This is the Lafered Blog Site
This site is new as of this moment, the need made clear by the long winded posts I have been making to people through Facebook and the chat list my college makes available to faculty. I am sure I have lost some Facebook friends and know that some of my colleagues would block me if they could find a way. I have also been posting on Diane Ravitch’s site (http://dianeravitch.net/) and, earlier, at Fireside Learning (http://firesidelearning.ning.com/profile/StephenLafer) and have come to think that I probably take up too much of their space. So Lafered is my new place for putting down what I am compelled by some unnamable force to write and make public.
I have been teaching for about 35 years now, once at a public school and a few times at universities, the most recent post 25 years in duration and still counting, at the University of Nevada, Reno where I teach in the teacher education program. I am a frustrated educator of teacher in a state that should be frustrated by its inability to develop a truly good educational system. I have tried to better what I considered not so good by developing the first real middle school program in the area, creating a program for younger kids at the local Boys and Girls Club that worked to get students interested in academic studies through gardening and art projects, and by starting a charter high school for disenchanted adolescents who, like most, are full of talent and energy and smarts but not ready to give in to what the schools system asks them to give into.
I have been writing of late about the current debates over the efficacy of the new Common Core State Standards, the manner in which they were created, the manner in which they are being implemented, their role as the way away from No Child Left Behind’s tragic effects, and the strings attached that need be cut if the good things in the standards are to be allowed to do well by students and this long suffering nation, built on the best of principles but harmed severely by the undemocratic behavior of the few who seem to want it all for themselves.
I am for schools that teach to the democratic imperative, that are true to the idea that the opinions of people deserve to be respected and care deeply that schools help students develop the skills, knowledge, and dispositions that will help them to make contributions to the cause of building the “more perfect union.” This is the work of the citizen of a truly humane society, a society that works toward “perfection” by studying the nature of being and finding ways to maximize human potential through the conversation that is the democratic process.
I also know that schools have a long way to go to become the schools they must be if they are to serve a society that maximizes individual freedom by providing a superstructure build on justice within which free individuals can live together in peace and prosperity. The education that leads to full citizenship in such a society will always be a work in progress, for it is a system that allows for its citizens to have a say in how it operates and what it teaches and is, thus, eminently changeable but permanently just and demanding of good reason and thoughtful disputation.
I will have more to say about my notions of the good system and how it might come into being and what that exists now might help to move things in the right direction. My writing for the blog sites noted above contain the essence of my thinking to date. I invite you to take a look at those posts.