Carnival of Education 101

Postcard of Little Rock's Central High School

Little Rock’s Central High School, portrayed in a postcard (courtesy of Curt Teich Postcard Archives and the University of Arkansas Libraries)

Just a postcard to remind you that the 101st Carnival of Education is up over at I Thought a Think. There is a new Congress; many state legislatures are gearing up. It’s a good time to discuss education policy. Perhaps more to the point, if we don’t contribute to the discussion now, policy changes will go on without our contribution. Read the posts, and take action.

2 Responses to Carnival of Education 101

  1. Ed Darrell says:

    That tracks closely with my experience.


  2. R. Becker says:

    Not sure where to put this, so I’ll put it here. You might want the check today’s Wash Post [Monday, MLK Day] for a story on King’s history being lost in the schools, and more broadly, history being lost. Here’s the money quote [link follows]:

    In many schools across the country, teachers say social studies has taken a back seat under the federal No Child Left Behind law, which stresses math and reading. Squeezing history into the curriculum can be difficult, educators say, and taking time out of a scheduled lesson to use a federal holiday — even King’s — as a teaching moment can be tough.

    “It depends on the teacher and how much they want to deviate from what they are doing,” said Adam Zemel, 17, a senior at Yorktown High School in Arlington.

    Mark J. Stout, a social studies curriculum coordinator for Howard County schools, said in an e-mail: “We really have a fairly tight and regimented curriculum, so most teachers will either try to integrate holidays into their regular instruction (if there is a connection), or spend a few moments in the beginning of the class talking to the students about the event or person being commemorated. Most likely, they do the latter, but there is no expectation or requirement.”

    King and the civil rights movement are part of the curriculum in many school systems, although lessons do not always coordinate with the holiday. This is true especially in higher grades where broad issues in U.S. history, such as social justice, are addressed in depth.

    But for elementary school teachers, federal holidays sometimes are the only chance to teach students about subjects for which they otherwise have little time.

    “One of the raps on elementary social studies is that it is all about heroes and holidays, and with standardized testing, it often becomes that,” said Andrea S. Libresco, an education professor at Hofstra University in New York who teaches prospective teachers how to use the holidays as teaching opportunities. “People tend to concentrate on English and math.”

    A danger, educators say, is that lessons about King can become repetitive from year to year, especially when using the same theatrical performances and movies. As a consequence, many students know about King’s 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech but not about his seminal “Letter From Birmingham Jail,” also written in 1963.


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