Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Scholar-Teacher Dialogues On Social Issues: Some Thoughts from Harriet Cuffaro

Harriet Cuffaro writes:

The absence of teachers' voice is long standing in academic discussions and research projects. There's been improvement with the literature on narrative, teacher talk, etc. In part, how problems, questions, dilemmas are lived, faced daily in the classroom, is quite different from an "outsider's" more distant view or discussion.

Both in curriculum and Foundation courses I taught at Bank Street, we talked about Dewey, Progressive Education, democracy. At some point I would ask, "How would you live democracy in a classroom of three-year-olds?" "Five-year-olds?" "Nine-year-olds?" and on. Such questioning is not different from Dewey's definition of democracy or his statement about "democracy as a way of life." My aim was to move from words to action . . . to translating ideas into daily classroom life, mindful of age, culture, and children's experiences

She adds that as many potential authors of Social Issues have access to classroom life and work with teachers, they might invite a teacher to join in a post, making it into a scholar-teacher conversation. For example if an author's topic is technology how are his/her ideas lived as seen from a teacher's perspective, how do they translate, what insights may surface, etc.

Harriet invites further conversation about this idea.

1 comment:

Susan Laird said...

Cuffaro makes an extremely important point, indeed the very point that convinced me, as a schoolteacher, to pursue the PhD 25 years ago. I commend your proposal and hope that news of the Oklahoma Mothers & Educators Collaborative (see 7/23/08 post) will provoke precisely that kind of participation from mothers, whose dialogues with teachers and scholars are also extremely important for living democracy in education. The Society for Educating Women (see 6/23/08 post) aims to provide spaces of various sorts for teacher-scholar dialogues too. Thanks for posting Cuffaro's thoughts. I hope many will follow through on your suggestion and make good on your excellent hopes for this Social Issues blog you have founded.