Hinchey & Konkol Learning Experience

Hinchey, Patricia and Pamela Konkol, 2018. Getting to where we meant to be : working toward the educational world we imagine/d. Chapter 2: What Are Schools For, Anyway? Gorham, Maine : Myers Education Press. pp. 20-51.

My objective for this lesson is for you to recognize and question your assumptions about education, curriculum and pedagogy that are relative to this reading.


Working in groups of three (3) or four (4), please take ~7 minutes to engage with each of the following whiteboard stations “positioned around the room”.

NOTE: –> Please visit each station.  Begin at the station corresponding to the number of your Breakout group

Please follow this link to a “whiteboard” where you can record your responses.


1. Racial Segregation in Schools Across the United States

Perhaps the most certain thing we can say here–that students currently are primarily “tracked” by zip code, since a student’s school experience is shaped primarily by where [they] happen to reside.

Hinchey and Konkol. 2018. p. 24

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How integrated/segregated is the neighborhood or district where you went to school as a child? Follow this link to the racial dot map of the United States and zoom in to the town where you went to elementary school.

This interactive map displays 308,745,538 dots, one for each person residing in the United States at the location they were counted during the 2010 Census. Each dot is color-coded by the individual’s race and ethnicity.

On the whiteboard, write the name of your town and a brief description of its racial diversity.


2. Teacher agency v. Teacher deskilling

Many would argue that teachers today are actively discouraged from taking any sort of political, or even advocacy, stances in the context of their professional work in the classroom,…

Hinchey and Konkol. 2018. p. 37

Following the work of one of my mentors, Michael Apple, I would argue that there is an aggressive initiative to render teachers powerless in the classroom and beyond. After reading and briefly discussing the following excerpt from GÜR (2014), please post to the whiteboard a brief joint statement about the meaning of teacher professionalism.

The idea of deskilling is that teachers are increasingly losing control over their own labor. In other words, authorities present teachers with ready decisions in many situations where teachers should otherwise be able to make their own decisions and implement them autonomously. This creates a situation where teachers are expected to serve as mere implementers (Apple, 1988, 1995; Shannon, 1989). For instance, teachers are increasingly expected to employ prepackaged curricula and teaching materials such as guidebooks, textbooks, lesson plans and assessment tools at the expense of their capacity to tailor their programs according to local context and students’ needs… Reflecting a need to control the teacher’s every step, this approach regards education as the development of a set of educational processes and materials that even an inexperienced teacher can easily follow (Gür, 2006). Surely enough, various studies in a number of different countries have established that teachers are subject to increasingly more control whereby they are reduced to mere implementers of others’ decisions and, as such, deskilled (Easthope & Easthope, 2000).

Bekir GÜR. 2014. Deskilling of Teachers, the Case of Turkey. Educational Sciences: Theory & Practice. 14(3) p. 890.


3. From Social Meliorism v. Social Reconstruction —> to Deficit Paradigm v. Asset Paradigm.

Please read the following excerpt from Donnell (2013) and then address the query that follows:

The deficit paradigm is an orientation in which children, their families, and the larger communities in which they live are seen as deficient and therefore responsible for their lack of success. You’ve encountered the deficit paradigm when you hear children labeled as “underprepared” or when you hear complaints about certain groups of parents “just not caring” or when folks talk about “crime-ridden” neighborhoods.

[Alternatively] an asset-based approach to education is key in achieving equity in classrooms across the country… With an asset-based approach, every community is valuable; every community has strengths and potential.

In the simplest terms, an asset-based approach focuses on strengths. It views diversity in thought, culture, and traits as positive assets. Teachers and students alike are valued for what they bring to the classroom rather than being characterized by what they may need to work on or lack.

Asset-based teaching seeks to unlock students’ potential by focusing on their talents. Also known as strengths-based teaching, this approach contrasts with the more common deficit-based style of teaching which highlights students’ inadequacies.

Let’s not emphasize deficits in ED253. Practice asset-based teaching and service by posting on the whiteboard your name followed by an asset you bring to our classroom learning community.

Donnell, K. 2013. Beyond the Deficit Paradigm: An Ecological Orientation to Thriving Urban Schools. in Alan Canestrari and Bruce Marlowe (Eds.) Educational Foundations: An Anthology of Critical Readings. Sage : Los Angeles. pp. 151-159.


4. Neutrality and Objectivity

Here is the difficult reality: there is no such thing as a “neutral” education.  Every decision about curriculum means bringing something in and leaving something out.

Hinchey and Konkol. 2018. p. 28.

Efforts made to foster an objective, neutral or balanced curriculum will always advantage those who stand to benefit most from the dominant perspective. Discuss the following excerpt from Ardill (2013). With your group members, author a brief statement on the whiteboard about your standpoint (about what influences your perspective about education and the role of the teacher in society) .

One’s standpoint… shapes which concepts are intelligible, which claims are heard and understood by whom, which features of the world are perceptually salient, which reasons are understood to be relevant and forceful, and which conclusions credible.

The predominant culture in which all groups exist is not experienced in the same way by all persons or groups. The views of those who belong to groups with more social power are validated more than those in marginalized groups. Those in marginalized groups must learn to be bicultural, or to “pass” in the dominant culture to survive, even though that perspective is not their own.

Standpoint theory supports strong objectivity, or the notion that the perspectives of marginalized and/or oppressed individuals can help to create more objective accounts of the world. Through the outsider-within phenomenon, these individuals are placed in a unique position to point to patterns of behavior that those immersed in the dominant group culture are unable to recognize. Standpoint theory gives voice to the marginalized groups by allowing them to challenge the status quo as the outsider within. The status quo representing the dominant position of privilege and power.

Ardill, A. 2013 . “Australian Sovereignty, Indigenous Standpoint Theory and Feminist Standpoint Theory.” Griffith Law Review. 22 (2).


5. A.S. Neil, Summerhill & Democratic Schooling

One of the educators mentioned in the reading was A.S. Neil. He was the founder of the Summerhill School in England and the idea of democratic schooling. After watching the following video (3:23 min.), discuss whether you would you like to be a teacher at a school like Summerhill. Why/Why not? Write a few representative remarks on the whiteboard. 


6. Educational Funding and the Separation of Church and State

Please read the following excerpt from Cheuk and Quinn (2018) and then address the following query: As guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, in the context of schools, where should the line between Church and State be drawn? As a group, author a statement for the whiteboard.

Today, a relatively small but fast-growing number of the nation’s K-12 students (nearly half a million across 29 states and the District of Columbia) attends a private and perhaps religiously affiliated school thanks to their parents’ use of public financing mechanisms that include vouchers, tax-credit scholarships, and, in some cases, education savings accounts…

Opponents of publicly funded school voucher programs (and other government programs that provide financial incentives to enroll in private schools) argue that the diversion of public aid to religious schools violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, which prevents the government from advancing or hindering religion. The argument was most prominently tested in the 2002 Supreme Court case Zelman v. Simmons-Harris.

The case concerns a school voucher program for low-income families in Cleveland, Ohio. The voucher program was established in 1995 as part of a larger effort to improve the educational outcomes of Cleveland’s 75,000-plus students… In 1999, the ACLU filed a lawsuit on behalf of Ohio taxpayers challenging the constitutionality of the program by claiming that it advanced religion, in direct violation of the Establishment Clause. Both a federal district and an appellate court ruled in favor of the complainants [the ACLU], but the rulings were reversed by the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision. The majority opinion noted that Cleveland’s program offers vouchers to a “broad class of individuals defined without reference to religion.” And because families make independent and private choices as to where their voucher funds go, held the majority, the program was not at odds with the Establishment Clause.

However, in his dissent, Justice John Paul Stevens argued that — regardless of the private choice made by voucher recipients — students using vouchers to attend religious schools receive “religious indoctrination at state expense” and, thus, the Cleveland program does run afoul of the Establishment Clause.

From:  Cheuk, T., & Quinn, R. (2018). Dismantling the Wall between Church and State: The Case of Public Education. Phi Delta Kappan100(3), 24–28.


After visiting most, if not all, the stations and without signing your name, please take a few minutes to ponder and write a one to two sentence answer to this question –> What are schools for, anyway? [Follow link to a Google Doc]