Sharon Feiman-Nemser • Brandeis University, Waltham, MA • Foundational Skills and Dispositions in Teaching

Laying the Groundwork Introducing Child Study as a Teaching Practice Evidence of Learning

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Ideas as Resources for Teaching


David Hawkins, "I, Thou, It"

The course introduces students to various conceptual tools for thinking about teaching and learning.   One foundational idea is represented by the “instructional triangle” adapted in an essay by David Hawkins entitled “I, Thou, It.” In this essay, Hawkins argues that the relationship between teacher (I) and student (Thou) differs from the caring relationship between parent and child precisely because of the presence of the third element (It) – the curriculum or content, something outside both teacher and student which provides a shared and vital focus for their relationship and interaction. In this clip, students visually represent their understanding of key passages in Hawkin's essay.


Introducing Hawkins

Video Clip (2:30)

Showing Respect for Students

Video Clip (8:58)

Pathways to Learning

Video Clip (1:35)

Identifying Common Interests

Video Clip (4:51)

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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.

Discussing Vivian Paley's Article

Video Clip (6:36)

How Do Teachers Exercise Authority

Video Clip (6:36)

How Do We Define Authority?

Video Clip (5:46)

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