Big Ideas courses are co-designed by two or more faculty members with expertise in different disciplines and engage with more than one distribution area (thereby earning credit in those two distributional areas with a single course). Students will be limited to one Big Ideas course per semester.



IDEA 125

 Getting Schooled in America

Derek Furr

Erica Kaufman

 T  Th     4:40 pm-7:00 pm

RKC 103





6 credits  Urban Dictionary defines “getting schooled” as “losing a contest/game/battle/argument in a humiliating fashion while the other person shows you how it is done.” Despite its playfulness, this definition gestures towards the negative associations the term “schooling” often provokes. But as John Dewey wrote, “education is not preparation for life but is life itself,” and in the 20th and 21st centuries in the U.S., schooling has shaped how we live. This course begins with the premise that “getting schooled in America” is a topic of inquiry that is naturally interdisciplinary—encompassing learning theory, educational research, studies of cognition, ethnographies, and literary studies. We will read widely and variously in order to interrogate the concept and institution of “school” and, as informed citizens, place our personal experiences of schooling in the balance with an understanding of the politics, philosophy, and social science of education. We will also look critically at the story of getting schooled in America as a contested narrative, shaped by such questions as

·         What is the relationship between “school” and “education”? How has my schooling shaped me and my education?

·         How is schooling influenced by place, politics, and personal identity? How, in turn, does schooling influence those things?

·         What is wrong with school in America? What is right about it?

·         As an engaged citizen, how can I affect education and schooling in the US?

Film screenings and guest lectures will complement close readings of texts such as memoirs by Harriet Jacobs, Zitkala-Sa, Henry Adams, Richard Wright, Richard Rodriguez, and Adrienne Rich; poetry and fiction by Audre Lorde and James Baldwin; educational theory and history from Lisa Delpit, Patricia Graham, Deborah Meier, Diane Ravitch, Bob Moses, and ED Hirsch; educational philosophy by John Dewey, Noam Chomsky; policy documents from the Standards movement; and recent research in schooling and cognition by Daniel Willingham. As a final project, students will develop an ethnographic case study of someone’s experience of school.   Class size: 30