Sunday, October 25, 2009

stretching my thinking

I just finished reading my first Jonathan Kozol book. I intend to read Savage Inequalities and Shame of the Nation as well. I'm intrigued by his life experience and what conclusions he's drawn from what he's seen.
He tells many jaw-dropping stories in this electic account, but one that really sticks with me is the story that began him on his education activist journey: when he dared to teach Langston Hughes to inner-city Boston black middle school kids, and he got fired for it. The parents and larger community got angry. They defended him and began a huge protest on his behalf. It was the kind of moment that defines a life, and now, 40 years later, Kozol is still testing boundaries, speaking his truth, and getting people fired up.
I had to ask myself, what kind of teacher am I? Where do I intend to teach? When I'm there, will I maintain the status quo, or will I challenge it? What is best for the children whose education will be entrusted to me?
I must protest, for a moment, on Kozol's treatment of teacher education personnel who come into schools for continuing education. He skins alive a woman who makes a reference to text-to-self connection. Meta-speak, he dismissively says. But framing our work in theroretical terms makes sense to my brain. If I know the theory, if I have a map, then I know where to drive and how I'm progressing. I can like theory and still speak plainly. They are not mutually exclusive.


  1. What a great question - What kind of teacher am I? I wish I had been asked that question as an undergraduate. You barely think of yourself as a teacher until you are in your first classroom...before that, you think of yourself as a student teacher.

    Even teachers should be asking themselves this question. Thank you! I'm glad to have found your blog.

  2. As to text-to-self, many teachers who use the reader's workshop model ask their students to make that connection. "Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever seen anything like this?" It helps students relate to the books they read. Nothing wrong with that.