Happy Thanksgiving from China!


Happy Thanksgiving!
by bwrosson13

I want to wish everyone back home a happy Thanksgiving and make sure you’re enjoying your time with your families! This is not my first Thanksgiving away from home, but it’s my first I’ll be celebrating by myself. I don’t have a story to post today, but I wanted to share an article I found online that paints a decent picture of what it’s like to be in China during the holidays. This article is about the author’s time in China and what he did for Thanksgiving. I found it so interesting because of how closely it resembles my life in Nanchong. I hope you enjoy the quick read and happy Thanksgiving.


A New Special Topics Course for Spring 2014

As a part of our development as the Education Studies minor, we created a new special topics course, EDU370. This course, which will alternate between philosophical and historical topics, is offered in the spring semester. It is required for all Education Studies minors, and open to any interested student. This spring, the topic is “Colonial and Postcolonial Education.” The focus will be upon the ways in which European systems of education were implemented in selected Caribbean and African countries, and the ways in which former colonies now are working to contend with educational changes that are needed to meet their own specific needs.
My own interest in this topic was prompted many years ago when I read Edward Said’s book, Culture and Imperialism. I became fascinated by what Said called “the colonization of the imagination:” the idea that Eurocentric curricula were used in an effort to mold the lived experience of colonized peoples into attitudes and ideas consistent with those of their European colonizers. For this course, we will read portions of Said, and then continue on to School Days, which is the story of Patrick Chamoiseau’s childhood experiences in Martinique. As readers, we will see though his eyes the experience of being taught by individuals who want to impose French knowledge and beliefs, to override the wonderful and magical world of Creole culture of Martinique. Chamoiseau also introduces us to Négritude: the ideological movement that rejected this colonization and focused upon African culture and literature as a source of identify and inspiration for colonized peoples.
In addition to its cross-listing with history, this course will count toward a gender studies AOC. We will consider how colonization disrupted women’s traditional roles and areas of authority, and the ways in which countries are now discussing how to move forward into a 21st Century model of gender roles and educational status. I will share my own research into this phenomenon in the Togolese Republic, which was undertaken in partnership with a doctoral student from Togo.
As a nice complement to preparing to teach this class, I recently enjoyed spending two days completely immersed in African studies while attending the Africa Network Conference at Denison University. A group of Wabash faculty members (Dr. Makubuya, Dr. Lake, Dr. Wilson, Dr. Pouille, Dr. Burch, and I) presented an overview of the ways that Wabash College teaches African culture across departments and courses. We were also able to attend presentations on topics such as: undergraduate research in topics including creative writing blogs for African writers and Senegalese rap performers; study abroad and immersion trips in Africa; and using audiovisual resources in the classroom to teach African topics. We learned a great deal about what other schools and programs are doing, and brought back many new and exciting ideas.
I am very much looking forward to teaching EDU370 for the first time this spring, and to taking part in the continuing development of courses that incorporate African culture here at Wabash College.

Dr. Debbie Seltzer-Kelly

Reimagining Schools

Jacob Pactor, ’04

High schools are the McDonald’s restaurants of the education system. Ubiquitous and nearly monolithic, high schools are, as John Updike explained, “where you go between when your parents can’t take you and industry can’t take you.” Not caring for the offered value meal, parents and others created private schools: think more upscale (Applebees $9.99 meals) or specific (Hardee’s thickburgers). Still unhappy with perpetual boring hamburgers, parents and businesses created charter schools. Those schools—for the most part, but certainly in Marion County where I teach—still serve boring hamburgers, but their burgers might be cooked for an extended time or customers might receive a friendlier smile or orders can be placed online.

No matter the dining experience, it’s still a burger on a bun or a pre-made salad from a bag.

The critical issue with education is not too much testing or teaching to the test. It neither is Common Core State Standards nor politically-motivated teacher evaluations. And it certainly is not misbegotten budgets or teacher salaries. We have too many McDonald’s restaurants; that’s the problem.

We should untether schools from their ten-foot chains. We should free them to teach students to become engaged citizens, intelligent consumers, and critical thinkers.

Imagine a high school where geometry students practice their crafts via experiences in interior design, architecture, and neighborhood planning. Imagine a high school where government exists not in a 400-page textbook, but in interviewing elected officials, participating in city council meetings, and serving on the local school board. Imagine a high school where an English class sharpens its skills by creating marketing materials for local nonprofits or a psychology class that tracks behaviors at a local museum or sporting event and then develops and offers an improvement plan.

High schools cannot be interested in marketing how many students they’ve served. High schools must send forward graduates eager to explore the world they will one day lead.

That’s the beauty of learning, practicing, and deciphering how to teach in the Education Studies Department at Wabash College. Students immerse themselves in the practice of teaching (I spent 180 hours in classrooms before I ever student taught), in the implementation of pedagogy, and in the conversations of improving our classrooms, schools, and communities for the real challenges of educating all students for the 21st Century.

***** Jacob Pactor ‘04 teaches English at Speedway High School in Speedway, Indiana. He also is a Teach Plus Teaching Policy Fellow. He can reached at pactorj@gmail.com

Exciting Beginnings

Written by Michele Pittard, Ph.D.

With the beginning of the academic year upon us, I am especially excited as we start our first year as the Department of Education Studies! Since last spring when the Wabash faculty and Board of Trustees approved the Education Studies minor and the name change from the Teacher Education Program to the Department of Education Studies, we have been busy revising documents and reminding ourselves and others on campus that from this point forward, Forest Hall is home to the Department of Education Studies.
With the name change, came a shift from an Area of Concentration in Education to a minor in Education Studies. With the minor, we are now able to serve a wider range of students interested in studying education as an academic discipline. The Education Studies minor, grounded in constructivism, engages students in questions related to education and schooling and the systems and processes therein, while still serving as the foundation for the Secondary Licensure Program.
While classes on campus began August, 29th, our 9th Semester student teachers began their work much earlier this month as their host schools were in session starting the first full week in August. Student teachers in the Indianapolis area began the week of August 5th and Montgomery County student teachers began the week of August 12th. Since the beginning of August, we have had two on-campus seminar meetings. The Fall, 2013 group of student teachers is the third cohort to use the co-teaching model of student teaching, which we piloted last Fall, 2012. Thus far, indicators show co-teaching benefits all involved: teacher candidates, mentor teachers, and secondary students. In October, Marc Welch and I will present findings from our pilot study of the co-teaching model at the International Society of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Raleigh, NC.
The start of this academic year has our most recent graduates beginning their first “real” jobs as teachers. Congratulations go out to Ethan Flater ’12 (English teacher) at Crawfordsville High School; Zach Rohrbach ’12 (Physics teacher) at Avon High School; Andrew Goodman ’12 (Chemistry teacher) at Peoria Notre Dame High School; and Adam Current ’11 (English teacher) at Rensselaer Central High School. Good luck, Gentlemen!
As we move forward, we plan for the Education Studies blog to include each month the perspectives and voices of a variety of folks who either currently are or have been involved in Education at Wabash College: faculty and staff, underclassmen in Education Studies and student teachers, as well as alumni working in the field of Education. Future contributors to this blog will include: Dr. Debbie Seltzer-Kelly, Asst. Professor Education Studies and Mr. Marc Welch, Associate Director of Secondary Licensure, as well as Jacob Pactor ’04 (English teacher at Speedway H.S.), Zach Rohrbach ’12 (Physics teacher at Avon High School), and Mitch Overley ’14 (English major). If others of you would like to contribute, we’d love to hear from you.

Just send me an email: pittardm@wabash.edu.
Here’s to a great 2013-14 academic year! I hope to see all of you at Homecoming!

Michele Pittard


Wabash Students Help 8th graders “Gear Up”

Jerel Taylor ’16 and Fabian House ’16 discuss their year-long experience in Gear Up.

Posted by Marc Welch – I started this blog to feature current education students and alumni in education. While this first blog features education students, it also encompasses typical, philanthropic-minded men of Wabash and the younger students they mentor. Over the past academic year, eight Wabash students, volunteered their time to mentor 8th-grade male students through GEAR UP Kentucky. Via 1-hr Skype sessions every other Friday, Wabash students reached out to rural Eastern Kentucky, male-students who would be the first in their families to attend college. Under the premise of College for Every Student, these Wabash men served as college and personal mentors. David Wintczak ’14 commented, “It was a good thing to do that didn’t take much time.” Preparing for college was the main focus of the Skype sessions: what the 8th-graders should do now—and in the future—to gain access to postsecondary education. Fabian House ’16 commented, “I was always trying to grasp what they perceived to be big stumbling blocks and hopefully get them to understand that these seemingly big stumbling blocks are essentially little things that can be overcome or addressed.” After a year of mentoring in the program—and within other programs as well, Jerel Taylor ’16 concluded, “There is a certain level of satisfaction in helping others and it’s always good for them to hear the message from not only their teachers, but college students as well.”
As a College—especially within Education Studies—we receive numerous requests for tutoring, mentoring and volunteering. Through organizations and on an individual basis, Wabash students continue to meet—and exceed—such needs, both locally and beyond. Through these philanthropic efforts we see the College’s mission as not just a statement, but a way of life.