A Crisis of Imagination in American High Schools
Course #: EDUC_714H
Semester Credits: 3
This course examines Theodore Sizer's celebrated education classic, Horace's Compromise, from a teacher's perspective. Students will weigh Sizer's description of the mediocrity and lethargy of the mind in American public high schools against their own experiences. They will also evaluate Sizer's claims that schools do not generally appeal to students' individual inclinations and interests, as well as his proposed solutions. Students will propose strategies and lesson plans for teaching high school students in response to Sizer's ideas. The course will delve into Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. How can teachers enliven students' imaginations and understanding of life's moral complexities when teaching this text? A novel that shows how society's moral laws often differ from an individual's conscience, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn questions the whole notion of institutionalized learning. It also belies the hypocrisy of people who claim to be socially upright while buying and selling slaves. Teachers who take this course will explore how they can help their students to discover that Huckleberry Finn's reliance on his own moral instincts, which he ironically sees as his road to damnation, is a lesson for us all.
Goals a. Understand the basic arguments of Horace's Compromise, as well as the proposed reforms and the rationales behind them. b. Evaluate the potential effectiveness of Sizer's ideas and the soundness of his philosophy. c. Apply Sizer's ideas to one's own lesson plan, reconfigure those ideas and come up with ideas for teaching Huckleberry Finn. d. Show an understanding of the ways in which language, story, character and theme function in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, especially in terms of the moral complexities and the desire for individual freedom from hypocrisy.
1. Sizer's Horace's Compromise1. Basic ideas and approaches, related to thesis
2. Evaluating concrete strategies in curriculum development and pedagogy
a. Twain's Huckleberry Finn
1. Story, Character, Theme, Language
2. How the novel can speak to students' experiences of the divide between institutionalized learning/restraints and what they know or want to learn through experience
This course is applicable towards the following certificate(s):
*Literature for the Classroom
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Professional development courses for teachers.