Thursday, February 22, 2007

A suggestion for content on AESA’s new website

A suggestion for content on AESA’s new website to support the teaching of social foundations courses.

This posting is prompted by my reading a very nice review, at the Education Review, of a recent reissue of Peter McLaren’s Life in Schools, which has become a social foundations textbook of sorts.

I have argued for a while that AESA should develop a resource site that compiles comments, reviews, synopses, and basic information (e.g., table of contents) of a wide range of textbooks for social foundations coursework (including sub-disciplines such as philosophy of education, history of education, etc.). The reasoning is twofold:

1) Almost half of all instructors who teach foundations-type introductory courses are not trained in the social foundations field (see Christine Shea and Carol Henry, "Who's Teaching the Social Foundations Courses?", Journal of Teacher Education, (1986), pp. 10-15. and
Christine Shea, Peter Sola and Alan Jones, "Examining the Crisis in the Social Foundations", Educational Foundations, 2, (1987); this data, by the way, is over 20 years old! Can’t anybody get a doctoral student to do a survey to update this information!?!).
2) More than 75% of all foundations-type introductory courses use standard textbooks (as opposed to individually-created readers) as the primary reading in their course (see my article, Butin, 2004, “The Foundations of Preparing Teachers: Are Education Schools Really ‘Intellectually Barren’ and Ideological?” in Teachers College Record and Butin, under review [send me an email if you want to see the data]).

There is thus an obvious and unmet need to provide good information for new instructors by which they can decide amongst a wide range of textbooks. Such a site would thus allow for comparisons, allow instructors to read about how others have used the texts, potentially provide sample syllabi from instructors who have used the texts, and reviews that help the instructor realize the limits and potential of particular texts. AESA could send out a call to all members asking for their suggestions for textbooks to include. A nice component of this is that any and all authors of foundations-type textbooks would of course (and legitimately) want to self-promote their own work and would most likely have a large amount of resource information that AESA could then post.

An obvious follow-up aspect of this, for a forthcoming post, is that AESA should then also create a resource site for instructors wanting to develop their own course reader…

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