Thought and Language

Lev Vygotsky was a genius developmental psychologist. Perhaps his best known theories relate to the construct of the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD). TeacherJay is also fascinated with Vygotsky’s work reagarding the connections between thought and language and wanted to post a few words about Vygotsky’s 1934 book with the same title. Read the rest of this entry »

The First Days of School

As a child, was the first day of school a time of nervous excitement?, or maybe a day that was dreaded all summer long?… well, many teachers tend to feel the same way. Not because they hate being there, but because they want everything to be perfect and know the importance of making that all-important first impression. With the school year already begun, perhaps this post is a little bit late, but it should still be helpful for many. Today’s post reviews The First Days of School: How to Be an Effective Teacher by Harry K. and Rosemary T. Wong – a book that TeacherJay likes to read every summer as a reminder of how to be the most effective teacher possible; and he gives out a gold star. Read the rest of this entry »

The Disappearance of Childhood

Neil Postman, a former NYU professor perhaps most noted for his book, Amusing Ourselves to Death, originally published in 1985, on the pervasive manner of television into our lives and our ways of communicating had previously written a book exploring the concept of childhood. The Disappearance of Childhood was originally published in 1982, but was revised and republished in 1994. Today’s post reviews that edition of the book and discusses the ways that the notion of childhood has been conceived in our minds may be eroding. Read the rest of this entry »

History Lessons

History is written by the victors. Ten people could witness the same event, and if you asked them all afterwards what happened, you would probably get eleven different versions. Much of what we read in history books is from the American perspective, and over the years the text has been trimmed to include only the most favorable parts. Today’s post looks first at the book, History Lessons: How Textbooks from Around the World Portray U.S. History, and then points out some of the problems plaguing the teaching of history and current events in the American school system and introduces the non-profit, Americans for Informed Democracy, that is aimed at reversing the trend of American isolationism. Read the rest of this entry »

On Becoming a Leader (in Education)

Warren Bennis‘ 1989 book, On Becoming a Leader, was revised and expanded for a 2003 edition. In this classic, Bennis outlines some of the key characteristics that are common to leaders in all fields. He draws these conclusions from many interviews and biographies of past and present leaders, such as former presidents, business CEOs and college presidents. In explaining these concepts, Bennis often turns to the U.S. school system to point out how it is not conducive to producing future leaders as it has a tendency to train rather than to educate. His overall message is that it is vital for a leader to have a vision that can be clearly articulated to followers. That vision may need to evolve over time as it needs to fit in the context of the lives of the followers. Read the rest of this entry »

The Shame of the Nation

Jonathan Kozol‘s 2005 book, The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America, looks at the issue of racial integration in the nation’s schools. Over 50 years after the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education decision that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal” and forcing the immediate integration of America’s schools, we have not yet achieved that goal. Kozol uses the passionate voices of teachers and students, mostly from urban New York City schools and the suburban areas of Long Island, to tell how the nation has been failing a large portion of its children and, in fact, creating a system of apartheid by withholding a proper education from so many children. Read the rest of this entry »