Disability Perspectives: The Junkyard Wonders by Patricia Polacco

Here’s another paper I wrote for my Masters Degree course on special education for students with disabilities.  It analyzes the perspectives on disability expressed in The Junkyard Wonders, a children’s book written by Patricia Polacco.  You can find the book at a library or bookstore near you.

Trisha had hoped to be able to keep her dyslexia a secret, but unbeknownst to her, the school’s exclusionary policy on students with disabilities mirrors the one at her old school, and as a result her fellow students have already been made aware that there is something different about the new girl.  Continue reading

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Class, Just Call Me Ephraim: A Word On Authority

I have made the decision that once I become a teacher I will introduce myself to my students by my full name, Ephraim Hussain.  Consequently, they will have the option of either calling me Ephraim or Mr. Hussain.  My feeling is that they will opt for the former, and that is indeed my intent by opting not to impose the conventional “Mr.” title.  Now this may seem like a relatively minor aspect of my future teaching practice, and indeed one might view my concern with the matter of how students are to address the teacher as completely inconsequential and silly.  Here is why I would strongly disagree with that sentiment. Continue reading

Critical Thinking vs. Memorization

This is the first in a series of blog posts in which I will tell you about my experience taking an educational assessment techniques course completely dictated and dominated by a Pearson textbook curriculum.  Throughout the course, I engaged in a series of email correspondences with my professor, in a passionately desperate (or desperately passionate…whichever way you prefer to see it) attempt to escape the confines of classroom discussion Continue reading

Postformal Psychology Continued

This blog post is a continuation of my last post entitled “Sick and Tired of Your College Professor Lecturing At You Everyday?  Postformal Psychology May Just Be The Answer To Your Woes.”

We begin with the psychological theory that, if implemented, promises to take all levels of our educational system far beyond their current boundaries.  Postformal educational psychology begins with the fundamental premise that the definition of intelligence needs to be democratized.  What does this mean?  It means that we have to stop thinking of intelligence as something that is fixed and innate, immovable and inborn-in other words one size fits all and if you don’t fit than too bad for you.  We have to remove ourselves from this fatalistic mode of thinking which dictates that some kids just can’t learn and are doomed to fail in school no matter what.  As prospective teachers, we have to avoid saying “I did all I can, and now I just can’t do anymore.”  We must not only willing be but able to critically interrogate our own teaching practice, to constantly be rethinking and altering our own pedagogies with respect to the needs of our students, and resist falling into the trap of labeling some of our students as less than intelligent.  To say that intelligence needs to be democratized is to say that no one is less than intelligent and that intelligence is indeed learnable. Continue reading

Sick and Tired of Your College Professor Lecturing at you everyday? Postformal Psychology May Just Be the Answer To Your Woes

Today I gave a presentation on postformal psychology and critical thinking for my educational psychology course.  It was a long presentation, nearly 30 minutes, but even though the recommended time was 10-15 min, I didn’t make it so long for the grade.  As you can expect , most of the people in the class are prospective teachers and I felt that it was critically important to get the message of postformal psychology out there to get us teacher ed. students to really think about how our own educational experiences will influence our future practice.  Postformal psychology is obviously much more extensive that what I present here, and I encourage all to go out and do further research on this amazing and awe-inspiring topic. Continue reading

Stop Curving! Stop Lecturing! Stop Grading! Start Teaching So We Can Start Learning!

Two weeks ago my genetics class received the results of our second test.  The class average was a 48, and to my amazement, our professor, whom I will refer to as Dr. James decided to curve the test by 29 points, consequently raising the class average to a low C.  In response to what I consider to be “the easy way out” and a great dereliction of duty by a professional educator, I sent him the following e-mail, Continue reading

My Analysis of Dead Poet’s Society

Better late than never.  I blame myself for never watching it before an educational psych class senior year of college.  This was a truly inspiring movie!

There was a clear clash between the traditional and conservative values espoused by Welton Academy as an institution, and the progressive teaching methods of John Keating.  Welton Academy’s ethos of “tradition, honor, discipline, and excellence not only discourages but makes it a crime for a student to exercise a critical political consciousness. Continue reading