean that blogging IS in fact a useful tool. Sure, it’s online. Sure, it’s not human and organic (like books :D). But it is possibly the easiest and most efficient way to communicate information and opinions to those who are not in close range. That’s not the point I’m trying to communicate here. I think what I’m trying to convey is that as future teachers, we all have intrinsic knowledge that we think of as common sense. We all read Mike Rose or James Gee and think “I know that.” Also not what I’m trying to convey.

    Something else I think I am maybe trying to say here is that there’s a lot that needs to be changed in education, and we might not have one solid answer that can solve all the problems that exist. However, we all have opinions on how to change policies whether we have the power to do so or not. Also, I don’t know where I’m going with this and none of my thoughts have reached conclusions.

    • Sulav Magar says:

      I actually really loved how none of your thoughts necessarily “reached a conclusion.” It made your response more real and relatable. I definitely see your struggle between whether the internet is more of a benefit or con in education today, and agree that regardless we should all be adaptable. For example, you mentioned blogging, and how it actually is a technological tool that helps get your voice out there and respond to other voices, as well. Your thoughts were great, and definitely a joy to read!

  9. blogessor says:

    (Is it weird to comment on your own blog entry? Well, probably, but I’m going to anyway.)

    I watched the confirmation hearing on Tuesday for Betsy Devos, the person the president-elect is nominating for the Secretary of Education. I fully understand that one of his campaign promises was to “drain the swamp” by bringing in outsiders to Washington. I get the appeal of that, the disrupting the status quo thing and all, but in sharing my voice about credentials based on my decades as a teacher, let’s think this one through.

    In our nation’s past, we participated in more social institutions than we do at this moment (nuclear families and churches come to mind). Times have changed to the extent, however, that schooling is probably the one social institution that all of us share as citizens in our democracy. Given that this institution directly impacts the life choices of our youth, it’s a very big deal who’s making decisions about their school experiences.

    And the Secretary of Education makes BIG decisions related to access to schooling, funding, accountability measures, research, etc. Given that, I feel strongly that we need someone who has deep knowledge of and experience with education to shape their thinking. It’s not enough to say, “We’ve all been to school. Cool, cool, cool. That means we’re all experts on what schools should look like.” That’s like saying, “I’ve been going to the doctor all my life. Cool, cool, cool. Give me a prescription pad and a stethoscope because I’m qualified to treat people in what are sometimes life-or-death situations.”

    Education affects of all us. It’s no swamp. It’s where we learn to sink or swim as citizens. I hope that those who have expertise in the field will somehow make their voices heard in a conversation that needs to continue, regardless of who’s in the seat of the Secretary of Ed.

  10. Ronnie Sawyer says:

    Why do we have schools? This question came up in one of my other education classes recently and I’ve had some time to think about it. Most answers I’ve come across state that have schools to ensure that our population is well educated, but what exactly falls under the category of “well educated?” Schools teach children more than just algebra and grammar, while very important aspects, they also show students how to interact with peers, help figure out who they want to be, and stimulate their minds. Rather than the old days of having children as young as five go work in factories, children are given the opportunity to better their minds through the education they’re being provided, in both the social and academic sense. As future teachers, our role is to give students an equal shot at bettering themselves through knowledge, whether or not they choose to take advantage of that chance is partially up to them, but our job is to make sure that we are giving them every opportunity to learn. Though that may seem difficult when the joy of learning to better oneself seems to be set aside for a test scores, I still believe it’s a teacher’s role to inspire the pursuit of knowledge for the sake of knowledge.

    • Briana Jara says:

      First, I am going to comment on the test scores portion that you mentioned. I also feel that striving to be a teacher that teaches students in a way that expands beyond the classroom is becoming extremely difficult in the age where standardized tests rule the school (so to speak). However, I also agree with your point that knowledge for the sake of knowledge is a beautiful thing. And we, as future educators, are going to have to find that perfect balance between getting them the information for those cruel cruel tests, and knowledge that will benefit them in the long run.
      I also think that socializing kids is a huge part of schooling. Most importantly, I believe it is socializing kids with kids that are different than them that public schools shine the brightest in.

  11. djdeneui says:

    Writing as a a future educator is important. It is constructive to put your voice out their specifically in the education department. This country’s education is a big reason why the US is one of the top country’s in the world. But our education is far from perfect. From the State Policies, to many separate school districts, down to the individual teachers, there are fallacies being portrayed that diminish the views of the values and importance of education. There’s the saying that it all comes down to you to start change, and that is certainly true. The moment we start to change what we want to see valued in our education system is the start to impact schools, school districts, states, etc. It starts with individual attitudes that are then displayed in our actions.

    To write is to make a declamation that you matter and that your thoughts are important. Writing and reading are vital parts of everyday communication. These skills derive from education and to limit the ability of people’s accessibility to learn would mean to devalue and take away from all of the effort that has developed and changed over time.

    • Alex Simmonds says:

      This is insightful as well as true. We as teachers are capable of change in our own individual classrooms that, hopefully, can expand outward toward the entire school: “The moment we start to change what we want to see… is the start to impact schools…” We do more than basic communication skills; what we write can impact things for years to come. When you speak of what it would be to devalue writing, I wholeheartedly agree with you. Often times it seems as though the experts in education have no say in what comes of the funding and other politics that come along with education. Sad really. This is a well written response to questions that could be vague and broad.

  12. Alice Through The Monitor Glass says:

    As a soon-to-be teacher, I believe it is important to write an communicate with each other. In this digital age we can publish ourselves in a public space with just a few clicks, this blog posts being a prime example. We do not always know who needs to hear what we have to say, but that is also a reason to write. If I make some small discovery that could also potentially help my colleagues, why no write it down? As with any career, the learning never stops, and just because someone may have said something before does not mean everyone that needs to hear it will; thus any voice seems welcome. All of the time we see one teacher’s small voice be it advice or a complaint being made public be on the news, so it makes sense to believe that many teachers whom we do not see on the news have something to say. With the availability of the Internet, those voices can be heard.

    • charlieich says:

      Isn’t it great that the internet provides a forum where everyone’s voice can be heard? In the context of education in a democracy, the internet really is the most democratic forum (I believe) of all time. ANYONE can post on it. Yes, that does mean that some voices are rude, or don’t have much substance, or that you may disagree, but if we believe in democracy, if we believe in voices being heard, and ideas being shared, then I think that the internet provides an excellent forum to do so. As you stated Alice, learning never stops. This world wide web of shared ideas, can facilitate that in ways that were never possible before, and make us all better educators, and learners.

  13. Lauren Buchanan says:

    Schooling is not just a financial investment. An education makes the individual more well-rounded and more prepared for society. Sometimes it can be very hard to see that light at the end of the tunnel. Talking to many non-education majors, many suggest that the reality of college is just a very expensive piece of paper that somehow makes you seem better than others. It is necessary for myself as a future educator to not only teach the students how to read and write properly but also assist in teaching students how to analyze, evaluate, and draw conclusions. These skills are not only necessary in the classroom; they are necessary for life. Equality education is not the solution, equitable education is. It is hard to say that at times, but some people need a little more push than others. It will be my duty to give every student the tools he or she needs to be successful in school, future education, and life in general. Being ambitious on behalf of the youth means that I, as an educator, need to be an advocate. If I do not take risks or try new ideas, how can I expect my students to do the same? I must be ambitious in order to move forward in our stagnant education.

    Writing is essential in whatever vocation you decide. Expressing your thoughts on paper is a key life skill. Educators need to emphasize to students that a well-rounded individual must be able to self-reflect and draw conclusions. Self-reflection through writing is how all great world shakers start. There are so many times in history where a pen and paper changed the world. MLK’s letters, the Declaration of Independence, the Bible. People literally live a lifestyle based on words on paper.

    • Cole Mendell says:

      I really like how you effortlessly elevated schooling from a financial investment to an invaluable life skill. I particularly liked how you related the topic to non-education majors, as it expanded the scope in a way that can be relatable to countless others who aren’t in this classroom. The distinction that you made between equality education and equitable education is very intriguing, as it shows how conscientious of an educator you will be and demonstrates a commonly misunderstood differentiation.

  14. Cole Mendell says:

    The matter of why teachers write in the first place is important because every word they make public will carry some effect onto others, whether it be students, peers, superiors, or bystanders. Writing is crucial for teachers to efficiently communicate not only the lessons at hand, but skills beyond the classroom as well. Encouraging habits such as annotation and critical written responses to other texts and pieces can serve to stimulate a deeper sense of analysis in the mind for years to come. Teachers consistently write in the way they do in order to pass on their knowledge to successive generations, with each one building upon the other while still holding on to that core tenet of writing, as that has always remained at the forefront of society.
    Extending that to the political landscape of today, teachers and writing have a role to play in ensuring the continuation of the educational process. By collaborating with one another in ways both large and small, from drafting formal complaints to staging protests and sit-ins, teachers are crucial to these debates, as their expertise cannot go unnoticed.

    • Lauren Buchanan says:

      I agree with everything that you said about the publicity of teachers. Writing can be very permanent, making it difficult for teachers to have an opinion that does not align with their students. I also agree that teachers are the forefront of society, but are they treated like they are? In regards to the formal complaints and protests: do you think that teachers who do not want to partake in those should have to? Many states require educators to join a union, but things can get dicey when there are disagreements among said union.

  15. A recent federal study showed that over fifty percent of new teachers leave within in the first five years. Within the next two and half years, I will have officially earned the title of being a brand new teacher. In the sense that my combined effort period of obtaining this title is around the same time frame of about five years, the above statistic terrifies me. So why are these teachers leaving so hastily? Is it that the profession was not what they expected? Was their dreams of “changing the world” crushed by the cruelty of the underpaid and under-appreciated educational system? I believe that the babies of the teaching world, so to speak, are fleeting because we, as an educational community, are not talking about the profession honestly. As a soon-to-be educator, the biggest favor that the world could do for me, is tell me how hard and strenuous the work is. Tell me how burning the candle at both ends for less than ten percent of what reality stars make is both infuriating and depleting of the psyche. Tell me all of this, and do it publicly. Share these ideas out-loud and in my face so that I can pull up my boot straps and push through five years. With these thoughts made public, the rest of the world may start to see how hard this job really can be, and shed light on the terrified soon-to-be-teachers of our community.

    • That IS terrifying. Interesting that you nave the same chance of staying a teacher in this country as you do staying married. Off topic. Anyways, I like your idea of demanding honesty from peers, and having that recourse to look up to. My Dad was a teacher for twenty years, and then left to pursue selling life insurance because he was “fed up”. I got to hear all of his reasons, and was put off to the idea of being a teacher for a long time. I am glad, however, to know the risks and pitfalls associated with this.

  16. shutchyblog says:

    I think the question of “why school?” is even more pressing for students coming out of high school and entering universities. As I made the choice to attend a 4-year university with the goal of receiving a certificate saying “you did it,” friends of mine made choices to take time to work or travel or move somewhere alone and try life there, all with the same typically negative attitude towards school. As an aspiring teacher, I of course have always enjoyed school and see the immense value that can come out of a good teacher and a good student. I think school is vital, especially higher education, so that one can have opinions that are backed up by well-studied information. Of course we can all read an article online and pick up bits of information to make a seemingly well-informed rebuttal in a Facebook comment, but education provides us with the abilities to do more than that. I believe that following my college education, or even every semester, I will be even more equipped with the knowledge to make informed decisions, comments, and actions in my everyday life.
    As a teacher, something I want to teach above all is the value of education and that everyone can achieve a quality education. The school I went to preached that everyone will graduate and everyone will have a solid plan for after high school, but I understand that not every high school has such high standards. This means the future can be murky for some students, but I plan to provide information and opportunities for my students to obtain the highest level of education they desire (and help them believe they can achieve even more). I think teachers have the power to change a student’s life, as they are some of the most of influential people in a student’s day, and hopefully I can incorporate the power of education into my classroom.
    In response to being ambitious on behalf of youth, I think this means that the changes we make today will effect the future of education. However important we make education now will impact how important it is in the future, so we must keep education as a primary focus so that it will carry through generations. In an age of technology, there is a risk that typical schooling may lose popularity, but I think it’s important to maintain and improve the world of education every day.

    • I agree that education is such an influential part of a student’s life especially in regards to the teachers that the student interacts with. The education system is so much more than just sitting in a classroom and having information spat at you. It’s learning how to build relationships and take steps toward providing yourself with a positive future. It’s also very important to note, as you did, that not all schools have such a positive mindset of guaranteeing everyone’s success. I also think what you said about ambitious youth is important to keep in mind as we continue our education in order to educate others in the future.

  17. In regards to the subject of “why write?” from the perspective of an educator, I think it is vital that we, educators and students alike, express what education is, means, and has the potential to be. We are the ones who can speak first hand about what the everyday education world is like. To those who haven’t experienced a classroom setting since high shool or college, whenever that may have been for them, education has changed and formatted itself around what educators have pushed and begged it to become.
    Through writing, educators can express the reality that is education, what about the education system needs change and why, and what about the education is excellent. If it weren’t for those voices that are being typed up and read in political instances, none of the policies would be education oriented; politicians are typically unfamiliar with the actuality of schooling (unless they had prior experience operating a classroom) and therefore cannot speak for those who are in the classroom every day to the specifics that someone should be.
    By writing and posing important questions for the public to consider, educators can bring ideas, thought, conversation, and even change to the public education system.

    • blogessor says:

      I agree! In fact that’s what I wrote about in my own post. Sort of. My thoughts are directed specifically toward what I was talking about in the beginning of class related to who will be the next Secretary of Ed., but I completed agree with you that we need to hear from the INSIDERS who have deep knowledge of the day-to-day circumstances of teachers and students. Their voices need to be at the center of the conversation related to central issues and concerns in education today. I’m looking forward to hearing your voice through your blog this semester!

    • cassrhodess says:

      I like the idea that educators could influence the nation though writing in a public setting. Do you think we have access to something like this currently? I do think there needs to be a more clear way for the government to understand what schooling looks like. Unless they are going and sitting in on classes, no one “in charge” is able to fully understand what a class room looks like today, therefore; are unable to make strategic decisions in regards to education in the United States.

  18. Alex Simmonds says:

    The question: “What is it that every educated person in a democracy, including students and teachers, should be able to know and do as a result of her/his schooling?” seems to broad… It is difficult to pin down specific skills and abilities every educated person in a democracy should learn based off of their schooling without it sounding vague and generalized. To respond in an seemingly obvious way, everyone should learn how to effectively and professionally share their ideas as well as be capable in teaching themselves new topics they may come across in adult life. Beyond that, however, everyone should learn how to be an effective member of a democracy. Again, broad, but it is true. Within every classroom, a certain type of democracy can be formed. From that, students and teachers can gain skills for their future lives in which they can become more successful members of said democracy. Whether it be more effective communication skills or writing skills, etc., all are vital pieces for becoming an active, successful member of a democracy.

    To answer the next question, “What role do you as a future teacher, as well as schools in general, have to play in expanding access to equity for all students?”, it’s important to understand that it isn’t possible for teachers to do everything they could try. There are rules and regulations (standards) put upon schools and teachers that must be met. However, the equitable education that is necessary to give to for all students to be successful is obtainable, even with all of these regulations put into place. Of the most important things as a future teacher, I must be aware of the needs of all of my students as individuals and leaving behind deficit theories that could hinder their progress. Every student must be treated as a clean slate, regardless of anything that could have been said about her/him. Beyond this, I would need to perform to my highest ability to make sure that every student is given the resources necessary for them to succeed as much as any other student can in my class. It is the schools purpose to do similar things, but on a broader level. Not all responsibility can be placed on teachers nor can it all be placed on schools. There must be a sort of partnership.

    For the final question, to be ambitious on behalf of the youth, I as a teacher must strive to have my students succeed in all areas possible. I must provide them opportunities for them to reach their highest potential. Simple as that.

    • djdeneui says:

      Great values to start with going into teaching! I like the idea of treating every student with a clean slate. This gives you a head start in avoiding limited accessibility for the future students you would encounter. To provide equal opportunity for all students despite their appearance or background is a great value to have in education. Teaching is all about having students succeed and develop more to the best of each of their abilities. You are spot on with making something like this happen.

  19. Briana Jara says:

    As a result of schooling in the U.S., every educated person should be able to fully participate in that democracy using all of their knowledge in order to be an informed and active voter. In addition to that, educated people should be able to see past things such as gender identity, religion, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. I believe that being educated brings people closer to the understanding that those things that supposedly “divide” us, actually don’t. The role that I hope to play as an educator in expanding access to equity for all students, among others, is to lead by example. I am a believer that not all students are the same and therefore not all students should be taught the same way. This may not be the approach that treats all students equally, but it is the one that brings about equity. Bringing “schools” to a more narrow “public schools”, I believe that they play a huge role in bringing about equity and not only that but eliminating those things that supposedly “divide” us. They do this through bringing together students of all different backgrounds to be taught together. Being exposed to diversity can go a long way in eradicating those biases. To be ambitious on behalf of youth to be is to attempt to create for them a future that is better than the present. To see for them a place where equity doesn’t have to be fought for.

    • blogessor says:

      Love this commitment to equity and access! I agree that when we limit the access of *all* youth to a strong education, we limit their life chances moving forward. What changes do you think we need to think about as a nation to make sure this can happen, using the instrument of public schooling? I look forward to hearing more as the semester progresses.

    • Ronnie Sawyer says:

      I completely agree that schools help to bring together those with different backgrounds and help introduce diversity to help people see that race, sexual orientation, and ethnicity don’t matter in the sense that they make people any less. I also agree that the role of the teacher is to expand the equity of all students that walk into their classrooms, and I think it’s important that you mentioned that not everyone learns in the same way.

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