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Blog Achives

A while back I took down what I had posted over the years on this site and I did this because I wanted to clear the slate so that I could refresh.  That done, I think I like some of those previous posts enough to repost them here from time to time.  I am going to post several now and will continue to repost into the future as I see relevant and fit.

Here is the first of these:

A Moffett-Wagner Quote of utility: Obviously curious, February 17, 2015

What fascinates me more and more each day is what infuriates me every day as I try to teach and to teach teachers how to teach. The dependency problem is not a small problem but, for those who are to operate a democracy, it is a stumbling block that is of great magnitude. If schools are teaching students dependence rather than independence; if they are teaching students to conform and capitulate rather than to be original in their ways of going about things, in finding for themselves the best things to do and the best ways to get them done, then the educational system is broken, cannot work to grow proper citizens of free and democratic societies.

James Moffett and his work with Betty Jane Wagner has infused into the mechanics of my thinking certain principles that I live by and teach by and when I read again some of the most influential passages in their work, I am reminded of the source that triggered so much of my thinking and the thinking that influenced how I teach others.

I have held to principles without being bound to those principles. I have grown with the principles I found and those principles have grown with me. I test them constantly by observing and participating in life activities and the tests are rigorous and sometimes exhausting but worthwhile, nonetheless, because they keep the mind alive and, thus, allow me to live a life that is about being human.

These citations from Moffett and Wagner are so basic as to seem obvious. My students sometimes tell me that Moffett and Moffett and Wagner are difficult to read because the points they make are so obvious that it is hard to understand their meaningfulness. Then they tell me, though obvious, these are things they have never really thought much about and, by being made to think about the obvious, something people regularly resist doing, they find there to be considerably more meaning in the obvious than was obvious. So here are obvious points that deserve the kind of play I like to call “making the obvious curious.”

“As soon as others want the results of learning more than the learner, the game is over.”

The argument against student choice is usually that youngsters don’t know what there is to choose from or how to make wise decisions. This is truer than it should be because schools seldom teach students to choose. The longer a student has been in school the harder it often is to help him make decisions. He may be conditioned to obey, not to exercise his will and make decisions. He may even resist doing what he wants to do, because it is so painful to decide. But to use crippling conditioning as an argument for further infantilizing of students compounds the problem and fulfills its own prophecy. The point is that decision-making is the very heart of education.”

Student Centered Language Arts, p.22

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