• Bridging Differences

    In Bridging Differences
    Deborah exchanges views with a different colleague, each for a month or two.  Her current correspondent is Harry Boyte, a Minnesotan (although his roots are southern). He has always been a friend and mentor, even though we come to stuff in different ways and even disagree on and off. He is a professor and an activist, a theorist and a practitioner, with a focus on democracy—beginning a long time ago when he worked with Martin Luther King. He has written or edited ten books on the topic and founded a Center on
    democracy which is now at St Augsberg College, but formerly at the University of Minnesota.  

  • Where I’ll Be

    Dec 1-3, 2016 Fall Forum Coalition of Essential Schools: Providence, Rhode Island

  • Network for Public Education

  • Good Morning Mission Hill

    For information on showings or purchasing the video Good Morning Mission Hill
  • Central Park East Elementary School

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The “what if” habit of mind for all.

I just had a fun conversation based on one of the old CPESS/Mission Hill “habits of mind”. We began by arguing about whether it’s really possible or useful to teach a “subject” called World History. How demanding can one be in such a course in honoring our First Habit: “What’s the evidence? And how credible is it?” Or, for the one I like best: “What if? supposing that?” I like that one because it forces us to at least pretend that things could have been different, that human will and opinion matters. It set me off on one of my favorite run of “what ifs”–what if we had not fought the Revolutionary War or if we had won it but ceded the south to Britain and then joined with Canada to create the USA? ? What if we hadn’t had the Civil War? What about if we hadn’t had World War I? The three together would create quite a different picture facing the 20th century!. Conquering Texas and southern California might also be skipped!

When folks argue about the need for a different kind of education based on the needs of the 2lst century I like to wonder, what if we had had a different kind of education for “the masses” since we started to imagine a universal system of public education a hundred plus years earlier? The debates about charters and small schools and choice once again expose our different way of imagining the education of some versus others–and why it’s no accident that meritocracy and elitism are related. Maybe it’s also an answer to my earlier post about integration. In our little separated domains we don’t have to ask: why me? why not thee?

Suppose we seriously wanted an intellectual (not necessarily “academic”) education for everyone–for their self-interests and for our own. Suppose we saw the two sets of self-interests as intricately and thoroughly connected???

“It could be a wonderful world.” (See the chapter on Academia in my book, In Schools we Trust (Beacon Press).


3 Responses

  1. Colleagues of mine at One Laptop Per Child (the NGO) used to engage in an interesting conversation around the question of, ”If we can only reasonably provide five years of high quality educational experiences for every child on earth, what would you include?”

  2. […] The “what if” habit of mind for all. is by Deborah Meier. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Teaching “What If?” History Lessons. […]

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