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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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Reflection Questions

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1. Think about the aims and purposes of education for 21st century schools. What role do schools play in our society today? What happens to different groups of students when we define schooling as a site for job preparation and not a place for knowledge production and creation? Consider how demographics, social trends, politics and economics have impacted how we think about public schools. Finally, attempt to create a list of aims and purposes for 21st century schools. Include aims and purposes for the areas of the intellectual, political, economic and social, but also consider additional areas that have emerged in the 21st century, for example, technology. Provide a rationale for your thinking.

2. After reading the essays in this section, attempt to answer the following questions: Who profits from both the successes and failures of public education? Who ultimately determines the content of the curriculum and makes decisions regarding how that varies from school-to-school? How do we go about reconciling private and public interests in public education?

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