Skip Course Information

Course Information

Instructor Info:Kristen Luschen
Office Extension x5357
TA Info:Kayla Hogan
Melanie Kates
Term: 2013S
Meeting Info: Thursday
12:30 PM - 03:20 PM Franklin Patterson Hall (FPH) ELH

This course will examine American public education as an institution in the context of a multicultural society. Students in the class will analyze the complex and conflicting social, political and economic conditions from which educational policies and practices emerge. The organization of the readings, discussions and class projects will explore how discourses of race, ethnicity, class, gender and sexuality enliven contradictory framings of public education as both a site hope as well as a site of conflict, tension and oppression. This course will serve as a starting point for analyzing educational practices, policies, and theoretical concepts in a critical sociological manner. By addressing debates around educational funding, multicultural education, school (de)segregation, language and culture, community-school relationships, the meaning of democratic education, the regulation of bodies in school spaces, significant and on-going attention will given to how education discourses have been, and continue to be, constructed through the working of power in relationship to knowledge. Students enrolling in the course will be required to participate in a community based learning project in addition to class meetings.

Course Objectives:

The class will examine research, film, and personal narratives in order to :

  • Examine the common school movement and key aspects of the history of public education
  • Identify ways that nationalism and citizenship are significant processes shaping the articulation of public education.
  • Develop the capacity to examine educational tensions from multiple perspectives.
  • Explore current federal education reform and school choice efforts in historical and political context.
  • Understand the concepts of segregation and integration as they relate to the experiences of educational inequality and privilege for members of various social identity groups (e.g. race, gender, disability)
  • Critically examine and explore approaches to anti-racist and multicultural education. 
  • Become familiar with strategies for employing technology in classroom and youth work.
  • Analyze personal experience/stories within the context of social, economic and political inequalities


Evaluation Criteria:

Course Assignments and Expectations

Reminder: Please keep copies of all work!


1. Attendance and Participation:


Our discussions are opportunities to co-create vibrant, diverse, meaningful and intellectually stimulating experiences.  Hence, active participation is necessary in this course. By active participation I mean that students should express their ideas, share their interpretation of the readings/texts, and relate the course ideas and readings to students’ life experiences when relevant and when posing thoughtful questions to the group. 


While I will do my best to create an intellectually challenging and supportive environment, I view class discussions as partnerships in which we all have both the privilege and obligation to contribute. Our partnership will falter and the discussion will be less complex and vibrant if each person’s voice does not enter into the

dialogue and shape the intellectual path of the course.


Given the experiences of privilege and marginalization that have shaped our lives, inclusive and intellectually challenging discussions are not “natural” or easy. Rather, engaging in multicultural and intellectually rigorous discussions takes work on all our parts…hence the need for “active” participation.  While there are many challenges to engaging in public dialogue about your ideas, here are the indicators by which you will be evaluated.



In order to be a member of the developing class community and aware of the history and progress of the changing dialogue you must be in class. Your contributions may be frequent and superb, but your ability to be an effective member of the class community will be impacted if you only attend sporadically. Students missing more than two classes will not receive an evaluation.


Quality of contribution: 

While quality of contribution is difficult to delineate, one key component is that it should reflect significant substantive preparation. What does this mean?  Aside from doing the required reading, an outstanding contributor provides the class with insight into the topic under discussion, judiciously shares personal experiences to demonstrate or extend conceptual or theoretical points, references the readings regularly, connects to other ideas or discussions that have occurred in previous classes, builds on points other contributors have made and respectfully challenges the perspective of others. 


Courage and Tact:

Classrooms are places for exploring and challenging our own ideas and assumptions.  In this class we will be examining issues that are controversial, emotionally charged, and in which we all are invested.  In order to explore our assumptions and ideas in a supportive and complex manner, we must be courageous and explore with tact.   Tact calls on us to be sensitive and thoughtful about how our comments will be heard and also to be aware that the contributor is taking risks by speaking. Courage demands that we take risks with our questions and allow ourselves to be vulnerable.  Courage calls on us to express our perspective and position because we can never achieve understanding if we hide and cloak our thoughts in artificial cordiality.


Electronic Devices such as Cell Phones & Laptops:  LAPTOPS ARE ALLOWED IN CLASS as this is an important medium for reading articles.  However, do not use the laptop for activities other than note taking and referring to readings. Unless we are involved in an assignment that might be enhanced by the laptop, your laptop should remain closed.  If I notice you are checking facebook, email, etc. I will ask you kindly to stop.  If I notice it a second time, you will be withdrawn from the classDO NOT use your cell phone, if you are expecting an emergency call, please alert me before class, put your device on silent mode, and leave the classroom when the call comes in.


Policy on Late Work:

Complete all assignments on time. Late work will only be accepted if the student requests and receives approval for an extension before the day the paper is due. 


On Plagiarism from NSNS “Ethics of Scholarship”

Plagiarism covers everything from inadvertently passing off the work of another as one’s own (whether due to ignorance, time constraint, or careless note taking) to hiring a ghostwriter to produce an examination or course paper. This range of possibilities includes False Citation, False Data, Intentional Poor Documentation, Papers Written by Others, unacknowledged multiple authors or collaboration, or unacknowledged multiple submission.  Disciplinary action will be taken if a student plagiarizes.  So don’t do it – learn how to cite your sources correctly. If you’re not sure if you need a citation, veer towards the safe route and cite. 



2. Community Engaged Learning: School Placement & Reflective Assignments

Each student in the course is expected to spend three hours a week in a classroom starting February 11th through the first week of May.   For students entering the Mt. Holyoke licensure program, this will be a pre-practicum experience.  My goal for this assignment is that students have the opportunity to explore the complexities of teaching and learning while reflecting on the relationship of theory and practice.   Each student will gain experience for students it that they will gain a realistic sense of school practices and how classrooms operate by becoming more familiar with you, your students, and the classroom environment. You are responsible for negotiating the details of how you will work in the class with the teacher. Depending on educator’s needs, you may be asked to be an "unobtrusive observer," lend additional hands in the classroom, or take notes related to a particular question that you and the educator may share.   Please remember, you are an adult in the school building and my expectation is that you will maintain a professional appearance and approach with staff and students.


There will be brief weekly reflective assignments assigned to support students in thinking critically about their position in the school and the relationship of teaching, learning, assigned readings and classroom observations.


A Day at Hampshire College: Wednesday April 3, 2013

The Critical Studies of Childhood, Youth, and Learning program will host over 100 seventh grade students from the Peck School in Holyoke for A DAY AT HAMPSHIRE COLLEGE on Wednesday, April 3.  For a course project, you may opt to be involved with the planning and implementation of the event.  If you are apply and are accepted as a student coordinator, you will be responsible for planning an aspect of the event, mentoring students throughout the day, and leading a 45-60 minute workshop for the event. Each student will submit a lesson plan and a reflection paper that explores their research and reflects on the process of creating and teaching the workshop.



Holyoke Bound: Students assigned to the school in Holyoke (Kelly or Peck) should plan to attend the Holyoke Bound orientation on Saturday, February 9, 2013. Transportation will be provided. Register at:


3. Digital Story: Educational Hopes/Educational Histories

Rina Benmayor (2008) has called digital storytelling a “signature pedagogy” and notes that “Digital storytelling is an assets-based pedagogy where students can bring their own cultural knowledge and experiences to the fore, including their skills and comfort with technology, to transform their thinking and empower themselves.”


Students will create a 3-4 minute digital story- inclusive of images, music and narrative that is emblematic of the educational tensions you have experienced.  The process of creating and sharing (digital) stories is intended to catalyze our critical engagement with issues of power and privilege in school and to speak about our experiences as located within these dynamics.  Students will present their digital stories in class and write a 3-5 page essay reflecting on your story and digital story production within the context of course readings


4. Final paper & presentation

The final paper will be a 10-12 page integrative essay exploring a question that ties in course readings, independent research, and student’s classroom placement.  Student will propose their paper topic, submit a draft for peer review and complete a revised, polished, essay to be handed in with the final portfolio version


5. Course Retrospective:

This essay asks you to reflect on your learning in this course.  In particular, you should address what assumptions about schooling and social justice you have explored and challenged.  This retrospective is an ideal space to discuss your community engaged learning experience and how your work in this course has contributed to your understanding of power/knowledge and race in the United States (MCP DIV II requirement).