Balancing Assimilation and Autonomy

Friday, May 30, 2008

Is it the job of public schools to foster one common identity or to accommodate distinct group identities? Martha Minow, professor of law at the graduate school of education at Harvard and the co-editor of Just Schools: Pursuing Equality in Societies of Difference (Russell Sage Foundation Publications, 2008), and Gillian Smith, principal of the Facing History School in New York City, discuss which approach better serves the students and society at large.

There is an upcoming conference celebrating the publication of Just Schools with educators and contributors to the book.
Location: New York University's Kimmel Center, 60 Washington Sq. South, E&L Auditorium, 4th Floor.
Time: June 2, Registration begins at 10:30am; introductions begin at 11:00am. Lunch will be provided and the day ends at 4:30pm.


Martha Minow and Gillian Smith

Comments [10]

laiah raphael from greenwich CT

Sorry for a few incorrect words and grammatical usage. I think you get my drift! Laiah Raphael

Jun. 06 2008 05:31 PM
laiah raphael from greenwich CT

Your analysis this morning of why Hillary Clinton lost are one big rationalization!! You must take responsibility for the negativity about Hillary for the past 5 months. It is the media's persistent hammering and deriding her and exerting undue influence on the public that is responsible. also the fact that the men in this nation cannot bear to have a woman at the head of state. I thought the media is supposed to be neutral. all of you were anything but neutral. You gave Obama a free ride, not questioning even the most egregious information, for example, that he listened to his Pastor for over 20 years spew hate of America. If that had been a rabbi he would have been thrown out of the sysagogue in five minutes. And Michelle, who lived in America for most of her life (I guess) and just now because proud of being an American. These things are examples of character. They are not to be waved off lightly. I hope you are not sorry that you have manipulated the public. I hope someone there reads this. Laiah Raphael

Jun. 06 2008 05:27 PM
Eric from NYC

With SO MANY countries,cultures,religions,languages, etc present in our schools the children must be taught a common identity!
E Pluribus Unum! From Many One.

May. 30 2008 01:32 PM
john from upper west side

all children come into the world with unique capabilities and abilities. Each learner uses these unique charistics to learn.This is a complex issue. Race and culture are real issues but they are not the primary issue in learning. Many years ago there were two possible paths for all high school students, accademic and vocational.

The emphais is on race and background are relevelent in true learning. If basic concepts in objective knowledge like geopraphy, development of psychomotor controls are sacrificed for emphaisis on building self esteme with socilally informed material subjectivity replaces objectivity with opinion and critical thinking cannot be learned..

I took Howard Gardners course in Multipliple Intelligencies. Applying this concept and teaching to it requires great skill and perception or it is just a nice way of embracing cooperative learning. Most teachers are not equiped to teach this way. I took 7 and one half graduate credits in multiple intellegences and it comes in very handy in working with students on a college level that have multiple sclorsis, and other marginal handicaps that must be confronted in teaching and learning.

May. 30 2008 11:07 AM
Dorothy from Brooklyn

While schools should be sensitive to cultural and religious differences, I don't think it benefits anyone to bend over backwards to accommodate every little difference. It's impossible. In my classroom, I can have students who might refuse to read a certain novel based on religious objections, and I might have a student who refuses to sit next to someone of a different gender because of "contamination." How far do we go?

And I do not believe that learning materials have to be overtly connected to a student's own culture for him/her to learn from it/enjoy it. When teaching _Pride and Prejudice_, the kids who enjoyed it most were those who "got" that it was about judgment and ego and making decisions based on circumstance. Rarely do I have kids of English descent, or even native English speakers in my classes. Yet, the LOVE the novel.

May. 30 2008 11:03 AM
Richard Williams from Larchmont, NY

Does this Principal need a concert band director at her school? I am available.

May. 30 2008 10:54 AM
Tricia from Midtown

Yes, thanks, Robert and the guests for their wisdom! I wish my parents had known these concepts when I was born... They would've raised me more bi-lingually and bi-culturally, like they ended up doing with my younger brothers. That was when my parents realized the value of passing on such heritage even when we lived in the States.

May. 30 2008 10:53 AM
Robert from NYC

Very true Tricia, I agree, both are important. But I think the problem isn't with the kids so much as with the parents who need to be educated as well. All should be respected for their cultural and social traditions and welcome into and taught the new cultural and social traditions of their new homes.

May. 30 2008 10:50 AM
Tricia from Midtown

PS - My parents and teachers also taught me the different behavior and language allowed in different groups, and to understand and respect different groups. We all have to behave and talk differently when with family, when in a library, when in class, when defending ourselves in school hallways, when playing a sports match, when on the playground with friends... This prepares us for working in society, where we can't curse, behave, and talk the same way at a job as we do on the front stoop.

May. 30 2008 10:18 AM
Tricia from Midtown

"Are students better off when educators focus on honoring differences or fostering a common identity?"


Come on!
Why do we keep thinking in either-or scenarios and conflicts? We're all members of multiple groups at multiple levels, from the personal to the global. It helped my self-identity and self-esteem to understand ALL of the groups I was born into as well as those I chose.

May. 30 2008 10:00 AM

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