About the Blog
•teaching and learning;
•the importance of public education in a democracy;
•definitions of intelligence and the many manifestations of intelligence in school, work, and everyday life; and
•the creation of a robust and humane philosophy of education.
If I had to sum up the philosophical thread that runs through my work, it would be this: A deep belief in the ability of the common person, a commitment to educational, occupational, and cultural opportunity to develop that ability, and an affirmation of public institutions and the public sphere as vehicles for nurturing and expressing that ability.
My hope is that this blog will foster an online community that brings people together to continue the discussion.
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Wednesday, November 30, 2016
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
Monday, September 26, 2016
Thursday, August 25, 2016
Friday, July 29, 2016
This commentary appeared in Inside Higher Ed on June 23, 2016. It offers some thoughts on a currently popular and valuable reform strategy that is being considered and in many cases implemented by a number of community colleges across the country.
Enacting the Model
To be sure, change happens. I’ve witnessed several successful programs take shape over the past few years as a core of energetic and creative faculty are given the resources to run with their ideas. But during that same time I’ve also seen such groups -- inspired, seemingly tireless people -- be stonewalled or shut down by larger groups of faculty within their subject area, by their department heads or by middle managers.
For all its merits, the book’s implementation plan is sometimes thin on the political and social dynamics of institutional change. To work amid a complex human landscape, the plan might well need to be combined with savvy, perhaps even Machiavellian leadership; with horse-trading; with both symbolic and financial incentives; with the strategic use of personal relationships; and, unfortunately, at times, with reassignment or marginalization of obstructionist personnel.
Pathways and Students' Lives
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Thursday, June 23, 2016
The book is drawing its share of mixed and negative reviews for superficiality bordering on pop psychology, for its narrow conception of character, for its focus on individual personality traits over social and economic factors, and for problems with methodology. Most of these characteristics were evident in Professor Duckworth's work long before the publication of her book, but it seems that they got amplified as she (and most likely her editor) prepared her book for a general audience.
Given the number of mixed to negative reviews, it would seem that the opinion-makers are finally countering their original enthusiasm for grit. The ledger is balanced. Those of us with concerns about grit can relax.
Well, no. The meteoric rise of grit reveals troubling problems in the formation of our public discourse about education. I and many others have written about our policy maker's culpability in the formation of this discourse, but here I'd like to consider another dimension of the circumstances that give rise to phenomena like the one we’re witnessing with grit.
The situation I just described leads to a small and closed circle of voices. The concept of grit got the huge attention it did because it was seen as a way to help poor kids persevere in school and achieve their way out of poverty. When the journalists and other writers I mention above are astute enough to question such claims and want to underscore the challenges of poverty, they will find via their search engines trending books and reports on education and poverty that suffer from the same one-dimensional and hot-topic focus as the treatments of psychological traits and character education. So we end up with a constrained, sometimes problematic, concept of poverty used to counter a constrained, sometimes problematic, concept of character.
I'm not sure how we get out of this mess, though I've been thinking a lot about it lately. I'll post those thoughts as soon as I can tame them into coherence.