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American Educator
Spring 2009


Table of Contents


Why Don't Students Like School? (PDF)
Because the Mind Is Not Designed for Thinking
By Daniel T. Willingham

Strange as it may sound, the mind is not designed for thinking—it's designed to save us from having to think. Because thinking is slow, effortful, and uncertain, we rely on memory, not thought, to guide us whenever possible. Nonetheless, we are curious and we do like to think, so long as the issue or problem at hand is neither too easy nor too hard.

How Can Learning Facts Make Thinking More Enjoyable—and More Effective? (PDF)

Can We Make School More Enjoyable—and Effective—for "Slow" Students Too? (PDF)

From Picket Line to Partnership (PDF)
A Union, a District, and Their Thriving Schools
By Jennifer Dubin

The labor-management partnership in California's ABC Unified School District has brought teachers and administrators together to focus on improving student achievement, especially in the schools with the neediest students. The results are impressive, as is these leaders' commitment to collaboration.

Rethinking Accountability

When accountability is based solely on numerical outcomes like test scores, goal distortion is all too common. To prevent unintended consequences—such as narrowing instruction or focusing on students scoring just below proficient—states ought to conduct inspections, not just of schools, but of all youth development organizations.

What's Wrong with Accountability by the Numbers? (PDF)
By Richard Rothstein

Grading Education (PDF)
Test-Based Accountability Can't Work, but Testing Plus Careful School Inspections Can
By Richard Rothstein, Rebecca Jacobsen, and Tamara Wilder

Purposeful, Playful Pre-K (PDF)
Building on Children's Natural Proclivity to Learn Language, Literacy, Mathematics, and Science
By Tanya S. Wright and Susan B. Neuman

Research shows that young children have a natural proclivity to learn language, literacy, mathematics, and science. But just what does excellent prekindergarten instruction in these domains look like? Here's a hint: it's carefully planned, but involves plenty of free and structured play.

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Winter 2008–2009

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About American Educator

American Educator is a quarterly journal of educational research and ideas published by the American Federation of Teachers. Recent articles have focused on such topics as reducing the achievement gap between poor and affluent students, heading off student discipline problems, teaching an appreciation and understanding of democracy, the benefits of a common coherent curriculum, and other issues affecting children and education here and abroad. Total circulation, as of our most recent issue, is over 900,000.

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American Educator, Spring 2009 cover

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