For Novice and Informed Readers: A Review of Key Questions for Educators

By Fives, Helenrose | Journal of Thought, Winter 2006 | Go to article overview

For Novice and Informed Readers: A Review of Key Questions for Educators


Fives, Helenrose, Journal of Thought


For Novice and Informed Readers: A Review of Key Questions for Educators. Edited by William Hare and John Portelli Halifax, Nova Scotia: Edphil Books and San Francisco: Caddo Gap Press (1)

In Key Questions for Educators Hare and Portelli have garnered forty essays from prominent educational commentators on important ethical and philosophical questions that are faced by educators in today's world. The goal of this book is to provide a series of introductions to these key issues that will enable readers to move on to deeper discussions of the topics. Each original essay responds to a question identified by the editors, Hare and Portelli, as relevant and central for anyone interested in education.

The forty questions posed by the editors and addressed by the essayists in this book span an array of critical issues and underlying beliefs that influence how teachers, administrators, students, and policymakers approach learning and education. Although Hare and Portelli did not divide the book into sections, for the facilitation of this review I think it will be helpful to talk about the essays in groups based on commonalties in the types of questions addressed and responses offered. Thus, I feel that these essays can be grouped into eight categories that include questions addressing:

1. philosophy and epistemology,

2. professionalism and ethics,

3. interaction and relatedness,

4. teaching practices,

5. philosophical orientations or approaches to teaching,

6. curriculum,

7. content areas or field of education, and

8. current issues in education.

The first four essays in the text address questions of philosophy and epistemology in relation to education. Specifically, in the first essay Richard Smith responds to the question "what is education?" and outlines a brief introduction of how this question has been approached in the past. Other questions addressing core aspects of epistemology include "what is wisdom?" (Almond), "what is knowledge?"(Richardson), and "what is imagination?" (Stout). Together and alone the essays written by these authors provide an examination of these core questions in relation to schools today. Further, within groups of educational stakeholders the answers to these questions are frequently assumed to be understood by all as the same thing. These essays provide a glimpse of the complexity that is frequently overlooked and offer a starting point for serious discussion about these issues.

The next group of essays I identified address issues of professionalism and ethics. In essays 5 (what is authority, Burbules), 6 (what is open-mindedness, Hare) 8 (what is leadership, Ryan), 10 (what is professionalism, Steinberg), 11 (what is teacher education, Haroutunian-Gordan), and 21 (what is freedom of speech in teaching, Siegel) the authors discuss questions related to the role of teachers and other stakeholders as professionals in the field and the ethical responsibilities and constraints that exist for members of this profession. For instance, Burbules describes the concept of authority including: the warrants of legitimate authority, the distinction between authority and power, and the conceptualization of teacher as an authority in the classroom. Within this discussion, and those of the other essayists in this set, issues related to the ethical basis of decisions and actions made by teachers are raised.

Three essays specifically address the role of interaction and relatedness in education. The authors of these essays respond to the questions: "what is caring?" (Noddings), "what is student engagement?" (Portelli), and "what is a good school?" (Shields). Noddings, Portelli, and Shields address the importance of relatedness in the educational process. Further, these authors offer unique discussions of how relatedness might take place and its importance to the educational process. Noddings underscores the meaning of "caring" as a relational experience that is only recognized when both the carer and the cared for recognize an act as caring. …

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