The Teacher Study Group project was designed to serve as a useful and viable professional development effort for rural teachers. The list of project assumptions below played a role in determining the readings selected for study, the discussions that have emanated from the readings, and the curricular and instructional enhancements/refinements that emanate from the discussions.
Theobald currently facilitates two teacher study groups, one in Alexander, NY, the other in Randolph, NY. Each is a group of eight educators who read articles and books and discuss the implications of what they read on their day-to-day work lives.
- Learning and the development of understanding, on the part of both teachers and students, is a cognitively constructive act. Exposure to new insights, new ideas, new methods will not generate learning without a level of mental engagement that facilitates the construction of new understanding.
- One imminently necessary ingredient for creating this sort of mental engagement is context; that is, topics, ideas, methods, require an easily recognized and generally understood situation or set of circumstances—thus very often local—that learners can use to exercise their powers of sense-making.
- Schools have a very direct role to play in preparing future adults for the world of work, but that role should also rightly include the ability to define the world of work—to provide the intellectual wherewithal required to create economic opportunity where none exists, to lobby for rejection of policies that will remove extant economic opportunities or inhibit the development of new ones.
- Keen instructional and curricular imaginations on the part of teachers can bring vitality to the life of rural schools and rural communities.
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