April 9, 2008

Sketching a course 1

In the next few days I need to carve out time for journal editing responsibilities as well as writing a symposium paper I'd promised to be finished by Friday but probably won't be done until next Tuesday or so. (There, Laura! I've made that commitment publicly.) But since I'm waiting for a student to show up in my office, I'll blather a bit about a course I'm creating for the summer on school reform.

Stuff to expose students to
I want to focus on the historical and policy literature on school reform, which overlaps but not entirely. There are a few obvious books to assign (Tyack and Cuban to start off the course, and a choice of DeBray, Manna, or Mcguinn somewhere towards the end: see the Amazon recommendations box on my home page for those), and then I have to figure out how much I want to delve into the contemporary policy literature vs. history. I need to think more about the concepts and less about books... but it's also inherently a reading class.

Habits etc.
One shift I want to encourage in graduate students is to rely less on the mental shortcuts they've accumulated from their experiences and try to use different questions to probe the issues in the class ... and their experiences. This is probably unfair of me, since I teach in an area where I'm using all my own mental shortcuts, but it is my course. Maybe I can challenge them to provide me an experience where I have to give up my mental shortcuts. Hmmn...

The course has a bit of an odd schedule--four day-long classes on Saturdays in June, followed by a day-long Saturday late in July. I need to think about the experience of a complete day in a heavy reading class. And the several weeks' gap in the end. What opportunity does that gap provide?

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Posted in Teaching on April 9, 2008 2:33 PM |