TEACHERS COLLEGE, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY
DEPARTMENT OF ARTS AND HUMANITIES
PROGRAM IN SOCIAL STUDIES
This course introduces you to the various contexts in which one teaches. Borrowing from Hammerness’ (2012) context-specific teaching, you will explore six overlapping layers of context: educational policy context; urban public school context; local geographic context; local sociocultural context; district context; and children, classroom, and school context. Through an exploration of these contexts, the latter of which will be the sole focus of the spring seminar, you will begin to understand how the state of education as a profession impacts not only the landscape of urban education but also the decisions you — and your cooperating teacher — make in the classroom. As important, you will explore the educational experiences of the myriad student populations that comprise the New York City public school system.
This course addresses the following topics: public discourse around public education and the representation of teachers in the media; the purpose of education; national trends in education reform; the “urbanness” of cities; race, class, gender, sexuality, and language and the urban school experience; and the recent history of New York City public schools. As such, you will begin to analyze the current state of education in New York City, understand so-called “at-risk” student populations, and reflect upon the ways in which your student teaching placement reflects, expands upon, and/or diverts from the course readings and your colleagues’ experiences.
Each student teaching placement is unique. As such, you should expect to have a different experience than your colleagues. With this in mind, though, an additional objective is this: To keep an open mind. Your own educational experiences undoubtedly shape what you think “good” education is and what you want to do in your own classroom. Only a small handful of you grew up and went to public schools in New York City. And those who did grow up in New York, many things have changed and there are over 1,700 schools in the City. For this reason, you should always think about what contextual factors cause a cooperating teacher to make his/her decisions.
In addition, you should not think that what your colleagues say/think is wrong because it doesn’t align with what you’re experiencing in your student teaching placement. On the other hand, you should push them — respectfully — to expand upon the contexts in which they’re teaching. What are they seeing in their placement that’s different from what you’re experiencing in your placement? How are their student populations different from the students you’re teaching? Doing this respectful “pushing,” especially during the fall semester, will be crucial for your growth as teachers. It might also help you think about some of the contextual factors that you’ll see in your spring placement and/or your own teaching career.
Participants will engage with the following questions:
- What are the contexts that shape education, in general, and teaching in New York City, in particular?
- How do political, economic, social, and cultural contexts influence your classroom?
- Who are the students in your classroom? What is their experience/status as students? Their experience/status in New York? In the United States?
- What is the role of social studies within these contexts of teaching and learning?