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The Social Foundations Reader

Critical Essays on Teaching, Learning and Leading in the 21st Century

Edited By Eleanor Blair and Yolanda Medina

The Social Foundations Reader is meant for undergraduate and graduate students in introductory foundations of education classes. No other contemporary reader provides such a broad and yet critical view of the issues typically addressed in an introductory foundations course. Instead, most provide a generic and typically conservative perspective on schools and classrooms and do little to encourage students to consider the important roles of critical theory and social justice in the creation of school environments that are responsive to issues of equity and diversity. This book provides a different lens through which students can view what happens in twenty-first-century schools while also considering the perspectives of multiple constituencies: parents, teachers, students and communities. The reader of this text is exposed to a wide range of scholarship in the foundations of education; essays range from the more traditional work of John Dewey to the controversial ideas of Henry Giroux. Contested topics associated with teaching, learning and leading in contemporary public schools are considered within a context where grappling with the answers to fundamental questions that will ultimately guide meaningful school reform is an essential part of becoming an educator. Each of the five sections in the book is accompanied by an introduction and summary/reflection questions to both guide reading and challenge students to think critically about how to synthesize and apply the ideas being presented.
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1. A Pedagogy of Hopelessness: Fear and Loathing in 21st Century American Schools


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A Pedagogy of Hopelessness

Fear and Loathing in 21st Century American Schools

Eleanor J. Blair


In her address to the American Educational Studies Association in November, 2014, Susan Laird, a renowned scholar in the field of philosophy of education, talked about hope, and she asked the question: “How can anyone be an educator without hope?” Perhaps hope is a fundamental part of education and the educational process, but my response to her would be that it is entirely possible to be an educator today and be without hope; in fact, schools at every level are full of such individuals. Rather, I would ask the question, “how can anyone be an educator today and not be hopeless?” The November 3, 2014, issue of Time magazine is labeled Rotten Apples and shows a gavel smashing an apple; the lead article is a sharp and biting critique of the teaching profession generally and tenure specifically. A response by Billy Easton, executive director of the Alliance for Quality Education, was among those that Time published online:

Once again, TIME has chosen to play the teacher bashing blame game with the rotten cover titled “Rotten Apples.” TIME is parroting the assault on public schools and teachers being promoted by hedge-fund and Silicon Valley billionaires seeking to privatize our public schools. This latest TIME cover is a head on attack on the profession of teaching. It...

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