Year 2001 Monograph Series
Kevin D. Vinson, Rich Gibson, E. Wayne Ross
The recent movement toward high-stakes standardized
testing as a means of school reform has captured the support of many local,
state, and national educational “leaders,” including former President Clinton
and President George Bush, members of Congress, and a majority of Governors,
State Legislatures, and Boards of Education. What most clearly defines
these groups and individuals is their pursuit of mandated content and testing
regimes as a simplistic cure-all—an absolute panacea—to the variously perceived
ills that “threaten” the fundamental “effectiveness” of contemporary American
public education. And yet, as can be demonstrated, a great deal is
known about the implicit and explicit weaknesses and dangers of such efforts.
Against this perspective, the focus of our work here is fourfold. First, by drawing on the work of John Dewey (see, especially, 1902/1956, 1916/1966), we argue that testing, especially high-stakes, man-dated, standardized testing, represents little more than poor, and absurdly disconnected and uninspired, pedagogy. Instead of consider-ing those conditions that we know contribute to ineffectual and unjust schooling—inequity in funding, lack of teacher planning time, large class sizes, a focus on facts over meaning—it seeks to lay blame on teachers and students, to reward policy leaders for “action,” and to redefine learning as scoring well on externally produced and graded evaluations. Second, by aiming to standardize and normalize knowledge such tests work to promote conformity and oppression, claiming as they and their advocates do that “legitimate” and “real” learning necessarily “shows up” in the scores. Unquestionably such thinking denies and/or ignores key differences in meaningful and experiential knowledge as well as in access to formalized academic and economic resources. Third, we argue that the current “liberal-conservative alliance” in favor of such test-ing ultimately works against vigorous struggles for profound and substantive school change, both politically and pedagogically. We do, however, take seriously and support the often courageous work of teachers, students, parents, and others involved in vari-ous grassroots undertakings (such as those in Michigan, Illinois, California, and New York, some of our country's largest school systems) as critical to the countermovement away from the eco-nomics of standards and toward the democratic tasks of justice, equality, fairness, and anti-op-pression. Fourth, we challenge the extent to which testing meets the needs of all students, particularly those who speak English as a second language and those existing in traditionally marginalized settings.
In sum, high-stakes standard-ized tests and test scores undermine high-quality education, genuine student/teacher motivation, and the benefits of diversity and inclusion. They simplify schooling to the point that it becomes nothing more than a capitalistic and competitive chase for acceptable numbers, a dedicated means by which to exclude, to rank, and to sort the less powerful. Within such a system schooling itself, becomes little more than an alienating and undemocratic threat to educational authenticity.
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High Stakes Testing and Standardization article continuation...
|From the Director:
Since 1983 and the publication of A Nation At Risk, the United States has been involved in a wave of school reform that is currently focused on the establishment of rigorous standards of learning, increasingly accompanied by high stakes testing. Unlike testing that is used to assess what students know and to help shape instruction, “high stakes” tests are tests with significant consequences—for students, teachers, families, and schools. High stakes tests are used to determine whether a child passes from one grade to another or whether they graduate from high school, to rank and compare schools and districts, to determine resource allocation (incredibly, this can sometimes mean taking resources away from schools most in need!), and increasingly, to assess teacher performance. Conventional wisdom says that schools need to be accountable, and that such tests are the most efficient, fair, and objective ways of assuring accountability.
In line with the pragmatic thinking of John Dewey and other progressives, we believe that it is important to examine both the intended and unintended consequences of any testing policy. Our headline article in this monograph is intended to challenge conventional wisdom about high stakes testing, and provoke us to think more deeply and critically about such issues as: Whose interests are represented by the trend towards high stakes tests? (Hint: Visit the web site of the Business Roundtable at http://www.brtable.org to see what corporate leaders think about the issue.) Who benefits and who loses from the testing regime? Who decides what will be tested? What are the effects on our democratic way of life from this educational practice? These and other questions are taken up in the monograph by Kevin Vinson, Rich Gibson, and E. Wayne Ross. We hope you find it thought provoking, stimulating, and worthy of use in your school district as a discussion piece.
For many years, Vermont has been known as a leader in the authentic assessment movement. Our pioneering work in portfolio assessment demonstrated that assessment could be student-friendly, used to improve instruction, and respond to the healthy diversity and local differences that have characterized Vermont schools. Yet currently, Vermont teachers and school administrators find themselves under increasing pressures to “teach to the test”, which is, from many accounts, having an adverse effect on the improvement of learning.
We hope that this contribution to the public debate encourages educators, school administrators, and policy makers to take a critical look at testing schemes, and to ask what we believe are the most important questions: Does this policy result in genuinely improved student learning? Does it foster understanding and the making of meaning? Does it improve the quality of life in educational institutions for teachers and students? Does it foster equity, justice, and social responsibility? Does it help develop a citizenry with the capacity to act compassionately, think critically, and assess the worth of knowledge? Authentic answers to questions such as these are where genuine accountability lies in a democratic society.
Kathleen Kesson, Director JDPPE
High Stakes Testing and Standardization Cont.
Pedagogy and Pedagogy
From the side of the child, it [was] a question of seeing how his [or her] experience already contains within itself elements—facts and truths—of just the same sort as those entering into the formulated study; and, what is more important, of how it contains within itself the attitudes, the motives, and the interests which have operated in developing and organizing the subject-matter to the plane which it now occupies. From the side of the studies, it is a question of interpreting them as outgrowths of forces operating in the child's life, and of discovering the steps that intervene between the child's present experience and their richer maturity. (p. 11)As he continued:
Abandon the notion of subject-matter as something fixed and ready-made in itself, outside the child's experience; cease thinking of the child's experience as also something hard and fast; see it as something fluent, embryonic, vital; and we realize that the child and the curriculum are simply two limits which define a single process [italics added]. Just as two points define a straight line, so the present standpoint of the child and the facts and truths of studies define instruction. It is continuous reconstruction, moving from the child's present experience out into that represented by the organized bodies of truth that we call studies. (p. 11)I n terms of standardized testing, what Dewey's understanding implies are at least three significant points. First, it suggests an instructional state of affairs in which all important knowledge—even so-called “academic” or “disciplinary” knowledge—grows out of the multiple and experienced lives of the learners themselves. Second, it indicates an instruction that is fluid and dynamic, one in which neither the perceived and actualized experiences of the child nor the subject matter itself is constant or set in stone, that is “fixed and ready-made.” Third, it maintains and asserts a certain and clear connectedness, one inherent in the act of instruction, that represents the motion and instability of the learner’s association with a given mode of content. In sum, it challenges the extent to which content can be predetermined, objectified, established as permanent, legitimately cut-off from experience, and measured or moderated externally. And yet, these indeed are the conditions that at least partially describe the present commitment to standardized and high-stakes testing.
It has to undergo some modification in order to shut out some phases too hard to grasp, and to reduce some of the attendant difficulties. What happens? Those things which are most significant to the scientific man [sic], and most valuable in the logic of actual inquiry and classification, drop out. The really thought-provoking character is obscured, and the organizing function disappears….[content] is presented as stuff only for “memory.” This is the contradiction: the child gets the advantage neither of the adult logical formulation, nor of his [or her] own native competencies of apprehension and response. (p. 26)In effect, subject matter, in order to meet such demands as those presented by standardized testing—for example, “efficiency,” “effectiveness,” “objectivity,” “validity,” “reliability”—becomes hypersimplified. Subject matter becomes denatured to the point that it exists only as a collection of mere facts or rote ideas useful only for mechanized storage and retrieval. It becomes information that remains unproblematic and unproblematized, unassailable and unassailed; it becomes virtual data set to portray and symbolize an absolute Truth.
The legitimate way out is to transform the material; to psychologize it—that is, once more, to take it and to develop it within the range and scope of the child's life. But it is easier and simpler to leave it as it is, and then by trick of method to arouse interest, to make it interesting; to cover it with sugar-coating; to conceal its barrenness by intermediate and unrelated material; and finally, as it were, to get the child to swallow and digest the unpalatable morsel while he is enjoying tasting something quite different. (p. 30)But in terms of high-stakes standardized testing, what does all this mean? Of what relevance is a concept such as psychologization? Dewey’s assertion was that educators first must realize that subject matter itself be abstracted fundamentally from the experiences of the child. It must, moreover, be re-internalized and not left hanging lifelessly before the learner as a disconnected and externally created intelligence. It must not be forced on students as something inherently worthwhile, regardless of its meaning. In the case of standardized testing, though, the opposite condition occurs. Content is selected with indifference to the multitude of learner experiences. It is, further, produced externally, in an identical way for everyone (dismissing, therefore, the potential importance of diversity of experiences). Meaning indeed is irrelevant, and understanding unimportant. “Acquire the content for its own sake, and reproduce it on command,” that is the “secret” message of mandated testing. Induce “achievement” by deceiving students (and parents and teachers?) into accepting the essential gravity and false attractiveness of the subject matter. Or, better yet, convince the public that meaning and motivation don't matter.
The two elements in our criterion both point to democracy. The first signifies not only more numerous and more varied points of shared common interest, but greater reliance upon the recognition of mutual interests as a factor in social control. The second means not only freer interaction between social groups (once isolated so far as intention could keep up a separation) but change in social habit—its continuous readjustment through meeting the new situations produced by varied intercourse. And these two traits are precisely what characterize the democratically constituted society. (pp. 86-87)And, most critically (here, Dewey is worth quoting at length):
Upon the educational side, we note first that the realization of a form of social life in which interests are mutually interpenetrating, and where progress, or readjustment, is an important consideration, makes a democratic community more interested than other communities have cause to be in deliberate and systematic education. The devotion of democracy to education is a familiar fact. The superficial explanation is that a government resting upon popular suffrage cannot be successful unless those who elect and who obey their governors are educated. Since a democratic society repudiates the principle of external authority, it must find a substitute in voluntary disposition and interest; these can be created only by education. But there is a deeper explanation. A democracy is more than a form of government; it is primarily a mode of associated living, of conjoint communicated experience [italics added]. The extension in space of the number of individuals who participate in an interest so that each has to refer his [or her] own action to that of others, and to consider the action of others to give point and direction to his [or her] own, is equivalent to the breaking down of those barriers of class, race, and national territory which kept men [sic] from perceiving the full import of their activity. These more numerous and more varied points of contact denote a greater diversity of stimuli to which an individual has to respond; they consequently put a premium on variation in his [or her] action [italics added]. They secure a liberation of powers which remain suppressed as long as incitations to action are partial, as they must be in a group which in its exclusiveness shuts out many interests. (p. 87)With respect to mandated standardized testing, Dewey’s understandings yield several critical insights. Whereas Dewey’s democracy called for “more numerous and more varied points of shared common interest,” mandated standardized testing in fact reduces and limits them, creating a system of “interests” organized around exclusion and not inclusion. Our potentially real, shared interests become artificial, determined by powerful and peripheral forces, with "their" interests established as “our” interests. What counts as shared and mutual extends no farther than that which is consistent with, or deemed proper with the context of, the normalized and dominant content.
I do know this: the issue of standardized testing is not reserved for bureaucrats and specialists. All of us with children need to make it our business to understand just how much harm these tests are doing. They are not an inevitable part of “life” or even a necessary part of school; they are a relatively recent invention that gets in the way of our kids’ learning. Their impact is deep, direct, and personal. Every time we judge a school on the basis of a standardized test score—indeed, every time we permit our children to participate in these mass testing programs—we unwittingly help to make our schools just a little bit worse (p. 73).
turns [students] into “containers,” into “receptacles” to be “filled” by the teacher…. The more completely [the teacher] fills the receptacles, the better a teacher she [or he] is. The more meekly the receptacles permit themselves to be filled, the better students they are …. Education [thus] becomes an act of depositing, in which the students are the depositories and the teacher is the depositor… the scope of action allowed to the students extends only as far as receiving, filing, and storing the deposits (p. 53).Moreover, Freire (1970) identified such banking approaches with the fundamental conditions of oppression. As he wrote:
One of the basic elements of the relationship between oppressor and oppressed is prescription. Every prescription represents the imposition of one individual's choice upon another, transforming the consciousness of the person prescribed to into one that conforms with the prescriber’s consciousness. Thus, the behavior of the oppressed is a prescribed behavior, following as it does the guidelines of the oppressor (pp. 28-29).Freire’s (1970) critique applies neatly to the climate and functionality of current standardization-based pedagogies. With respect to banking, under such programs students and teachers are held “accountable” only to the extent that they conform to the dictates of high-stakes mandated tests, which, in turn, work to drive (if not outright determine) classroom behavior relative to aim or purpose, content, and teaching method (e.g., Hartocollis, 1999; Libit, 1999a; Steinberg, 1999).
traditional [grounding] in the exercise of tyranny by a ruling group [so as to include also its] new left… designat[ion of] the disadvantage and injustice some people suffer not because a tyrannical power intends to keep them down, but because of the everyday practices of a well-intentioned liberal society…. [It] refers to systemic and structural phenomena that are not necessarily the result of the intentions of a tyrant [but are in fact] part of the basic fabric of a society, not a function of a few people's choices or policies…. Oppression refers to structural phenomena that immobilize or reduce a group…. To be in a… group is to share with others a way of life that defines a person's identity and by which other people identify him or her (pp. 175-177).For Young, oppression is more subtle, yet actually no less dangerous, than in the settings identified by Freire (1970). What is oppressive from this perspective is the everyday workings of “the system,” the structure of public education itself, which lies in the tendency of standards-based formats to develop or evolve a life of their own. Once in place, well-intentioned though it might be, works automatically, if not absolutely, to control the lives of the oppressed (e.g., groups such as teachers, students, and classroom communities), a state of affairs that yields a marginalization effect, a condition of injustice and disadvantage.
The simple fact [was] that the train was leaving the station. History standards were clearly on the country's agenda.... The matter boiled down to who would write them. Those who were at first reluctant about the wisdom of this enterprise soon decided that they might compromise their own best interests if they failed to join in. If the cards were being dealt, why would historians or social studies educators not want seats around the big table? (p. 158).All in all, the consensus pro-standards position is that:
National curriculum standards… [are] necessary for productive public school reform. They (liberals and conservatives) agree that today's students do not “know enough,” that they possess too little knowledge (whether defined as facts, skills, understandings, or something else), and that curriculum (and instruction and testing) standards can promote wider and deeper levels of achievement and performance. Further, they concur that without such a system of standards American students and their schools will continue to “lag behind” those of other industrialized countries. Liberals and conservatives each envision a (potentially voluntary) structure built upon proactive federal leadership and guidance (and perhaps funding) but under the ultimate control of states and communities. Lastly, both champion… standards as conducive to and consistent with the advancement of equal educational opportunity (Vinson, 1999, pp. 304-305).Of course, the pro-standards alliance has received a good bit of criticism, both from the political and pedagogical left and the political and pedagogical right. Among more radical educators such criticism has argued that by definition standardization systems are anti-democratic, oppressive, and disciplinary (e.g., Vinson, 1999). Yet significant criticism has come also from more mainstream and well known educators. As conservative standards supporter Diane Ravitch (1995) summarizes things, at least at the national level, these criticisms have included arguments such as:
What these viewpoints share are the understandings that opposition positions (1) represent the entire range of political and pedagogical perspectives (i.e., from the far Left to the far Right), (2) are at least somewhat legitimate and thus deserve to be taken seriously, and (3) can be addressed to their proponents' satisfaction. Both Ravitch and Gittell believe that these questions, doubts, and challenges can be worked out within the consensus framework. Neither indicates a real willingness to reconsider the essential position of…standards themselves (p. 306).What both supporters and critics agree on, is the “fundamental” need for a standards-based system of school reform in which high-stakes testing influences the construction of classroom content and teaching method. Within such a system, critique is limited only to curriculum and instruction such that the “inherent correctness” of evaluation schemes cannot be challenged (e.g., Hartocollis, 1999). Criticism focuses on teachers, students, and curriculum workers and what they are doing “wrong”. No thought is given to any possible weaknesses in the testing or to potential flaws in the design and implementation of policy. (But when things go well, however—when test scores rise—praise is heaped by politicians, policy makers, and the media on politicians, policy makers, and the media, for their “dedication” and “hard work”, for what they are doing “right.”)
He seemed to think the traditional approach to education, including a heavy diet of standardized testing, is for other people's children—and, as it turns out, particularly children of color. Even apart from charges that some standardized tests are biased against minorities because of the content, such tests—with all the implications for teaching they carry—are more likely to be used and emphasized in schools with higher percentages of minority students. The result is that even people who are understandably desperate to improve inner-city schools wind up making the problem worse when they cause reform efforts to be framed in terms of improving standardized test scores (p. 92).When utilized within increasingly racist, anti-immigrant, and nationally-chauvinistic settings, such conditions become even more terribly unjust, if not pathetically tragic (e.g., Ross, 1999b).
[First], it gets student motivation wrong. The emphasis on testing in schools promotes anxiety and a preoccupation with test scores that often undermines students' interest in learning and desire to be challenged.And yet, as Ross (1999a) continues, in a number of states and local school districts standardization regimes have been successfully challenged or turned back by the efforts of engaged and concerned parents, students, educators, and community activists. But how?
Second, tests drive curriculum and instruction in ways that harm children. Time spent on test preparation and administration cuts into time for teaching and learning; and children internalize judgments as if tests were the final arbiter of one's potential or worth. On the basis of test scores, children are denied access to learning opportunities through tracking, retained in grade, and may be denied a diploma, regardless of what they know or can do in authentic life situations.
Third, standardized tests demand more standardization of curriculum—tighter control of what goes on in the classroom by people who are not there. Standards and tests are designed to promote a particular and singular view of truth, knowledge, and learning.
The bottom-line is that high-stakes testing is not effective in increasing achievement and higher test scores do not necessarily mean better schools [italics added]. (p. 126)
1. State/national versus local control;Mathison’s critique, of course, applies and must be extended beyond simply a renunciation of “objective,” forced-response (e.g., multiple choice) test items, and as she implies, must be understood within the current contextual emphasis on “performance-based assessments” and the rather behavioristic effort on the part of many educational leaders to standardize those as well (see, for example, the standards-based reform/performance-based system established vis-à-vis the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program, or MSPAP).
2. Adding on versus reformulation;
3. Limited resources versus accomplishing the ideal;
4. Disciplines/activities versus goals/objectives;
5. Political versus technical solution[s] (p. 224).
Alleman, J., & Brophy, J. (1999). The changing nature and purpose of assessment in the social studies. Social Education, 63, 334-337.
Dewey, J. (1966). Democracy and education: An introduction to the philosophy of education. New York: Free Press. (Original work published 1916)
Dewey, J. (1956). The child and the curriculum/The school and society. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press. (Original works published 1902 & 1899)
FairTest/The National Center for Fair & Open Testing. (1999a). Federal standards for standardized tests. Examiner, 13(3), 1, 4-5.
FairTest/The National Center for Fair & Open Testing. (1999b). Students stop test misuse. Examiner, 13(3), 7.
Freire, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Continuum.
Gardner, H. (1983). Frames of mind: The theory of multiple intelligences. New York: Basic Books.
Gittell, M. (1998). National standards threaten local vitality. In A. Digby (Ed.), Perspectives: Education. Boulder, CO: Coursewise Publishing. (Reprinted from The Clearing House, 69, pp. 148-150, M. Gittell, 1996)
Hartocollis, A. (1999, November 6). Eighth graders fail 2 New York tests: Questions raised on quality of curriculum in the city. The New York Times, pp. A1, A14.
Hirsch, E. D., Jr. (1987). Cultural literacy: What every American needs to know. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Hirsch, E. D., Jr. (1996). The schools we need and why we don't have them. New York: Doubleday.
Johnson, J., & [with] Duffett, A. (1999). Standards and accountability: Where the public stands (A report from Public Agenda for the 1999 National Education Summit). New York: Public Agenda and Achieve, Inc. Available [on-line]: http://www.publicagenda.org.
Kohn, A. (1999). The schools our children deserve: Moving beyond traditional classrooms and “tougher standards.” Houghton Mifflin: Boston and New York.
Libit, H. (1999a, November 29). Schools’ failures riding on results of statewide tests. The Sun (Baltimore, MD), pp. 1A, 4A.
Libit, H. (1999b, December 2). After six years of gains, pupils hit wall on tests. The Sun (Baltimore, MD), pp. 1A, 18A.
Libit, H. (1999a, December 3). State tests still in favor. The Sun (Baltimore, MD), pp. 1A, 21A.
Mathison, S. (1997). Assessment in social studies: Moving toward authenticity. In E. W. Ross (Ed.), The social studies curriculum: Purposes, problems, and possibilities. Albany: SUNY Press.
Nash, G. B., Crabtree, C., & Dunn, R. E. (1997). History on trial: Culture wars and the teaching of the past. New York: Knopf.
Neill, M. (1999). Stop misusing tests to evaluate teachers. Social Education, 63, 330-332.
Peterson, M., Beloin, K., & Gibson, R. (1998). Whole schooling: Education for a democratic society. Available [on-line]: http://www.uwsp.edu/acad/educ/wholeschooling/eds/ index.htm.
Postman, N. (1995). The end of education: Redefining the value of school. New York: Vintage Books.
Ravitch, D. (1995). National standards in American education: A citizen’s guide. Washington, DC: Brookings.
Ravitch, D., & Finn, C. E., Jr. (1987). What do our 17-year-olds know? A report on the first national assessment of history and literature. New York: Harper & Row/Perennial Library.
Ross, E. W. (1999a). Resisting test mania. Theory and Research in Social Education, 27, 126-128.
Ross, E. W. (1999b). What is to be done in the aftermath of proposition 187? Theory and Research in Social Education, 27, 292-295.
Sizer, T. R. (1996). Horace’s hope: What works for the American high school. Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin/Mariner Books.
Steinberg, J. (1999, November 26). Teachers in Chicago schools follow script from day 001. The New York Times, pp. A1, A25.
Tucker, M. S., & Codding, J. B. (1998). Standards for our schools: How to set them, measure them, and reach them. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Vinson, K. D. (1999). National curriculum standards and social studies education: Dewey, Freire, Foucault, and the construction of a radical critique. Theory and Research in Social Education, 27, 296-328.
Vinson, K. D. (in press). Oppression, anti-oppression, and citizenship education. In E. W. Ross (Ed.), The social studies curriculum: Purposes, problems, and possibilities (2nd ed.). Albany: State University of New York Press.
Young, I. M. (1992). Five faces of oppression. In T. E. Wartenberg (Ed.), Rethinking power (pp. 174-195). Albany: State University of New York Press.
Kevin D. Vinson is Assistant Professor of Education and Coordinator of Graduate Programs in Curriculum and Instruction at Loyola College in Maryland. His scholarship focuses on social studies education and curriculum studies. His articles have appeared in Theory and Research in Social Education, The Social Studies, and Social Education.
Rich Gibson is an associate professor at San Diego State University. His field is international social studies education. He has published articles in a variety of journals including Theory and Research in Social Education, Cultural Logic, The Review of Education, Pedagogy, and Cultural Studies, and Race Traitor.
E. Wayne Ross is Associate Professor in the School of Education and Human Development at the State University of New York at Binghamton. He has written numerous articles on issues of curriculum and teacher education and
edited several books, including Democratic Social Education: Social Studies for Social Change (Falmer Press, 2000).
All three authors are member of the Rouge Forum, a group of educators, parents, students, and others working for a democratic society (http://www.pipeline.com/~rgibson/rouge_forum).
Good resources for learning more about testing:
News from the Dewey Project
Kathleen Kesson, Director of JDPPE, is on sabbatical from her position as Director of Teacher Education at Goddard College. She is spending the month of January in India and in England, where she is doing staff development with the international Krishnamurti Schools. When she returns, she will be working on a new book with Jim Henderson tentatively entitled Curriculum Wisdom: Educating for Democratic Intelligence. Kathleen has two book chapters coming out this spring. “On the Need for a New Theory of Experience” (with Donald Oliver) will appear in Curriculum Visions, by William Doll and Noel Gough (Peter Lang Press), and “Contemplative Spirituality, Currere, and Social Transformation: Finding our ‘Way’” will appear in Educational Yearning: Journey of the Spirit and Democratic Education, by Dennis Carlson and Tom Oldenski (SUNY Press).
Chris Koliba has just completed Year One of a multi-year research project on education, democracy and the relationship between schools and their communities. This research has been generously funded through a grant from the Josephine Bay Paul and C. Michael Paul Foundation, Inc. Look for a monograph this spring on the research results to date. Chris recently had an article published (with Kerryann O’Meara and Bob Siedel) in the NSEE Quarterly, entitled “Social Justice Principles for Experiential Learning.”
Gustavo Teran spent the winter break in Oaxaca, co-teaching a
University of Vermont course entitled “Political Ecologies of Globilization:
Cultural Autonomy and Alternative Education in Oaxaca, Mexico”. The field
based course examines the cultural politics of education and sustainable
development in indigenous and campesino communities of Oaxaca, Mexico.
Students examined various community-based initiatives including ecotourism,
bicultural and “vernacular” education. Students also examined how communities
in the coastal lowlands respond to challenges arising from natural resource
depletion, environmental degradation, tourism and migration.
John Dewey Project on Progressive Education
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