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items tagged with education

The Real Curriculum of "Public" Education
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Commentary/Politics

Category: Guest Commentaries

2010-09-08 13:55:30

An August 28 article at the privacy-rights Web site Pogo Was Right argues that schools are "grooming youth to passively accept a surveillance state where they have no expectation of privacy anywhere." Privacy violations include "surveilling students in their bedrooms via webcam, ... random drug or locker searches, strip-searching, ... lowering the standard for searching students to 'reasonable suspicion' from 'probable cause,' [and] disciplining students for conduct outside of school hours ... ."

"No expectation of privacy anywhere" is becoming literally true. The schools are grooming kids not only for the public surveillance state, but also for the private surveillance states of their employers. By the time the human resources graduate from 12 years of factory processing, they will accept it as normal to be kept under constant surveillance -- "for your own safety," of course -- by authority figures. But they won't just accept it from Homeland Security ("if you've done nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear"). They'll also accept as "normal" a work situation in which an employer can make them pee in cups at any time, without notice, or track their online behavior even when they're away from work.

This is just part of what rogue educator John Taylor Gatto calls the "real curriculum" of public education ("The Seven-Lesson Schoolteacher," 1992). The real curriculum includes the lesson that the way to advancement, in any area of life, is to find out what will please the authority figure behind the desk, then do it. It includes the lesson that the important tasks in life are those assigned to us by authority figures -- the schoolteacher, the college instructor, the boss -- and that self-assigned tasks in pursuit of our own goals are to be trivialized as "hobbies" or "recreation."

Read More About The Real Curriculum Of "Public" Education...

A Textbook Case: Why Digital College Materials Haven’t Taken Off
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: News/Features

Category: Feature Stories

2009-09-23 14:13:03

At the beginning the school year, in a chemistry class at St. Ambrose University, Professor Margaret Legg offered students the option to buy a less-expensive e-book instead of the usual physical textbook. No one opted for the digital version.

Kelsey Berg, a sophomore majoring in biology, said she had already bought the hardcover edition. Had the e-book been offered before she bought it, Berg said she still wouldn't have purchased it. "I don't like reading on a computer. It's hard to concentrate," she said, adding that it wasn't worth the cost, either, because one can't sell an e-book back.

Many college students are embracing digital and open-source textbooks, which are accessed through computers and digital readers such as Amazon's Kindle. For some, it provides a more convenient way to carry multiple textbooks. Beyond being easier on students' backs, e-books are also better for the environment, because no natural resources are used in the production or transportation of a physical book.

But the major selling point is a lower cost compared to new textbooks. Textbooks cost an average of $900 per semester, according to the federal Government Accountability Office. The U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) has been advocating for reducing the prices of textbooks, which they say have risen faster than the rate of inflation in the past several years.

Although e-books are often 50 percent less expensive than unused print editions of textbooks, the cost evaluation isn't quite so clear-cut. In many cases, there's little or no cost savings to students in the long run.

And some people, like Berg, resist e-books for other reasons.

Read More About A Textbook Case: Why Digital College Materials Haven’T Taken Off...

Teaching the Whole Child: Longfellow-Augustana Partnership Brings the Liberal Arts to Primary Education
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: News/Features

Category: Feature Stories

2009-07-29 21:13:19

A classroom in the 'new' Longfellow

Students stepping into Longfellow Elementary in Rock Island this school year will notice physical changes: a new media center and library, a new cafeteria, and a renovation that has added four new classrooms. But a more important change will be the school's new formal partnership with Augustana College.

The relationship will bring a liberal-arts-based curriculum to Longfellow - a contrast to the No Child Left Behind-forced shift in primary education that emphasizes reading and math skills to the exclusion of other subjects. Though the content of the curriculum will still conform to district standards, the way that content is presented will change: The focus will move to collaboration among students, small-group and individualized instruction, interdisciplinary learning, thematic teaching that attempts to make the coursework relevant, and the fine arts.

A No Child Left Behind-influenced curriculum "doesn't have anything to do with creative problem-solving, imagination, collaboration - all of these skills we need to survive in the next millennium," said Pat Shea, an assistant professor of education at Augustana who was part of the planning team for Longfellow. "If we don't get those things taught, it doesn't matter how many facts we know. ... We are so off-target about what it means to be an educated person, and I think we as educators have the first line of responsibility to start speaking to that."

Read More About Teaching The Whole Child: Longfellow-Augustana Partnership Brings The Liberal Arts To Primary Education...

History, by the Book: James W. Loewen Talks About “Lies My Teacher Told Me,” April 15-17
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: News/Features

Category: Literature

2009-04-09 16:16:57

James W. LoewenThe cliché says that history is written by the winners, but that's not true when it comes to history textbooks.

For the most part, they're not even written by the "authors" whose names grace the covers. Instead, they're written by employees of or freelancers for publishing companies deathly afraid of controversy -- fearful that a passage offensive to virtually any constituency will result in their books not being adopted in schools.

James W. Loewen's Lies My Teacher Told Me -- first published in 1995, and revised and updated in 2007 -- documents how badly the most popular high-school textbooks teach American history. As part of the Quad City Arts Super Author program, Loewen will discuss his work at seven programs from April 15 to 17. (For a list of events, click here. To read about Chris Crutcher -- the other Super Author visiting our area next week -- see "Innocence, Ignorance, and Experience: Quad City Arts 'Super Author' Chris Crutcher Discusses His Controversial Young-Adult Literature.")

Loewen has also written Lies Across America (which tackles historic-site markers the same way he attacked history textbooks) and Sundown Towns, about communities with written or unwritten laws designed to keep them free of racial minorities. And he co-wrote a textbook on Mississippi history that gave him his first insight into the textbook-adoption process that avoids controversy at the expense of truth.

Accessible, passionate, detailed, and often startling, Lies My Teacher Told Me documents the errors, lies, and omissions that mar history textbooks -- opening with Helen Keller's ignored radicalism and expanding its scope from there, dealing extensively with society's treatment of Native Americans and blacks and also critiquing the presentation of more modern events, including the wars in Vietnam and Iraq.

Beyond the details that are wrong, the core narratives in these textbooks are problematic, Loewen said in a phone interview last week. He said history textbooks suggest "unrelenting, automatic progress," the idea that "we started out great and we've been getting better ever since."

Read More About History, By The Book: James W. Loewen Talks About “Lies My Teacher Told Me,” April 15-17...

Iowa College Aid Brings Scholarship Opportunity to Davenport Area Middle School Students
Written By: Administrator
Section: News Releases

Category: Education & Schools

2009-03-12 13:45:42

GEAR UP Incentive Grants Help Raise Student College Aspiration and Preparation Levels in Iowa

Des Moines, IA., March 11, 2009 – More than 5,400 Iowa middle school students and their families have been given an opportunity to participate in a federal program that promotes student academic success.  The Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Program (GEAR UP) is a federal grant that promotes state and community partnerships to help low-income and minority middle and high school students succeed in planning, preparing and paying for college.  Students eligible to participate in the program will receive scholarships that can be used to pay education expenses at the college of their choice.  Iowa was one of seven states to be awarded a new state GEAR UP grant in 2008 and will receive $2.8 million annually for a total of six years.

GEAR UP Iowa, administered by the Iowa College Student Aid Commission (Iowa College Aid), will provide resources and services to 31 Iowa schools.  The 2008-2009 7th grade students in the Davenport School District, attending JB Young, Frank L. Smart, Williams, and Wood middle schools will receive year-round support in areas such as:

  • Early and ongoing academic planning, counseling, and assessment.
  • Tutoring and mentoring for academic improvement.
  • Information sessions on college admissions and financial aid.
  • Career exposure, job shadowing, and college field trips.
  • Outreach activities that encourage increased involvement for parents and families.
  • Increased access to after-school and support programs.
The program follows the students as they progress from 7th grade to 12th grade.  Upon graduation, each eligible student is guaranteed a portion of the $16.8 million reserved to award college scholarships.  “GEAR UP Iowa will provide life-changing opportunities for many Iowa middle school students,” stated Karen Misjak, executive director of Iowa College Aid.  “This program offers scholarships to those most in need of assistance and at risk of not attending college.  GEAR UP Iowa provides the resources to help students succeed academically and allows them to focus and expand on their life goals.”
GEAR UP Iowa relies on a network of service organizations, schools, colleges, and community members to assist in providing the components needed in building a strong GEAR UP program.  Iowa College Aid’s GEAR UP representatives look forward to developing relationships with the 31 selected schools and their communities.  More information about the GEAR UP Iowa program is available at Iowa College Aid’s website at or by contacting a GEAR UP Iowa representative at 877-272-4456.

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