READ THIS:

Choose one:

To Teach: The Journey of a Teacher (Teachers College Press)

A Kind and Just Parent:The Children of Juvenile Court (Beacon)

Teaching Toward  Freedom: Moral Commitment and Ethical Action in the Classroom (Beacon)

City Kids/ City Schools (The New Press)

Then make up your own mind, and send me a comment.

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117 Responses to READ THIS:

  1. Brooke says:

    Mr. Ayers,

    I have lived in Nebraska all my life. Please don’t hold that against me. I am sickened and embarrassed by the uneducated condemnation you have received at the hands of individuals who should know better or at least keep their small-minded opinions to themselves; people who are educated, but choose to only use their education to pad their credentials, rather than to better their lives or the lives of those around them. I admire someone like yourself who is willing to incur risk to change the human condition for the better. Lets hope that there are enough people like that voting in this election so Barack Obama will have the opportunity to demonstrate that he also is willing to risk to improve the human condition. “But we’ve always done it this way” simply isn’t working anymore.
    With admiration for your courage,

    Brooke B

  2. Kristin Kae Cox says:

    I have been coming here for a few weeks–after all the brouhaha started. I read To Teach while I was going to college and never made the connection until a lady here in Montana wrote a letter to the editor. I find it truly strange how it is okay in some people’s minds for our country to fight an unjust war, to kill innocent people and call it collateral damage, to even kill our own for exercising their constitutional rights–Kent State–but when people like the Weatherman stage protests that kill no one they are deemed “terrorists.” I wonder if these same people–were they alive back in the day–would have had the same critism of the “Sons of Liberty?” It’s amazing how the lessons of history are lost even on those who were there–Vietnam was a manufactured war based on a faulty theory that destroyed a large part of a generation of Americans and Vietnamese! Thank you for standing against that–I understand what you meant when you said “I wish we had done more.”

    That said, I commend you for standing up for your beliefs back than and for sharing your knowledge and insight with teachers now. Thank you, Kristin

  3. Ernie Smith says:

    I had to laugh when I read in an interview you saying something about only a handful of people ever buying or reading “Prairie Fire”, well you can count me as one of them and I believe I still have it stashed somewhere.

  4. New Teacher says:

    Dr. Ayers,
    Your writings have taught me the value of the “libertarian” classroom—
    how the libertarian climate in which the teacher avoids becoming didactic and dictatorial promotes individuality, advancement and excellence in the students.

    from To Teach:
    “Classrooms are yeasty places, where an entire group comes together and creates a distinctive and dynamic culture; sometimes things bubble and rise; sometimes they are punched down and killed off.”

    Clearly then, the same vision holds true for society at large.

    “Social Darwinism” produced the Progressive Movement.
    History shows the Progressive Movement, i.e. Jane Addams et al, were sincere, effective and efficient during their all-volunteer grassroots beginnings before quickly becoming condescending, paternalistic, and self-perpetuating once corrupted for votes or for pay.

    Socialism corrupts its ostensibly humanitarian sentiments further by establishing it through force: control of “education,” the economy and ultimately, by force of arms against is own citizenry. Nevermind the unintended negative societal consequences of cynicism and resentment such imposition breeds along its downward path to oppression.

    “A socialist society can’t tolerate groups of people practicing freedom,
    while a libertarian society can comfortably allow people to choose voluntary socialism.” ––Boaz (sounds like the Neillian ideal of a libertarian classroom)

    “Child-centered” liberal pedagogy is laudable for its transformative, transcendent and spiritually hopeful effects within the minds of the individual students and thus, the culture of the classroom. How do its advocates reconcile this with their widespread hypocritical support of the culturally stifling oppressive brutality of socialism…? …also, doesn’t this extend to the idea of compulsory education?

    Sorry, Dr. Ayers, since you have so positively influenced me toward gaining the means for seeing my students as individuals, I cannot advocate a system of government that would impose upon them within society the same force and manipulation that would harm their ascendancy, personal and human evolution within the classroom.

    “Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted with the government of himself.
    Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others?
    Or have we found angels in the form of kings to govern him?
    Let history answer this question.” —Thomas Jefferson: 1st Inaugural, 1801.

  5. New Teacher says:

    Good Morning Dr. Ayers!
    Home late after a long day yesterday I was too wound-up to sleep right away.

    I watched Charlie Rose interview Toni Morrison about her latest novel.

    This is an excerpt from Seattle Times book review:
    [Morrison's book, "A Mercy," examines what might be called a "pre-racial" America , the formative years at the end of the 17th century when our forebears still had a chance of turning their collective backs against slavery. As the 1993 Nobel Prize winner shows in this slight but powerful story, many forces — economic, sociological, psychological — combined to reinforce racism and sexism before they were institutionalized.]

    I think I blew an opportunity last night of sharing with the class years of cumulative research into pre-colonial American History that I was so vindicated to learn I now share with Toni Morrison.

    I no longer feel so alone !

    Her novel describes the climate of 17th century Jamestown-era Virginia and the London Company.
    During this period, free blacks flourished and many owned slaves.
    There may not have been many of them, but their legacy and families remained powerful and independent all through the subsequent centuries of war and turmoil despite governmental efforts and they produced great and learned Americans as well as sustained agrarian and commercial dynasties that lasted even through reconstruction to today.

    You never hear about them. Why?

    I think it is a damning message to give children that all they are is descendents of human chattel when in fact, their “race” despite momentarily having come from a technologically different universe, immediately joined the new world as equals and were never “inferior”–in fact, they were respected and treated as such, UNTIL:

    The early democratic Jamestown colony became ruled by a tiny minority of elites appointed by the King. Poor white and black indentured servants (separate from the independent merchant/farmer/shipping class of free blacks) were truly equal and racism had no part in their lives.
    Intermarriage was normal because they were of the same “class”.

    An uprising (detailed in Toni’s book) resulted in the minority of ruling elites recognizing they were dangerously outnumbered and theirs was a government solution: manipulating social behavior through draconian laws that demonized color so that black and white would no longer join against them.

    Its the institutionalization of racism and prejudice through government and laws that we continue to suffer from today. I believe our schools and students suffer from a continuation of not viewing people as united against ruling elites.

    My message has always been that we as educators, are constantly reminded of principles like ” not expecting high expectations” and the “self-fulfilling prophecy of labeling” but support policies that continue to divide us and discourage us based on race, and only serve that purpose for those in power as plainly as when they were first devised in Jamestown colony.

    The timing of this book is propitious with our new president.

    The condescending lies (or at best, omissions) perpetuated in our history textbooks that I have tried to point out over the years have been met with utter confusion, rejection, and calling me a racist!
    I hope this book means I won’t have to keep silent and suffer ostracization.

    My hope was that through education of real history, Americans would come to the conclusion that the roots of hatred are top down and were never bottom up and that would unite us in common against our rulers who only pretend to fight among themselves in order to distract us.

    If governmental power is the cause of racism, then lessening their sociological and economic impact will bring us to back to the natural harmony we had as equal people.

    History education has failed us in this, because of wanting to preserve the same kind of power imbalance started in pre-colonial government, only it is a bureaucratic, political, and academic one– more nuanced and involving way more people than the simple Royal governors, but the evil principle and destructive human effects are the same.

    I only hope that Obama doesn’t perpetuate divisiveness in our country.
    I really hope he hasn’t truly joined with those in power to continue to bamboozle us.

    Hopefully the “change” his presidency represents isn’t merely that the power elite have welcomed a more effective tool to perpetuate themselves, but instead reminds us that we don’t need anyone but ourselves
    —I hope that becomes his overt message, and if it doesn’t, the results will guide us to see it for ourselves.

    Toni’s book might just open our eyes to how ‘ one ‘ we Americans once were and really should always have been, had we not accepted racial difference to seduce us into unjust power.

    Dr. Ayers talks of “social injustice”. Top-down polices have always been its cause, they cannot be its solution. Education is the key.

    Thank you Toni Morrison– I cannot wait to read this book.
    I wonder if she was among he supposed 4-6% of blacks who did NOT vote for Obama.

    I would like to see Oprah interview those educated blacks. —-I hope history proves them mistaken; only time will tell…I would just like to learn their motivation

    Sincerely,

    A New Teacher

  6. Bloke says:

    I hear you’re peddling a new book Ayers. Well don’t come to my town you fascist thug. You’ll regret it!

  7. Tonya says:

    I will even pray for your pathetic soul. The Lord’s mercy is very great.
    I will prove you helped in 9/11 Bill or I will die trying.

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