Education 120: Section 01, Winter 1999

Social and Philosophical Foundations of Education


CRN# : 59974

Time: T/Th 10:00-12:00

Room: Wellman 26

Instructor: Jon Wagner

Teaching Assistant: Irene Bersola-Nguyen

Overview: This course is designed to help students develop a critical understanding of the social, cultural and philosophical foundations of education and schooling. Students enrolled in the course will examine teaching, learning, and schooling in terms of different moral and philosophical ideals, different social and cultural contexts, and different educational and social theories.

Course Format: The course meets twice-weekly for two (2) hours and combines lectures, small-group discussions and exercises, in-class and out of class writing assignments, and student presentations.

Required Reading: Stevens, Edward, Jr. and George H. Wood, Eds., Justice ideology and education, 3rd Edition; Grant, Gerald. The world we created at Hamilton High.; Dewey, John. Experience and education. (see syllabus for reading schedule).


One term paper - prepared in two parts (45 points)

Three exams on the course readings (3 @ 15 points each = 45 points)

A group poster presentation/website with written response & reflections (10 points)

Several in-class writing assignments (no points for doing them, but points off if you don’t).

Students are expected to complete all assignments, attend all class sessions and come prepared to discuss required readings and assigned writing or field exercises. Late Paper Alert: All papers must be turned in on the day they are due. Points will be deducted from grades assigned to late papers.

Guidelines for Written Work: Students will receive a copy of the "rubric" we will use to evaluate student written work for this course. Read the rubric carefully, ask questions if you have any, and use the rubric to assess your writing as you work towards a completed paper or assignment. (Note: You will also receive a grading sheet for each part of the Term Paper). In writing about your observations of schools or the about course readings you should try to be as specific, vivid and precise as possible. Don’t report that you had a "valuable class from Ms. Fitz." Describe the class in detail, identify what you think was valuable about it as precisely as you can, and assess your generalizations through comparison with other classes, etc. The same goes for reading. Don’t just generalize about a text; examine it closely and provide evidence from the text to illustrate your understanding.

Grading: Grades will be assigned based on the points earned by each student on the assignments noted above and according the following scale: 90-100 = A; 80-89 = B; 70=79 = C; 60-79 = D; below 60 = F. Additional points may be awarded to a student on any assignment for truly exceptional work. Also, students who fail to complete any of the required assignments will receive a final grade for the course that is one letter grade lower than their overall point total would otherwise warrant.

Course evaluations: Students are expected to assist the instructor in conducting mid-term and end-of-term evaluations of the course.


Some Important (and potentially unfamiliar ) Features of This Course


Displaying and sharing student work: This course includes activities that involve students in reading, responding to, and commenting on the work of other students enrolled in the course. By and large, students will share their work during class time by working in pairs and/or small groups. However, we may also want to display examples of particularly thoughtful or well-executed student work on an overhead projector (for a brief review by the class as a whole) and on an EDU 120 Web-site. Our routine practice will be to display student work without the student’s name attached. If you would prefer to have your name attached, OR if you do not want your work on a particular assignment displayed in any form, please indicate that on the first page of the work when you turn it in.

Group assignments and Peer Learning: To encourage student reflection and discussion, students will work on some assignments in small groups of 6-10 students each. Students will not grade the work of other students. However, each group will submit a summary report that identifies the contributions of each group member to the overall project.

Exams on Course Reading: All three exams combine elements of individual writing and group analysis. The first two exams will be organized around 45 minute tests of 20-30 questions that are short-answer, true-false, or multiple choice. Each student will complete their own test sheet. However, students will be allowed to discuss answers with other members of their group. Students also will prepare written study notes for other members of their groups. These notes need to be submitted to the group -- and to the course instructor -- at the class session prior to the exam. Student scores on the first two exams will be based 50% on correct test items and 50% on the quality, accuracy and clarity of student discussion notes. For the third exam, students will work in groups to analyze, in an oral presentation, a representation of "life in school" from two or more theoretical perspectives reflected in the course readings. As with the first two exams, students will prepare review notes for distribution to other members of their group: these notes will count for 50% of their score on the exam. The other 50% will be based on a 1-2 page commentary on the presentation.

Poster sessions/Web sites: Students enrolled in this course will work in small groups to collect, organize and present information in a poster session or web site format. The poster session/web site will focus on how elementary and secondary education is organized in countries other than the US. Students will write a brief (1-3 pp) summary of (a) their work on the poster/web site and (b) their reflections/response to the content and form of posters prepared by other students.

E-mail and office hours: The instructor and TA for this course will keep regular office hours, but students can also get assistance in response to e-mail queries. To help us identify your requests, refer to "120" in the subject field of your e-mail (e.g., "120 re paper"). We will also post frequently asked questions and our answers on the EDU 120 automated mailing list (described below).

EDU 120 Listserv: An "EDU 120" automated electronic mailing list has been created for members of this class to use in communicating about the course. Copies of lecture notes, other information and instructions related to the course will be sent to students through the list. All students who have a UCD email account are automatically subscribed to this mailing list when they enroll for the course. To send an e-mail message to the "EDU 120" mailing list, address it to <>

EDU 120 Web-Site: A web-site has been created for this course and is accessible through the campus internet interface. The web site will archive all messages posted to the EDU 120 Listserv. The web-site also provides basic information about the course schedule and assignments, instructors’ office hours, etc. -- the same information that will be provided in class on paper. Students are encouraged to "visit" the web-site, review student work, and comment. However, access to the web site is not required to complete any assignments for this course.


Writing Assignments

Education 120 -- Winter 1999

In-class writing assignments: In-class writing assignments are a routine and important feature of this course. You will be asked to keep your in-class writing assignments in a folder or binder and to submit the complete set for review twice during the quarter. Some in-class writing assignments will be designed explicitly to help you prepare the Term Paper (see below) and to prepare for exams on the course reading.

Exams on course readings: Students will prepare written notes readings (limit is 1 page, both sides, times 12 point, with .75 " margins all around) on the course readings in connection with all three exams. For the first two exams, these notes will summarize key issues and themes from particular assigned. For the third exam, notes will summarize a key issue or theme that cuts across course readings. These "study notes" for the exams will represent 50% of a student’s grade for each exam. For the third exam, students will also write a brief (1-3 pp) retrospective commentary on the presentation developed by their group.

Poster session commentaries: You are expected to prepare a brief (1-2 page) written commentary on the poster session. The commentary should include reflections about the poster/web site you worked on and at least two posters/web-sites prepared by other groups.

Term paper -- A "critical autobiography" of your high school (for elementary school or college options-- see Note below. (10-20 pages): Students complete the term paper in two parts. Part I (worth 20 points) is due on January 19th. We will spend a substantial amount of time in the first three class sessions helping you to write this part of the paper. Part I will provide a reference point for completing Part II, which is due on March 4th and is worth 25 points. A brief summary of each part appears below:

Part I: Remembering High School (5-10 pages): Prepare a detailed, written account of your high school and your high school experience. What did the school look like, physically and socially? What was it like to attend the school? What kinds of things did you do in high school? What was a school day like for you? What did you or other students, teachers, parents, community members think was special about the school -- for good or bad? What important events or changes took place while you were there? What aspects of the school seemed to be working well or not well? How would you describe the kind of education you received at this school? What about the education that other students received? What seemed to matter most or least to students, teachers, parents, administrators, etc.? What was most rewarding to you about attending this school? What was most troubling, confusing, or unrewarding?

Part II: Reconsidering High School (5-10 pages): Review your own account/experience of high school in light of issues, themes, concepts and ideas examined through the course. What can you learn about your high school from examining it in terms of the course readings, videos, lectures, etc. ? What can you learn about the course readings, videos, lectures, etc. by examining them against your direct experience with the high school you attended? Format: Part II can take several different forms, including: (a) a detailed account of one feature of your high school in terms of several issues examined by the course readings; (c) a detailed account of several features of your high school in terms of a single issue examined in the course readings/lectures/video/etc.; (d) a completely revised/re-interpreted account of your high school that also includes the material you wrote for Part I. If you want to follow another format, review this first with your Teaching Assistant.

NOTE: Elementary school or college If you would prefer writing about elementary school or college, you may do so in conjunction with some additional reading. For the elementary school option, you should read one of the following books: Barrie Thorne, Gender Play; Jan Nespor, Tangled Up in School; Philip Jackson, Life in Classrooms; or John Goodlad, A Place Called School. For the college or university option you should read one of the following: Howard Becker, Blanche Geer, and Everett Hughes, Making the Grade; Michael Moffat, Coming of Age in New Jersey; Ernest Boyer, College; or Clark Kerr, The Uses of the University.