Archive for August, 2011

Time to Call It a Night

Posted August 31, 2011 By Dave Thomer

Celebrated the last day of my summer vacation by taking a trip with the family to Sesame Place. A couple of dunks later, I’m pretty much wiped out. I am looking forward to starting a new school year tomorrow. I’m hoping that the planning and research I did over the summer will help my students […]

Academic Voice

Posted August 30, 2011 By Dave Thomer

I’ve hit a bit of writer’s block today. I have ideas for stories I want to write, but I’m lacking the energy to develop them to the point that they make sense. It makes me think of an expression I know I’ve used before, but I don’t remember who to give credit. I don’t always […]

It’s Not the Tool, It’s the Craftsman

Posted August 29, 2011 By Dave Thomer

I am on an email discussion list for one of the universities where I have been an adjunct. There’s currently a discussion about the need for paper syllabi in an era where most of these documents get posted on a course management system and many students tend to discard or even ignore paper documents. One […]

What Is Critical Thinking?

Posted August 28, 2011 By Dave Thomer

When people ask about the advantages of studying philosophy, one of the things you often hear is that the discipline helps promote “critical thinking.” We hear a lot about how it’s important for schools to help develop students’ critical thinking skills. But the precise nature of those skills is a little vague. What do we […]

Vision Statement for a New School Year

Posted August 27, 2011 By Dave Thomer

So yesterday I talked about why I dislike most current merit pay proposals for teachers. In short, I don’t think that these systems, which advocates say are meant to reward and retain good teachers, properly identify good teachers. I don’t think I gave a full picture of what we would see when we look at […]

Finding the Merits

Posted August 26, 2011 By Dave Thomer

One frequent proposal for “reforming” education is the idea of “merit pay” for teachers. Traditionally, teacher salaries have been determined by seniority and educaton level. To some people, this is a silly way to set someone’s salary. If Bob’s doing a better job of teaching than I am, why should I make more money than […]

Feeling the Pain

Posted August 25, 2011 By Dave Thomer

Yesterday I wrote about the way that lack of respect can affect the way that teachers do their jobs, and at the end I mentioned that this sense of disrespect isn’t just felt by teachers. I was thinking about the reaction within parts of the community to Arlene Ackerman’s decision to step down. A meeting […]

Lack of Respect One Fuel for Cheating Scandals

Posted August 24, 2011 By Dave Thomer

One of the things that has damaged the School District of Philadelphia recently is an investigation into possible cheating on standardized tests at many schools. Philadelphia is far from alone in this problem. A Daily Kos post describes the ongoing controversy about former Washington, D.C. school chancellor Michelle Rhee. But I’m obviously following the story […]

Your Mission Statement, Should You Choose to Accept It

Posted August 23, 2011 By Dave Thomer

One thing that I am hoping will happen as the School District of Philadelphia transitions to leadership is that we re-examine and rewrite the district’s mission statement. You see it everywhere, posted in school buildings and on our website. Children come first. Parents are our partners. Victory is in the classroom and facilitated by a […]

Can the Wisdom of the Crowd Pick a Good School Board?

Posted August 22, 2011 By Dave Thomer

Today, after months of speculation, Philadelphia’s School Reform Commission announced that Superintendent Arlene Ackerman would step down. Ackerman has been under fire for close to a year over a number of issues. Far from the least of those issues was a budget deficit for the upcoming school year of over $600 million. That deficit resulted […]