Vivian Paley, "On Listening to What Children Say"
Early in the semester we read an essay by Vivian Paley, “On Listening to What the Children Say.” Paley articulates and models an attitude of care toward children and a genuine curiosity about their ideas. As an inveterate “kid watcher” and student of her teaching, she demonstrates that child study is indeed something real teachers do. In the first clip, my students make different arguments about whether Paley is a friend, observer, learner or authority, drawing on the essay to support their claims. This list came out of the previous seminar where students talked about the roles they hoped to assume in their field placement classroom.
In the second and third clips, a continuation of the discussion of Paley’s essay, students begin to examine the concept of “authority.” Earning intellectual and moral authority as a teacher is a significant issue for aspiring teachers and an important aspect of their journey from student to teacher. Eventually Kim points out that there are two definitions on the table – authority as expertise and authority as the person in control. I try to reframe Michal’s assertion into a question that can focus our observation and discussion of classroom videotape featuring a 3rd grade math lesson taught by Deborah Ball. At this early stage in our journey, I want to encourage and legitimate questions, uncertainty, openness to different perspectives.