In this episode we'll consider neurodiversity, a term signifying the amazing range of human brains, minds, and abilities -- abilities that are not always accommodated in schools. We'll hear from Peter Smagorinsky, a distinguished Education professor at the University of Georgia, and Nick Walker, an educator, activist, and speaker. Smagorinsky and Walker are autistic men who share stories about their own experiences in schools and suggest ways that schools might better accommodate the talents and challenges of the neruodivergent.
Are our current abilities a reflection of our native talent or just what we have learned so far? In this episode we consider growth mindset, a term coined by Carol Dweck, a Stanford professor, that refers to a "self-belief" that our most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work since our brains and talent are just the starting point. Cultivating a growth mindset can hugely impact our confidence and our behavior -- specifically, our willingness to persevere and our openness to new strategies. We'll talk to classroom teacher Charles Logan, PhD candidate Chris Seals, and Penn professor Kyla Haimovitz to explore these issues in theory -- and practice.
In this episode we consider the national teacher shortage. According to the Learning Policy Institute, "annual teacher shortages could increase to over 100,000 by next year and remain close to that level thereafter." We'll hear from Michigan State professor Alyssa Dunn who has studied the teacher exodus and the curious phenomenon of teacher resignation letters going viral. We'll also hear from Harper's magazine writer Garret Keizer, author of Getting Schooled: The Re-education of an American teacher.
According to Frank McCourt (Teacher Man), teachers are always wearing a "mask," a professional persona in the classroom. And sure, teaching is always, to some extent, a performance, but when can -- or should -- teachers be "themselves" in the classroom? How do teachers' lives outside of school affect their roles with students and with fellow teachers? In this episode, we'll consider the tension between the public and the private lives of teachers. We'll hear from Jim Cullen, the author of The Secret Lives of Teachers (University of Chicago Press) and comedian Cate Freedman, whose TV show Teachers finds comedy in the intersection between the personal and professional lives of teachers.
Should politics be present in the classroom? "Everything in the classroom is already political," according to our first guest, Bill Ayers, a longtime education professor and activist. We'll also hear from Jashen Edwards, a music educator currently working in Chicago-area schools. Edwards tried to teach the hymn and civil rights anthem, Amazing Grace, with a classroom of young students only to be told it was "too political."
Episode 1: A Lesson on Kindness. Classroom teacher and writer Tamara Jaffe-Notier tells a story about her experience teaching the poem Kindness by Naomi Shihab Nye. In the process, Tamara shares a story with her students that she had never told anyone else. Then we hear from the poet Naomi Shihab Nye who responds to that story and explains how she came to write that poem.