Archive for November, 2013


November 17, 2013 Comments Off on THINKING ABOUT LIFE ONE ON ONE! General


Fall cornfield

 I recently had the opportunity to have an amazing interview with one of the greatest professors I have known in my life (and I have been so fortunate to have known so many wonderful professors!) She talked with me about the ways in which a philosophy of “one on one” has shaped her distinguished career as a researcher, scholar and teacher.

We all have the tendency to generalize when we think about groups of people, yet every group is composed of individuals who have a great deal to tell us about their lives and perspectives.  As a society, we often pose or create policies for groups of people without knowing much about many individuals in those groups – how would they describe themselves and their needs, and what would they say would help them the most?

For example, what if we embarked on a national research project that asked real children in real schools what they think about testing and the influence of testing on their daily lives as learners? What are the actual problems they experience as learners, and what are the solutions they would like to see? Or what if we asked the growing number of young children living under the poverty line what kinds of help they really need – in and out of school? If we took their answers seriously, we might be well on our way not only to reducing the suffering of children but to raising standardized test scores all over the United States.

A one-on-one approach to thinking about groups of people helps to humanize problems and solutions. As one of my colleagues has said, “statistics are people with the tears dried off.” I placed the picture of cornstalks on this blog because I did a considerable amount of long-distance training for a marathon near a corn field this summer. I was close enough at times to notice that every stalk was so different and dignified in its own special stance.

We do have very useful information about groups that can lead to beneficial approaches to problems. But it is the story – the narrative of the individual—that can increase our compassion and our respect for the complexity of the lives that people live.  It can also increase our awareness of what we can do where we live and work! Most of us can’t come up with huge solutions to huge social problems, but there are many individuals with whom we live and work on whom we can have a genuine impact. As my wonderful professor-friend said – even the greatest policies must start with one-on-one!

Written by Beatrice S. Fennimore a teacher educator focused on advocacy and social justice for all children



November 3, 2013 Comments Off on SO HAPPY MY BLOG IS BACK! General




Hi everyone! Happy early November!  My blog has been resting so I could balance the demands of my fall semester with the incredible but wonderful pressure of finishing my book STANDING UP FOR SOMETHING EVERY DAY: ETHICS AND JUSTICE IN EARLY CHILDHOOD CLASSROOMS. I did complete the book (hooray!) and am further delighted to report that the book will be in production very soon. Of course, “production” means more work. There will still be lots of thoughtful editing to be done! However, for me, nothing compares with the intensity of actually creating the book thought by thought and word by word.  No matter how much the writer thinks she knows at the outset, the actual creation of the book is always a daunting task.

As I worked on my book, a true labor of love, I kept the metaphor of the marathon in mind. The beginning of the race is an amazing experience; you are nervous but really excited. Elation continues for the first few deceptively easy miles.  Then, as the reality of the challenge sets in, your mind must get down to serious work.  At the times when the marathon becomes a true struggle, you have to pull the strength to finish out of yourself.  At any time that the book seemed to be a bit of a struggle, my mind returned to the words of a marathoner long ago — “You get to some rough places, but you have to work through them. Ultimately, it is the moments that challenge you the most that define you.”

It didn’t matter that this was my fifth book. Every book is altogether new; written at a unique intersection of time and experience. Absolutely nothing can be taken for granted. I always think back to Ernest Hemingway, who said that you have to “write what you know.” I know much more now than I did at the beginning of my career, which actually makes writing much more challenging. Ultimately though, I am filled with gratitude to have the opportunity to write about what I care about so much.  The book will take on a life of its own, but I got to enjoy the splendid journey of its creation.

Thanks for returning to my blog! Next week I’m going to write about the idea of  “one on one”  — stay tuned!