Social Issues in Education (EDB 604-501 ONLINE)

CLEVELAND STATE UNIVERSITY
Department of Curriculum and Foundations

Social Issues In Education – EDB 604-501 (web-based), Spring 2015

[Read student evaluations of my first online course here: _d69c39f7-7b12-4e05-b8f6-1e314da90327en-US]


Students will understand the ways in which major social, political, technological, and economic forces influence educational priorities.  (Contextualism)website:
davidbacker.com
Prof:
David Backer, PhD
twitter: @davidbacker0
skype: dbacks1180
e: david.backer@gmail.com;  d.backer@csuohio.edu
Office hours: MW, 2-330pm; Tu 2-4 pm, JH371, Tues 2-3pm

Basic Course Questions

What is society, and how is schooling rooted in social production? What is the relationship between capitalism and schooling, both in the US and abroad? Does schooling produce or reproduce capitalism?

Course Objectives

Cognitive Objectives:

  1. Students will understand the tensions between the goals for individual success, the collective good, and the welfare of groups in public education (Contextualism)
  2. Students will understand the history of efforts to achieve “equal educational opportunity” and contemporary school reform initiatives intended to narrow the achievement/opportunity gap.  (Contextualism, Professionalism)
  3. Students will understand the dilemmas inherent in public education within a pluralistic democratic society.  (Contextualism)

Skill Objectives:

  1. Students will be able to analyze in an extended written format the role of political, economic, and social forces in shaping educational discourse. (Contextualism)
  2. Students will be able to apply course readings in class discussions, presentations, and written assignments on topics related to cognitive objectives (Contextualism, Professionalism)

Disposition Objectives:

  1. Students will approach course material and views of classmates with a level of openness while also demonstrating a willingness to critically examine their own and others’ point of view.  (Contextualism, Partnership, Professionalism)

Books*

There are no required books for this course. All readings will be available on PDF.

*I realize that CSU has required two books for our course. I have just been hired as a faculty member, and with a short time-frame for planning I had to consider whether it would best serve students or myself to teach texts I hadn’t read or hadn’t been on my radar. I decided that it wouldn’t. However, these are valuable books, and if you have purchased them I will consider independent assignments that takes them into account, possibly swapping one or two assignments from the syllabus below using them. Get in touch with me if you’re interested in this option.

Academic Honesty: The use of the intellectual property of others without attributing it to them is considered a serious academic offense.  Cheating or plagiarism will result in receiving a failing grade for the work or course.

Special Needs:  If you need course adaptations or accommodations because of a disability, if you have emergency medical information to share with us, or if you need special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, let us know.  Please make an appointment to discuss any special needs you have within the first two weeks of class.

Course Calendar

(1.12.15) : Intro, syllabus, course-setup

Section 1: Theory

Blogpost 1 (1.20.15) What is the economy?

Blogpost 2 (1.26.15) How capitalism works: commodities, use value vs. exchange value, and the class struggle

Blogpost 3 (2.2.15) What is a mode of production?

Blogpost 4: (2.9.15) What is reproduction?

Blogpost 5: (2.17.15) What is ideology?

  • READ: Althusser, L. On The Reproduction of Capitalism, p.171-209
  • Fourth video lecture
  • Short Video Commentary 1 : Please upload this assignment to your blog or YouTube (with private access, if you prefer, or to the Blackboard assignment which I will make available) no later than Sunday, Feb. 22, at 5pm. Here are some more specific directions for this commentary.*The purpose of reading the theoretical texts that we have thus far is to develop a language with which we can talk about society and economy as teachers. We also want to create a lens through which we can interpret events in society, particularly with respect to education. In your video commentary,1) Respond to this question: What is your understanding of capitalism as a political-economic system?2) Include at least one passage from the readings to illustrate your response.3) Connect your response and passage to something relating to schooling or education, either from your personal experience or historical/current events.The video should be at least five minutes long (feel free to take more time than this!).Midterm Survey : The midterm survey is a short questionnaire, which I will send out at the end of next week. I will ask you how you think the course is going so far, what’s working, what isn’t, and how you feel you’re doing with the material. I’ll ask you to propose a grade based on your self-evaluation and I will either agree or disagree with your proposal via personal email. Fill out the survey after you have uploaded your video. 

Section 2: Applications to Schooling in America

 

Blogpost 6: (2.23.15) Is The American Dream A Fantasy?

  • READ: Bowles, S. & Gintis, H. Schooling in Capitalist America, p.3-53

Blogpost 7: (3.2.15) Does Merit Really Exist?

Blogpost 8: (3.16.15)  What is the Purpose of Mass Public Schooling?

  • READ: Bowles, S. & Gintis, H. Schooling in Capitalist America, p.151-201 (Spring Break)

 

Section 3: Applications and Alternative Views

Blogpost 9: (3.23.15) Writing a past educational experience

  • Write an autobiographical blog post about an impactful or memorable experience from your own schooling, at any age level.
  • Seventh video lecture

Blogpost 10: (3.30.15) Analyzing the economic context of your experience

  • Through research, write a blog post describing the SOCIAL FORMATION at the time of your educational experience. What was the mode of production at that time? Relations of production? Productive forces?
  • Your research should use at least two academic and/or journalistic sources. Try to find data and facts to support your analysis. Cite these sources in your blogpost.

Blogpost 11 (4.6.15) Analyzing the state context of your experience

  • Through different research, write a blog post describing the STATE at the time of your educational experience. What were the government’s educational policies at the time? What were the curricular and pedagogical norms at that time in classrooms, or other ideological state apparatuses?
  • Your research should use at least two academic and/or journalistic sources. Cite these sources in your blogpost.
  • Eighth video lecture

Blogpost 12 (4.10.15) Writing about a contemporary educational issue

  • Summarize the important points of a contemporary educational issue of interest to you. Issues could include: No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, Common Core, Standardized Testing, Gov. Kasich’s recent executive order on Higher Education accountability, etc.
  • Your summary should include at least one peer-reviewed/journalistic source.
  • Some examples of educational issues that are potent and important on the contemporary scene, along with political and economic questions, might be:Common Core: What are the economic and political aspects of this reform? Is it a centralization of state power? Which adults benefit from it? How does the Common Core interprellate students and educators? Is it part of the ideological state apparatus or the repressive state apparatus?
    Teacher unions: What is the current status of teacher unions? Are they helpful or harmful or both or neither? Are there political and economic reasons for their success or failure?
    High-stakes testing: What are the economics and politics of high-stakes testing? If large educational corporations now own means of educational production, do schools function differently in society?
    Charter schools: Are charter schools privatizing education? Why or why not?
    The opt-out movement: Should parents opt their children out of high-stakes tests if they disagree with the reforms which rely on them? Is this a kind of revolutionary activity?
    Teacher licensure reform: What are the political and economic elements of the edTPA assessment, and federal Report Card program for colleges of education? Are there ways of resisting it?
    Big Data: How is data used politically and economically?In your analysis, you can be specific to your district, go to the state level, or broaden your scope to the country or world-at-large. Again, get lost in a rabbit hole of research for this assignment and see where your interest takes you.

Blogpost 13 (4.17.15) Analyzing the economic context of your issue

  • Through research, analyze the SOCIAL FORMATION surrounding your educational issue. What is the mode of production salient to your issue? Relations of production? Productive forces?
  • Your research should include at least two peer-reviewed/journalistic sources. Again, try to find data and facts to support your analysis.

Blogpost 14 (4.24.15) Analyzing the state context of your issue

  • Through research, analyze the STATE context of your educational issue. What is the active government policy relevant to the issue? What are the ideological state apparatuses relevant to the issue?
  • Your research should include at least two peer-reviewed/journalistic sources.

Due 4.27. 15

Short Video Commentary 2 Due: In this video commentary:

1) Summarize the search you have done for your two practical applications (personal experience and educational issue). Try and draw together what you have learned from doing political-economic analysis of your own personal experience, as well as the research you have done for the educational issue of your choice.

2) Use your applications to respond generally to one or several of our course questions: What is society, and how is schooling rooted in social production? What is the relationship between capitalism and schooling? Does schooling produce or reproduce capitalism?

Final Project Due May 1st 

Choose a classmate’s blog/body of work throughout the semester. Read their blog from beginning to end, selecting posts that address the theoretical and practical elements of the course material, and write an 800-word response to them as a post on your own blog.

Assignments, etc

Social Media

In order to think critically about social issues in online education, the form of our communication will be through “social media.” The course will therefore be conducted primarily through social media outlets, such as blogs and Twitter. Students may use psuedonyms if they so choose.

Do not post personal information on your blogs or twitter feeds, such as phone number, address, or social security number, etc.

If students do not feel comfortable posting or interacting through these public social media environments, they have the option of submitting work via Blackboard or personal email to the professor. Please contact Dr. Backer if you have questions regarding this policy, its accordances with FERPA regulations, and/or want to set up an alternative means of course communication.

Google Hangout Hours (not required)

I will be available on Google Hangout for one hour a week to answer questions, chat, etc. I will invite every student to the hangout, and if you want to participate you can join. They are not required. If you can’t make the hangout, email or gchat me. We can also Skype.

Blog post

For this course you will start a personal blog, or use an existing personal blog, for written assignments. A blog post in this course is a 500 word journal entry on the week’s reading. This entry can be a reflection on a particular passage, interpretation of the reading as a whole, a developed question about the reading, or an application of the reading to a part of your personal experience. What do you take away from the reading? What don’t you understand? Why? Whatever you write, the blog post is NOT a summary. The entry will be due the first night of each week on the day of the reading.

Cold-calling: Several times a week, I will randomly select a student’s blog to read and comment on. I will be looking for the week’s blog post, as well as previous weeks’ posts. I will post the day’s cold-call via email, and my comment on the post may also double as a short lecture or clarification on the reading. Each student will be cold-called at least twice during the semester, once before the midterm and once after the midterm.

Tweeting

You will also start a personal Twitter feed for this course, or use an existing Twitter account. Each week, compose a tweet based on the week’s reading that mentions a classmate somehow. You might comment on their blog post, retweet one of their tweets, or suggest a newspaper article or video to them. Use the hashstag #edb604. This is how I will find your tweets, which I will check weekly.

Short Video Commentary

A short video commentary is a five-minute video recording. You will record yourself analyzing the course material thus far. This can be extemporaneous, read from a script, or composed in some other fashion (narrated cartoon, avatars, etc). I want to see you thinking about the course material until that point. For guidance, choose a course question or one of the questions from the section titles, and respond to it, citing at least two readings from that section.

Final Project

Choose a classmate’s blog/body of work throughout the semester. Read their blog from beginning to end, selecting posts that address the theoretical and practical elements of the course material, and write an 800-word response to them as a post on your own blog.

3 responses to “Social Issues in Education (EDB 604-501 ONLINE)

  1. Hey there. Devil’s advocate here … course title is Social Issues in Education. In is far different from and. Sorry, couldn’t help myself.

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