Video: Fulbright Specialist in Nepal, 2019

The Frames film program has produced a short video of my work in Nepal, focusing on the Fulbright Specialist trip in 2019. I hope you enjoy it.

The Frames Film Program provides opportunities for multi-barriered youth (ages 16 to 30) to learn the basics of filmmaking — at no cost.​ It is an off-site program of Frog Hollow Neighbourhood House. As a Vancouver-based film production and life skills program, it provides opportunities for youth to learn the basics of filmmaking in a supportive, safe and fun environment.

Democratic Education in the 21st Century

A Call for Papers

Guest Editor: Bertram (Chip) Bruce

Editor of Schools: Andy Kaplan

In an age of climate disasters, extreme income inequality, conspiracy theories, anti-democratic movements, segregated schooling, pandemic, and more, the need for democratic education has never been greater, but it may also seem less viable than ever. Classics such as John Dewey’s Democracy and Education are still relevant but invite us to re-invent education for today.

Schools: Studies in Education, published by the University of Chicago Press, plans to host a symposium on this topic to celebrate Schools’ twentieth anniversary of publication. The mission of Schools is to present inquiry into the subjective experience of school life. Unique among academic journals of education, Schools features articles by and about the daily life of classrooms, descriptions and reflections on the meaning of what happens when learning actually occurs. 

To celebrate our twentieth year of publication, we propose a symposium on how to think about democratic education in today’s world, and how we should plan for the future. How should issues such as indigenous people’s rights, racism, women’s rights, authoritarian governments, the concentration of wealth, and more make us analyze, discuss, and work to create democratic education?

We highly encourage submissions from classroom educators at all levels, from educators outside the United States, and from educators associated with alternative schools or informal learning.

Interested authors should submit a one-page prospectus describing what their project entails. This is to determine appropriateness and balance for the special issue. Completed manuscripts will undergo the usual Schools: Studies in Education review process before final acceptance. There is a possibility of a follow-on book publication based on revised versions of the articles, once the symposium has been published in Schools. 

Articles should be a maximum of 7500 words (25 double-spaced pages). We anticipate a mix of empirical and theoretical contributions.

Send a one-page prospectus describing your proposed article for the symposium to chipbruce@mac.com by November 15, 2021. All work for the symposium should be composed in Microsoft Word.

Thinking with Maps: Understanding the World through Spatialization

Spatial reasoning, which promises connection across wide areas, is itself ironically often not connected to other areas of knowledge. Thinking with Maps: Understanding the World through Spatialization addresses this problem, developing its argument through historical analysis and cross-disciplinary examples involving maps. The idea of maps here includes traditional cartographic representations of physical environments, but more broadly encompasses the wide variety of ways that visualizations are used across all disciplines to enable understanding, to generate new knowledge, and to effect change.

The idea of thinking with maps is also used broadly. Maps become, not simply one among many items to learn about, but indispensable tools for thinking across every field of inquiry, in a way similar to that of textual and mathematical language. Effective use of maps becomes a way to make knowledge, much as writing or mathematical exploration not only displays ideas, but also creates them. The book shows that maps for thinking are not just a means to improve geographic knowledge, as valuable as that may be. Instead, they provide mechanisms for rejuvenating our engagement with the world, helping us to become more capable of facing our global challenges.

This book has a broader aim: It is fundamentally about general principles of how we learn and know. It calls for a renewed focus on democratic education in which both the means and ends are democratic. Education, just as the political realm, should follow Dewey’s dictum that “democratic ends need democratic methods for their realization.” Maps and mapping are invaluable in that endeavor.

Available from Rowman & Littlefield (as well as Amazon, etc.), April 1, 2020

978-1-4758-5928-7 • Hardback

978-1-4758-5929-4 • Paperback

978-1-4758-5930-0 • eBook

Reviews

  • School of Information Sciences, University of Illinois, May 27, 2021
  • Bruce’s fascinating and insightful book draws the reader into a wide-ranging exploration of the nature of maps, and their vital roles in the process of education and global understanding.– Michael H. Fisher, Danforth Professor of History, Oberlin College, US
  • The author connects “maps and map-making” to virtually every discipline and human endeavor by leveraging his unusual multidisciplinary experience.– Nama Budhathoki, Executive Chairman, Kathmandu Living Labs, Nepal
  • By emphasizing maps as visual language… it address a serious deficit in the way maps are currently taught… identifies maps and other graphics as essential elements in helping us make connections across time, space, and subject material.– Gary Benenson, Project Director of City Technology, City College of New York
  • This book’s novelty comes from providing the concept of visualized contextual thinking with both a strong philosophical foundation and important real-world applications… We all do much of our thinking with maps. This book shows just how broadly this idea applies and how profound are its implications: for teaching, for learning, for improving society. An insightful and inspiring perspective.– Philip H. Crowley, Professor of Biology, University of Kentucky
  • Bruce explodes our traditional conception of maps as he considers maps as tools of inquiry in diverse fields. He continually reaches beyond maps to consideration of what maps afford us, even a view of ourselves.– Sam Brian, City University of New York
  • I recommend this book very highly—it’s a read that makes one feel in the company of an intelligent mind, who is taking one’s hand, and leading one down a path of fascinating, interconnected thoughts on the importance and meaning of maps, which are used to gain a better appreciation of a region’s physical and social history. Read this is as if one has become an explorer, invited down a timeline and across the earth, to learn from the revelations along the journey. From the old fold-up maps we all struggled with during car trips to the technological advances of current cartography, maps reveal culture, values, politics, claim territory or indeed even assert the existence of a people, such as the recent locating of thousands of indigenous communities in Peru. This is a valuable journey, spent with a well-informed traveler!– Mary Grizzard, Professor of National Security Affairs (retired), National Defense University, Washington, DC
  • This book is a fascinating collection of ideas about maps, their many forms, and the way people use them to both influence and be influenced by their environment. Maps and map reading are presented as personal experiences. Every map has a maker and every map has a user.– Abby Kerlin and Ellen McCrum, Bank Street College of Education
  • This is a fascinating book! If you would like to know what Paris street names have in common with the study of poverty in Nineteenth Century London, if you are curious about how fossilized footprints discovered in England shed light on the daily life of humans who lived 850,000 years ago, or wonder how maps can be used in the classroom to promote democratic education, this is the book for you.– Paul Horwitz, Concord Consortium
Sensible planning for online learning

Sensible planning for online learning

800px Online Learning learn from home elearning

Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0.

In the rush to online education, schools and colleges appear to expect instant transference of their on-campus programs to new media such as Zoom and Moodle.

Anyone who has observed the implementation of online education knows that this is a recipe for disaster, one that will lead to little meaningful learning and much angst on the part of students, teachers, parents, and administrators.

In this context, it’s worth taking a look at what has contributed to the success of some online learning.

The LEEP online masters program

In 1996, the Graduate School of Library and Information Science (now the iSchool) at the University of Illinois began offering master’s degrees over the Internet, with only brief periods of on-campus learning.

This program, actually just a scheduling option for the traditional degree, is called LEEP. It has a 24-year record of success from the perspectives of students, faculty, staff, employers, researchers evaluating the program, and formal accreditation bodies.

Upon graduation, one student said that it

has truly been a marvelous, exhilarating experience. I have met and learned from a wonderful group of students and teachers. At times overwhelming, but always challenging, the GSLIS classes have taught me far more than I could have imagined. I have gained insights and confidence, knowledge and skills, and friends for a lifetime. The virtual community of LEEP3 continues to develop and thrive. [Quoted in a 1999 paper by Dean Leigh Estabrook, “New Forms of Distance Education”]

Why has LEEP been so successful, especially in contrast with what many are doing today? This is worthy of a longer discussion, but it’s useful to list a few of the characteristics of LEEP that have helped it to succeed:

  1. Voluntary participation: Faculty were invited to participate, but were not required to do so. Although some were eager to give the new modality a try, others needed to see how their colleagues fared first.
  2. Planning and preparation: Through course releases and other mechanisms, faculty were given time to prepare new courses or new versions of existing courses that reflected the affordances and constraints off the new medium.
  3. Match to available resources: There was detailed consideration of the background knowledge needed by students, and of the necessary technical features such as bandwidth, computer and operating system platforms, or microphones and speakers.
  4. Technical support: There was substantial technical support for both students and faculty, so that they could concentrate on the course content.
  5. Reflection: There was an annual retreat to discuss successes, surprises, and challenges.
  6. Analysis and ongoing revision: The program was regularly and systematically studied through surveys, interviews, and analyses of course interactions. This has led to books, articles, conference presentations, and other publications, which contributed to the program’s continuing development.
  7. Collaboration: The program was developed in collaboration with other units within the university and with similar programs at other institutions.

What schools are doing instead

All too often today, participation in online education is mandated, with little participatory planning, little support, and no opportunity for reflection or revision. This will not work. Perhaps the only thing worse is the equally haphazard approach being taken to new forms of on-campus instruction, necessitated by covid times.
 
Few things are more important now than education and support for young people’s development. Having safe and successful schooling is also critical for the economy. But none of that can happen without more investment of resources and more thoughtful implementation.

International Handbook of Progressive Education

International Handbook of Progressive Education cover I returned from Newfoundland to a pleasant surprise. There were three large boxes containing contributor copies of our new International Handbook of Progressive Education (Peter Lang, 2015)The book represents a project involving over 60 authors and editors from countries around the world.

Mustafa Yunus Eryaman and I are editors, aided immeasurably by Section editors John Pecore, Brian Drayton, Maureen Hogan, Jeanne Connell, Alistair Ross, and Martina Riedler.

The International Handbook of Progressive Education engages contemporary debates about the purpose of education, presenting diverse ideas developed within a broadly conceived progressive education movement.

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