“This Day in History…” Series Archives

February 2020

Dr. Steven Selden has contributed to understanding the impacts of eugenics through his research and the January 1999 release of his book Inheriting Shame: The Story of Eugenics and Racism in America. He also presented on the conditions leading up to the widespread use of eugenics and the influences on education as the keynote speaker at AATC’s annual conference in 1999. Dr. Selden’s work focused on the lack of valid scientific evidence and the reliance on pseudoscience to explain human differences and the ongoing influences of eugenics and racism on policy and education in spite of a lack of valid scientific evidence.

In Inheriting Shame: The Story of Eugenics and Racism in America, Dr. Selden links the rediscovery of Gregor Mendel’s work in the early 1900s with its subsequent use to support a eugenics movement that attributed many human characteristics, including morality, intellect, and socialization, to heredity. Even though the beliefs that these human behaviors are determined through heredity and genetics were unsupported by research, they were perpetuated from 1900 through the 1930s. Based on Selden’s historical perspectives and analyses, connections to contemporary implications are presented as these beliefs continue to infiltrate decision making in both educational and social settings.

As we consider the work of Dr. Selden, we can consider how the impacts of eugenics and racism continue to impact education policy and practice. The following questions may help us to further our work. In the spirit of encouraging dialogue, a foundational component of AATC’s identity, we encourage you to share your thoughts and engage in discourse in the comments section:

  • What beliefs of education and education policy are influenced by historical and present uses of eugenics and racist beliefs? In what ways do these beliefs knowingly and unknowingly impact our beliefs and practices?
  • How does belief in eugenics impact teachers and students beyond school? How do these can educators address these impacts both in and out of school?

November 2019

Technology in our lives and in education has increased in the 19 years since the publication of Let Them Eat Data: How Computers Affect Education, Cultural Diversity, and the Prospects of Ecological Sustainability. In this book, C. A. Bowerskeynote speaker at the 2005 AATC annual conference, provided insight that is relevant to ongoing uses and intrusions of technology in education. Dr. Bowers warned of uncritical uses of technology that further limitations of educational systems and outcomes.

The expansive uses of technology in education are often heralded as much needed innovations or as inevitable pieces to an ongoing evolution of society and education. However, Bowers cautions against leaving the implementation of technology in education unquestioned. The design, development, and acceptance of technology are based on cultural assumptions and economics that can further indoctrination and oppression. Educators need to be aware of the impacts of technology and prepare to question the ecological, cultural, and societal implications of the global increase in the use of computers and other technology. Through awareness and a critical eye, educators can democratize decisions about technology with a focus on cultural diversity, intergenerational knowledge, and sustainable practices.

As we consider the work of Dr. Bowers, we can consider the motives behind widespread technology use in education. The following questions may help us to further our work. In the spirit of encouraging dialogue, a foundational component of AATC’s identity, we encourage you to share your thoughts and engage in discourse in the comments section:

  • What are the underlying assumptions of the technology implemented in education? In what ways do these assumptions impact students in our classrooms?
  • What are the societal, cultural, economic, and environmental impacts of global technology use? How do these impacts influence education? What is the role of educators in mitigating the negative influences of technology? How can technology be used to address culturally responsive pedagogy?

August 2019

Over 20 years ago, William Ayers co-edited “Teaching for Social Justice: A Democracy and Education Reader” (with Jean Ann Hunt and Therese Quinn). Dr. Ayers presented to AATC as the keynote speaker at both the 2002 and 2009 annual conferences. As demonstrated by “Teaching for Social Justice”, Dr. Ayers provides a lasting message to be considered in our dialogue of teacher duties as activists in and out of the classroom and aligns with the 2019 Annual Conference theme of “Teacher Activism in Distressed Times.”

The endeavor of teaching for social justice requires the engagement of parents, students, teachers, and community members. Dr. Ayers presents articles that address topics essential in transforming education and supports teachers in becoming activists in facilitating necessary changes. As Dr. Maxine Greene states in her introduction to the book, “Teaching for social justice is teaching what we believe ought to be.” The messages of Dr. Ayers and his co-editors in “Teaching for Social Justice” are no less relevant today and we look forward to furthering dialogue and action at the 2019 AATC Annual Conference in Birmingham, AL (October 3-5, 2019).

We can consider the need for engaging communities to facilitate transformations of systems and approaches necessary for teaching social justice. As we consider the work of Dr. Ayers, the following questions may help us to further our work. In the spirit of encouraging dialogue, a foundational component of AATC’s identity, and the upcoming AATC Annual Conference (October 3-5, 2019) we encourage you to share your thoughts and engage in discourse in the comments section:

  • How can teachers fill roles as activists for social justice both in and out of the classroom?
  • How can teachers engage parents, students, and community members in education and, specifically, in teaching for social justice?
  • How can teachers overcome the challenges of “distressed times” to foster teaching and learning for social justice?

July 2019

As we prepare for dialogue on “Teacher Activism in Distressed Times” at the 2019 AATC Annual Conference, we reflect on the work of Dr. Janet Miller in “Creating Spaces and Finding Voices: Teachers Collaborating for Empowerment” first released in July 1990. Dr. Miller, the keynote speaker at the 2013 AATC Annual Conference, examined collaborative inquiry and teacher empowerment through interactions between teachers and a professor. Spaces, including context and constraints, are explored as Dr. Miller viewed possibilities for empowering teachers, specifically the potential for teachers to fill the role of teacher-researchers.

Dr. Miller proposed the need for teacher voices to be heard and valued in both educational reform and research. She delves into the varied experiences and visions of teachers to allow their voices to be expressed in contexts that were both general in education and particular to teachers’ lived experiences. By sharing challenges faced by teachers and supports they received, Dr. Miller aided in guiding and encouraging others into the continued process of finding teacher voice and creating spaces in which these voices are both heard and valued.

We can consider the importance Dr. Miller’s work in establishing opportunities for teacher voice and the changes still necessary to be sure teachers are truly heard in educational reform and research. The following questions may help us to further our work. In the spirit of encouraging dialogue, a foundational component of AATC’s identity, and the upcoming AATC Annual Conference (October 3-5, 2019) we encourage you to share your thoughts and engage in discourse in the comments section:

  • What is the role of teacher voice in educational reform and research? How can we address systems or structures that prevent teacher voice from being effective in educational reform and research?
  • How can teachers create space and find their individual and collective voice, especially in “distressed times”?
  • How can collaboration foster empowerment? How could this allow for improved teaching and learning?

June 2019

June 2019 marks the 31st anniversary of the release of “Bitter Milk: Women and Teaching” by 2004 AATC Annual Conference keynote speaker Dr. Madeleine R. Grumet. Dr. Grumet provides a perspective that draws from feminist theory in teaching. Structured to highlight the private and public worlds of women in teaching, Dr. Grumet allows readers to consider the pressures and successes of relationships with both one’s own children and the children of others.

June 2019 marks the 31st anniversary of the release of “Bitter Milk: Women and Teaching” by 2004 AATC Annual Conference keynote speaker Dr. Madeleine R. Grumet. Dr. Grumet provides a perspective that draws from feminist theory in teaching. Structured to highlight the private and public worlds of women in teaching, Dr. Grumet allows readers to consider the pressures and successes of relationships with both one’s own children and the children of others.

Drawing on research and personal experiences, Dr. Grumet argues that women who teach must transition between private and public worlds on a daily basis. The reality of living in these two worlds requires considerations of feelings and actions rooted in both personal connections to the teacher’s own family and the objective work of teaching her students. Dr. Grumet presents the possibility of curriculum as a space that supports bringing together the two worlds experienced by women in teaching and allowing for continued growth of relationships.

As we consider the work of Dr. Grumet, we can contemplate the perspectives she provides on the role of teachers, women, and mothers both at home and in the classroom. The following questions may help us to further our work. In the spirit of encouraging dialogue, a foundational component of AATC’s identity, we encourage you to share your thoughts and engage in discourse in the comments section:

  • What roles do we expect of teachers, specifically women? How do these perceived roles influence teaching and learning? How can we address perspectives to more fully realize the work of teachers at home and in the classroom?
  • How can we address ideas of expected gender roles in the domestic (private) and public spaces of teachers?
  • When considering the demands placed on teachers at home and in the classroom, how can Dr. Grumet’s perspectives be incorporated into structures that allow both teacher and students to be viewed holistically? How could this allow for improved teaching and learning?

May 2019

“Historical Empathy and Perspective Taking in the Social Studies” edited by AATC founding member and 2003 AATC Annual Conference keynote speaker O. L. Davis, Jr. (with series editors Elizabeth Anne Yeager and Stuart J. Foster) was released in May 2001. Throughout his career in education, Dr. Davis has positively impacted curriculum and its application in teaching and learning that includes using perspective and empathy to provide context for meaningful learning, especially in social studies.

Drawing on research and experiences of the contributors, Dr. Davis compiles an edited volume that illustrates how educators can create an environment that truly allows students to interact with the past. He advocates engaging students in subject matter, such as the historical past, to make learning come alive for students. As educators gain experience, they can facilitate students taking different perspectives that allow for the development of empathy and deeper understanding of the people and events of the past.

As we consider the work of Dr. Davis, we can strive to provide varied perspectives that aid in the development of empathy that makes learning real and relevant to students. The following questions may help us to further our work. In the spirit of encouraging dialogue, a foundational component of AATC’s identity, we encourage you to share your thoughts and engage in discourse in the comments section:

  • What roles do teachers and students have taking different perspectives? How do these roles influence teaching and learning?
  • When considering an adopted curriculum, how can educators draw from the work of Davis to support student development that extends beyond knowledge acquisition to include deeper learning through personal construction of knowledge?
  • When considering unwritten or hidden curricula, how can educators draw from the work of Davis to use varied perspectives and empathy to develop holistic understanding of content?

Written by Dr. Corey Nagle

March 2019

March 15, 2019 marked 18 years since the release of Gloria Ladson-Billings’ seminal work “Crossing Over to Canaan: The Journey of New Teachers in Diverse Classrooms.” Continuing her work illustrated in this book, Dr. Ladson-Billings continues to explore pedagogy to meet teachers’ needs in addressing equity and social justice through the “Teach for Diversity” program at the University of Wisconsin. In 2014, Dr. Ladson-Billings discussed these ideas and more in her keynote address at the AATC Annual Conference.

While teachers may experience some preparation for multicultural classrooms, Ladson-Billings recognized potential improvements in teacher preparation to foster a more comprehensive pedagogy for culturally-responsive teaching. Driven by personal teaching experiences, Ladson-Billings explored teacher education that challenges and develops teachers for diverse classrooms. Culturally diverse learners continue to fill classrooms across the United States, thus maintaining the relevance of the work of Ladson-Billings. Teacher educators as well as in-service and pre-service teachers can be reminded of the importance of developing and supporting practices that are truly responsive to cultural diversity and ensure equitable and socially just learning opportunities for all students.

As we consider the work of Dr. Ladson-Billings, we can strive to continually meet the needs of teachers and students in diverse classrooms. The following questions may help us to further our work. In the spirit of encouraging dialogue, a foundational component of AATC’s identity, we encourage you to share your thoughts and engage in discourse in the comments section:

  • In what ways can we better prepare and support teachers in culturally diverse classrooms? What methods can we use to foster culturally responsive pedagogy?
  • How can we foster a philosophy inclusive of culturally responsive pedagogy that will ensure implementation in a variety of school settings? How will this philosophy build on or encompass issues of equity and social justice?
  • How can we use cultural diversity and related pedagogy to inform educational decisions for learners of various ages and levels?

Written by Dr. Corey Nagle

February 2019

Eleanor Duckworth’s “Tell Me More: Listening to Learners Explain” was released in February 2000. Drawing from the work of Jean Piaget and Bärbel Inhelder, Duckworth has conducted teacher education, curriculum development, and program evaluations across the globe. Dr. Duckworth delivered a keynote address at the 2003 AATC Annual Conference.

As a student of Piaget, Duckworth recognized the impacts of students’ prior learning experiences and knowledge. Teachers can challenge students to explore and expand their thinking through appropriately planned learning opportunities. In “Tell Me More: Listening to Learners Explain,” Duckworth and her colleagues explore how students of all ages connect and engage in learning. Through the work of Duckworth, educators can be reminded of the importance of listening to student explanations and using student voice to develop learning opportunities that move from questions to deeper learning and answers.

As we consider the work of Dr. Duckworth, we can strive to continue to develop and use curricula that allow students to have a voice that leads to meaningful and engaging learning experiences. The following questions may help us to further our work. In the spirit of encouraging dialogue, a foundational component of AATC’s identity, we encourage you to share your thoughts and engage in discourse in the comments section:

  • What methods can we use to aid in listening to learners explain? How can we use what we learn from listening to students to develop improved learning opportunities?
  • How can we use student explanations to inform educational decisions? How can Duckworth’s ideas be applied to learners of various ages and levels?

January 2019

January 2019 marks the 30th anniversary of the release of “Teaching Thinking Through Effective Questioning” by AATC founding member and 1995 AATC Annual Conference keynote speaker Francis P. Hunkins. Dr. Hunkins is a longstanding advocate of curriculum and its role in teaching and learning, including the value of questions to drive instruction. As educators prepare to teach students of all ages, it is important to consider effective questions and the decisions that allow for the development of thinking skills.

The role of the educator includes planning for, use, and assessment of questions that can spur thinking. Educators can identify types of thinking aligned with concepts being taught to aid in the development of relevant, effective questions. From teacher planning and instruction, experiences can allow students to gain the skills necessary for asking and assessing their own questions. These student-developed questions coupled with appropriate scaffolds can drive student learning and thinking. As students expand their learning beyond the classroom, effective questions and related thinking skills can be a valuable tool in the application of their learning.

As we consider the work of Dr. Hunkins, we can strive to continue to develop and use curricula that encourage effective questioning and critical thinking. The following questions may help us to further our work. In the spirit of encouraging dialogue, a foundational component of AATC’s identity, we encourage you to share your thoughts and engage in discourse in the comments section:

  • What roles do teachers and students have in questioning and thinking? How do these roles complement each other?
  • When considering an adopted curriculum, how can educators draw from the work of Hunkins to support student development of questions that can drive learning?
  • When considering unwritten or hidden curricula, how can educators draw from the work of Hunkins to use questioning that develops critical thinking skills?

Written by Dr. Corey Nagle