Since 1993 I've taught AP government, philosophy and US history in the Chicagoland area. I have an undergraduate degree in political science and philosophy from Bradley University and a M.S. in education and social policy from Northwestern University.
I served as a member of the committee on pre-collegiate instruction in philosophy through the American Philosophical Association from 2012-201. Additionally, I work with NCSS to create and instruct online courses designed to help middle/high school teachers integrate Big Questions into their classrooms.
For some students there is nothing that inspires more abject fear than participating in a class discussion.
You can almost predict the sequence of events…
The discussion starts. There is a mad rush for attention. Students obsessed with earning participation points shoot their hands up. Others wait back a little and contribute a few ideas here and there. Some talk constantly just to be heard; others simply repeat what’s already been said.
Respect is something adolescents think a lot about.
After all, there are great rewards to being respected: more friends, love from parents, favors from teachers and acceptance from society. That’s a pretty sweet deal.
American history is replete with leaders who also recognized the rewards of being respected and did everything possible to get it. Nowhere is this pursuit better seen than in the years after the Civil War when African-Americans, freed from the bounds of slavery, had to pursue respect under the most difficult of conditions– Jim Crow. Continue reading →
Organic farm serviced by students from local elementary and high schools.
Over the summer I learned about the power of questions in the most novel of places, Kenya. I participated in an educational trip organized by Me to We, a path-breaking service organization based in Toronto, Ontario run by two social entrepreneurs, brothers Craig and Marc Kielburger. Both have fascinating stories about how they seized on an idea for improving the world and wouldn’t stop until it became a reality. Their appreciation for questions is what I’ll remember most. Continue reading →
Last week I attended a fantastic AP government redesign workshop through Northwestern University led by Vanessa Lal ( @vlal ). I was heartened to see that inquiry is a centerpiece of the new format. In fact, the College Board has designed specific Big Questions to underpin each of the five broad content categories: Foundations, Interactions Among Branches of Government, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, American Political Ideologies and Beliefs and Political Participation. Continue reading →
We’ve all seen the images, heard the audio and read the tweets. The immigration debate has everybody busting at the seams on both sides.
And August is just around the corner.
And we know what that means.
Students will be walking into our classrooms confused, tired, angry and needing answers. And we will be trying to figure out ways to teach a historical, psychological, sociological or political understanding of the immigration issue while at the same time resisting the impulse to impose our own opinions– a delicate and seemingly impossible burden.