Asilomar 61 Page for Steve Lafer's Session
During the session we will be discussing how English serves the American democracy, the critical role the discipline and the English teacher play in insuring that the quest for a "more perfect union" continues through citizen engagement in the discourse of democracy. In doing this, we will consider how the new Common Core State Standards invites curriculum and methodologies such as those advocated by James Moffett and Betty Jane Wagner in their book Student Centered Language Arts and in other works in the field that seem to be helpful in moving students toward the competencies implied in the CCS standard that requires that students "Delineate and evaluate the reasoning in seminal U.S. texts, including the application of constitutional principles and use of legal reasoning (e.g., in U.S. Supreme Court majority opinions and dissents) and the premises, purposes, and arguments in works of public advocacy (e.g., The Federalist, presidential addresses), a standard that, in my mind, if achieved, means that many-if not most--of what ELA hopes to accomplish has been accomplished and to a most important end, a truly critical literacy.
We will play with delineation and evaluation of reasoning in a number of genre and engage in a number of activities that can move students to the type of reasoning required and the kinds of ELA skills, understandings, and dispositions essential for such reasoning and the effective expression of the results of such reasoning.
I will ask that we take another look at the phrase in the Declaration of Independence that reads, "a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation" and consider what "decent respect" might be and how it is attained and, too, how opinions are made to be respectable, worthy of consideration as members of democracies try to deliberate their way to decisions that serve the common good and the general welfare. We will consider how a nation of free beings comes to allow itself to be governed through a respect for humanity, for that which makes human beings human and to do this we will make reference to both Paulo Freire and John Dewey before turning to Moffett and Moffett and Wagner for a theory of literacy and literacy education that generate instructional practices that grow effective and humane citizens of a free society.
Amongst the pre-reading materials are a piece by John Dewey that has come to be titled Democracy and Education that can be accessed by tapping the little button . We will also take a look at excerpts from a very interesting piece by Kenneth Howe with a long title I will provide later with the text. We will also pull some excerpts from Freire and the Moffett and Moffett and Wagner books.
The goal of the session is to build an argument for a curriculum and methodology and to test out on ourselves the efficacy of that curriculum and methodology that relies heavily on matters of empathy to promote critical reading of all types of discourse in a manner that is humane in the manner required for true democracy, the type that allows for maximum freedom while insuring that all, not just some, have the opportunity to exercise that freedom--humainely.
Look for more material to be added as Asilomar 61 approaches.