Readings and thoughts for the coming school year

We don’t start the fall term here at EMU for another two weeks, but I have a very specific sense of “the summer is over” this morning.  Annette and I are back from “Grownup Camp 2011,” our time up north while Will is at camp, and now it is time I face the to-do list associated with the new school term.

I am not alone in this feeling.  Lots of stuff showed up in my web reading this last week about education in some fashion or another; for example:

  • In Doonsebury, a discussion between a university president and a dean about what exactly it is higher education is supposed to do.
  • Via Aaaron “One Flew East” Barlow comes this interesting infographic about how students love technology.  There is some “truthiness” to this, but there are also some bullshitty claims here too.  I know plenty of students of all ages who definitely are not even in “like” with technology.
  • Pitched to the typical college student, Lifehacker has a bunch of tips for getting it ready for school.
  • Or not– why not opt for the UnCollege approach?  This is all fine and good I guess, but the main problem I have with such things is it confuses the abstract and philosophical concept of “education” with the bureaucratic and pragmatic goal of a “credential,” e.g., a college degree.  Hopefully a credential will lead to an education, but no amount of educating one’s self will lead to a credential, and I am cynical enough to recognize that universities are in the credentialing business first.
  • And there’s some secondary ed stuff out there too worth checking out.  The  LA Times has an op-ed column “The myth of the extraordinary teacher” by Ellie Herman, who is herself a secondary school teacher, explains in stark terms the conditions that she’s working with.  It’s probably not surprising for anyone who actually works in the schools, but it might be a bit surprising for all those folks out there who have made teachers– particularly secondary school teachers– out to be the lazy bad guys.
  • There’s also a great piece in the September 2011 Harper’s about the experience fo going back into secondary school teaching called “Getting Schooled” by Garret Keizer.  No link I’m afraid, but it might be worth buying the print version.

I could go on, but that’s enough.  I’m not sure what to think of all of this vexing over schooling as of late.  My default position to such “hell in a handbasket” kinds of critiques is generally we’ve always been going down hill, ever since at least the ancient Greeks and probably before that.  Still, it does seem a little different to me as of late, perhaps because I’m getting too old.

In any event, I still haven’t come up with any new school year resolutions of note yet.  I want to continue my too slow and too inconsistent readings and reviews of journal articles because it seems to me like not many other people out there read them.  I am prepping for two new classes.  I am trying to concentrate on not eating white food and/or low carbing it.  Etc.  One way or the other, time for not getting stuff done is over.

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