Thursday, August 22, 2013

Hoping for idealism

Like others have said, a lot of the material in these readings was familiar – especially as a former member of the history department.  That being said, I thought the Reimers selection outlined the arguments for adopting such an approach quite clearly and in a way that must be accessible to lots of people. 

The call for a common purpose continues to be something that speaks to me year after year.  Reimer's assertion that schools that don't have a common goal/focus spend time on things that are ultimately disconnected from their values is key.  With a common goal, a school can always reflect back on that core value as a guide when trying to answer a question or solve a problem. 

The call for global competency to be one of those goals both for an individual institution and for a system-wide group of schools is certainly noble and, I believe, worthwhile.  There seems to always be a tension, however, between the reasons for pursuing such a goal.  Reimers discusses lofty goals:  "invent a future that enhances human well-being" (Reimers p. 200) as well as striving for global peace.   On the other hand, Reimers also identifies the goals that sometimes compete for airtime – from creating a national identity to preparing workers for the workforce (Reimers p. 193).  The other reading discusses the need for:    "…more powerful, relevant, and self-directed learning that will prepare the young to live, compete, and collaborate in a new global scenario." (P. 1)  I read this tension as training people to do good and training people to be productive workers.  While I desperately hope both goals can be achieved, I think selling the "training kids to make the world better" requires a dash of altruism that I'm not sure I see in the world.  I hope Howard Gardner is right that these issues might be overcome by the hopefulness of younger thinkers.  I also fear he is right about the American culture at large not being open to truly delving into other cultures.  But, as an educator, I remain at least a bit of an optimist.  So let's dive in.

Amy Selinger

Director of College Counseling

But a teacher of history…really.

Amy R. Selinger
Director of College Counseling
Buckingham Browne & Nichols School
80 Gerry's Landing Road
Cambridge, MA 02138

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