EDCI 506 Group Project Reflection Week #15

December 11th, 2012

Group Project Reflection

What key ideas were stressed that we talked about this semester in the presentations?

There were many key ideas in the presentations that were stressed throughout the semester.  One of the aspects that stands out to me most was the funding issue.  We spent a while discussing the different sources of funding for different types of schools, and I found that to be a key part of the presentations.  For my group, we took the information from the book about how public schools get funding, meaning the sources of funding such as, local property tax, user fees, exclusive product rights, personal income taxes, and many more (Ornstein, Levine & Gutek, 2011).  And we combined that information with funding knowledge about charter schools specifically and current fund allocations from the Richmond area and that is how we tackled the funding challenge.  The other group seemed to take a similar approach, but they were more concerned with how to save money in the long run, which is why they decided to use a lot of eco-friendly products and energy sources.  They were expecting their savings from using those products to help balance their budget and cut their deficit.  I thought that their approach was very interesting and definitely fits in well with 21st century ideas of teaching students how to conserve the world and by implementing those ideas in the school.


Identify main themes and potential discussion topics from the presentations?

There were a couple of main themes that seemed to overlap between the two groups.  One was that we all tried to create a school that was very interactive and engaging for the students.  It seems as if that was a big take-away from the semester, that students need to be engaged in what they are learning and that the information also needs to be relatable to their own lives.  Dewey, I think, had a huge impact on all of us when it comes to our ideal school.  Another main theme that I picked up on surrounded evaluations; both groups wanted to do evaluations that were useful where the teacher knew what was expected of them.  I loved the other group’s idea of having a rubric, because I know as a future teacher I would love that when being evaluated.  I also thought that my group’s idea of giving resources after an evaluation was another really important factor that I would want to be implemented in the school that I will work for in the future.

There were also many potential discussion topics that we could have easily gone more in depth about.  One of the discussion topics I thought of was giving more specific examples of all of our many ideas.  For example, what my group’s specific ideas were for yearlong projects, or the other group’s ideas for making rubrics that reflected the teacher and students perspective and expectations.  It would have been interesting to expand upon the project and get into even more details than we did.  Another potential discussion topic involved the other groups eco-friendly school; I thought that the idea of energy saving and natural resources was a really great idea and I think that if they made their school 100% eco-friendly that a lot of students and parents would be drawn to it.  I also believed that in real life they could get a lot of donors and sponsors because of their- eco-friendly school.  I really enjoyed hearing about their ideas and I hope that a school like that exists, and if it does not, I hope that one is created.


How might you redefine or modify your teaching philosophy after your classmates presentations?

After watching and hearing about the other group’s presentation, I think that I would add in more about having specific and measurable evaluations of myself and of my students.  There was a lot of talk about rubrics, and so I would make it clear in my teaching philosophy that I will use rubrics often and make sure that for every assignment all of the expectations are known so that there is no confusion.  As a student, I know that I can get easily frustrated when directions are not clear and so when I am a teacher I know that that is something I will be very conscious of.


Think back in your own school. How was it similar to each groups 21st century school? How was it different?  

I think that the schools that I went to as a K-12 student was very different from the schools we described in our 21st century schools project.  I always had a lot of lecture classes where there was not much time to engage in hands on learning or learning by doing.  Even in some of my classes where anyone would assume that it would be pretty hands on, was not.  I’m sure that my elementary school experience was a bit more hands on than I remember, but honestly I have a hard time thinking that far back.  My K-12 experience was also extremely different from the other group’s project because my schools did not have any energy saving products that I am aware of.  I am sure that is because of the time period, but even then I never remember having a class garden or learning how to be more eco-friendly.  Overall, I think that my own school was pretty different from the schools both groups described in their projects.


What did you learn?

One of the main things that I am taking away from this project is my expectation of myself when it comes to being a teacher and the expectations that I have for the school that I will work for.  For myself, I hope that I really do implement these ideas into my teaching; I want to have my students engage in a lot of hands on work and I want the information to be relatable to their lives in some way.  I also want to collaborate and communicate a lot with other colleagues and staff in order to make my teaching practices the most effective.  I also want to always be learning new things; I hope that I sign up for classes every once in a while to stay up to date with current trends and to help myself improve in areas that I know I am not strong in.  There are so many expectations that I have for myself that this project helped me realize.  As for the school I will work for, I also came up with some expectations.  I want them to evaluate me, but I do not want them to make me stressed or cause anxiety, rather I want the evaluations to help me in my teaching practice.  I expect my administration to be supportive and helpful, and I think that it is okay to expect those things.  Overall, I learned a lot from this project, but mainly the expectations I have set for myself and the expectations I have from my school’s administration.


Here are the links to my groups video and concept map for our 21st century school project.

Video Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F5tr19UdYNw

Concept Map: https://bubbl.us/?h=13513e/24d610/12VbeiHSttZgM


Ornstein, A.C., Levine, D.U., & Gutek, G.L. (2011). Foundations of education (11th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

EDCI 506 Curriculum and Instruction Week #13

November 24th, 2012

Curriculum and Instruction

What do students learn in schools?

Students learn many things at school including the many different core subjects as well as imperative skills like communication, social, and problem solving.  I am an advocate for the core curriculum subject-centered approach, which involves students studying “subject matter in an integrated fashion” (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p. 437).  That means that students connect what they are learning in one core subject area to other core subject areas.  The basic core subjects being taught are mathematics, science, history, and English; however, today many other subjects/classes are being offered such as technology because of the demand for knowledge in that specific area.  Students also learn a great deal of social skills while attending school, which is why I am a promoter for public school, compared to home school.  Students engage in a significant amount of social learning on an everyday basis in the school setting, which leads to them replicating those behaviors and learning from them.  Such behaviors can include trying something new on the playground, or mimicking what another student does in order to be successful in the classroom.  Overall, there is a lot of learning that goes on in a school, mainly learning in relation to core academics and social skills.


How do teachers plan and deliver instruction?

The manner in how a teacher plans and delivers instruction varies depending on the teacher’s specific teaching style.  Dewey would say that the best way to plan and deliver instruction would be to know your students well enough so that you can have appropriate lessons accordingly; these lessons would always “balance subject matter with student interests and needs” (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p. 439).  Others, however, would claim that the best way to plan and deliver instruction is to simply not plan any lessons ahead of time and to let the students direct their own instruction.  People who are advocates of this type of planning and delivering of lessons may have beliefs rooted in Montessori schools, where children have control over their own education (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011).  Personally, I believe in a structured teaching style that still does balance students’ interests and needs, an idea similar to Dewey, but one that may be a bit more structured.  The main reason why I like structure is because I like to feel prepared and one of the main ways for me to feel prepared is to have structure and in many cases routine.

What are some models of direct instruction?

To describe direct instruction, the textbook says it best.  It “emphasizes well-developed and carefully planned lessons designed around small learning increments and clearly defined and prescribed teaching tasks” (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p. 452).  There are many models of direct instruction, but the one that I believe to be most common involves scripted lessons.  Scripted lessons are where the teacher is essentially reading a script from a pre-prepared lesson (not made by themselves), and they are to respond to students’ responses in a very systematic manner (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011).  Proponents of scripted lessons say that it is a way to heavily scaffold students and is an extremely explicit form of instruction, while critics say that it is hurting students’ comprehension abilities (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011).  Other forms of direct instruction involve working in very small groups, sometimes even one-on-one, and breaking down the lesson into small units that are put into some sort of sequential order.


How do teachers help students learn thinking and problem solving skills?

Teachers help students learn to think and develop problem-solving skills in many ways.  One way in which those skills can be acquired in through cooperative learning; a technique that involves students working together in small groups to solve problems or to work on a common goal (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011).  These types of activities help students get engaged in the lessons, which ultimately promote their thinking abilities and their abilities to work well with others.  Other ways to help foster problem solving skills is to have students work on problem based projects.  This is where students are working in teams to solve a problem that is based around real world applications; for example, students may try to make a functional robot that serves an everyday purpose.  Another way that I think teachers can help students learn thinking and problem-solving skills is to incorporate group work with projects where students work with students from another part of the country or world.  I think that these types of projects get students excited about school and help them learn vital thinking and problem solving skills.


Brainstorm ideas of authentic assessments that you may use that are appropriate for a content area that you might teach as well as developmentally appropriate for your future students.

Many of the ideas that I have for authentic assessments for my future elementary students involve them having to actually do what ever they are learning about.  For example, when students learn how to measure objects with a ruler, I plan on having my students measuring objects around the classroom.  Another idea that involves teaching reading, is to have every student actually read to me individually at least once a week and hopefully more.  It seems like an obvious thing to state, but I think that many teachers do not listen to each of their students reading individually very often.




Here is a link to a video from the eduopia website that discusses authentic assessment.  I really liked the video because it says what authentic assessment is and the steps to take in order to make your assessments authentic as a teacher.



Dewey, J. (1938). Experience and education. New York, NY: Touchstone.

Ornstein, A.C., Levine, D.U., & Gutek, G.L. (2011). Foundations of education (11th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

EDCI 506 The Changing Purposes of American Education Week # 12

November 15th, 2012

The Changing Purposes of American Education

 Are schools remaining relevant in the 21st century?

Schools in the 21st century are forever changing, but yes, are remaining relevant.  We talked about in class how education usually tends to sway with the times, and currently we are on a science/math/technology trend that is pushing educator to make substantial gains in those specific areas.  The textbook states, “the goals of education must be relevant to the times,” which is essentially what is happening (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p. 429).  Our society and social forces are driving us to attempt to outperform other nations in areas like science, math, and technology, which is why that is a big focus in education today.  According to the textbook, 15-year-olds in the United States performed lower than their peers in “twenty (math) and fifteen (science) other industrialized nations” (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p. 424).  The only way to attain the goals of becoming more proficient and essentially the best in math, science, and technology is to learn, and one of the main means for learning to take place is in the schools.  Today more than ever, more people are going to college and attending higher education programs, in order to continue learning and to achieve greater things than the people before them.


Should pedagogy change?

Personally, I do think that in certain areas pedagogy needs to change in order for schools to be preparing students to live and work successfully in the 21st century.  I think that much of what goes on in the classrooms today is rote memorization and just basic understandings of complex topics; education tends to brush the surface level, but what we need is to get to the core.  In the next chapter of the textbook, 21st century skills is a topic for discussion, which brings in a lot of pedagogical ideas that will help prepare our students for the 21st century.  The three overarching skill sets are learning and innovative skills, information and technology skills, and life and career skills (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011).  Learning and innovative skills, for example, involves being creative and having critical thinking and problem solving skills; our teachers need to use teaching strategies that allow for students to develop these skills (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011).  A pedagogical way to incorporate those skills is to have a lot of problem-based learning, where students are given a problem, maybe even one that is applicable to real life, and they are to solve it in cooperative learning groups.  This way students are learning to work with others, to develop critical thinking skills, and problem solving strategies (Trilling & Fadel, 2009). Lessons and pedagogy do need to change in order to be current with societal goals and expectations.


What are your thoughts about allowing students to take control of the content and helping them to make meaning and create knowledge from it in multiple forms, styles, and media?

Like Dewey, I think it is very important for students to make meaning from knowledge and to connect it to what they already know.  I also believe in some structure within the educational system in order to guide students’ learning experience; coinciding with that idea, the teacher must have some control in order to try and make experiences meaningful and set up in a way that will help develop future experiences (Dewey, 1938).  I think if we allow students to take total control of the content, than we are essentially promoting a Montessori based educational idea.  Although I am very intrigued by the idea, I think that if I were a student in elementary, middle, or high school that I would have just played and who knows what I would have learned.  I do, however, think it is very important for students to be able to experience knowledge in multiple forms and styles.  It is important for students to be exposed to a variety of educational forms, including media and technology, to figure out what type of learner that they are and what strategies work best for them.  One of my goals as a teacher is to create students who are self-regulated, and a way to help foster that is to expose students to many different forms of knowledge.


How can schools engage students in meaningful projects that focus on creativity and apply the content students are learning?

I believe that there are many ways in which students can engage in meaningful projects that combine and apply creativity and content.  As mentioned, I think it is a good idea to incorporate a lot of project-based learning into the classroom in order to students to be engaged in a problem based in the real world while focusing on solving the problem in a creative and new manner.  Another extremely interesting way to engage students in meaningful projects that involve creativity and content is to have an ongoing assignment with students from another part of the country or world.  Students will be more excited to complete the assignment because it will be an experience totally new to them.  We are living in a technology world, so students may use technology to communicate; they will have to be creative in thinking about ways to share ideas and to communicate with one another.  An example of this would be to have pen pals in another state, this way students are learning writing skills, particularly how to write a letter, and are creating topics to discuss with their friend from another place.


http://creativity.denverartmuseum.org/ This is a great website created by a Denver Art Museum that has lesson plan ideas that are supposed to spark creativity in students.  When you go to the website and search under lesson plans, it allows you to choose your grade level, type of lesson, what type of skill you want your students to learn, etc.  The lessons appear to be very diverse and include a variety of different cultures, which is one reason why I liked this website so much.




Dewey, J. (1938). Experience and education. New York, NY: Touchstone.

Ornstein, A.C., Levine, D.U., & Gutek, G.L. (2011). Foundations of education (11th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

Trilling, B., & Fadel, C. (2009). 21st century skills: Learning for life in our time. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

EDCI 506 Equal Education Opportunity Week 11

November 8th, 2012

Equal Education Opportunity

How is curriculum and instruction in a class for gifted students different from that in other classes? How might you teach a student who is gifted and talented in your inclusive classroom?


Curriculum and instruction in a class for gifted students is very different from that of other classes because of the accommodations and modifications that need to be made in order to meet each student’s individual needs.  Giftedness can be thought of as “cognitive (intellectual) superiority (not necessarily of genus caliber), creativity, and motivation in combination and of sufficient magnitude to set children apart from the vast majority of their age peers and make it possible for them to contribute something of particular value to society” (Hallahan, Kaufman, & Pullen, 2012, p. 431).  Within the term giftedness is a multitude of abilities such as precocity (remarkable early development), insight into relevant and irrelevant information, genius, creativity of novel ideas, and talent or special abilities (Hallahan, Kaufman, & Pullen, 2012).  Because students with all of these abilities can be considered gifted, it is a difficult challenge on the teacher on how to provide appropriate lessons for all.

If I were to have a student who is gifted and talented in my classroom I would strive to make sure that lessons are at their appropriate level, while keeping the overall information the same.  It is very important to not just assume that because a gifted student understands that he/she does not need and want appropriate leveled tasks and assignments.  Teachers need to not use gifted students as a way to help other struggling students; they have a mind of their own and are essentially still students who need guidance and support from their teacher.  Hopefully, I would never tell my gifted student to go to the library to do extra reading because they already know the information.  I want to challenge my gifted students at an appropriate level and will do so by providing the same information, but maybe making their tasks a bit more challenging so that they have to use their creative and innovative brain.  Another one of my textbooks states, “highly talented young people suffer boredom and negative peer pressure in heterogeneous classrooms.  Students of all ages and grade levels are entitled to challenging and appropriate instruction if they are to develop their talents fully” (Hallahan, Kaufman, & Pullen, 2012, p. 442).


Collect resources that will help you teach effectively in your inclusive classroom. For example, include a list of resources that you found to differentiate instruction or manage a classroom environment.


– My textbook from my special education class has a lot of good information in it pertaining to what gifted and talented means, how as a teacher to serve these students, and what early intervention can do for a student.  This book is called Exceptional Learners An Introduction to Special Education and is written by Hallahan, Kauffman, and Pullen some of whom are professors at UVA.  The textbook covers a wide range of disabilities and different educational considerations for each.

–  http://nichcy.org/ This is a great website for teachers and parents who work with students who have disabilities.  The website reviews all disabilities and other things such as the IDEA law and educational forms like IEPs.  Under each disability is a handout of information and within most are tips for teachers.

The Differentiated Classroom: Responding to the Needs of All Learners is a book written by Carol Tomlinson, and is about differentiated instruction in the classroom and its importance.  This book covers topics from what is differentiated instruction to instructional strategies that help to differentiate between students.  There is a free version of the book online at http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=dDJasEi-6xQC&oi=fnd&pg=PR5&dq=differentiated+classroom+instruction&ots=N_ZP3ugJI1&sig=hRq8AwHYYnu0U85_8Ke2idFWeSE#v=onepage&q=differentiated%20classroom%20instruction&f=false



How can professional collaboration enhance education in an inclusive classroom?

Professional collaboration can enhance education in an inclusive classroom immensely.  Through working and discussing techniques with other teachers, you may be in a way providing different intervention techniques without even knowing it.  Response to Intervention is a current technique that requires students to stay in the general education classroom while teachers provide researched based interventions in order to try and help the student overcome whatever problems they may be having in the classroom before they are recommended for special education services (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011).  If teachers collaborate, than they most likely will be using intervention techniques that maybe other teachers have used that have been successful, therefore, helping the overall well-being of the student.  Collaboration can also make sure that students with suspected disabilities are getting a consistent education across classrooms.  For example, if a student switches classrooms for math and science and is with another teacher, teacher one should share the techniques that work for the student with teacher two, in order to help the student improve all around in their educational career.  Collaboration is very important when it comes to a student’s success, especially if they have or are suspected of having a disability.


What steps should you take to help prepare you to teach students with disabilities?

There are many steps that a teacher can take to help prepare them to teach students with disabilities.  One major way teachers can be proactive is to look up what research has to say about different teaching techniques and strategies that work well for certain types of disabilities.  This in a way is similar to Response to Intervention, which, as mentioned, is to use researched based interventions in order to help students make gains before they are referred to special education (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011).  That is an easy and free way to prepare your self for working with students with disabilities.  Another step that you can take is to collaborate with the special educator in your building and get advice and strategies from them on how to better serve students with disabilities.  Another step could be to co-teach with the special educator in order to be able to address all students in an appropriate manner.  One last way to help prepare to work with students with disabilities is to receive training, this training is usually provided by your school, which may be expensive so not all teachers will have this option.  That is why it is also important to be proactive and to seek out resources yourself, rather than just waiting for people to provide them to you.  Overall, there are many steps that a teacher can take to help prepare themselves to teach students with disabilities.


Hallahan, D.P., Kauffman, J.M., & Pullen, P.C. (2012). Exceptional learners an introduction to special education (12th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education.


Ornstein, A.C., Levine, D.U., & Gutek, G.L. (2011). Foundations of education (11th ed.).      Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

EDCI 506 Social Class, Race, and School Achievement Week #10

November 1st, 2012

Social Class, Race, and Student Achievement

Social class can be thought of as a mere ranking system of people based on four variables.  Our textbook states these four social class variables are occupation, education, income, and housing value (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011).  Because of those four variables, people are ranked and ordered into upper class, upper middle class, lower middle class, upper lower class, and lower lower class, which is our societies way of determining a persons worth, in my opinion.  Social class correlates strongly with school success, which is why as a teacher it is important to put aside any preconceived notions about a student’s social class when teaching.  Evidence suggests relationships between social class and academic success in many different areas including mathematics and reading.  Our textbook reads, “nine-year-olds whose parents had at least some college had average scores not far below those for thirteen-year-olds who parents had not completed high school” (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p. 340).  Because of the strong relationship between social class and academic success, I as a teacher want to strive to only see children and not how much money their parents make.

I think that a huge factor that plays into academic success is teachers perceptions about how well students are going to perform based on many different factors including social class, race, and past performance.  When students turn out to be what is expected of them, that is known as the self-fulfilling prophecy.  As a future teacher, I will try my best to have high expectations for all of my students despite social class, race, gender, or any other personal bias that I may have, in hopes of them all being successful in life.  I personally am from a middle class family where both of my parents did not go to college, and so I have hope for all students that their family’s social class should not define who they turn out to be.

Race is another factor that correlates strongly with academic success and in many cases social class.  For example, “African American students have the lowest SES scores (as reflected by higher percentages in poverty).  They also have the lowest math and reading scores” (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p.343).  Whereas, whites have the highest SES and the highest reading scores and second highest math scores (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011).  Because race is such a huge factor in school success, I think it is very important to develop a climate of respect in a classroom.  Race ties very closely into cultural beliefs; classrooms need a sense of respect in order to function and maintain a learning environment.  The movie Freedom Writers was about a classroom full of students with many different racial backgrounds; until they respected one another, no substantial learning took place because the focus was on the racial differences (DeVito, Shamberg, & Sher, 2007).  I want to help set up a climate in my classroom like Mrs. Gruwell did; I want my students to not feel judged by me or by others based on their race.  I was all of my students to know that I believe they are worth something, and can succeed in life if they want to.

When reading the chapter, I found it very interesting that in certain cultures it is cool to be unsuccessful in school.  The book states that, “high achievers who work hard are often labeled as ‘brainiacs’ and accused of ‘acting white’” (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p. 360).  This supports the fact that students are very influenced by their peers, which are usually members of the same race.  Teachers need to find a way to make learning the “cool” thing to do, maybe by creating fun projects that can be applicable to real world settings or getting ideas from students as to what sorts of assignments they would like to complete.  Overall, race is just one factor in a person’s success, and should not define what they can and cannot accomplish in life.  The book says it right, “For educators, the challenge is to improve the performance of all low-status students, from whatever ethnic group” (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p.348).

When talking about social class, race, and their effects on academic achievement, people tend to have differing viewpoints as to whether outcomes are genetically based or environmentally; personally, I believe in the synthesizer’s or interactionist view.  When examining a person’s intelligence, some people believe that it is all from their genetics, while others believe it is all from their environment and what they are exposed to (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011).  I believe that intelligence is partially based on genetics and partially based on environmental factors.  People can be genetically predisposed to have certain traits, but unless their environment brings out those traits than no one will ever know they had them.  For example, a child who has the genetic ability to hear pitch and intonation extremely well and would be a great musician, never is exposed to musical instruments, and therefore, never turns out to be the famous musician that they could have been.  Granted, that is an example of a hypothetical extreme case, however, it could be true for someone in the world.  Overall, I believe that intelligence and academic performance is related to part genetics and part environmental factors, which is why I think teachers should not judge students based on their race or social class.

In what ways does student culture shape perceptions and behaviors?


Student culture shapes perceptions and behaviors in many ways.  As previously mentioned, students sometimes do not try in school because if they succeed they are ridiculed and told that they are “acting white” (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011).  This is an example of how students culture shapes their perceptions and behaviors; these minority students are perceiving academic success to be a trait associated with the white race, therefore, their behavior is being effected and they are not trying in order to avoid seeming white.  Another example of how student culture shapes perceptions and behaviors is from the teacher’s viewpoint.  If a teacher views a particular ethnicity or culture in a negative light, than students will tend to have negative perceptions of the teacher and their race and act in a way that is expected of them.  Because a student may be from a minority race, the teacher may have negative views about that student, which will in turn affect the student’s perceptions about the teacher (especially if they are white) and will affect their behaviors, making them less motivated to do well in school because their teacher does not believe in them, essentially creating the self-fulfilling prophecy.  This example of a teacher’s perception affecting student perceptions and behaviors was clearly identified in Freedom Writers; some of the students made comments to Mrs. Gruwell like, “we are supposed to respect you because you are white” (DeVito et al., 2007).  The students said that they do not respect teachers because of their race; rather some hate the teacher because of their race.  Eva, one of the main characters, stated that white people are the ones who caused everything bad to happen in her life and that they can do whatever they want like put her father into jail, and that is why she hates all white people (DeVito et al., 2007).  This view of Eva’s shows that her perception of white people is very negative, which is ultimately affecting her behaviors in school, she is not doing her work and is not being respectful to white teachers.



Here is the clip about race in Freedom Writers.  I think that it explains how a students culture can shape their perceptions and behaviors.



DeVito, D., Shamberg, M., & Sher, S. (Producers), & Lagravenese, R. (Director). (2007). Freedom Writers [Motion picture]. United States: Paramount Pictures.

Ornstein, A.C., Levine, D.U., & Gutek, G.L. (2011). Foundations of education (11th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

EDCI 506 Culture, Socialization, and Education Week #9

October 25th, 2012

Culture, Socialization, and Education

I know it will be a challenge having students from all different backgrounds, who have different beliefs and values associated with their respective cultures.  I personally like to think of it as an exciting challenge, because it is a way for me to gain more knowledge about different cultures and a way for me to expand my horizons in general.  When taking the perspective of the teacher in the example, having a lot of Asian Americans will make for challenges in teaching, however I think that I could accommodate by trying to meet every students needs by having a lot of group work and by having certain times designated for individual work.  As it was described in the example, Asian Americans are concerned with the value of the group; therefore, I am assuming they like to work together to accomplish goals outside of classroom.  If a teacher can transmit what students know outside of the classroom, into the classroom, learning will probably make a lot more sense.  Dewey says in his book Experience and Education (1938) that “the beginning of instruction shall be made with the experience learners already have” (p. 74).  If most of the students are Asian American, than they will already have knowledge about how to work together in a team, and will prefer that teaching and learning style.  I, as the teacher, would make sure that the students would have a lot of time to engage in group work, however, I would have to set aside times for individual work for assessments and evaluations.

This type of community feeling in the classroom would transmit to the relationships with parents and families.  If the children learned to think collectively as a culture from their parents, than their parents obviously have the same values, which will require me as the teacher to be very open when it comes to dealing with the families.  One way in which I can transmit their values of the whole society and relate it to the classroom is during parent teacher conferences; I could show them work that their child did individually, but also show them things that the whole class has done.  I would also hope to build a repertoire with my students’ parents by attending events in the community; this way I will get to show them that I am interested in learning about their culture and also want to have a positive relationship with them.

What are some cultural patterns that will influence your instruction?


Many different cultural patterns will influence my instruction.  For example, as previously mentioned, I would incorporate a lot of group work for students whose culture value the group and think collectively as compared to individually.  One aspect of cultural patterns that I will try and be aware of is through my own cultural lens.  I know that there is a lot of hidden curriculum in schools today, which can be very culturally biased.  Hidden curriculum is “what students learn, other than academic content, from what they do or are expected to do in school” (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p. 317).  If I have a student who moves to the United States from a different place where eye contact is viewed as disrespectful, I do not want to punish a child for not looking at me in the eyes.  I would need to expand my cultural knowledge before telling a student to do something that goes completely against everything that they have every learned from their culture.

How will gender roles have an impact in your teaching and your students learning?


My hope is that gender roles will not impact my teaching or my students learning.  I know that in a lot of cases students are treated differently or are expected to perform in a certain way based on their gender, and I think that that is wrong.  People tend to believe that boys are better in math and science content areas, while girls are better in language arts (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011).  The textbook quotes, “Recent studies in the United States indicate that sex differences in academic achievement are relatively small to nonexistent” (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p. 327).  In my classroom, I want to have high expectations for all of my students, despite gender.  I will, however, have to be aware of my personal biases when it comes to gender and consciously work at treating all students equally.

How will educational technologies help your instruction?


I think that educational technologies will help me a lot when it comes to instruction.  One piece of equipment that I hope to have in my classroom is a smart board.  If I am fortunate enough to have one, then I plan on making interactive games on them for my students to use as a way to expose my students to technology but also to engage my students in interactive learning.  The book mentioned using television programs as a way to related to students, and I think that could be a good idea for some lessons, but I also do not want to promote watching television.  The negative outcomes of watching television outweigh the positives when it comes to using television programs in school, in my opinion.  For example, the textbook mentions, “television, video games, and other media may encourage aggressive or violent behavior” (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p. 323).  Through using television programs in the classroom, the teacher is essentially promoting those programs, which is why I do not think that I will incorporate television programs into my lessons.  I will however, get to know my students on a personal level, and one way to do that would be to discuss the TV shows they like to watch; these types of conversations will benefit interpersonal relationships.


The Chinese Proverb “Tell me and I forget. Show me and I remember. Involve me and I understand.”

After reading this proverb, answer this question. How will you become knowledgeable about your students differences? 

I will become more knowledgeable about my students differences through being an active community member and being involved so that I understand more about their cultural differences.  I will try and attend events in all areas of town, or at least seek out the areas that my students live in, in order to gain more knowledge about their home life and overall lifestyles.  So much of what a child knows comes from their home life, which can sometimes make it difficult for them when it comes to school.  Students who live in a single parent home are more likely to be in poverty and are more likely to have academic problems (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011).  Some children are latchkey, meaning go to unsupervised homes after school, which can lead to poor choices and drug use (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011).  I want to know this type of information about my students so that I can better serve them, whether it be getting them into an after school program, or helping to connect families with resources.  The only way for me to really understand my students’ outside lives is to be exposed to them, and the only way to be exposed it to put myself in situations where I can observe and witness what is actually happening in their lives.


Here is a link to a website that has awareness activity ideas.  One of the activities that I really liked that reminded me of Freedom Writers is the icebreaker respect exercise.  It allows for students to discuss different ideas of what respect means, which is a way to promote a respectful classroom climate.




Dewey, J. (1938). Experience and education. New York, NY: Touchstone.

Ornstein, A.C., Levine, D.U., & Gutek, G.L. (2011). Foundations of education (11th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

EDCI 506 Recent Issues in Education Week #7

October 12th, 2012

Supreme Court Case on Affirmative Action at Universities

One article that I read was published in the New York Times and is titled Race and College Admissions, Facing a New Test by Jusitces (Liptak, 2012).  This article is about a young woman named Abigail Fisher and her rejection to the University of Texas at Austin back in 2008.  Abigail claims that her rejection to the university was solely based on race; she was not admitted because the university wants to promote diversity (Liptak, 2012).  The University of Texas at Austin has a system set up called the Top Ten Program, where they automatically admit approximately the top 10% of students at every high school in the state.  Mrs. Fisher barely missed the cutoff (Liptak, 2012).  Mrs. Fisher, the plaintiff, is arguing that she lost out on a state benefit that was given for reasons other than merit, but instead on race and diversity grounds (Liptak, 2012).  The UT at Austin, the defendants, are arguing that the admissions office takes a holistic approach when examining the student and the school’s population in general, and that they should be allowed to “assemble a varied student body as part of its academic and societal mission” (Liptak, 2012).  The Supreme Court is going to hear the case on Wednesday October 9, 2012.

This case may be in violation of the 14th amendment as discussed in our textbook.  Within the 14th amendment, there are two different clauses, the due process clause and the equal protection clause; this case would fall under the equal protection clause (Levine, Ornstein, & Gutek, 2011).  The 14th amendment states, “…nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws” (14th Amendment).  I think this case may be in violation of the 14th amendment because it is not providing equal protection under state laws.  The Top Ten Program is a program allowed by the state law, which permits for automatic admission for the top 10%, but after that the university has a choice as to who they want to admit, which in their case is sometimes based on race.  The article did however mention a similar court case to which I am sure the Supreme Court will reference, and that case is called Grutter vs. Bollinger which was held in 2003 (Liptak, 2012).  In this case, the Supreme Court “rejected the use of racial quotas in admissions decisions but said that race could be used as one factor among many, as part of a “holistic review” (Liptak, 2012).  The Supreme Court may come to a similar conclusion as to the Grutter vs. Bollinger case, we will see.

Another article that I read responded to the first hearing of the Supreme Court Case previously mentioned.  This article was published in the Free Lance Star on Thursday October 11, 2012, was written by Michael Doyle, and is titled Supreme Court Takes on Affirmative-Action Case.  The article discusses how predictions are being made that this particular case will come down to a “single swing vote,” most likely from Justice Anthony Kennedy (Doyle, 2012).  He is the one Supreme Court Justice that “straddled positions on the issue and who raised questions for both sides” (Doyle, 2012).  The article also discussed the background of Fisher, the girl who was denied acceptance to the University of Texas at Ausin, and also reviewed the opinions of both the plaintiff and the defendants.  The article did however conclude by mentioning the 14th amendment.  The article commented on how under the 14th amendment states are to grant “the equal protection of the laws and to all people” (Doyle, 2012).  This reinforced my own ideas about what violations were occurring, and it also helped bring the textbook into consideration (Doyle, 2012; Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011).

Here is another article about the NEA’s opinion on the case.  They are supporters of affirmative action and helped protest for the cause outside the Supreme Court on Wednesday.  Interesting article if you want more information from NEA’s perspective.


One last anecdotal comment related to this case.  In one of my other classes I was discussing this case with another student who attended UVA as an undergraduate.  He said that one of his best friends in college was African American and always had the opinion of himself that the only reason why he got into UVA was because of his race.  It saddened my heart to hear that and to think of the situation from that perspective.  I would be interested in hearing other opinions in response to that brief story.

Technology in the Schools

Another article that I read was published by NPR on October 3, 2012, and is titled Some Schools Actually Want their Students to Play with their Smartphones in Class (Evans-Brown, 2012).  This article focused on a middle school in Durham New Hampshire, where the students are allowed and encouraged to bring their own touch-screen devices in class (Evans-Brown, 2012).  One teacher, Mr. Montgomery, stated that kids these days learn on their smart devices because that is how they look up information, if they are denied access than they are not making use of their number one source of information (Evans-Brown, 2012).  There have been many concerns raised as to whether smart devices are a good addition to the classroom.  Some of the concerns include equity among students, distractibility of students, and inappropriate use of technology in the classroom.  The middle school in New Hampshire has additional touch-screen devices for students who do not have their own, and also their teachers provide engaging specific tasks so that the students are not abusing the privilege (Evans-Brown, 2012).  They claim it has worked for them and has increased technology usage in the classroom without the high costs of having to buy devices for every student (Evans-Brown, 2012).

This article relates really well with the technology legal aspects of the chapter.  Some professionals have been sued for issues involving technology.  For example, a substitute was “convicted of allowing students to view pornography despite her plea that their computer was infected with malware that caused recycling pop-ups she was unable to stop” (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p. 280).  If students are allowed to use their own devices that schools cannot track or impose filtering software to ensure that students are not looking at inappropriate material, then how are they protecting themselves from a legal standpoint (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011).  Another area of concern could be copyright laws; if teachers are allowing students to use and view copyrighted material, than the school could potentially get in trouble.  There are however, many benefits to using technology in the classroom, such as lowering the technology bill for the school and helping students develop skills in technology, skills that are necessary in the 21st century.  When letting students bring their own devices into the classroom, schools need to set up strict guidelines and procedures for when something goes wrong.  Schools also need to put practices in to play to protect themselves from getting sued.

Posted is the link to the article: http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2012/10/03/162148883/some-schools-actually-want-students-to-play-with-their-smartphones-in-class



Doyle, M. (2012, October 11). Supreme court takes on affirmative-action case. The Free Lance Star, p. A3.


Evans-Brown, S. (2012, October 3). Some schools actually want students to play with their smartphones in class. NPR. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2012/10/03/162148883/some-schools-actually-want-students-to-play-with-their-smartphones-in-class


Liptak, A. (2012, October 8). Race and college admissions, facing a new test by justices. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/09/us/supreme-court-to-hear-case-on-affirmative-action.html?pagewanted=1&ref=education&_r=0


Ornstein, A.C., Levine, D.U., & Gutek, G.L. (2011). Foundations of education (11th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.


14th amendment. Retrieved from http://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/amendmentxiv

EDCI 506 Financing Public Education Week #6

October 5th, 2012

Financing Public Education 

Why is there so much concern over funding public schools in the United States today?

In my opinion, there is so much concern over funding for public schools in the U.S. today because there just simply is not enough money to sustain the type of public schools that everyone hopes to have.  Parents want their children to be able to go to the best schools where the best teachers work and where the best and most advanced technology is available for their children.  Teachers and administrators want to work in a place that provides them with decent wages, and enough money to engage in professional development.  Community members also want local schools to be performing high because they want the students in their community to turn out to be productive members of society.  Overall, everyone wants the best for public schools, but one of the only ways to get the best is to have more funding and that is why there is so much concern over the issue.

Where does the money come from?

The money that funds public schools comes from three different places: local, state, and federal revenues.  The local revenue makes up about “…44 percent of total school expenditures” (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p. 237).  The local revenue is then comprised of funds from different areas including property tax (77% of local funding), user fees, and exclusive product rights.  Property tax is based on the market value and assessed value of a property; the tax rate is applied to the assessed value, which essentially is a percentage of the assessed value.  User fees are charges based on groups using certain facilities, and exclusive product rights is when a school agrees to only sell a certain brands products in exchange for funding (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011).  State revenues, which provides close to 47% of funding for public schools, are comprised of sales taxes, personal income taxes, and other state taxes.  Sales taxes are placed on certain goods, personal income taxes are based on a percentage of personal yearly income, and other state taxes can come from areas such as fuel tax, gift tax, and corporate income tax (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011).  Federal revenues are administered to states in the forms of grants.  There are two types of grants, categorical and block.  Categorical grants are designated for a specific group of people, whereas, block grants are for general purposes without any specific group in mind (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011).  Every state however, has the choice to accept federal funds or not (10 Facts About K-12 Education Funding).

Why are there different funding configurations among states?

There are different funding configurations among states because the amount of funding each state has and the budget plan set up for each state is different.  Close to 90% of public school funding comes from the state and local revenues, and each state is different in those areas.  Some states do not even have a personal income tax, which makes up about 35% of state revenues.  According to our textbook, “nine states do not levy a state personal income tax” (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p. 241).  Other components that make funding configurations different among states are the local tax base and overall wealth of an area.  If a district has wealthy residents, shopping malls, and other commercial places to spend money at, than the school is more likely to have more funding.  If, however, a school is in a poor district where the residents are in poverty and do not have money to spend on extra things, than the school is going to have less funding (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011).  These factors are ones that no one has control over, which makes it so funding configurations among states and local districts are different.

What current trends are shaping educational finance?

One current trend shaping educational finance is the Race to the Top program.  According to the U.S. Department of Education Race to the Top is

A competitive grant program to encourage and reward States that are implementing significant reforms in the four education areas described in the ARRA:  enhancing standards and assessments, improving the collection and use of data, increasing teacher effectiveness and achieving equity in teacher distribution, and turning around struggling schools. (Race to the Top Program, 2010)

Because of this program, many schools are trying to make improvements in the four areas listed in order to receive the race to the top federal grant, which is ultimately shaping educational finance.  Another trend that is shaping educational finance is the current economic situation.  We are in the biggest recession since the great depression, which means money is not flowing and is certainly not reaching the schools.

Create a plan for raising funds for education and distribute those funds equitably to all school districts within Virginia.

Virginia could host a Day for Education, in which every district across Virginia would be mandated to participate.  This would be fun day so people would want to participate.  The Day for Education would involve each district coming up with a local fund raising idea, whether all of the science classes have been growing plants and they are going to have an auction, or the students have put together a fashion show with slightly worn clothes and are planning on auctioning all of the clothes off, or maybe the school will host a carnival where all of the games and activities were created by students.  The fundraiser will be solely determined by each district, and will hopefully be created by the students themselves as a way to get their minds working and to help foster school spirit.  The goal of the day is to raise the most money out of all of the districts in Virginia, and the district that raises the most money will be recognized.  All of the money however will be placed into one “bowl” and then each district will be allocated a percentage of the money based on their student population (amount of students and specific needs of students).  This way every district benefits, and the students are still engaging in creative thinking.



Here is an article related to the sequestration budget cuts that have been of concern more recently.  According to this article higher education programs would be the ones most effected, meaning programs like the one we are all a part of.  These budget cuts are going to hit higher education programs drastically if the government does not decide a plan to fix our deficit problems.  I thought it was an interesting article because of its relevance to educational budgeting and because of its personal relevance to all of us.


10 facts about k-12 educational funding. (2007). Retrieved from http://www2.ed.gov/about/overview/fed/10facts/index.html


Ornstein, A.C., Levine, D.U., & Gutek, G.L. (2011). Foundations of education (11th ed.).      Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.


Race to the top program guidance and frequently asked questions. (2010). Retrieved from http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop/faq.html

EDCI 506 Governing and Administering Week #5

September 28th, 2012

Governing and Administering

Why are higher test scores sometimes difficult for students (and teachers) to produce?

In the video that we watched the special education teacher mentioned how a lot of times standardized tests are not focusing on the little gains in students’ education, instead they are only looking for major gains, and that was frustrating to her.  She discussed how the student, herself, and other colleagues have worked really hard to make progress, and that they are making progress (Foundations).  The standardized tests are ones that only assess the child on one day out of the whole year, which the teachers in the video thought made for a bad system.  Another teacher that the video highlighted said that the test does not know her students like she does, if they are sick that day, or if their parents are going through a divorce the test does not know that information.  She said she gets to assess them all year round, which is what standardized assessments should be doing (Foundations).  All of these reasons are many reasons as to why it is difficult for students and teachers alike to produce higher test scores.  There are so many factors that go into producing high test scores such as family life, wellness of the particular test day, amount of sleep the child has had, has the child eaten that day, what is going on in the students social life, their motivation level, and many other factors.

Do you think the NCLB Act is an effective and accurate way to measure school and student performance?

Personally, I do not think that NCLB has an effective and accurate way to measure school and student performance, and there are a lot of other people who agree with me.  One reason why I do not believe it to be effective and accurate is because it is only one test on one day out of the entire school year.  The amount of factors that go into a student performing well, which will ultimately reflect upon the schools performance, are many.  For the student, they may be having family problems, they may be sick, they may have distracting thoughts about other areas of their life, there are so many factors, that one test on one day just cannot capture all that a child can do.  This idea that one test on one day of the year is not enough, is supported by the video we watched for this week (Foundations).


Another reason why I do not believe it to be an effective and accurate way to measure performance is because all students are different and perform at different levels, but yet they are all expected to meet a minimum standard.  For example, a child may have been 2 grade levels behind in performance, made huge gains during the year and are now currently are performing only a half grade level behind, but the standards according to the NCLB act do not capture those types of gains.  Diane Ravitch agrees with me, she says “I try to encourage people who study child development to speak up, to say, this is wrong, children develop in different ways and at different paces and respond differently to different experiences. Standardized tests can’t be the measure of all things that have to do with children” (Educational Leadership, 2012).


A third reason why I do not think the NCLB act is an effective and accurate way to measure student and school performance is because it is only measures the minimal competency levels and only measures specific subjects.  In some of my other courses at UMW, we are discussing the multiple forms of intelligences; if a child is not very good at math, but has a lot of intelligence in the musical areas, does that mean they child is not intelligent in any areas according to standards?  There are many reasons why the NCLB act does not provide effective and accurate forms of performance measurements from the students and school, but these are just a few of my ideas.


What will you do if a student with a disability is in your classroom? How will you meet their specific needs? Who will you consult for assistance?


I am assuming that at some time or another in my teaching career I will have children with disabilities in my classroom.  I think and hope I will treat them as fairly and as equally as possible and make sure that I am including them in all of the lessons, which I will make appropriate for their specific level.  I think that I would do more research on whatever disability they may have, and try to understand it to the best of my ability.  I would also find research based instructional tips that deal specifically with students who have the same or similar disability and use those in my lessons to better my instruction and to better meet the needs of that child.  Of course I will accommodate the assignments and evaluation processes where necessary, and will also modify the curriculum where necessary.  I also hope to have a very collaborative relationship with the special education teacher, and any other specialist that can guide me in how to better serve all children, but especially children with disabilities.


Think of a few teaching reforms that are currently taking place in a school, district, or state. Which reforms do you think will stick? Why? Which instructional practices have remained constant? What factors contribute to their persistence?

One reform that has changed teaching practices is the accountability reform that coincides with the NCLB Act.  I do not think that this reform will stay around because I think it is going to be nearly impossible to have all children in the U.S. meet the proficiency standards set for English and Math by 2014.  In a New York Times article (2011), Larry K. Shumway, a Superintendent in Utah, is quoted saying, “Pretty soon all the schools will be failing in America, and at that point the law becomes meaningless.”  I think that it has stayed around this long so far because of its good intentions, and also because of how difficult it is to change national reforms like this.


Another teaching reform that is very controversial is tracking.  Tracking has been going on for a long time.  Our textbook dates tracking back to the colonial periods and before, it reads, “The colonists at first recreated the socioeconomic class-based dual-track school system that they had known in Europe.  Boys and girls from the lower socioeconomic class attended primary schools… Meanwhile, the upper-class boys attended Latin grammar schools… (Orstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p.128).  Currently tracking is a system being practiced in many schools across America.  Children are being identified as advanced and therefore take advanced classes in all areas, and the same goes for underperformers.  But are these children who are identified as advanced and college material really advanced in ALL areas?  And are the underperformers really underperforming in all areas and are bound to blue-collar jobs?  There are many pros and cons to a tracking system and that is why I think it has been around for so long.  Jeannie Oakes is a scholar in the area of tracking and has written many books on the topic.  In one of her books, Keeping Track, she discusses the viewpoints of people for and against tracking.  One of the reasons for it is because it helps teacher be able to tailor their lessons to a more specific population, and it also might make the students feel more comfortable by being surrounded by peers with similar abilities.  A reason against tracking it because it makes the self-fulfilling prophecy come true; a teacher’s expectations about students will become reality (Oakes, 1986).  Tracking is a system that has been around for a very long time and will continue to stay around because many people see the system as beneficial.


Here is some more information on tracking from Jeannie Oakes perspective.  You do not have to read the whole thing, but it has a lot of good information if you wanted to know more about tracking.





Dillion, S. (2011, August 14). State challenges seen as whittling away federal education law. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/15/education/15educ.html?_r=0


Dodge, A. & Ravitch, D. (2011). The resourceful school. Educational Leadership 69(4). 54-58.


Foundations: aligning instruction with federal legislation (Video file). Wadsworth Cengage Learning. Retrieved form http://college.cengage.com/education/resources/students/video_cases/protected/hmfm_education/index.html?layer=act&src=qtiworkflowflash_vc42_screen.xml


Oakes, J. (1986). Keeping track: How schools structure inequality (2nd ed.). New Haven and London: Yale University Press.


Ornstein, A.C., Levine, D.U., & Gutek, G.L. (2011). Foundations of education (11th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

EDCI 506 Idealism and Realism Week #4

September 21st, 2012

Idealism & Realism

How The Cave and The Over-soul relate to Idealism

When reading The Cave, I found many similarities to the Idealism philosophy, which made sense to me considering Plato is the originator of the Idealism philosophy.  In relation to the metaphysics of Idealism, Plato discusses the people who live in the cave as only being able to perceive the world through shadows, meaning only seeing part of what exists. These shadows are ultimately a part of the whole, they exist within the whole truth, but without knowing the whole truth they are meaningless.  Once the freed person saw the real light, and not just the fire, they were able to see more of the whole truth; they were able to perceive the world for what it really is.  Once they returned to the cave and darkness they were able to then recognize what the different shadows represented, whereas the others who were too afraid of the light still were ignorant to the truth.  The real sunlight represents the macrocosm or universal mind and the fire and shadows represent the microcosm or personal mind.

The Cave also can relate to the Idealism epistemology.  The book says that “the Absolute or God has been revealed, over-time, to those who have sought the truth” (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p.171).  The people who were willing to leave the cave are the ones who sought the truth, which was ultimately revealed to them.  Idealists believe that “education is the intellectual process of bringing these ideas into the learner’s consciousness” (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p.171).  The people who decided to leave the cave are the ones who are being educated. According to the WiseGeek website (2012), the ones who saw the true light “would know their previous existence was farce, a shadow of truth, and they would come to understand that their lives had been one of deception”.

The Over-soul also relates extremely well to the Idealist philosophy.  The logic is where I personally saw a huge overlap, and that is because of the “whole-to-part relationship between the Absolute and the individual minds” (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p.171).  In Emerson’s essay he states, “within man is the soul of the whole; the wise silence; the universal beauty, to which every part and particle is equally related; the eternal ONE” (Emerson, 1841).  Emerson (1841), also reinforces the epistemology of Idealism; he states “the spirit of prophecy which is innate in every man,” meaning that the mind of the Absolute exists in all of us innately, we just have to discover it.  There are many ways in which Emerson and Plato influenced the philosophy of Idealism, these are just a few of the connections that I made.

Realism Tree Question

The question considered here is, if a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it, would it make a noise?  From a realist’s perspective, yes the tree would still make a noise because “reality exists independently of our knowing it” (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p.173).  Objects, like trees, exist in a real world that was not made by human beings, therefore, stills exists even when no human beings are around to see it or experience it falling.  The realist axiology focuses on human beings thinking and acting in a rational way, or “making decisions based on knowledge” (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p.174).  If a human saw a tree that was fallen over, than they can assume that at one point the tree was upright and that at some point in time it fell and made a noise, even though they may never have seen it all actually happen.  We as humans make decisions based on knowledge, and part of our knowledge base involves trees.  So overall, if a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it, it still does in fact make a noise, from a realist’s perspective.

How do the ideas of Idealism and Realism relate to teaching and student learning?

According to the idealism philosophy, teaching should involve stimulating the “learner’s awareness of ideas by asking leading questions” (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p.172).  It should also involve a lot of modeling so that students may imitate and learn from replication.  The idealism philosophy also relates to teaching and student learning because of the high intellectual expectations that teachers are supposed to have for all students, this relates really well with current trends in education.  Teachers should have high expectations for all students, which will help foster their learning and achievement to the highest possibilities.  I also think that the idealist philosophy relates well with teaching and student learning from a technology standpoint.  I would say that in many schools in America, technology is used as a tool to help educate students, and is not used as a means to an end (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011).

The realism philosophy also relates to teaching and student learning in many ways.  Realists claim that formal education “is the study of knowledge organized and classified into subject-matter disciplines” (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p.174).  This involves teaching and student learning, because teachers teach specific subjects such as math, science, and English, and students learn those specific subjects.  Realists also claim, “schools are academic institutions that societies establish to provide students with knowledge about the objective world in which they live” (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p.175).  Today’s students are going to school to get prepared to be in the real world.  We discussed this is class the other night, how school is really a way to prepare students for life after education and for adulthood, and I think that the realists would agree.  Another realist idea that relates to teaching is the idea that teachers need to be experts in what they teach, or in other words major in the area in which they want to teach.  Realists are also in favor of standardized tests; they claim, “standards help keep schools and teachers accountable” (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p.175).  Overall, there are many ways in which the idealist and realist philosophies relate to teaching and student learning.

Which idea best fits with your own views of reality? Why?

There are many aspects of both the idealist and realist philosophies that I agree with and that fit with my personal view of reality.  I tend to agree more so with the realists from a metaphysics standpoint; I think that reality exists in a “material world that is independent of and external to the knower’s mind” (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p.174).  I think that reality can exist beyond what someone personally knows.  For example, I am not very knowledgeable in a lot of areas, however, it does not mean that those aspects of life are not based in reality, it just means that I might not be fully aware of all that those areas entail.  According to the text, idealists and realists believe that classifying subjects and knowledge helps people learn about reality, and I agree with that to some extent.  I do think that I learn best when information is categorized and organized in a way that makes sense to me; if I am given information in a jumbled way than I am not very likely to learn anything.  I do not however, think that that is the only way to learn about reality, I think you can also learn by simply experiencing aspects of the real world.


Additional Link

Here is a website that summarizes the literal meaning of The Cave and the allegorical meaning.  A quote that I really like, talks about the people adjusting their eyes to the light at first and then to the darkness again.  The quote reads, “The dazzling of our eyes for the first time symbolizes difficulty of denies the material world. The second time dazzling of the eyes symbolizes our difficulty to accept ignorance after knowing the reality.”



Emerson, R.W. (1841). The over-soul. Retrieved from http://www.emersoncentral.com/oversoul.htm


Ornstein, A.C., Levine, D.U., & Gutek, G.L. (2011). Foundations of education (11th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.


What is the allegory of the cave? (2012). Retrieved from http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-the-allegory-of-the-cave.htm