EDUC 417

School and Society

Spring 2010





(Updated 5/21/10)



Response Papers


Midterm Paper


Issue Project


Final Exam


Response Papers

For each of the first eight weeks of the semester, you will be expected to respond in writing to questions or a prompt which you will find here on the Assignments webpage. Your responses must be typed and approximately one page in length. The goal of these response papers is to help further your understanding of the ideas addressed in the readings and discussed in class. In some cases, you may be asked to produce a response paper that takes a form other than a written essay.

The prompt will for each week will be posted on this page by the Friday before class. Each week, you will bring your response paper to class and use it as a springboard for discussion and/or activities in class. To receive full credit (5 points) for the response paper, it must be typed and handed in on the day that it is due.


Weekly Assignments


Week 2 (Due February 10)

Briefly review each of Spring's three major purposes of public schooling. What does he mean when he refers to the political purposes, the social purposes, and the economic purposes of schooling? Then choose either the Wilder, the Plato, or the Peabody reading and explain what you think is the author's vision of the purposes of schooling. To what extent do you think the author's ideas coincide with Spring's? How do they differ?

Remember that your response should not be longer than one typed page.


Week 3 (Due February 17)

Choose Douglass, Dewey, or Whitehead and briefly explain what he considers to be the purposes of schooling. To what extent does his thinking resonate with Wood's vision of the purposes of schooling? In what ways (if any) do they resonate with your own beliefs about the purposes of schooling?


Week 4 (Due February 24)

To what extent do you feel that teachers are in control of what goes on in their classrooms? Use ideas or examples from Johnson, Raywid, Kornfeld, and/or Apple & Teitelbaum to support your response.


Week 5 (Due March 3)

1. Please come to class with one or more ideas for artifact (a particular movie, book, etc.) that you'd like to analyze for your midterm paper. You will be asked to hand in those ideas.

2. In lieu of a response paper, please complete the response form to the Anger Management chapter that you read for last week's class. Please do NOT put your name on the paper. When you turn it in, someone will check off your name on a class list to indicate that you have completed the evaluation. In case you can't find the response sheet passed out in class, here are the prompts and questions about the chapter:

Please complete the following phrases about the chapter Anger Management

I liked.....

I didn't like.....

The situations described in the chapter....

The way the chapter was written....

Please answer the following questions about Anger Management:

What did you learn about teaching from this chapter?

Are you planning to become a teacher?

If you answered yes to the previous question, did the chapter encourage your discourage you about becoming a teacher?   Please explain why or why not.

If you have anything more to say about the chapter, please do so below or on the back of this page.


Week 6 (Due March 10)

Now that you have done some reading about multicultural education, you can see that there is no single, definitive way to explain what is meant by that term. Based on what you have read and, if applicable, experienced in school, how would you explain the idea of multicultural education? What are its goals and purposes? What might be a rationale for implementing a multicultural curriculum in school? Do you feel that multicultural education should be a focus of educators? Why or why not?


Week 7 (Due March 17)

After reading the assigned selections for this week, write about your impressions regarding the notion of equality of opportunity in school. What is meant by the phrase "equality of opportunity"? How serious an issue is it in schools in this country? To what extent should schools seek to insure equality of opportunity for all students? How do you think schools should go about meeting this goal?


Week 8 (Due March 24)

With your Midterm Project due March 24, you have plenty to do for this class. No response paper is required.

As mentioned in class, if you have easy access to a laptop computer, please bring it to class on March 24.


Week 10 (Due April 14)

In lieu of a response paper, use the next couple weeks to get a good start on your Issue Project. Please write at least two questions about your Issue Project topic that you would like to explore. (Feel free, if you like, to write more than two questions.) Then find and look over at least four possible resources that could perhaps help you to find answers to the questions (and, no doubt, raise further questions). Write up the list and include a one- or two-sentence annotation for each resource.

Remember that you should try to use a variety of resourses: Internet, print, film, TV,video, music, fiction, nonfiction, etc.

(Of course, even without an assigned response paper, we still will be discussing this week's assigned readings in class--so I'm hoping that, as usual, you will make an effort to read them and come to class prepared to discuss them.)


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Midterm Paper


  • Students will demonstrate an understanding of several of the key issues in education today
  • Students will demonstrate a familiarity with the assigned readings
  • Students will demonstrate understandings of the connections between the real world of schools and the historical, philosophical, sociological, political, and economic perspectives of schooling in the readings
  • Students will convey their knowledge in a well-written essay


The Assignment

Choose some kind of "artifact" that reflects perspectives on issues addressed in this course. The artifact may be a movie or TV episode, a short story or book, a newspaper article or website, a sculpture or painting--just about anything that in some way indicates a view on American education. You will then write a 3-5 page paper that analyzes the artifact in light of at least three of the major issues addressed in the first half of the course: the purposes of schooling, the profession of teaching, the structures of schooling, multicultural education, and equality of opportunity.


What are some elements of a scholarly paper?

o Clear organization and logical progression of ideas. To accomplish this goal, you will probably need to create an outline before you begin writing

o Coherent, well-supported arguments. To accomplish this goal, you will need to refer to many readings to support your assertions

o Depth of exploration

o Evidence of a grasp of the course readings (you should feel free, of course, to also refer to readings from other courses; however, this is not required)

o Your voice. Use the references to support what you want to say and to make the arguments you want to make

o Good writing: good spelling, grammar, and mechanics; minimal use of passive voice


o Begin thinking about your paper as soon as you can. One way to do this is to choose the artifact soon and then begin collecting quotations from your readings that seem to support and illuminate the points you want to make about the artifact.

o Pay attention to the way, each week, the class examine artifacts in light of the major issues addressed in the course. These weekly activities are designed to help prepare you for writing the Midterm Paper. Be sure, also, to notice that each week's readings includes both descriptive readings (fiction and nonfiction like Angelou, Douglass, Johnson, Sizer, etc.) and more scholarly readings. As you read the assigned readings and write your Response Papers, take note of the ways that the events, situations, and ideas in the more descriptive readings (fiction and nonfiction like Angelou, Douglass, Johnson, Sizer, etc.) reflect some of the issues addressed in the more scholarly readings and in our class discussions about these issues. For example, how does Laura Ingalls Wilder's vision of the purpose of schooling compare to Spring's historical discussion of the purposes of schooling? Do Ms. Barrett's experiences as a teacher (in Up the Down Staircase) more closely resemble Raywid's description of a teacher's awesome power or Apple and Teitlebaum's notion of the deskilled teacher? And so on.

o Find an editor: a roomate, a friend, a spouse or significant other, somebody at the writing center, etc.

o Pay attention to the organization of your paper


  • make clear the main points about schooling that you will address in the paper
  • provide a "road map" of what's to come (all the headings on your outline), including goals of paper and what will be addressed in the paper

Main Body:

  • include a brief description of the artifact, your analysis (using the readings to support your assertions) of the artifact, and what you see as the implications and significance of your analysis
  • provide "signposts" (subheadings) which relate back to introduction
  • use good transitions between sections of the paper

Conclusion: tie everything together

Keep in mind Orwell's Six Rules for Writing

  • Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
  • Never use a long word where a short one will do.
  • If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
  • Never use the passive where you can use the active.
  • Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
  • Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

    (From "Politics and the English Language," in The Orwell Reader: Fiction, Essays, and Reportage. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1984.)


Checklist to use before you turn in the Midterm Paper


o Does the paper reflect significant exploration into the topic(s) addressed in the paper?

o Have you cited a wide range of EDUC 417 references, demonstrating a depth of understanding of the course readings, to support the argument presented?

o Are your assertions (key points) about the artifact clearly articulated and substantiated with references?

o Have you provided a strong rationale that makes clear the importance of the issue(s) your paper addresses? (So what?)



o Does the paper have a coherent, organized structure with a beginning (introduction), middle (main body), and end (conclusion)?

o Does the paper flow logically from idea to idea?

o Have you provided transitions that help the reader to understand your progression of ideas?



o Is the writing clear and easy to follow?

o Is the writing free of mechanical problems?

o Have you written primarily in an active voice?

o Does the writing reflect your voice?



o Do the citations consistently adhere to APA or some other accepted format?

o Is there the right number of citations? Are there too many? Too few? Have you cited where necessary? Are there neither too many nor too few direct quotations?

Midterm Paper Evaluation Criteria

Content (20 points):

  • Depth of exploration
  • Breadth of readings cited
  • Key points
  • So what?

Coherence (15 points):

  • Structure/Organization
  • Logical flow
  • Transitions

Writing (10 points):

  • Clarity
  • Mechanics
  • Active voice
  • Author's voice

Citations (15 points)

  • Consistent/correct format
  • Adequate number


Total points possible: 60  

Date Due: March 24, 2010

Please email your paper as a Microsoft Word attachment (doc, not docx) to

If you have any questions about the format of this assignment, or how to communicate your ideas, feel free to contact the instructor and ask for guidance.

If you are dissatisfied with the grade you receive on the Midterm Paper, you may resubmit a revised version. If you decide to resubmit the paper, you will need to email the following items to

  • original paper with instructor's comments and evaluation
  • revised paper
  • brief summary of the changes you made to the original paper

You may resubmit the paper any time until May 26


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Issue Project 

You will conduct an in-depth exploration of a particular issue associated with schools in the United States. You will examine this issue through the lenses of a variety of academic disciplines (i.e. historical, philosophical, political, sociological, anthropological, etc.), using a variety of resources.

You may choose to work alone or with a classmate.


The Finished Products

Your research will result in three products:

  • An annotated resource list
  • A 2-page paper that sumarizes the issue and states your stance on the issue
  • A 10-minute presentation to your classmates that gives the class an understanding about the issue



Step 1: As a class, we will develop a list of important issues related to education and schooling in the United States. From this list, you will choose three issues that you would be interested in exploring. (Here is the list that class has developed.)

Step 2 : The instructor will assign you one of the three issues that you have identified. (Here are the Issue Project topic assignments)

Step 3 : As soon as you have been assigned your topic, you will develop a preliminary plan of action. What do you already know about this issue? What aspects of your issue do each of you want to research? What will you do to learn the many facets of this issue? What resources are available?

Depending on the nature of your topic, you will need to use as wide a variety of resources as possible, such as:

Suggested Field Resources

  • Attend a school board meeting and/or interview a school board member
  • Attend a school site council meeting and/or interview a school site council member
  • Interview or survey administrators, teachers, parents, and students
  • Observe classrooms or other areas of a school while it is in session
  • Examine school artifacts: curriculum guides, report cards, handouts and forms, student projects, etc.

Suggested Print Resources

  • Scholarly journals
  • Mainstream newspapers and periodicals
  • Books: fiction and nonfiction

Suggested Electronic Resources

  • Websites
  • Videos and/or films
  • Audio tapes

Step 4 : Over the first couple of weeks that you are conducting your research, you will meet with others in class to share what you have learned, to ask one another questions, and, most likely, to make adjustments to your original research plans. The goal of these conversations will be to begin developing a plan of action for distilling what you are learning into a focused area of study

Step 5 : Once you have made your plan of action, you will be expected to work on your own outside of class to prepare your annotated resource list, 2-page paper, and presentation.

Step 6: You will be assigned a date for your presentation, either May 5, May 12, or May 19. Your resource list and paper will be due the same day that you make your presentation. Please do not bring hard copies to class. Instead, attach your annotated resource list and two-page paper as a Microsoft Word document (.doc, not .docx file) to

The goal of your presentation is to stimulate your classmates' interest and add to everyone's knowledge about your issue. Your presentation should convey, at a minimum, the importance of your issue, history and major controversies involving the issue, and your views and conclusions regarding this issue. There are no specific requirements about the the way your structure your presentation except to make it as interesting and thought-provoking as possible. You may choose to use visual aids (posters, etc.), technology (websites, PowerPoint, etc.), interactive activities (discussion, role-play, etc.), handouts, or non of the above. Please plan on leaving at least two minues to answer your classmates' questions


Issue Project Evaluation Criteria

Annotated Resource List

Field resources: How great an effort did you make to learn from field resources? How much time did you spend in the field? How many different types of field resources were used? How valuable was the information learned from this field research? To what extent did the field research contribute to your overall conclusions? To receive full credit, you must cite at least two field resources per group memberand provide a one-page description of each. (10 points)

Other resources:

How well does the resource list address the following criteria? (20 points)


  • Sources are thoughtfully chosen and address the primary focus
  • Sources represent more than one viewpoint
  • Bibliography includes a range of sources
  • Sources that are doubtful or lack credibility are not included--or if they are included, the reason for including them is adequately explained
  • Enough sources have been cited (minimum 10 per group member for full credit)


  • Annotations show that sources have been carefully read and understood
  • Summary of information is thorough and well-written; annotations are clear and concise
  • Annotations are of appropriate length (4-7 sentences each)
  • Evaluation of sources' perspectives, potential bias, or credibility is included if relevant

Citations and Format

  • The URLs for all websites are correct and accessible
  • Citations are all correctly formatted and in alphabetical order by author's last name
  • Bibliography has been proofread for grammatical and/or spelling errors
  • Bibliography is presented in a way that is clear and easy to read


Paper (two pages per group member)

How thorough and comprehensive is the summary? Does it adequately give a sense of the depth and breadth of the issue? How clearly does the paper articulate your opinions about this issue? (10 points)

Presentation (10 minutes per group member)

Content: How well does the presentation convey the depth, breadth, and complexity of the issue? How well does it communicate the importance of the issue, the history and major controversies involving the issue, some of the well-known people associated with the issue, and your views and conclusions regarding this issue? (10 points)

Organization/Preparation: How knowledgeable are you about your topic? How well organized and prepared are you? How much energy and enthusiasm are you radiating throughout the presentation? How smoothly does it go? How well do you manage the time constraints and other technical aspects of the presentation? (10 points)


Issue Project Presentation Dates: May 5, May 12, and May 19

Total points possible: 60  


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Final Exam

In this take-home exam, you will describe the ideal school or school system using information and ideas from readings, class discussions and activities, and Issue Presentations to support your assertions.

Revised Directions:

Please respond to item number 1 plus any five of the remaining items. For each answer, you must provide evidence wherever possible (using footnotes or some other citation method) to indicate the connection between your ideas and course readings and/or Issue Presentations. Please keep in mind that one of the goals of this exam is that you demonstrate the breadth and depth of your reading for this course. So in your responses try to cite a range of readings, not the same two or three over and over again. In your citations, you need only list the source (title and author of book or article, name of Issue Presentation, etc.); you need not provide a full bibliographic citation. There is no correct answer for any of these questions; you must, however, argue your case convincingly, using readings, information shared in class discussion, and information shared in Issue Presentations to support whatever stance you take. Please word process your responses submit them electronically, as an attachment using Microsoft Word, to Your exam is due Friday May 28, at 11:59 p.m.


Each answer will be evaluate using the following criteria:

Depth of understanding of the issue addressed
To what extent does the answer illuminate an understanding of the issue(s) it addresses? How well does the answer incorporate vocabulary and key concepts associated with this issue?

Grasp of course readings
How well-supported (with direct references to readings, class discussions, and Issue Presentations) are the assertions that you make? A good response will cite readings as well as information addressed in class.

Clarity and Organization
How well organized is the response? Can the reader easily grasp the logical progression of ideas?

To what extent is this answer written in complete sentences that are well organized, grammatically correct, and free of errors in grammar, spelling, and punctuation?

1. You must respond to this item. Imagine the perfect school or school system. Write a mission statement for this school/school system. This school/school system may be public or private, alternative or traditional, classroom-based or home-based. Included in this mission statement must be your vision of the purpose of schooling, the role of the teacher and student, and an explanation as to how your school/school system ensures equality of opportunity for all students. If this school is a Waldorf School, explain either in this question, or in question #2, or in question #3, how it meets Waldorf goals, curriculum requirements, and organizational structure. (Actually, mission statements are usually shorter than this, but, for the purpose of this class, it will need to be longer than the typical mission statement.) To receive full credit, you will need to cite at least eight different references.
Maximum 2 pages, 20 points

2. Describe curriculum in this school/school system. What theory or theories of curriculum and pedagogy serve as the foundations for your curriculum? What kinds of curricular experiences should the students have? To receive full credit, you will need to cite at least three different references. (This question is related not to an Issue Presentation, but to the two class sessions prior to the presentations.)
Maximum 1 page, 8 points

3. Describe the school's/school system's organizational structure. How are power and authority distributed among administration, faculty, parents, and students? What is your rationale for setting up the organizational structure in this way? To receive full credit, you will need to cite at least three different references.
Maximum 1 page, 8 points

4. How are students grouped within their classes, from class to class, and, if applicable, from school to school? To what extent are you grouping students in some intentional way (ability, interest, etc.). What is your rationale for organizing students in this way? To what extent do you consider tracking a useful way to group students? To receive full credit, you will need to cite at least three different references.
Maximum 1 page, 8 points

5. This school/school system has many students whose native language is not English and who are still learning how to communicate in English. Describe how you plan to address the language needs of these students. To receive full credit, you will need to cite at least three different references.
Maximum 1 page, 8 points

6. How will you deal with--and provide funding for--students who have special needs? Describe your philosophy for working with these students, and how you plan to make your philosophy become a reality. To receive full credit, you will need to cite at least three different references.
Maximum 1 page, 8 points

7. If your school/school system is public, you must implement the requirements outlined in No Child Left Behind. Discuss how your school/school system will comply with regulations associated with this law at the same time as remaining true to your ideals as outlined your mission statement. To receive full credit, you will need to cite at least three different references.
Maximum 1 page, 8 points

8. Discuss your views about Race to the Top. Will your school/school system be competing for Race to the Top funding? Why or why not?To receive full credit, you will need to cite at least three different references.
Maximum 1 page, 8 points

9. Explain your plans for evaluating teachers. Why do you consider it necessary to evaluate teachers? How will you evaluate the teachers? What will you be looking for when you evaluate them? To receive full credit, you will need to cite at least three different references.
Maximum 1 page, 8 points

10. Will your teachers be unionized? Why or why not? What are the benefits and/or drawbacks to having teachers belong to a union? To receive full credit, you will need to cite at least three different references.
Maximum 1 page, 8 points

11. Describe the approach to discipline that the school and individual teachers will take. Explain your reasons for adopting this approach. To receive full credit, you will need to cite at least three different references.
Maximum 1 page, 8 points

12. What is your school doing to minimize the number of dropouts? What do you consider the major causes of students' dropping out, and what are you doing to prevent this problem? To receive full credit, you will need to cite at least three different references.
Maximum 1 page, 8 points

13. If your school/school system is public, discuss funding issues that you must face. Where does the money come from? How will it be distributed in your school? How you plan to fund the programs that you consider most important? To receive full credit, you will need to cite at least three different references.
Maximum 1 page, 8 points

14. Describe your school's/school system's math curriculum. How do you intend to teach mathematics in this school. Explain your reasons for teaching math this way. To receive full credit, you will need to cite at least three different references.
Maximum 1 page, 8 points

15. To what extent will technology be infused in this school/school system? How (if at all) will teachers and students use technology? Be sure to explain your reasons for using and/or not using technology to support students, curriculum, communications, etc. To receive full credit, you will need to cite at least three different references.
Maximum 1 page, 8 points

16. Provide a rationale that explains why you chose to make your school/school system public or private. Why do you consider one type of school superior to the other? To receive full credit, you will need to cite at least three different references.
Maximum 1 page, 8 points

17. If your school/school system includes sex education, describe the curriculum that you have adoped. Which model, if any, do you plan to use? Included in this description should be your rationale. Why have you chosen to implement this particular curriculum? o receive full credit, you will need to cite at least three different references.
Maximum 1 page, 8 points


Date Due: Friday, May 28, 2010



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