Philosophy 105: The School and Society

Contact Information Lisa Heldke Old Main 106A x7029 Office Hours M 3:30-4:30, T 9:00-10:00, W 2:30-3:30, and By appointment (I encourage you to come talk to me at any point, about the issues the class is discussing, or for consultation on papers or help with understanding a reading assignment. Feel free to schedule an appointment if none of these times works for you.)

Course Texts John Dewey, Democracy and Education W.E.B. DuBois, The Education of Black People DuBois, "The Talented Tenth" (on the web at Paolo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed Deschooling Society (on the web at Alfie Kohn, "Teaching About Sept. 11" ( 02/kohn162.htm) Bring your text to class every day; we will be doing a lot of textual work in class.

Time Commitment Plan to spend a minimum of two hours outside of class for each one hour in class. Some weeks will require more time, due to papers, etc. But, at the very least, plan on committing about ten hours per week to the course. Plan on an additional 12 to 15 hours, spread out over the course of the semester, for your work in a community organization (described below). I understand that this may be more time than you believe you can devote to a single class; if that's true for you, I would encourage you to think about dropping the class, because you will be frustrated by the amount of work I expect, and the amount of your attention the class will demand.

About Me

  • I'm a philosopher; my favorite word is "why?" When I ask you why, I'm inviting you to develop your ideas further.
  • I make mistakes. I'm happy to have them pointed out to me if you do it respectfully. I'll do my best to return the favor to you.
  • I work best with honesty. If you're having trouble with the class or with me, come and give me the real deal. Even if it's messy in the short run, the long run results will be better.
  • I think teaching works best when learners are actively engaged in deciding what goes on in the classroom. I will be working pretty hard to persuade you that you need to take an active leadership role in your learning in this class and in all your education.

About The Course Why are you in college? For what do you think a college education should prepare you? A couple of years ago, I asked a group of Gustavus students those questions. I was particularly interested to know why they had chosen to attend a liberal arts college. Their answers caught me up short because, aside from the occasional comment about wanting to be a well rounded individual, every student in the group said that they chose to go to Gustavus to fulfill particular career goals, and to secure employment for themselves in the future. "Well, isn't that obvious?" you might be thinking to yourself. "Isn't getting a job what education particularly college education is all about?" In part, sure. Most everyone has to make a living at some point in their life, and college can help prepare you for the world of work. But liberal arts colleges have not traditionally been in the business of job training. And people aren't only employees they're also family members, neighbors, and members of their society. Your education is preparing you for those roles as well, whether you realize it or not. Look at any educational institution (a public elementary school or college, a parochial high school), and just by looking at it you will be able to tell quite a lot about how the relevant society is structured and run. That educational institution is helping to reproduce the next generation of society members. Schools produce people who will fit into the society of which they are a part. Sometimes they do so well, sometimes poorly. Sometimes they are explicitly directive; sometimes the guidance is much subtler. But however they do it, schools of all sons educate/train/indoctrinate/groom people for community participation. You're being educated for community membership right now here at Gustavus. I bet you'd like to know something about how it's happening, to decide whether and to what degree you want to be the kind of community member you're being educated to be. If so, you're in the right place. This course (as the title suggests) explores the relationships between education and community; the (direct and indirect) ways that we get educated for participation in community life. We'll focus particularly on education and participatory democracy, since that's the kind of society you currently live in, and the kind of society in which Gustavus is located. What does it take to educate someone to be a participant in a democracy such as the United States? What equipment and knowledge do we need to be good participants? How do educational institutions succeed or fail to meet those needs? (For instance, does a democratically run school necessarily produce good participants in democracy? Does an undemocratic institution necessarily fall to prepare its students for democracy? Have most of us been very well educated to become active community members?) To facilitate our study, we'll read philosophers who address these questions from very different perspectives, motivated by very different concerns. Throughout the course, we'll come back to the question of your education. What do these theorists have to say to yon about how you should view your own education, how you should go about it, and what you should be doing with it now and after you leave this place? Sometimes it may seem like a theorist's perspective is just too far removed from your own to be relevant in the least (what can you learn from someone who lived a hundred years ago?). At those times, I invite you to think harder and deeper for I think every one of these theorists has much to say to all of us, even if it doesn't seem at all obvious. (Philosophy classes tend to make you look pretty hard for the connections between theory and your everyday life; that's part of why they're so valuable for teaching critical thinking.) How can you take a course about the relationship between school and society, if the course spends all its time in school and none in society? Well, you can ... but it doesn't work very well. That's why each one of you will be working in the community, in a setting that gives you a firsthand opportunity to think concretely about the relationship between school and society. That might mean working in an elementary school classroom or tutoring in an English as a Foreign Language class. Or it might mean leading after school programs with adolescents, or evening recreational activities at a nursing home. This community experience will be illuminating for you on two levels. First, how is your organization educating its participants for community participation? Second, how does your participation in this organization educate you for membership in your community?

Course Goals This course introduces you to the discipline of philosophy. It also fills the requirements for both a writing credit and an Area C (Meaning, Value and the Historical Perspective) credit. In order to meet the spirit of these various requirements, it has two goals: 1) to enable you to become familiar with a body of philosophical ideas and theories about education and social change; and 2) to give you the opportunity to develop some philosophical skills in thinking and reasoning, both orally and on paper. I consider myself obliged to fill these two goals in this class. If at any time you think I am failing to do so, I urge you to talk with me about this. (This is, after all, your education, and if you think the goals of the general education program at Gustavus are important, you're entitled to make sure they're being achieved.) I also have another goal. I want to contribute to the transformation of society; I want this to be a more just world by the time I die. One of the ways I think I can contribute to that is by creating spaces in which people can think together about important questions. So, my real goal in this class is for you to think hard, read a lot, and engage with each other, not because you have to, but because by doing so, you might take us a little way down the road to more social justice. The following components of the course are designed to help you meet the course goals.

Course Components You must complete all assigned coursework in order to pass the course; failure to do so will mean failing the course. Some components contribute a fixed percentage to your final grade. Others get factored in other ways. Here are the specifics: 1. Participation (20% of final grade): Your regular, active presence in class is expected. "Active presence" includes making productive contributions to discussions, and also being an engaged listener. Time in class will be a mix of large and small group discussion, with small pieces of lecture thrown in as the need arises. You'll assign yourself a participation grade for the class, based on your own assessment of how well you achieved specific goals you set. See the page of this syllabus labeled "Discussion: Goal Setting" for more information, and for your first assignment. 3. Participation in a community organization: This semester, each of you will spend at least one hour per week (or at least twelve hours during the term) working in the St. Peter community. The Community Service office (staffed by Sara Pekarria and Kari Lipke) will work with our class to coordinate your volunteer assignments. You may choose any organization that appeals to you and that meets the criteria I've identified. For more on choosing your organization (and for a writing assignment), see the syllabus page headed "Choosing a Social Change Organization." The purpose of your work in the community is to give you a concrete experience in which to reflect on the ways that education and community connect to each other. How do people learn to become members of a community? How does the community help to educate its members about their rights and responsibilities as community members? How are you being trained to be an active, participating community member? Each week, you'll write a brief reflection paper that connects up the theory you are reading to the concrete experiences you are having. (See 5b below for details.) 4. Formal Writing (60% of final grade): You'll write three formal papers during the semester. Assignments will give you practice on various skills used in philosophizing (e.g. accurately summarizing an author's arguments, analyzing the quality of their arguments, constructing your own arguments, connecting theory to practice). They will also give you a chance to think more deeply about particular issues raised in class. I don't design the assignments in advance; I wait to construct them so that they can respond to the issues that are arising in the class for us. For each formal paper except the last one, we will spend one day in an in class writing workshop, during which you will critique one of your classmates' papers. YOU WILL TURN IN THE CRITIQUE WITH THE FINAL PAPER; both you AND your critic need it to get full credit for your paper. Formal papers must be typed (double spaced). In formal papers, spelling, grammar, and syntax count. Please staple papers; I won't be responsible for losing pages if you don't. See the schedule at the end of the syllabus for the paper writing schedule. Due dates listed are somewhat tentative; they're subject to change, but not without notice. Each of you has one "free" one week extension on one paper (except the final). On the day the paper is due, you may tell me "I'm taking my extension this time," and you may turn the paper in one week later. This offer may only be used once NO OTHER LATE PAPERS WILL BE ACCEPTED so plan accordingly. Tentative due dates for papers are: 10/7, 11/8, 12 17 5. Informal Writing (20% of final grade): In addition to writing formal papers, you will also do a significant amount of informal writing in the course. Informal writing is designed to get you in the habit of thinking through your ideas by writing about them. Therefore, informal writing needn't be as "clean" or polished as your formal papers. Its aim is to give you a chance to try out some ideas without having to worry too much about the mechanics. A second aim of informal writing is to give you the opportunity to try out your ideas on your classmates. Thus, informal assignments will be designed to be read aloud and talked about in small groups during class and we'll do that at regular intervals throughout the semester. Make it a point to respond to your classmates this term (in writing, or in person) when they say or write something you agree with, disagree with, don't understand, find interesting, or want to hear more about. The conversation between me and you - the class is not the only conversation possible or relevant in School and Society. I hope that your informal papers will generate lots of discussion among the members of the class. Informal writing will be graded on a percentage of work completed basis. For instance, if you do 94% of the informal assignments, you get an A. I won't grade individual assignments. Informal writing will come in three varieties: a. Occasionally, I'll ask you to write something during class, or for the next day's class. It might be a question or response to a question, it might be a response to a reading, or a response to how class is going. These writings may be the foundations for small group discussions, or I may just collect them and redistribute them randomly, to give you an idea of what other people are thinking. (I might ask you to write about how your organization might think about a particular issue, for example.) b. Each week you'll write a two page (typed, double spaced) reflection paper, designed to connect your experience in the community with the issues we are reading and discussing in class. See "Weekly Writing Assignments" for details. See also "Choosing a Social Change Organization" for your first weekly writing assignment. c. Your work to evaluate your classmates' drafts counts as informal writing.

Choosing a Social Change Organization This activity contains a writing assignment DUE SEPTEMBER 16 Each of you will spend about one hour a week (for a total of at least twelve hours during the semester) working in the community in an organization that somehow carries on the work of educating people for community membership. This work will give you some concrete experience of the relationship between education and community. You'll experience, firsthand, one way that people are educated into citizenship and community membership, and you yourself will be further educated into community membership in the process. You may choose from a variety of ready made volunteer opportunities, or you may custom design your own opportunity, based on your interests. You may work in an established educational setting (an actual school or educational program), or you may work in another kind of community organization in which education happens more subtly (the Big Partners program, c.o.). In selecting an organization, you are looking for one that has a learning culture - an atmosphere that advocates and encourages the learning of all its members. Here's a step by step description of what you need to do to get your volunteer work set up: 1. As soon as possible, visit the community service center and talk with Karl Lipke or Sara Pekarria. Tell them you're in this class, and they'll show you the descriptions of some programs that would be a natural fit for this class (Study Buddies or Big Partners or ESL tutoring, for example.). If you are interested in one of these programs, your search is over. Fill out the requisite paperwork at the Community Service office, and go on to step 4. 2. If none of these programs interests you, talk with Sara or Kari about your interests. They know of other organizations that may interest you. (Perhaps Wednesday Friends through the chaplains' office.) Or go exploring in the community on your own, and find the organization that fits you perfectly, and ask them if they take volunteers. 3. Already working in one of these organizations? Great. feel free to continue with that commitment, knowing that you'll be looking at it through a different lens as you go through this class. 4. Make sure the organization you choose will allow for weekly volunteering. It won't work for you to do all your volunteer hours over the course of one or two long days. You must be able to work for the organization at least one hour each week. 5. Once you've settled on an organization, you're ready to write your first weekly writing assignment, which is due Monday, September 16. Here it is: In two to three pages, write a letter to your parents, telling them about the organization you have chosen to work in. Include in your letter: a. An explanation of why you chose this organization: 1. How do you think it will address the goals of this class? 2. Will it address any personal goals that you have? b. A discussion of your expectations. 1. What do you think this work will be like? 2. What do you think the organization will be like? 3. What do you think you will be able to offer the organization? 4. What do you think you will learn from the experience?

Special Dates to Note Most Mondays (beginning September 16) you will hand in a weekly writing assignment about your social change organization. See "Weekly Writing Assignments" for details (If you don't hear otherwise, assume that one is due.) October 12: Nobel Conference October 18-21: Reading Days Nov 28 Dec. 1: Thanksgiving Break December 13: Final class day December 14: Reading Day December 16-19: Finals Reading and Assignment Schedule This schedule is subject to change, addition, and deletion, but not without notice. If you miss a class period, please be sure to check with a classmate, to see if the assignments for the next day have changed. This is especially important with respect to informal writing assignments, which may be given at the drop of a hat. 9/4 - Course goals; course syllabus 9/6 - Dewey, "Creative Democracy The Task Before Us," "Democracy Is Radical" (handouts, in various volumes of John Dewey: The Later Works) Feyerabend, "Democratic Judgment Overrules 'Truth"' (handout) 1. The Terms of the Discussion: Democracy, Citizenship, Community, "Service Learning" 9/9 - Discussion with reps of the Community Service Office 9/11 - Kohn, "Teaching About Sept. 11" (on the web);"The Age of Ingenuity" (handout) 9/13 -Karl and Boyt, "Renewing the Democratic Spirit" (handout, from the book Civic Responsibility and Higher Education) 9/16 - Sandro, "An Organizing Approach to Education" (handout, from the book Higher Education Exchange) 9/18 - Illich, "To Hell With Good Intentions"; Cruz, "A Challenge to the Notion of Service"; Palmer, "Community, Conflict and Ways of Knowing" (handouts) 9/20 - Summing up discussion (readings TBA) 2. John Dewey: Education and the Vocation of Democracy 9/23 - Dewey, chapter I and intro (by Hooks) 9/25 - Dewey, chapter 2 9/27 - Dewey, chapter 4, summary of chapter 5 (handout) 9/30 - Dewey, chapter 6 10/2 - Nobel Conference 10/4 - Formal Paper #1 Draft day 10/6 - Flex day: watch this space 10/9 - Dewey, chapter 14 10/11 - Dewey, chapter 17 10/14 - Dewey, chapter 19 10/16 - Dewey, conclusion 10/18 - Reading Day 10/21 - Reading Day 3. W.E.B. DuBois: Education and Responsibility to One's Culture 10/23 - DuBois, "Education and Work," Dewey, chapter 23 10/25 - DuBois, "The Talented Tenth" and "Ed and Work" 10/28 - DuBois, "Field and Function of the Negro College"; DuBois, "Field and Function" 11/1 - DuBois, "The Revelation of St. Orgne the Damned" 11/4 - DuBois, "Whither Now and Why?" 11/6 - DuBois, summing up day 11/8 - Draft Evaluation Day: Formal Paper #2 4. Paolo Freire: Education for Resistance 11/11 - Freire, Chapter 1 11/13 - Freire, Chapter 1 11/15 - Freire, Chapter 2 11/18 - Freire, Chapter 2 11/20 - Freire, Chapter 3 11/22 - Freire, Chapter 3 5. Ivan Mich: Education as the Reproduction of Society 11/25 - Illich, Chapter 1 11/27 - No class (drive safely!!) 11/29 - Thanksgiving break 12/2 - Illich, Chapters 2 and 3 12/4 - Illich, Chapters 4 and 5 12/6 - Illich, Chapters 6 12/9 - Illich, Chapter 6 12/11 - Illich, summing up 12/13 - Where have we been? 12/17 - Final papers due in my office by 5 p.m. without exception