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CYL Courses across the Schools

Cognitive Science

Learning at Hampshire: An Educational Research Course: One definition of "research" is that it is a systematic investigation to solve new or existing problems or to develop new ideas. In this research course, we will have learning at Hampshire as the subject of our research, developing explanations about what excites students and faculty about the pedagogy and educational structure at Hampshire College and what leads to strong student learning. We will use a variety of research methods, from interview to observation, survey to content analysis (as appropriate to our questions) to understand teaching and learning here. Of course, in order to carry out our research, we will read relevant literature on human learning, what promotes learning, and how to help more students succeed. Students will work as a research team along with the professor.

The Emergence of Literacy: The majority of adults are able to read fluently. When children learn to read, however, the process is dependent on a number of skills and requires a great deal of adult guidance. In this course we will discuss the cultural importance of literacy across societies and throughout childhood. We will focus on the development of the complex skill of reading, including phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, and higher-order processes that contribute to decoding and text comprehension. Because instruction can play a determining factor in children's acquisition of literacy skills, we will study early reading materials and examine strategies that are employed in the classroom to facilitate the acquisition of these skills. Evaluation will be based on class participation, a series of short papers, and a longer final project.

Cognitive Development: In this course we will discuss the processes by which children come to acquire, recall, and use knowledge. This course will focus on development from infancy to middle childhood. By reading primary literature, we will examine the emergence and refinement of children's ability to form concepts, recall the past, and extend knowledge to new situations. We will consider methodological challenges and approaches to studying children's abilities, including naturalistic observations, and controlled laboratory studies. We will review literature on findings and theories of development in each area and discuss how changes in children's representational abilities contribute to these abilities. Students will make class presentations based on research articles, write short papers in response to class topics, and develop a research proposal on a topic of interest discussed in the course.

Social Development: Social relationships and social understanding are important parts of our lives from infancy onward. In this course we will explore the developmental significance of parent-child and peer relationships from infancy into childhood and adolescence. We will also discuss children's understanding of theory of mind, gender, emotions, and self. In particular, we will focus on age-related changes in these skills and how they impact social relationships. We will also consider cross-cultural difference in patterns of social behavior. Evaluation will be based on participation, a series of short papers, and a longer final project. Students will read research articles and be responsible for class presentations.

Effort, Motivation, Aptitude, and Achievement: Equity and excellence have historically been seen as competing goals in American education. We can no longer afford to see them as incompatible: too many young people in urban schools are failing and subgroups of students in the suburbs are graduating at appallingly different rates. But in order to transform schools, we must examine our underlying assumptions about who succeeds and why, and we must identify the structural features of schooling that help maintain these views. In this course, we explore beliefs about aptitude and effort, asking such questions as: What is aptitude? What is the relationship between aptitude and effort? Do they affect one another? How do we motivate learners to put in the effort necessary for success? What might schools that embrace equity and excellence look like? This course includes a group research project exploring ideas about aptitude, effort, and motivation here at Hampshire or in the public schools.

Designing Curriculum for Learning in Formal and Non-Formal Settings: In the current political climate, schools are pressed to teach a curriculum that is a mile wide and an inch deep. Yet evidence from cognitive psychology shows that such a curriculum does not result in conceptual understanding or the acquisition of higher order thinking. In addition, much important learning is taking place in after-school and alternative settings. In this course students learn how to develop curriculums that help young people become capable of critical thinking and engaging deeply in learning opportunities. Each student develops a curriculum unit on a topic of their choice. In addition, students get some practice teaching. This course is designed for Division II and III students who are interested in teaching in formal or non-formal settings or who are developing curriculum as part of their independent work.

Humanities, Arts, and Cultural Studies

Producing Youth/Culture: This course will examine youth culture and performance. We will explore these topics through an integrated approach, focusing on the dynamics between educational, socio-cultural, and developmental perspectives. This course will emphasize field methodology, requiring students to conduct an independent, ethnographic project that researches some aspect of youth and performance. Readings will explore the intersections of scholarship across identity, popular culture, music, youth studies, educational studies, and ethnography. Designed for Division II or first semester Division III students, this seminar will encourage the exchange of ideas, writing, and research experiences among students; each will present their work several times during the semester.

Fictions of Childhood: This interdisciplinary course will combine critical studies of literature with critical approaches to childhood and psychological and psychoanalytic perspectives (particularly the writings of D. W. Winnicott). This course will focus initially on literary texts written for adults that feature children as subjects, and will conclude with a unit on texts written for a child audience. We will explore questions about the representation of children and childhood; the relation of child and adult worlds; childhood and memory or forbidden knowledge; and children, imagination, and language.First year students considering this class need to contact one of the instructors. The class will be pitched at the Division II level and will presume strong reading and writing skills.

Victorian Childhood: Self and Society in the Nineteenth Century: This course provides an introduction to changing cultural conceptions of childhood in the nineteenth century. We will read novels (Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist and George Eliot's The Mill on the Floss) alongside poetry (William Blake's Songs of Innocence and of Experience and Elizabeth Barrett Browning's The Cry of the Children) and children's literature by Lewis Carroll, Edward Lear, Rudyard Kipling, Frances Hodgson Burnett, and J. M. Barrie. These texts will be studied in the context of sociological analyses of children's experience such as Henry Mayhew's London Labor and the London Poor and in light of labor legislation throughout the century. We will also address the construction of childhood and adolescence in popular culture through the study of boys' and girls' magazines, many of which increasingly depicted children as the future of the British empire. This writing-intensive project-based course is designed to appeal to students interested in literature and cultural studies, history, and child studies.

Interdisciplinary Arts

Classroom Drama: Theatre Education K-12: This course focuses on strategies and techniques for teaching creative drama and theatre with young people in primary and secondary school settings including afterschool programming. Throughout the semester we will answer questions such as: What tools and skills are required to design and implement theatre curriculum? How is youth theatre implemented in schools? How can readers theatre and oral interpretation of literature be utilized in classrooms? In addition, students in this course will focus on building their facilitation skills and establishing their teaching philosophy. The intersections of critical pedagogy and creative pedagogy will be central to this component of the course. Guest artist educators and community engaged learning experiences will provide practical examples of theatre education. Prerequisite: Some coursework in theatre and/or education.

Storytelling as Performance: Voice, Body, Narrative: Storytelling is an oral art form whose practice provides a means of preserving and transmitting images, ideas, motivations, and emotions. The practice of oral literature is storytelling. A central, unique aspect of storytelling is its reliance on the audience to develop specific visual imagery and detail to complete and co-create the story. The primary emphasis of this course is in developing storytelling skills through preparation, performance, and evaluation. In this class you will research storytelling traditions and the resurgence of storytelling in America. Participants will engage in exercises and activities to enhance the delivery of telling stories; learn to incorporate various techniques to engage audiences; and develop an awareness of resources, materials, and philosophies of storytelling. This class is designed to help participants build a storytelling repertoire which will express their unique identities as tellers.

Dramatizing Children's Literature: From Creative Drama to Theatre for Young Audiences: This course is designed to introduce students to the ways in which children's literature has influenced and informed the field of child drama. We'll start by examining an array of children's literature with an emphasis on critical literacy and representations of childhood, family, ethnicity, race, gender, sexuality, ability, and class. We'll consider how creative drama strategies (story dramatization, theatre games, drama in education, etc.) can serve as analytical tools to empower children to challenge dominant social and cultural storylines and to imaginatively deconstruct and reconstruct these narratives in conversation with their own stories. Throughout the semester, we will simultaneously engage in a discussion of plays for young audiences that are adaptations of children's literature. What (and whose) stories are being staged and how do storytelling structures, motifs, and illustrations impact the crafting of a script? For the final project, students will work with child consultants using creative drama to explore a piece of children's literature and then adapt it into a play script.

Advocating for Arts in Education: Arts education advocacy has become commonplace for schools, educators, teaching artists, community arts organizations, parents, and other proponents of the arts. What trends in education policy and practice have prompted this upsurge in arts education advocacy? Numerous studies have been conducted to support and validate the value of the arts in schools. What do these studies assert regarding the social, cognitive, and emotional benefits of the arts? How has the debate concerning arts integration versus the arts for arts sake been shaped and articulated? What role do arts based schools serve in this climate? In this course, we will seek to answer some of these questions as well as conduct research projects in collaboration with several local arts education organizations. Our focus will be primarily on the performing arts, music, dance, and theatre arts in schools.

Radical Youth Theatre and the Citizen Artist: Youth theatre, predictably, describes theatre for and by young people. Youth theatre at its best is a safe space in which young people explore issues and take risks while learning the art of theatre making. This youth theatre course is comprised of three main segments: Research, skill building, and creative practice. We will begin by researching local, national, and international youth theatre troupes with a focus on activism. Next we will learn and practice strategies for directing/facilitating youth theatre (including applied theatre methods and techniques for devising original work). Finally, students will engage in an extensive community based learning experience working with a group of youth as citizen artists co-creating an original performance piece.

Critical Pedagogy in Action: Critical pedagogy is a mode of teaching and learning in which students and teachers as co-learners endeavor through personal contextualization, critical analysis and dialogic engagement to actively identify and challenge the paradigms of oppression that affect us both in and outside the classroom. One of the fundamental tenets of critical pedagogy is that of "praxis" an ongoing reflective approach to taking action which, according to critical pedagogue Paulo Freire, involves engaging in a cycle of theory, application, evaluation, reflection and then back to theory. Social transformation is the product of praxis at the collective level. In this course we will explore theoretical work on alternative, radical, and liberatory education including the writings of Paulo Freire, Bell Hooks, Henry Giroux, and Parker Palmer. Concurrently we will plan and implement practical teaching exercises utilizing various forms of creative expression (visual art, poetry, drama, movement, etc.) thus striving to connect theory with practice. Interested students should have some experience working with children or youth.

Teaching Art to Children: This course will explore methods of teaching art to children in grades K-12. We will plan lessons and units of study in both art and art integration while learning theoretical and practical approaches relevant to the teaching of visual arts. Working in groups and individually students will apply creative and critical thinking to explore structured and experimental approaches to teaching art. This is a hands-on class, which will include art teaching observations and exploration of art teaching methods. Teaching Art to Children is recommended for anyone with an interest in teaching K-12 general education or art education.

Critical Social Inquiry

Belonging in Schools: Large numbers of students, particularly Latino, African American, and Native American students, disengage from school every year. Often this is in the form of "dropping out." However, there also is clear evidence that social policies as well school policies and practices work to push these students out of schools or exclude them all together. This course will examine the conditions of schooling that work to support students' formal and informal disengagement with school. We will explore what schools and their community partners can do to reengage students in schooling. We will explore research and current models of schooling that address the cultivation of a sense of belonging and community in schools. In particular, we will examine programs and schools that forefront community engagement, dialogue, racial justice, and student participation.

Rethinking Childhood: This course involves "rethinking childhood" by exploring ideas about young people through interweaving social and literary analysis. Readings encompass approaches to critical thinking about children and childhood in sociology, critical psychology, children's literature, and childhood studies, along with readings in twentieth century American poetry. A central goal of this course is to consider poetry for, by, and about children as sites for integrating literary and social analysis in the service of rethinking childhood.

Childhood, Youth, and Learning Division III Seminar: This seminar is designed for students pursuing a Division III project related to childhood, youth, or learning, and is appropriate for students whose primary work is in any of the five schools. We will begin the semester by considering the assumptions, perspectives, and methodologies involved in different disciplinary approaches to work related to childhood, young people, and/or education. The remainder of the course will involve students' presentations of works in progress, peer editing and feedback, and sharing strategies for completing large independent projects. This course is limited to Division III students.

Girls in Schools: The relationship of girls' empowerment to education has been and continues to be a key feminist issue. Second wave liberal feminism, for instance, strove to make schools more equitable places for girls, demanding equal access and resources for girls and boys in schools and the elimination of discrimination specifically impacting girls. Yet the relationship of gender inequality and schooling is a complicated and contentious site of research and policy. In this course we will examine how various feminist perspectives have defined and addressed the existence of gender inequality in American schools. By analyzing research, pedagogies, policies, and programs developed in the past few decades to address gender inequality and schooling, students should complete the course with a complex view of feminism and how these different, and at times contradictory, perspectives have contributed to the debates around educational inequality and the design of educational reform.

The American School: Education in a Multicultural Society: 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, and the regulation of bodies in school spaces, significant and on-going attention will be 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.

Poetry and Childhood: In this advanced seminar we use poetry as a site of thinking about children and childhood in the U.S. We will consider questions of power, perspective, and experience regarding children and adults, examine works in 20th century American poetry, engage with ideas about children and childhood, and explore poetry-writing in relation to thinking about children and childhood. Our goal will be to balance attention to questions about ideas with a consideration of questions about creative form. Readings will focus on poetry written for adult audiences, with some attention to poetry for young audiences, supplemented by readings in childhood studies and literary criticism. Assignments will encompass poetry writing and analytic writing. Previous coursework in childhood studies and creative writing is required.

Critical Youth Studies Seminar: In this advanced seminar-designed for students in Division II or Division III-we will critically examine ideas about children and youth through readings primarily in childhood studies, sociology of childhood, and critical developmental psychology. An important component of students' work in this course is to critically evaluate ideas, practices, and methodologies related to childhood and youth in their own academic studies, including areas not listed above such as youth and the arts, education, literature, and history. This course is recommended for students whose concentration intersects with the Critical Studies of Childhood, Youth, and Learning (CYL) program. Prerequisite: Previous coursework in childhood studies is required.

Childhood and Time: How do we understand childhoods as temporary states of being, and childhood itself as a temporal construct? How does time play a role across children's lives? How does the range of children's ideas about and experiences of time differ from adults' ideas about and experiences of time? How might children imagine time in relation to themselves? In this course we explore time and temporality as a window onto children's self-experiences and adults' ideas about children and childhood. We will explore perspectives on time and childhood in sociology, literature, psychology, history, and childhood studies.

Family and Oral History Pedagogy: Students and their parents see the value of their life histories in the classroom and they become more engaged with projects that draw from cultural-familial knowledge. How are teachers drawing from these sources of knowledge? What are the struggles of integrating children's community/family histories into schools? Does the integration of pedagogies of the home/family histories necessarily disrupt educators? Deficit thinking? What does the process of integrating one's silenced history into school mean for under-represented/marginalized/silenced children and their families? How do educators work in solidarity with families for the education of children? This course will examine a series of questions through self-reflexivity and a community engaged learning project. We will draw from social and cultural foundations of education literature to highlight various epistemologies and pedagogies found in schools, cultures, and society. Specifically, we will delve into literature that addresses family history and/or oral history as pedagogical tools in the classroom.

Crafting Respect: Education, Design, and Social Justice: This community-based project course will involve a hands-on teaching experience with middle school students. The project involves a collaboration between Hampshire students and faculty and Peck students to develop a technologically-driven design campaign to bring attention to one of the school's core values--the creation of an environment of Unconditional Positive Regard for Students and Families. Through a daily specials course at Peck, we will explore and draw on Peck students' reports of respect and mistreatment to jointly develop a series of technology infused, creative interventions.

 

Contact Us

Critical Studies of Childhood, Youth, and Learning
Adele Simmons Hall (ASH)
Hampshire College
893 West Street
Amherst, MA 01002
413.559.5659
Fax 413.559.5438
kafernandez@hampshire.edu
 

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