In 1776, as the new nation of America began to flourish, Thomas Jefferson fell in love with a married Englishwoman named Maria Cosway. After Maria returned to England, Jefferson wrote a letter to her in the form of a ³dialogue between the head and the heart,² debating his love for her. This letter, presented as a conflict between pragmatic and romantic thought, sums up the conflict within Jefferson himself. Jefferson ³put pragmatic considerations above unyielding principles² (Nation of Nations), cutting taxes, regulating government, and establishing efficient one-party political control. However, he also believed in an ³agrarian republic,² where rural life could nourish ³honesty, independence, and virtue.² A conflict of mentalities like this would be unimportant in most writers or philosophers, but Jefferson is not so much a product of his times as a creator of them. This debate could only happen during this era of good feelings and hope, because only during times of relative stability can new ideas can really be born.
A quick overview: The United States is a nation of immigrants, and very recent ones at that. This is something we have all come to believe without question, but it¹s actually a very strange and distinctive part of our cultural identity. Even many of the Native Americans who were displaced by Europeans were themselves relatively new arrivals, in some cases ruthless conquerors whose new habits changed the very land beneath their feet. In this course we will attempt to make some sense of what it means to be American. Where do Americans come from? How did they get here? How have their unique backgrounds and beliefs helped shaped the society that evolved on this continent? What does it take to become 'American'? Who decides? How have Americans, over time, chosen to explain all of this to themselves?
Diego: "Nationalism is what comes from the overpowering nation. And overpowering is essential because it is all about power the whole thing revolves around which is more powerful. Can the state keep the nation and the nationalism in line, or does the nationalism overpower the institution of state? The thing that keeps recurring in Hegel and Marx and Arendt is this idea that if we get the people in line with the state (i.e. the nation in line with the state), we have peace, harmony, world spirit, freedom, whatever."
Good morning-- Here today at school visit #21- at the gorgeous, brand new campus of Sonoma Academy. Brand new this fall; in fact, one of the buildings in which I am attending classes today only opened yesterday!
If you are reading along, welcome, and please know that in liveblogging we flow in reverse chronology, with the most recent posting at top, and each new entry headed by the time it was posted.
I am warmly welcomed by head of school Janet Durgan and two juniors who are hosting me today, and we hurry off to PreCalculus. 15 students are seated in rows facing the whiteboard, and our teacher kicks off with a reminder to students not to eat in class. Now she is reviewing for us graphs of sin and cos, asking how many degrees are in a radiant, and whether her diagram of a section of a circle is more or less of a radiant. Students, on this very foggy morning, sleepily offer tentative answers to her called out questions. "Are you all good?"
Now she breaks us up into teams for whiteboard practice of topics for the test tomorrow. "2s or 3s," she calls out, and when the kids say threes, she says "OK, but make sure that third person doesn't slack off-- I want everyone involved. " Important: Marzano says research does support cooperative, team learning, but group size is critical, and has to stay small.
Whiteboards emerge from against the walls, large ones, and are set down on lab tables for student groups-- to my surprise (and delight), these groups are working standing, not sitting. I know not every classroom necessarily can accommodate this, standing, but it is good for kids and learning I think, gets more blood going, gets more movement in the kids, much better than just sitting. Sleepiness quickly dissipates as students work on these problems. One groups works sitting down, and that is Ok, giving kids the choice, but I am glad that most are standing, and I wouldn't want the choice available if they all chose to sit.
She is offering one point extra credit per correct answer per team. Everyone who has a right answer within a time limit-- I am increasingly aware how much I like a little gentle competition, especially team competition, in class and learning. It is this epiphany from the brain research-- a little stress is a good thing for learning, it motivates teams and gives them a goal to strive for, and sets them going. Sometimes progressives in the vein of Kohn bash competition, but it is all a matter of degree, and I really think it works in the rooms I observe.
Considerable emphasis is placed on understanding and appreciating the richness of mathematics and applying mathematical tools to complex and real situations. There is extensive use of technology, instrumentation, graphing calculators and computers to assist in problem solving, data collection, modeling and analysis.
Learning is anything but rote at Sonoma Academy. Innovation, creativity and problem solving are the standards here... We are constantly looking for ways to innovate and make subjects more relevant to students.