American Studies
American Studies

Caroline Pinkston


Doctoral Student

Interests


history of education, schools & community identity, collective memory & history, textbook studies, memorials & memorializing, education & curricular philosophy

Courses


AMS 311S • Imagining Public Education

30685 • Spring 2017
Meets MWF 1:00PM-2:00PM BUR 436A

Description

The last sixty years have been a remarkable and tumultuous period for American public education. From the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision to desegregate schools to the more recent controversies over charter schools and high-stakes testing, public education has spent much of the last half-century right in the middle of national debates about equality, justice, and democracy. A recurring narrative in these debates is that our public schools are failing, and that fixing them is crucial to solving other longstanding issues of poverty and racial injustice.

 

Where does this narrative come from?  What stories and images contribute to the way we understand the importance of public schooling and its apparent failures? What’s at stake when we imagine a “failing” public school – or, for that matter, a successful one?

 

This course will examine contesting representations of public school in American culture from the 1960’s to the present day.  This will not be a course in the history American education. Our main purpose, instead, will be to investigate cultural perceptions of the state of public education, in pop culture, in the news, and beyond. What’s the relationship between the stories we tell about public education, the policy that determines what happens in schools, and broader cultural anxieties about race, childhood, and social justice? We will consider sources including film and television, policy briefs & journalism, nonfiction texts & memoir, children’s literature & school curriculum.

 

Potential texts (excerpts): Up the Down Staircase (Kaufman, 1964); Savage Inequalities: Children in America’s Schools (Kozol, 1990); Bad Boys: Public Schools and the Making of Black Masculinity (Ferguson, 2000); Whatever it Takes: Geoffrey Canada's Quest to Change Harlem and America (Tough; 2009)

 

Potential films (excerpts): The Breakfast Club (1985), Dangerous Minds (1995); Freedom Writers (2007); Waiting for Superman: How We Can Save America’s Failing Schools (2010) 

 

 

Assignments (include % of grade):

Attendance and Participation (10%)

Reading Responses (20%)

Reflective Essay (10%)

In-Class Presentation and Short Essay (20%)

Final Project (40%)

                  Proposal – 10%

                  First Draft – 10%

                  Final Paper – 20%

AMS 311S • Imagining Public Education

30565 • Fall 2016
Meets MWF 1:00PM-2:00PM BUR 436A

Description

The last sixty years have been a remarkable and tumultuous period for American public education. From the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision to desegregate schools to the more recent controversies over charter schools and high-stakes testing, public education has spent much of the last half-century right in the middle of national debates about equality, justice, and democracy. A recurring narrative in these debates is that our public schools are failing, and that fixing them is crucial to solving other longstanding issues of poverty and racial injustice.

 

Where does this narrative come from?  What stories and images contribute to the way we understand the importance of public schooling and its apparent failures? What’s at stake when we imagine a “failing” public school – or, for that matter, a successful one?

 

This course will examine contesting representations of public school in American culture from the 1960’s to the present day.  This will not be a course in the history American education. Our main purpose, instead, will be to investigate cultural perceptions of the state of public education, in pop culture, in the news, and beyond. What’s the relationship between the stories we tell about public education, the policy that determines what happens in schools, and broader cultural anxieties about race, childhood, and social justice? We will consider sources including film and television, policy briefs & journalism, nonfiction texts & memoir, children’s literature & school curriculum.

 

Potential texts (excerpts): Up the Down Staircase (Kaufman, 1964); Savage Inequalities: Children in America’s Schools (Kozol, 1990); Bad Boys: Public Schools and the Making of Black Masculinity (Ferguson, 2000); Whatever it Takes: Geoffrey Canada's Quest to Change Harlem and America (Tough; 2009)

 

Potential films (excerpts): The Breakfast Club (1985), Dangerous Minds (1995); Freedom Writers (2007); Waiting for Superman: How We Can Save America’s Failing Schools (2010) 

 

 

Assignments (include % of grade):

Attendance and Participation (10%)

Reading Responses (20%)

Reflective Essay (10%)

In-Class Presentation and Short Essay (20%)

Final Project (40%)

                  Proposal – 10%

                  First Draft – 10%

                  Final Paper – 20%

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