I’m questioning things in this blog and hope you will, as well. It’s Fall, 2020 and I’m writing about Education as a white person, a teacher/learner, and a Jew. Questioning is central to Jewish thought and our sense of intimacy — with the divine, other people, and everything. There is a tradition, called midrash, of […]
From Spiral Curriculum to Spiral Learning?
In the 1960’s, Bruner argued that curriculum should be designed as a spiral, with learners of all ages and abilities capable of learning key concepts at varying, intensifying levels of complexity as they develop. This idea validated the capacity to learn what matters as inherent in all people in a rather radical way. Today, in […]
What does it mean to believe you? Mentoring, whiteness, and what changes
I have been writing a letter to a group of students I mentored during their undergraduate years about what I learned. I want this learning to spread and contribute to positive, lasting change on campus and beyond. To say it most succinctly, this is what I learned: Be honest Be yourself Respect, trust, and believe […]
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What can we do together that we can’t do alone? Thoughts on community in online learning
What can we do together that we can’t do alone? My colleague Paul Connolly used this question as a key to open thinking about how (and now not) to spend time in classrooms. As Director of the Institute for Writing and Thinking for 15 years before he died in 1998, Paul guided and inspired an […]
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Can active listening work without trust?
Colleagues and I recently gave a workshop on listening as part of a series of teach-ins connected with the inspirational student strike that just ended on our campus. By listening, we meant the kind of radical, empathetic attention through which, in bell hooks’ words, people “engage in one another’s differences in a way that is […]
What is Grassroots Learning?
I am thinking about learning as a form of grassroots organizing: change at the root, within a person and thus, necessarily, between people. It can also start with change between people that creates change within them. It works both ways! Learning links people up, anew, within and around themselves. In Donna Haraway’s words, “We become accountable […]
Is Kindness Everything?
In the array of contemporary lawn signs found in my neighborhood, one presents a list of statements under the line: “We Believe:” The list include convictions I ardently share, including “Black Lives Matter,” “Science is Real,” and “Love is Love.” It ends with one I question: “Kindness is everything.” Every time I see one of […]
Is It Sustainable?
Sometimes the question, “Is it sustainable?” is posed in the name of being responsible, measured, sober. Not getting carried away. But it’s a more complex question than it seems, a question that depends very much on timing, scale, and context. If you’ve ever started something, you know that it’s usually a messy process — glad […]
What is Understood? From White Gaze to Black Study/ies
In the film “Toni Morrison: The Pieces That I Am,” Toni Morrison speaks about writing outside the dominance of the white gaze: “I have had reviews in the past that have accused me of not writing about white people. I remember a review of Sula in which the reviewer said, one day, she, meaning me, […]
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Talking with Students about Ungrading: What is the Real Deal?
This week, I talked with three of my students from last year. Margo, Alexandra and I taught them in the course we created and led with a group of co-educators. “Community Learning Collaborative: Practicing Partnership” (otherwise known as Education 200) is the first in the Education sequence, designed to introduce students to the […]
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