Service Reflection #1

What struck you or stayed with you?

Something that struck me during the orientation that I partook in this week was that the instructor felt the need to let us know that if we smoke, we should keep it off-screen. To me this seems like a no-brainer, but I guess I’ve never really thought about it in any different way. Overall the feeling of excitement towards what I’m doing stuck with me.

How are your life experiences similar and different from others’ in the situation?

So far, since I haven’t experienced working with the children yet, I think that my life experiences seem to be semi-similar to the other students that I was in my orientation with. From the way that the instructor spoke about the students we’re working with, though, I have a feeling that there will be certain aspects of my life experiences that line up with some of theirs, but there will be others that are very different from theirs.

What are the strengths and limitations of virtual engagement? What surprises you?

I think mainly of the limitations when it comes to virtual engagement. Honestly, I think that the only strength is still giving the students an opportunity to be helped. Yes, they still see our faces, but in order to feel as though I’m impacting the lives of those around me, I feel as though I need to be there in person. It’s borderline impossible to build any type of personal relationship through a screen, so I really cannot wait until I can get back to volunteering for service in-person.

Current Connections: “My Pedagogic Creed” by John Dewey

Throughout John Dewey’s essay title My Pedagogic Creed, he continuously writes many “I believe” statements. That’s a given, based on the title, but what’s not a given based on the title of the essay is just what he believes. Being one of the founding fathers of Progressive Education, he stands strongly by his belief that a progressive education is the best way to educate our young and our children. Throughout his essay he brings up the importance of educating the students as a whole so that they realize the power that they hold as citizens of their country, that education has two sides to it (psychological and sociological: which he holds as equals), that education itself is a social institution, that education should exist as an extension of existing social life, and that the social life of a child should be the basis of their educational growth/training. Since Dewey doesn’t really use any sort of statistical data to back of his “I believe. . .” claims, he relies heavily on his loved experiences. John Dewey was a big believer in the philosophical side of progressive education, which stems from Pragmatism, so everything that he believes, when it comes to education, seems to come out of his learned experiences solely. Since it relies so heavily on his learned experience it means that he’s referencing the things that he’s seen/been a part of throughout his life. So, while he doesn’t use references in a way that requires the citation of other papers or ideas, he does reference a whole lot to his own experiences and observations throughout his life.

I connected two themes from his essay to two articles that I found online: Students forge new paths with novel gap year experiences, and Horsham school pupils help students overcome the impact of lockdown on education. These two articles connects to Dewey’s thoughts on how education should be an extension of our lived experiences, and that the progress of an individual through schooling shouldn’t be standardized testing scores, rather by new attitudes and interests towards experience. These two were great examples, I think, of Dewey’s thoughts because they highlight two important things that have been happening due to the COVID-19 crisis: an increase in students taking gap years, and the Horsham school putting in more community and experience based learning opportunities to keep their students engaged and involved while on their computers. The first article that I mentioned connects to the idea of taking a gap year. In the article, it talks about two students that decided that their learning styles weren’t conducive to the online atmosphere, so they decided to take a gap year. It’s what they decide to do with their gap years that made me connect it back to Dewey, though. Both of these students decided to take what they were majoring in school, and apply it to the real world around them. One of them, that goes by the name of Oscar, actually gave the reporters that wrote the article some of his thoughts on taking his gap year. Paraphrasing here, he told them that by taking a gap year and working directly in his field of study he was able to gain a new understanding and experience the things that he was learning about first hand. He told them that he’s much more appreciative for what he’s doing and that he likes the experiential side of it. The other article that I mentioned also connects to Dewey’s ideas when it comes to the experiential side of learning, but also looking at areas of development outside of grades. The article explains that the Horsham school conducted studies to see which demographic of their students were struggling the most with the switch to online learning, so that they could better help those students to succeed under the current circumstances. This, to me, really encompasses Dewey’s thoughts on educating the student as a whole. Paying attention to nothing but the students’ test scores would be doing the students a disservice, so this school went out of their way to see how the students’ lives were being affected. Once they found the demographics that were being disproportionately affected by online-school, they decided to implement more activities for the students to become involved in so that they could keep up with some of the experiential side of schooling.

I think that this essay was a great one to read, and I’d encourage any future educator to give it a read. I was happy with the articles that I found in connection to some of Dewey’s idea, and found a nice surprise in the relaxation that making these connections brought to me. Below are the links to the articles that I reference.

Learning Experience #1

Part One:

The first thing that I thought of when I started reading the Janak essay, was the Montessori school that I went to for two years when I was in second and third grade. I thought back to the many times where we, as students, got to choose the way we wanted to learn the set topic for the day. It made me realize that the philosophical side of the progressive movement, of wanting the curricula to be centered around the students, could actually be a reality if it were implemented into the major school systems the right way. Janak wrote all about the progressive movement in education; starting with how the idea of progressive education came out of pragmatism, to giving examples of the first schools that tried true progressive education. The main theme that I focused on during our L.E., was how the top-down behavior of progressives in administration could have actually had negative effects on the way that progressive education works. I focused on the idea that, if you really want to have a progressive education, with child-centered curricula and all, can you really have the rules and restriction being placed on you come from someone that’s not in your classroom? I then took that theme a little bit further, discussing whether or not a private education can be considered progressive at all–seeing as though it’s a pay-to-go education. It seemed, through our discussion, that if your education is a pay-to-go, then it’s innately anti-progressive. Janak used plenty of evidence to support the ideas of progressivism that he was talking about. He uses the real-life example of John Dewey’s University of Chicago Laboratory School to show how a progressive eduction would actually play out in the field, when it’s ran with the proper administrative program. He also utilized tables for imagery, when he detailed the ways that the government uses the school system, as well as using a table of “Notes” at the end in order to make sure that you can check his sources. Janak went as far as writing an entire section dedicated to additional reading just so that the reader can fully delve into the themes and ideas that he was writing about. Throughout the essay it seems like Janak agrees with the ideas that Dewey and others brought to light with progressive education. This essay really made me think back on the education that I’ve received throughout my life. By the time I was in twelfth grade, I had gone to nine different schools. Throughout all these schools I saw a lot of different teaching styles, but after doing the reading I don’t think that any of them (aside from the Montessori school) can count as anything close to a progressive education. Actually, when I discussed schooling prior to college with Anna, we both decided that we haven’t ever actually had a true-to-the-bones progressive eduction experience.

Part Two:

My group decided to focus on the private side of school, specifically discussing whether or not they can be progressive at all, about how social reconstruction played a role in progressive education, administrative progressives, pragmatism, John Dewey (University of Chicago Laboratory School), and child-centered progressives. We chose these topics because of how much they were emphasized throughout the Janak essay, as well as how conducive they are to discussion. We felt as though the topics we chose to emphasize did a really nice job of getting the main points of progressive education across, as well as open up the floor to being able to discuss how progressive thought has been, if at all, connected to our lived experiences as a class. We wanted our students to be able to understand the reading to a point where they would be able to bring the ideas found in the articles to their peers and family members. After my group met with Professor Shutkin, we decided that we wanted our students understanding to come to the same lightbulb moment that we all did during the meeting. We tried our best to make sure that our students wouldn’t get confused, so we decided to start off the lesson with a quick overview of key points and key words. We think it wound up going really well! When it came to my contribution to planning the lesson, I set up all the meeting times that we had, along with coordinating between Dr. Shutkin and my group partners to set up the meeting prior to creating our lesson. I wrote out a general lesson plan that I had in my head before our group met, and we decided to implement portions of my plan with portions of Joni’s plan. I also set up the Google Doc and Google Slides that we used to teach our lesson. When it comes to teaching the lesson, we decided to split up the overview (Google Slides) into three sections so that we could all balance out the information. We then split up into three different groups that had all three of us leading a discussion on a specific part of the essay that we chose to use. We then came back to the whole group, and I shared the ideas that were discussed between Anna and I in the group, and I feel as though my group mates did a good job doing the same. All-in-all, I’m very happy with my first ever Learning Experience, and I’m looking forward to progressing forward with my group throughout the semester!

Part Three:

I used no outside sources in order to come up with my portion of the lesson plan. All I did was extrapolate ideas and themes from the Janak essay and think about them in order to relay them to the class well.

Part Four:

Links to shared material:


Hi everyone! My name is Harrison Craffey, but I prefer to go by my nickname, Mac. I currently live in Cleveland, where I was born, after moving from place to place for the majority of my life. The longest time I’ve ever lived in one place was in Buffalo, NY for seven years, but I’ve always held Cleveland close to my heart as my hometown.

Moving forward in my education career I would love to end up teaching high school students (hopefully juniors and seniors) English literature, as well as creative writing. I want to teach these things because of how much of my free time I spend enjoying those topics on my own. Whenever I have any down time I always find myself picking up either a pen or book to get to work on my studies outside of the classroom.

For most of my life I was a high level hockey player. That changed when I was seventeen, my senior year of high school, when I dislocated my shoulder for the eighth time and cracked my head open through my helmet. Since then, I’ve put much more focus on my studies, as well as my musical endeavors. Last year I was in a band called sticky with my now roommate, which released two songs within a year of forming. Unfortunately, due to multiple complications throughout the course of 2020, we decided that it would be in the best interest for all of us to part ways. Luckily for me, though, my roommate wanted to start doing more acoustic singer/songwriter projects with me. With things still looking unsure as to when music venues will open up in order for us to play in front of people, we’ve decided to spend most of our time writing new material and getting more comfortable with our existing material. We do play for people occasionally, but only for our friends and families. Don’t get me wrong, it’s always a blast, but there’s something about playing an actual show at a venue like the Grog Shop or Mahall’s that really excites me. He and I are hoping to have our own music recorded and released at some point within the next year, so until then we’re going to continue working on our project and better learning to balance our music life with our work lives!

Something that has mattered the most to me throughout my life would be the importance of staying true to the things that you believe in. For me, that would mean staying close with family, staying close with friends, and trying to make lasting relationships with different people that I meet throughout my life. Someone that I feel has taught me a lot about staying true to what you believe in, and I know that it may sound a little bit weird, is Charles Bukowski. Bukowski is a poet that rose to fame while still kicking around the United States. He’s often considered to be an honorary member of the Beat Generation, although he never actually hung out with them, because he was so bent on writing the way that he writes, and expressing the things he wanted to express. The reason that I look up to him as a writer, outside of the fact that he’s one of the best German-American poets to ever publish, is his tenacity and unwillingness to give up on his dream. All he ever really wanted to be was a poet–to the point where, upon failing, he decided to take a ten year break living on a park bench in New York City. My favorite collection of his poetry is titled You Get So Alone At Times That It Just Makes Sense. Reading that collection will give anyone a look into the tenacity that he writes with, and the meaning that he wants his poetry to take on. He represented the lower-class of Americans that struggled to get by on a day-to-day basis, and he wanted to let the world know that he wasn’t going to back down when it came to getting his point across that something needs to change about the lifestyle that so many people are forced into.

I decided to register for the Fatima Family Center service in order to virtually help younger students with their homework. I’m very excited for this, but, I’m sure like the rest of us, I wish we were able to help out in person.

When it comes to the comfort level that I need in the classroom in order to take intellectual and creative risks, I really don’t need much. I live my life like an open book, and while social anxiety can get the best of me occasionally, I normally just want to put myself out there in order to further my learning, and even maybe help someone else feel more comfortable sharing. With that said, I do like an atmosphere that is open and caring, while still not allowing for anything too far in left-field. I love to be able to have a good time while learning, and I think that the only way to do that is to have a good mix of responsibility, accountability, a want to learn, and some sort of driving factor. All-in-all, I feel as though it may take a class or two to gain my comfortability, but once I do, I’m usually pretty good at rolling that through for the rest of the semester.

Right now, my biggest concern when it comes to the field of education is how much it seems like technology is being integrated into the classroom. I’m bright enough to sometimes be able to figure out how technology works, but I would rather not use it unless I absolutely have to. Honestly, figuring out how to make this site is pretty tough on me, and as I write this I’m struggling to figure out how to upload a photo onto my blog page. I’m also a little bit concerned with being able to connect to future students at a high school level because of how quickly the world around us is changing. For all I know, in a couple of years the things that I did while in high school will be totally out of date. But hey, that happens for every generation, right?

I’m hoping to have a good, fun semester while learning more about the field of education and pursuing my career as an educator. So far I really like the class, and with each passing day I’m getting more and more used to using the website. I’m still working on figuring everything out, but I have faith that this isn’t going to be as hard as I initially thought it would be. Here’s to having a great semester!