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Unsettling Education

Searching for Ethical Footing in a Time of Reform

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Edited By Brian Charest and Kate Sjostrom

Unsettling Education: Searching for Ethical Footing in a Time of Reform offers a counter-narrative to the prevailing orthodoxies of schooling and school reform that conflate education and learning with that which can be measured on state-mandated examinations. Despite the push to "settle" the purposes of teaching and schooling in ways that see education as the teaching of a discrete set of skills that align with standardized exams, there are teachers and students who continue to resist standardization and whose stories suggest there are many ways to organize schools, design curriculum, and understand the purposes of education. Unsettling Education shares stories of how teachers have resisted state and local mandates to teach to the test in dehumanizing ways, how such teachers have sought to de-commodify educational spaces, how they have enacted their ethical commitments to students and communities, and how they have theorized such practices, sometimes even reconsidering their roles as teachers and the very purposes of schooling. Volume contributors offer concrete ways in which teachers might challenge the structures of schooling to reveal the full humanity and potential of students through different forms of resistance pedagogy, institutional critiques, and critical self-reflection. Featuring a wide range of voices and contexts, the collections’ chapters blend story and theory, resulting in a volume both accessible and thought-provoking to varied audiences—from undergraduate students of education and concerned citizens to veteran educators, teacher educators, administrators, and policymakers.

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7. Managing Teachers: Efficiency and Human Relations in Education (James McCoyne)

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7. Managing Teachers: Efficiency and Human Relations in Education

JAMES MCCOYNE

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The school I work at is small; this year my department includes one other teacher. As a single-sex high school, we currently have under 200 young women enrolled. The size of the school was a comfort when I started a year ago, fresh out of college. Small schools can provide a wonderful intimacy to the work environment, but close proximity without the buffer that more people provide can also lead to escalated conflicts over minor issues that would go ignored at a school even double its size.

I’m running the creative writing club when an announcement comes over the intercom, static and broken sounds, but distinct enough to understand: I am needed in the main office if available. It is a small school, and my administrators know I have a club after school on Tuesdays from 3:20 to 4:00. The routines of the staff are not private, but administration wants to see me. So, I make myself available. The three students in the room understand.

Even as a teacher, being called to the office creates knots in my stomach. Perhaps even more so as a teacher than when I was a student, considering the fact that I never got called to see the dean, principal, or really anyone when I was in high school myself. I walk to the...

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