EDT 305 Final Paper (40 points)
Due by 5:00pm on Thursday, Dec. 16
Submit as a Word or PDF through email:
Students pursuing a teaching license must also submit a copy of the paper to Chalk &Wire
For the final paper, students will write a 6-page (roughly 1800 words) essay that articulates your philosophical position with respect to the purposes of schools. Your task is to thoughtfully answer the question: What are schools for? Your paper must demonstrate interpretation and analysis of some of the texts and ideas studied in the course. At the same time, be sure to give attention to the personal meaning of your position, so that it will be a useful guide for professional practice.
Assignment Alignment with School and Department Themes and CSFE Standards
The paper assignment is aligned with the standards of the Council of Social Foundations of Education (CSFE) and aims to enable students to acquire the interpretive, normative, and critical perspectives as called for by the CSFE standards. Students will describe changes that seminal philosophers of education have recommended for schools, along with reasons for these recommendations.
The theme of the School of Education is building learning communities through critical reflection. Activities designed to meet the standards of the CSFE should enhance students’ ability to reflect critically. According to the CSFE, the normative (what ought to be) perspective involves the ability to determine what values school policies and curricula should reinforce. The interpretive perspective enables students to consider what values the school policies reinforce in practice. Finally, the critical perspective entails the ability to recognize differences between what schools should encourage and what they in fact serve.
The Department of Teacher Education chose as its theme the teacher as reflective decision maker in a pluralistic society. Thus, an investigation of the values that various philosophies reinforce should be most helpful in promoting this theme.
Make a Claim. Your position concerning the purpose(s) of schools should be clearly communicated in the introduction paragraph in the form of a thesis statement—a sentence that presents to the reader a direct, clear claim about what you will argue. Here’s an example: “In this paper, I will argue that the purpose of schools is to xxxxxxx….” Then use the body of the paper to elaborate, explain, and provide textual evidence and analysis to support your claim and about what “xxxxx” is and means.
In order to support your position on the purposes of schools, you will need to reference, discuss, and analyze at least three required readings (not including videos) from the course and at least one outside source (a source that was not assigned in the course). For example, if it is my argument that schools should address social and economic inequity and strive to make society more egalitarian and democratic, then perhaps I would draw on the course texts by, for example, Freire, Meier, and Du Bois (but certainly these are not the only three I could choose). But be careful that you are not merely repeating what these individuals wrote without careful discussion and analysis of their ideas; you also need to contextualize and interpret their ideas with your own vision of education, pointing out possible strengths and weaknesses of their positions in relation to your own.
While you are indeed discussing your position on the purpose of schools, this is NOT your personal philosophy of classroom teaching; that is, this assignment is not designed to be only about how you approach teaching (e.g., methods, instruction, or classroom management). With that said, there may be room for some discussion of pedagogical approaches, depending on which theories or texts that you use to support your position. The point is that you do not want to discuss classroom practice at the expense of the philosophical ideas and historical interpretations we have studied this term.
This paper is NOT a personal reflection. Much like your discussion forums, you will use the course readings—and the arguments, ideas, language of these texts—to support and defend your own philosophical position. An opinion piece or purely personal reflection would simply put forward your opinion with little or no engagement with the course content or readings. But for this assignment, you will use the readings as a way to critically think through and support your own position. Doing so involves a delicate balance between discussing the course content and presenting your own view.
I will evaluate your work on both the content of your ideas and how you express those ideas. So be sure to: Proofread, edit, revise and proofread, edit, and revise again! (I find that reading my paper aloud helps catch grammatical mistakes and structural issues).
Use APA or MLA reference style for the citations and a reference list (APA is generally used in education). Be sure to use evidence and quotes from the readings. And remember: there is a fine line between over quoting and under quoting. Find that balance and be sure to unpack and analyze the quotes that you do use.
Page limit. Your paper should be approximately 6 pages, double-spaced, and 12-point font. There are good reasons to stay within the page limit. As writers, we all need to practice the craft of writing what we mean to write in the most efficient, clear, and direct way. Too often when we have too much space, our writing can quickly become redundant and boring. Strive to be an interesting writer, and this involves clarity and coherence.
Submission. The paper is due by 5:00pm on Thursday, Dec. 16. Submit the paper as a Word or PDF attachment through email ( ).
Students pursuing an initial teaching license must also submit a copy to Chalk &Wire (see submission instructions in separate document).
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