From the editor.

Author:Covaleskie, John F.
Position:Editorial
 
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As we head back to school this fall, we are in difficult days for education in the United States. As the economy has increasingly deprived poor, working class, and even middle class students of a clear path to economic security, it seems we have pretty much given up any idea of education as preparation for citizenship or for a full human life. While there has always been economic and technical rationality to the practice of schooling, that function has previously mostly been balanced (though not always well balanced) with the development of human flourishing and democratic citizenship. This is no longer the case in too many schools, especially the schools where working class, poor, and, increasingly, middle class children are educated. Schooling today is, and is increasingly so, devoted with an impressive single-mindedness to preparation for economic life in a way that suggests that the term economic life is itself a redundancy. In different ways, each of the authors in this issue provides some illumination into this (what I would call a) problem.

The lead article, "The Disciplined Mind: How Mid-19th Century North American Teachers Described Students' Mind, Mental Ability, and Learning" by Jake Stone, exposes the nineteenth century roots of many of the foundational questions we almost no longer ask in education today: How do students learn? What is the nature of learning? What are the roots of motivation? What are the purposes of education? How do we help children become good? Many of the answers we give today about how humans learn are quite different from those from the nineteenth century authors Stone tells us about, but perhaps more to the point, some of the questions that so engaged writers in the mid-nineteenth century seem almost quaint and naive today.

While much of how experts understand the nature of intelligence, the meaning of education, and the nature of learning has changed between the nineteenth and twenty-first century, we have plenty of opportunity to reflect on the persistence of today's politicians' and policy-makers' efforts to standardize, pin down, and measure learning, regardless of the individual differences in interest and aptitude of students. In "The Odd Couple: Freire and the InTasc Teacher Education Standards," Erin Mikulec and Paul Chamness Miller argue that it is possible to resist and reduce the detrimental effects of the various standardization movements faced by today's educators. Their goal is to find a...

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