Bob Corbett email@example.com
The formal study of education in the universities tends to emphasize formal school-based education and to be reformist. When I say it is reformist I mean that virtually no one holds the view that the educational establishment is just fine the way it is. Rather, serious faults are found and the argument is that some reforms, often even serious reforms, are needed. However, what is generally accepted without question is the that the basic notion of the educational establishment is acceptable. Further, it is generally accepted that credentialed learning with age-segregated schools and state-enforced mandatory attendance to the age of at least 16, is an accepted fundamental structure for the educational institutions of our society.
This course will not make these assumptions about the acceptability of the fundamental social structures of the educational establishment. We will look at and investigate some of the root and fundamental assumptions and look at thinkers who are critical of these assumptions.
All of this will be done within the frame of a fundamental moral question: what responsibility (if any) do adults have when they interfere in the lives of the young by forcing or pressuring them into school. There are questions of the responsibility of the citizens for school laws of the society which impact the young. Responsibility of teachers and administrators for the way the run these establishments and treat the students. There are questions of responsibility for parents for these school-related ways in which they relate to their own children. Do we have obligations and if so what are they? To what extend do we behave in morally rational and defensible manners within the existing social structures of the schools.
What this course will NOT do is examine the questions of reformism within the current school structures. I think this is done more than adequately in the overwhelming bulk of courses offered on education within the university system. This course attempts to look at more fundamental positions and with an emphasis of those thinkers who are relatively hostile to the establishment, but from a very radical frame of reference, not from the reformist standpoint.
We will read from thinkers such as Ivan Illich, Paulo Freire, Philippe Aries, whose CENTURIES OF CHILDHOOD denies the "naturalness" of childhood as a stage of human development and will then read a more contemporary systematic account of the radical and near-radical stances in Ron Miller's WHAT ARE SCHOOLS FOR?
The entire course will be run on-line, 100%. We will never meet face to face. I have a 16 week curriculum where I will assign a certain amount of work for each unit. You will have a great deal of latitude as to when you turn in work during each unit, but each unit will require you to read a certain body of material, and to write a certain number of e-mails on specific assignments and replies to both the teacher and other students. All of your writings will be posted by e-mail to the entire class (unless in specific cases for good cause you ask that this not be done) and some of the student writings will be posted on the course web-site for anyone on-line to read. There will be no general test or papers, but you will be expected (required if you prefer blunt talk) to write a good deal in e-mails during the course of the semester, at least 3 or 4 per week. These will be on the required readings for the week and then responses to the writings of other students or the professor.
Specific assignments will be made each unit and normally posted on the Sunday which begins the unit's time.
I welcome your questions for more details, just e-mail me at: and I'll try to answer as quickly as I can. Bob Corbett firstname.lastname@example.org
Nov. 10, 1999
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Bob Corbett email@example.com