(Associate) Professor — Interdisciplinarian — Dispensing Educationist


“This Machine Kills Fascists!”: Protest Music & Social Change in the American Experience

The famous inscription Woody Guthrie placed on his guitar in 1943 says something profound about how many artists and musicians view their work: while art entertains us, it can enlighten and liberate us as well. Unfortunately, the history of America often taught in schools focuses largely on names, dates, and other facts pieced together in an effort to tell a particular kind of story about America—one that does little to help us appreciate the struggle that runs like a swift current just beneath the surface of daily life. In this seminar we revisit some of that history, focusing on the way musicians—from 19th century slaves to 20th century bluesmen, from turn-of-the-century labor activists to Depression-era balladeers to Civil Rights marchers, and from war protesters of forty years ago to war protesters today—have attempted to right wrongs, educate sensibilities, and awaken the consciences of people in an effort to make America a place that lives up to its promise.

FYS Gallery

Theme Song: Steve Earle, “Christmas in Washington

Foundations of Education

The story of public schooling in America is the story of America itself; it is a story of hopes raised and dashed, of dreams realized, dreams deferred, and dreams denied. Our system of public education was designed to address some of the most fundamental questions raised by the American experiment in self-government, and it has, at turns, been a vehicle for the fulfillment of America’s promise to its people and a frustrating obstacle to the fulfillment of that promise. In this course we will explore the roots of the American system of public education, which is, in many ways, the most successful and least understood public education system in the world. We will explore the culture of education in the United States, paying particular attention to the ways in which the system itself, as well as the people working within and outside of it, frame our understanding of what it means to be “educated.” Perhaps most importantly, we will attempt to look beyond the limitations of public education as it is currently conceived in this era of standardization and accountability counterbalanced by reduced public support to envision what public education can and should look like in the 21st century.

Theme Song: Bob Dylan, “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall

Educational Psychology

Educational Psychology is the study of how people learn, and what we can do to facilitate that process. In this course we’ll review some of the most well-known theories of human learning, as advanced by psychologists like Piaget, Vygotsky, Kohlberg, Bruner, Dewey, Skinner, and Erikson; we’ll also look at how contemporary cognitive psychologists have helped reframe our understanding of human learning to help teachers reevaluate how they do their work. Along the way you’ll develop professional skills related to content selection, instructional planning, and assessment of student learning, and will work toward establishing a rationale for effective teaching that draws on the work of educational psychologists to create classroom spaces that are inviting, engaging, and centered on the needs of students.

Theme Song: Crosby Stills Nash & Young, “Teach Your Children 

Teaching Social Studies

Education 306 at Highland, James Monroe’s home in Virginia (2016)

Writing at the start of the new century, one social studies educator remarked, sadly, that he had contracted the “Twenty-First Century Social Studies Blues.” Indeed, something seems to have gone wrong with social studies: far from sitting at the heart of the curriculum as the subject most closely connected to the civic mission of public schools, social studies has become dislocated from this perch and is increasingly marginalized in the minds of teachers and students, and in the minds of the public at large. As our society becomes more focused on private spaces and personal gain the notion that children should go to school to learn how to become citizens seems almost as old-fashioned as powdered wigs and knee breeches—and it begs the question: what role can social education play in the renewal of our public spaces and political discourse? This course seeks to answer that question by providing both practical and philosophical tips for teaching social studies in ways that advance the public good.

Theme Song: Otis Gibbs, “Everyday People

Education 377 Education Policy & Politics

Charters. Choice. Testing. Standards. Equity. Over the past three decades public opinion has coalesced around the idea that our public schools are failing and desperately in need of reform. How much truth is there in these assertions? This course explores the implications of public school reform policy choices, focusing especially on the way reformers have framed the debate to their advantage. Special attention is paid to teacher quality, urban education, school choice, testing, and other issues raised by reform advocates.

Theme Song: The Staple Singers, “Freedom Highway

Education 405 Student Teaching Seminar

Education 405 is designed to complement your student teaching experience by providing space for you to engage in a community of practice oriented toward helping each member develop his or her skills as a teacher. Your experiences both within and outside of the classroom this semester are the culmination of years of preparation for professional teaching, but you should also know that effective teaching requires immersion in a discursive cycle of action and reaction, of learning and reflection on that learning that, in turn, leads to new learning. As such, this semester represents both an end and a new beginning: it marks the end of your formal preparation for teaching, but it also marks the beginning of your development as a truly professional teacher. Everything you have done to this point has been leading up to this. Now it’s time for you put your knowledge to work.

Theme Song: Todd Snider, “Is This Thing Working?

IDS 325 London Calling: Punks Protest & Cultural Change in the UK 

IDS 325 in front of Regent Sound Studios on Denmark Street, London (2017)

When the Beatles hit American shores in 1964 they launched a remarkably fertile period of cultural exchange on both sides of the Atlantic that, for many people, came to define the 1960s and set a political tone that extended through the punk movement of the 1970s and beyond. This seminar focuses on the roots of that movement, and on the creative genius made possible by the unique interplay of British and American musical styles in this period.

Theme Song: The Clash, “London Calling

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