Archive for April, 2015


April 24, 2015 Comments Off on WRITE A HANDWRITTEN CARD OR LETTER TODAY! General



I recently attended a memorial service for a very nice neighbor and member of our community. Many people spoke about the personal impact that he had on their lives. He had been a talented and highly regarded therapist but most people spoke of the one kind act for which he was something of a celebrity. He wrote people thoughtful handwritten notes. Apparently he was highly suspicious of the Internet and very committed to kind, warm human exchange through personal interaction or handwritten form. Listening to everyone speak about the impact of his handwritten letters, one might have thought that he had walked around the community handing out hundred-dollar bills. It was amazing that so many people at the service considered the receipt of a handwritten note or letter to be an unusual and absolutely wonderful event.


So much conversation about handwritten notes brought me back to my days of student teaching in a large public school in New York City. Of course this was before cell phones or email existed, yet so many of the teachers would express their appreciation for parents who sent nice handwritten notes on colorful stationery with their children in the morning. My student teaching supervisor, a retired New York City principal, told us that it was imperative for us as future teachers to keep several boxes of stationery in our desks. Whenever anyone helped us or did something kind for us – a custodian, office secretary, another teacher, a parent – we were to write a note as soon as possible to thank them for their kindness. I have followed this suggestion and, for years, I have passed it on to my undergraduate students preparing to be teachers. I hold up a box of inexpensive colorful stationery in class and say, “This can change your whole career!”


I think it is important for all of us to remember that email and texting are very convenient tools for rapid and efficient transmission of communication and information. They are not, however, a substitute for face-to-face talking or wonderful, warm handwritten letters. A great idea I think is to ask ourselves, “Is this a moment for a quick electronic communication or is this time for a nice phone call or handwritten letter or card?” As you might guess, I do write a lot of cards and letters. I love to write to people but I also think of it more and more as a form of active resistance against everything in our society that can reduce our sense of community and humanity. Letters mean something to people! Our hearts tend to lift when we shift through our daily automated junk mail and see a handwritten letter with a real stamp.


Thinking back to the memorial service, I am sure that  my former neighbor would have loved it. It was entirely human and genuine, and simply involved people speaking to and with one another. He had accomplished a great deal in his life. But somehow it was the time he took to write notes and letters to those all around him that touched so many hearts of friends and neighbors the most.



Chicago AERA 2015

If you are heading to Chicago for the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), I would love to see you there! The meeting takes place from April 16-April 20 and the theme is TOWARD JUSTICE: CULTURE LANGUAGE AND HERITAGE IN EDUCATION RESEARCH AND PRAXIS.  I am presenting my paper in a session in the Hyatt at 8:15 AM on Saturday April 18  titled The Social Justice Discourse and Social Justice Activists.  Grab an early cup of coffee and come join in our roundtable discussion!  Also, if you want to attend a very lively division meeting, please consider attending the Division K Teacher Education Meeting at 6:15 PM on Friday April 17. We have many critical issues to consider and there will be lots of opportunities for discussion. A joint party with Division G takes place afterward – wear your dancing shoes (really!) and be ready for a great time!

My AERA paper — Reclaiming Social Justice in Education: A Conceptual Analysis Linking Social Justice, Professional Ethics, and Civic Responsibility — is the second in a series of papers seeking to establish social justice as a moral imperative in teacher eduction.  My purpose is to  address what I see as false dichotomies and  misunderstandings that have undermined an emphasis on the importance of social justice in education. I disagree with those who believe that social justice is an ideological choice for those who are “liberal” rather than “conservative” in the United States. Our Constitution upholds liberty and justice for all – and millions of school children say those very words when they pledge allegiance to the flag five days week! Teachers say those words right along with the children – their professional integrity is on the line as they do so. In my paper I have linked social justice to the codes of ethics that teachers follow as well as the civic responsibility to uphold the principles of the United States Constitution. Ultimately my argument is that social justice transcends partisan politics and personal opinions – it must be the sincere pursuit of all who call themselves educators in a democracy.

See you in Chicago!