The New York Times Magazine published a special education issue last Sunday, with articles focusing on the unlikely sources that can give rise to one’s most formative educational experiences. Dominic Randloph, headmaster of New York’s Riverdale School, launches the idea of a character report card, to promote the kind of “grit” and “self-control” that help student push beyond their moments of failure. Clifford J. Levy looks back on the four years his three children spent in an unusual Russian school, immersed in a language and a pedagogy both totally foreign to them. There’s also a profile of a college reinventing itself from scratch, and a consideration of the less-frequently touted benefits of for-profit colleges.
How can we as teachers create the kind of formative experiences that shape our students’ lives? The Magazine asked some very important people about their most formative educational experience. Caterina Fake remembers the creative freedom she enjoyed in a 3-person class for gifted children so fondly and vividly that she decided to home-school her children. Lewis Lapham recalled a very different kind of intimate setting: a Cambridge don wryly and gently telling him he knew nothing at all. Pico Iyer shares his nostalgia for the kind of large classes Fake wanted to spare her children; the part-monastic, part-militaristic rigors of English boarding school, he says, taught him resilience, resolve and self-sufficiency.
What does it mean, then, to be a good mentor? Inside Higher Ed’s University of Venus column prods us all not to take our “information privilege” for granted. What have we accumulated knowledge and expertise for, if not to share it with others? There’s also a thoughtful post on the need for, and challenges of being, a feminist role model in the classroom. From the Chronicle: a reminder that to be a “caring” teacher means remaining alert to different stages of development and remembering that what is in the best interests of our students isn’t always what they want to hear, and a story about the success of an online mentoring program for at-risk science students.
This post was written by Odile Harter.