Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Teaching as if Life Matters by Christopher Uhl with Dana L. Stuchul

Amazon link

I am a sucker for hubris, especially when it concerns thing about which I care a lot. Christopher Uhl would like to suggest some foundational changes in the way that we educate each other as a species. He does this so that we can have a new paradigm in the very way that we conceive of ourselves and the cosmos around us. Also, he has some practical suggestions about how this work can be started in our classrooms today.

Uhl does a wonderful job engaging teachers where they are at philosophically and then taking commonly held principals (like encouraging students to ask questions) and taking them to the utmost logical extreme (like restructuring the way that information is gathered and spread in a classroom that has questioned the teacher's authority and found it insufficient) where many of us are no longer comfortable. Pretty heavy stuff, but an honest look at why many teachers believe in democratic processes, but do not enact them in classrooms. Uhl presents ways thinking and practicing that will make these democratic processes more attainable for the teacher, and less confusing for the student.

At no point does Uhl shy away from his political agenda. While I do not agree with the dude 100%, I respect the hell out of an education theorist who has the courage to admit that he or she has opinions and that those opinions do effect the way they think. Most of them pretend to be aloof, lying to themselves and their audience, and generally causing me to toss their book aside. Uhl admits it from the outset and reminds the reader of it at regular intervals. Nice work!

This is a refreshing bit of work with a bibliography that I plan on mining for further reading. I don't know whether or not it will change the human race and the universe in a fundamental way, but it has already changed the way that I do some things in my classroom. That's good enough for me.

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