Course Assignment – Adolek Kohn dancing in Auschwitz

Adolek Kohn “I will survive”

 Introduction – Who is Adolek Kohn

 Part I

The original has been deleted due to copyright claims by Universal Music

Use this video, skip to 1:18 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nf3T4q9PVPU&NR=1&feature=endscreen

  • Where does Adolek Kohn and his grandchildren dance besides Auschwitz?
  • How does it make you feel?
  • Besides the title of the song, can you see connections between the lyrics and the film scenes?

Part II

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_Np3aZh6sU

  • What role does dancing play for the Kohn family and their friends?
  • Look for the lyrics of ‘Dance Me to the End of Love’ by Leonard Cohen. What connections do you see to the movie?

 Part III – The Kohn’s visit Auschwitz and Lodz

https://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=DpfID7pLe7M&feature=endscreen

  • What’s the meaning of the Polish questions Adolek poses from the train car?
  • What is so amazing for Adolek being back in Poland?

Part IV – Interviews with Adolek Kohn

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4Wou79PZ98

  • Why did Adolek Kohn return to Auschwitz to dance?

Part V – Media responses

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iPgKloQMeh8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nf3T4q9PVPU&NR=1&feature=endscreen (from beginning to 1:17)

  • What are arguments for and against the dance?
  • Why do you think Universal Music had the original film deleted? Only for copyright reasons?

Part VI – Your Opinion

  • What do you think about Adolek Kohn’s dance in Auschwitz?
  • Is it appropriate?
  • Was the posting of the video on the Internet appropriate?

Teaching perspectives

I believe that the survey results are for the most part, accurate. However, I also think that my answers to the questions and, therefore, the results depend very much on the context. My dominant perspective of Apprenticeship with a back-up in transmission roots in the fact that I am teaching a foreign language and its culture in a small university program in a country where this language is not widely spoken on a daily basis. If I taught Spanish, my approach would be completely would look completely different. For my students, my two part-time colleagues and I are the only fluent German-speakers they have access to on a daily basis.

Would I teach German literature at a German university, this perspective would be completely different. I could rely on previous knowledge of students of  classic as well as contemporary writers. There would be no language barrier (i.e. no need to provide glossas of difficult vocabulary, …) to understand the German text.

I a a bit surprised by the relative low score of Nurturing as I consider myself a teachers who works with struggling students, try to establish a community of German learners (Immersion Days – day-long retreats outside of Fredericksburg where only German is spoken), and challenge talented students (7 this semester) to do undergraduate research that results in honors theses.

As was pointed out earlier, I don’t really see the need for social reform in my teaching German language and culture. Again, this is context-driven. Teaching a FSEM on German and U.S. representations of the Holocaust might have much more of a social impact than instructing students on the particulars of German irregular verbs or the influence of Goethe on German romanticism.

Thoughts on teaching survey

I enjoyed taking the Teaching Perspectives Profile survey, though I often wasn’t too sure how to answer the questions. For example, I teach mostly “value theory” courses such as ethics, social-political philosophy, and philosophy of law. I do want students to develop a richer understanding of ethics with a sincere hope that this helps them to develop their own moral views with care, which will enable them to make positive change in their lives and society. But I do not think that I should tell them which values or beliefs they should embrace, or whether society should be changed in this way or that. That part is up to them. My job is to help them identify better from worse arguments, to help them see nuances not obvious to them before, and to challenge them to reflect on their own views. I want social change, but I have to trust my students to discover their own place in that in a way that is good for them. My scores for “Social Reform” were, then, understandably lower than the other areas even though this is something I care about deeply.

Social-political assignment

(The beginnings of) An Assignment for Social-Political Philosophy: Marijuana Legalization

One of the best ways of gaining a more thorough understanding of key competing social-political theories is to see how they would play out in relation to contemporary debates. With this in mind, each student must do the following, over the course of four weeks:

Project weeks 1-4

  1.  Find articles—both academic and popular media sources—that make the case either for and against the legalization of marijuana in the U.S. Post the three that you think best articulate arguments that can be indentified (even roughly) as utilitarian, libertarian, social conservative, and/or liberal (of a Rawlsian sort). As you post the articles for your classmates, highlight specific arguments and identify which theory is being used. Each article will probably make use of elements from more than one of the competing theories, so please be careful to identify and label specific arguments (e.g., one or a few paragraphs) in the articles.
  2. Review what your classmates have posted and pick two (each should be from a different student) and say whether and why you agree that the arguments highlighted are labeled correctly.
  3. Develop and post your own analysis of the facts and arguments given in one of the articles. In short, should marijuana be legalized or not? In doing this, base your position as clearly as you can on analyses of the above listed social-political theories. Draw on your class readings and the postings from all students. Limit your posts to the equivalent of two single-spaced, typed pages.
  4. Respond to at least one of your classmates positions, identifying its strengths and weakness. Limit your posts to the equivalence of two single-spaced, typed pages.

Liberal Arts Values

One of the goals of a liberal arts education is to expose students to new ideas—although mere exposure is probably not the ultimate objective; rather, it is a necessary ingredient in helping students become well-rounded, critical, and autonomous thinkers and better democratic citizens. Education that allows students to live and think within the comfortable confines of their inherited worldviews is education that too often fails to provide students with the tools to embrace and navigate the diverse world in which we live. The aim is not necessarily to get students to reject the views they bring to college, but to help them to critically analyze and develop their beliefs. Confronting new, unorthodox, and sometimes even initially strange ideas and perspectives provides a contrast class against which to critically compare already held views. As students confront new situations and diverse cultures they gain a greatly expanded set of concepts and theories from which to draw, thus better enabling them to understand and empathize.  It is not, then, simply the exposure to new ideas that matters, but the importance of this to the other values of a liberal arts education.  Importantly, without care new ideas could be simply memorized as needed for an exam, only to be quickly forgotten or, worse, to have no impact on a person’s thinking at all.  Perhaps the point is, then, that just as more conversation is not always better conversation, the value of being exposed to new ideas can be had only in the context of, for example, critical thinking and personal growth.

 

Critical thinking and puzzling (“problematizing”) is essential to the creation of autonomous thinkers and able participants in a democracy valuing diversity.  Why?  The straightforward answer is that if a person confronted with new ideas is unable to critically appraise those ideas, he or she will simply reject any challenge to his or her own beliefs, will simply embrace the new claim and hence be manipulated at will, or will be utterly incapable of building a coherent worldview that draws carefully from their inherited and new views. The result is paralysis or the lack of integrity.

One of the often overlooked steps in critical appraisal is being able to find the fault lines—the weaknesses as well as strengths—of competing positions.  This is different from simply saying that something is bad because it doesn’t fit with one’s already held views.  Problematizing is not a cynical, arrogant enterprise aimed at scoring points against an opponent.  Educators must equip students with the ability to identify the premises and underlying assumptions of claims to then identify where potential weakness and strengths exist.  Engaging with students (as opposed to announcing one’s own evaluations) and modeling critical thinking (as opposed to cynicism or arrogance) is crucial.   

Resource Project- Elementary Social Studies Methods

Resource Project- Submitted through Google Forms

Part 1 -Annotated Literary Reference list

Select, read and write summaries for 5 (five) children’s literature titles (K-6) and evaluate each title for its NCSS & VA-SOL thematic relationship to Social Studies content and disciplines.  Key elements of the annotation must include: (1) SS VA-SOL content standard and NCSS themes, (2) the readability level of the text and a brief summary statement of the plot, and (3) at least one literary (story) theme. The annotation should then describe (4) a lesson activity that integrates the book’s social studies theme with another content area and (5) list a sample lesson activity. Activities from published sources may be modified, with proper APA citation.

Part 2 – Social Studies Class Database

In addition to the above described reference list, identify 5 (five) other sources (e.g. web sites, periodicals, texts) that support the integration of literature and Social Studies. Complete an annotation for each source (i.e. title, description, web address etc) with a suggestion for its use to support a Social Studies-related lesson/SOL.

TPI Results- John Broome

While I find the survey interesting, I am wary of it’s results.* I was mostly Developmental with also dominant traits in Apprenticeship and Nurturing. I think these fit my personality as a teacher educator. I structure my courses based on Bloom’s Taxonomy and teach students developmental content. I also provide opportunities for students to practice these developmental theories through practicum and service-learning based assignments in a safe learning evironment. I think the learner and skills are more important than content. I have never been on for trasmission theories. I also think that social reform has its appropriate time and place and given the sensitive nature of teaching now, I have my students approach cautiously.

*I’m not really sure of the five perspectives of teaching. I find the interpretation section of the survey confusing. I am also unable to decode my total scores.

Course Assignment

I have a very rough idea for a course assignment (for Greek and Latin Roots of English) that is designed to pull together students’ lexical and database research and close readings of ancient and modern texts in translation into a creative presentation that organizes what they’ve learned into a disciplinary perspective.  I’m still a bit unclear as to how best to stage the individual steps of the process and what technologies would best achieve the learning goals, but the idea is that each student would produce a documentary-styled, individual research project involving the researched etymological history of a word, its variant appearances/contexts in ancient texts and disciplines and its range of usage in a modern discipline—all of this story-boarded, coherently “imaged” and made into digital film with voice-over technology (using something like I-Movie, I-Thoughts HD, and a digital dropbox).  This project will be peer evaluated both in and out of class and edited over time.  As a final project, the students will provide a meta-analysis of the project and how their cognitive process shifted at various stages of the process.

Values

Exposure to New Ideas:  A Liberal Arts education offers opportunities for the learner to discover traditions of thought and inquiry to which the learner had not formerly been exposed and to explore the value of the thoughts and traditions of others.  Pushing the boundaries of one’s comfort zone to seek deep understanding of others’ points of view is preliminary to any mode of conflict resolution. 

 

 Service:  There is no higher intention than the intention to serve others’ highest good.  The tradition of Liberal Arts going all the way back to Plato begins with this inquiry: “What is the highest good and how can we know it and pursue it?”  What the highest good is is not always easy to determine, and determining the highest good through ethical, epistemological and political inquiry should be the fertile ground from which actions of service grow.  A liberal arts education helps learners grow this process of inquiry from simplistic to more complex and sophisticated forms of reasoning.

Teaching Style Survey

The results of my teaching perspectives profile indicate that my dominant teaching style is Developmental, which Pratt and Collins describe in the following way:

 

“Effective teaching must be planned and conducted “from the learner’s point of view.  Good teachers must understand how their learners think and reason about the content. The primary goal is to help learners develop increasingly complex and sophisticated cognitive structures for comprehending the content. The key to changing those structures lies in a combination of two skills: (1) effective questioning that challenges learners to move from relatively simple to more complex forms of thinking, and (2) ‘bridging knowledge’ which provides examples that are meaningful to the learner. Questions, problems, cases, and examples form these bridges that teachers use to transport learners from simpler ways of thinking and reasoning to new, more complex and sophisticated forms of reasoning. Good teachers adapt their knowledge to learners’ levels of understanding and ways of thinking.”

 

My high score in the “developmental” style was 40, but all of the various styles fell at or above 32, suggesting that most objections to any one style are moderately held. 

 

The lowest scores, equally distributed at scores of “32”, were “transmission” and “social reform”.  I found this to be interesting, because as I was reading the “transmission” summary characteristics, I believe that in practice, my teaching really does embody many of the characteristics of this style, but without the primary or dominant agenda being the transmission of content matter.  For example, I aim at ‘providing clear objectives, adjusting the pace of lecturing, making efficient use of class time, clarifying misunderstandings, and memorable presentation,’ but with the goal of deepening students’ sophistication for thinking and reasoning.

 

My scores do make some sense to me, but I wonder if my scores would come out quite differently if I took it on another day.

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