New book co-authored by Faculty of Education dean draws on issues ‘ripped from the headlines’
The collaborative project examines the ‘unsupported assumptions, beliefs and fears’ which may hinder critical thinking in teaching
When David Mandzuk, dean of the Faculty of Education, and his co-author Shelley Hasinoff, an independent education consultant, decided to collaborate on a book about the continued relevance of the foundations of education—despite the concern by many educators that the foundations are eroding—they didn’t have to look too far to find real-life examples.
Hasinoff and Mandzuk decided to organize the book around numerous case studies, and the results are either “ripped from the headlines” or were based on genuine experiences from the contributors.
“The cases are so real. You can’t make this stuff up,” says Mandzuk.
The book, which has just been released, is Case Studies in Educational Foundations: Canadian Perspectives, a series of 30 case studies from educators from across the country which examines the “unsupported assumptions, beliefs and fears” that are often associated with the discussion of education in Canada.
The publication encourages readers to use the foundations of education (history, sociology and philosophy) as lenses through which to look at each case study, Mandzuk says.
“Part of the purpose of this book was to galvanize the foundations community to bring senior scholars—noted authorities in the area, new scholars and graduate students—into a collaborative project where we could show how the foundations disciplines were still relevant, if not more relevant today, than they were in the past,” Mandzuk says.
The book by Hasinoff and Mandzuk explores many modern and controversial issues in the world of education today, including the myths, “bandwagons” (popular ideas without much evidence to back them up)” or “moral panics” (unsupported fears about perceived threats to society) which can hinder critical thinking in teaching.
“What we are saying is that myths, bandwagons and moral panics are examples of unwarranted certainties. If we know a little bit about history, philosophy and sociology…you become a little more able to recognize a myth, a moral panic and a bandwagon. It’s all about critical thinking about current educational issues,” says Mandzuk.
For example, the Myths section explores what sorts of myths pervade education. For one, there is the myth of the so-called “normal” child and how that can be harmful. “There is no such thing, though we operate as though there is such a thing,” he says.
Other myths explored include gender expectations of girls and boys and ability based on socioeconomic background.
The Bandwagons section looks at so-called “great” ideas fuelled by experts or gurus who have little backing to those claims, such as why single-sex education and journal writing are so prevalent.
“In education, we tend to take good ideas and go a little overboard. [For example—journaling], this idea of revealing your innermost thoughts on demand as opposed to when it makes the most sense,” says Mandzuk.
And the Moral Panics section—Hasinoff and Mandzuk’s favourite—examines “the fears about the erosion of the moral and social fabric of society.” These case studies look at issues such as bullying, social media and hip-hop culture.
Moral panics change often and are often fuelled by the media, says Mandzuk, and while they sometimes fade away, they are replaced by other moral panics.
He says that the book is being marketed to those teaching foundations courses at more than 60 teacher education programs across the country. Mandzuk hopes that Case Studies will be relevant to many professionals because “these cases are so real. Some of this seems very farfetched, but these are very real situations.”
It was also important to Hasinoff and Mandzuk that the book and its contributions are Canadian, Mandzuk says, and contributions came in from coast to coast. Mandzuk was also quick to point out that his co-author received first billing because she did a large portion of the work on the book and is a “very talented thinker and writer and I’m very blessed to have her as a colleague.”
The official book launch is Feb. 10 at 7 p.m. at McNally Robinson Booksellers, located at Grant Park in the Atrium.
Cast Studies is available at Amazon.ca, mcnallyrobinson.com, Oxford University Press and at the U of M bookstore.
Case studies is the second book that Hasinoff and Mandzuk have co-authored. The first was Slices of Life: Managing Dilemmas in the Middle Grades Teaching: Case Studies for Professional Development.