Whispers and Moans

Thanks to Doug Noon for introducing me to all of the following, woven together in a lovely post that summarizes much of what I have been wrestling with this year:

  • The new think tank The Forum for Education and Democracy and their report released last week, Democracy at Risk. Stars such heavyweights as Linda Darling-Hammond, Gloria Ladson-Billings, and Deborah Meier.
  • Wellford Wilms’ disturbing piece on reform in a California high school, Liberating the Schoolhouse, cataloging the systematic destruction of a bottom-up, autonomous management model. Far more editorial than report, but still leaves one wondering. I wonder in particular what Ed Deci would have to say. Pair it with Henderson’s piece on hierarchical hard-wiring in the brain, and you may want a drink.
  • Structuration Theory. This is extremely tough going, only for die-hard intellectual freaks, but fascinating. (Try the user-friendly approach at Theory.org— I mean, you have to love an organization who makes trading cards and Lego figures for famous sociologists.) Stephen Smoliar succinctly applies one of ST’s central ideas to schooling with some scary implications. I have to do some more reading on this.

5 thoughts on “Whispers and Moans

  1. Whoa. That just blew my mind. Talcott Parsons just came across my radar via Giddens. It’s been a while. I’d be interested in seeing what you come up with with this, especially given our latest conversations regarding power and discipline and how that manifests in a school system.

  2. It’s a kick, reading your blog, in a sychronicity kind of way. I checked Giddens’ The Constitution of Society from the library today, to find out more about his structuration theory.

    One week of school left, and this is what I have to pay attention to. Abstraction balances out the million details that make no sense at all to me. Theory is a grand distraction.

    Looking forward to further insights you may have to share.

  3. @H: I think my own PD plans might involve following my links. 😉

    @Doug: yeah, tell me about it. There’s about four people in the world who understand that as a public educator, periodically, I have to read Kant to relax.

    Giddens, I’ve learned, is the prolific, accessible, and influential head of the London School of Economics, and has written a couple of books recently that look very interesting: “The Third Way” (a proposed synthesis of free market and socialist ideologies) and “The Runaway World” (on globalization)…but I think I’m going to have to start with “Constitution of Society” myself, for some grounding, and also because I think it might apply more directly than the previous two to the micro-society of a school. Do blog on it, would you, or shoot me some emails? We can start a two person book club.

    As it stands now, between Giddens, some education sociology a colleague has recommended, a book on justice by Harry Brighouse (see previous posts) and at least two other authors writing on value pluralism (versus relativism, another meta-ethic idea I’m working out), I’m all set for the next year at least.

  4. I found some Giddens lectures on the Runaway World (globalization) theme. Checked that one out of the library, too. It’s about 1/8 the thickness of Constitution of Society, which makes it more appealing in comparison right now. But I’ll muscle through at least some of it. The book club support is a good idea.

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