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March 13, 2007


Miss Profe

Hi. I just discovered your blog, and I like what I have read.

About the student who may change sections: Don't lose heart. As hard as it is to feel rejected, and, come on, you know what I'm talking about, realize it's not you. I commend the student for her self-advocacy, and for recognizing that another teacher's approach will suit her better. If all of our students were similarly equipped.

As for the teaching of history, I think what we often don't recognize is that our students' connection to past events is weak, for a whole host of reasons. Concepts which should in fact be, as you say, common-sensical, aren't, which makes me wonder what is going on in those history classes before the students get to you. There should be a fund of knowledge, and perhaps, this is where you may need to begin in order to give your students the foundation they need to do the things you would like for them to be able to do. I have learned with each passing year that I am able to assume less and less.

As far as students feeling that they cannot change things, expose them to movements and events in which youth were a significant component. The Civil Rights Movement comes immediately to mind. There was also a recent movement of students at a school in NYC to create a Slavery History Walk, and the public backlash they encountered. Go online to Rethinking Schools. If you search the archives, you'll find the story there.

I teach at a school which is a Coalition for Essential Schools school, and as part of its philosophy, it stresses depth over breadth, or, less is more. This seems to work for the population of students who attend the school: mid-range, fairly motivated overall, but a fairly significant number of students with special learning needs, and a few very highly motivated and bright students. The less is more and the breadth over depth, and the focus on projects and long-term assignments, seems to work better for the students with special learning needs. Personally, I'd like to be able to present more material, but, I am finding that is often too overwhelming for many of my students.

I hope that there is something in all of this that you find helpful. It's 4:30 am, and I hope my response is coherent.:)

Be well,
Miss Profe

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