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Pedagogies of Kindness and Respect

On the Lives and Education of Children

Edited By Paul L. Thomas, Paul R. Carr, Julie A. Gorlewski and Brad J. Porfilio

Pedagogies of Kindness and Respect presents a wide variety of concepts from scholars and practitioners who discuss pedagogies of kindness, an alternative to the «no excuses» ideology now dominating the way that children are raised and educated in the U.S. today. The fields of education, and especially early childhood education, include some histories and perspectives that treat those who are younger with kindness and respect. This book demonstrates an informed awareness of this history and the ways that old and new ideas can counter current conditions that are harmful to both those who are younger and those who are older, while avoiding the reconstitution of the romantic, innocent child who needs to be saved by more advanced adults. Two interpretations of the upbringing of children are investigated and challenged, one suggesting that the poor do not know how to raise their children and thus need help, while the other looks at those who are privileged and therefore know how to nurture their young. These opposing views have been discussed and problematized for more than thirty years. Pedagogies of Kindness and Respect investigates the issue of why this circumstance has continued and even worsened today.
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Chapter Three: No Excuses for “No Excuses”: Counternarratives and Student Agency


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No Excuses FOR “No Excuses”

Counternarratives and Student Agency


“No-excuses” charter schools represent an educational philosophy predicated on the premise that a student’s zip code should not determine his/her academic experience. The vast number of students in no-excuses schools are low income and of color, with myriad social and economic pressures present in their lives. The reality of those pressures is certainly acknowledged by school personnel in no-excuses schools. The idea that these pressures would deterministically prevent students from achieving academic success, however, is soundly rejected (Carter, 2000; KIPP, 2014; Whitman, 2009; Wilson, 2008). In this model, poverty is simply not an excuse for academic failure. Accordingly, educators in these contexts work to create a culture of high behavioral and academic expectations and support, underwritten by a narrative of student potential that counters stereotypical deficit narratives.

The “no excuses” model has indicated some early promise (Carter, 2000; Mathematica Policy Research, 2013; Whitman, 2009; Wilson, 2008), with the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) garnering considerable media attention for helping some of the nation’s poorest students of color attain academic success (, 2014). Some would question the validity of their indicators of success, but the quality of learning that occurs and the methods used to attain that learning, warrant interrogation even more (Pondiscio, 2013; Ravitch, 2011; Vasquez Heilig, Williams, McNeil, & Lee, 2011). This chapter undertakes some of that...

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