- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Yale University Press (September 1, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0300101686
- ISBN-13: 978-0300101683
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #861,923 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Moral Questions in the Classroom: How to Get Kids to Think Deeply About Real Life and Their Schoolwork
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"Simon writes fluently, integrating transcripts of class-room discussions smoothly into her narrative and engagingly conveying her idealist's passion for reform."
From the Publisher
Winner of the 2002 Educator's Award given by The Delta Kappa Gamma Society International, Selected as one of four outstanding books in curriculum for 2001-2002 by Division B (Curriculum) Book Forum Committee of the American Educational Research Association
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Top customer reviews
Her emphasis is on the interaction between the kids and teachers around what she calls "moral and existential" questions--what is a good life, what does it mean to die, what matters? She loves how youngsters can "open up" their seriously held questions of meaning of their lives under proper classroom management and curriculum design.
She thinks that these questions are the heart of good education. Her intellectual foundations seem to be Ted and Nancy Sizer and the Coalition of Essential Schools forum at Brown University--and the urging to ask important questions of youngsters.
Simon believes that most modern schools disconnect kids from their important questions and focus wrongly on the "trivial" non-essential mechanical mass tests at the end of the year. To this extent, she shares the liberal bias that objectivity and accountability are chimerical. Simon also differentiates her approach from cognitive developmentalists (Kohlberg, Nodding, Gilligan), character educators (Wynne, Lickona, Ryan, Bennett), and the values clarification crowd (who get caught in moral relativism).
Instead, Simon is a "pure" educator: she believes that all good education, including moral education, has coherence, is honest, allows for critical reflection, raises questions about how humans should act, and explores questions into the unknown.
What I liked most from this book: Simon gives detailed transcripts and stories from the three schools that served as her fieldwork. These transcripts are about raising moral questions as part of the curriculum: e.g., in literature (War and Peace) or biology class. I also agree with her pet peeve--that of missed opportunities to discuss moral and existential issues with kids.
I found all of the book easy to understand, but I am saddened that this book really falls into the genre of idealistic "systemic reform" books--that is, those books by thoughtful writers who are fed up with the limits of American public schools, which educate few children well. I believe that it would take thousands of Katherine Simons to implement moral discussions in classrooms--but perhaps some individual teachers will read this book and take heart.