Looking forward to working with the review team
Donna and Jerry
Hi Donna and Jerry
I really enjoyed reading your paper and the book on which the paper was based. Here is my review and in the paper attached there are some more specific comments:
One year on from the Ferguson shooting, we are reminded of the importance of ethics in society and the importance of teaching ethics to children. For example, how to deal with racial prejudice? As I read Donna and Jerry's paper I was thinking, how does the approach to ethics differ for a black child who has to learn to understand the rules of American society?
Lena gets her
son ready for school
She says, "On these streets, Charles
You've got to understand the rules
If an officer stops you, promise me you'll always be polite
And that you'll never ever run away
Promise Mama you'll keep your hands in sight"
41 Shots (American Skin) (Bruce Springsteen, 2000)
In their paper "Ethics for the Young Mind" Donna and Jerry outline the influence of their work in their own learning, the learning of others and the learning of the social formations in which they live and work? The establishment of the Project School with a focus on humanistic values and the emphasis on the teaching of ethics illustrates their driving values and how these are manifested in their practice. This represents their living-educational-theory. In this article they reflect on this important work and provide an account of how it has transformed their own lives and the lives of others. They recognise the limitations of their influence whilst at the same time seeking to extend it further. In the article their claims to knowledge of ethics are validated by reference to texts and by links to visual data. I would like to see more of this represented in the body of the article with some interpretive comment to guide the reader.
Thank you for sharing this and please see the specific comments in the paper attached.
Hi, Donna and Jerry. Mazel Tov!
Ethics for the Young Mind: A Living Curriculum
Jerome S. Allender
Review respectfully submitted by Jackie Delong
In Donna and Jerry’s article, I find that the criteria for publication in EJOLTS have been met. Having said that I make a few comments and minor suggestions for improvement. I have attached the article with some editing suggestions.
I hope that it isn’t too pedantic but I am attempting to adhere to the criteria in my response:
1. There is sufficient detail for a reader to understand the value-based explanation of the authors for their educational influence in their own learning, the learning of others and the learning of the social formations where they live and work. The authors are transparent about what constitutes their driving values, why and how these are manifested in their practice, and through what process of reflection:
From this vantage, we could build together a renewed community—teachers and students—that embodies the skills necessary for getting along ethically on a daily basis. This is not just a problem of confronting suppressed anger and gross misbehavior. The questions raised entail digging into how can we work together. The focus has to be on how do we learn from each other? And, how does everyone in the system meet his and her needs and wants? We have to consider our different styles, abilities, and preferences. Living on the planet is the big picture. Having a satisfying family life is the intimate frame. Our early schooling is the significant arena where outsiders begin to explore how a mix of children and responsible adults functionally learn how to get along—how to get along in an effort to meet important everyday life goals. This is not what is normally expected from school experience, but certainly central to our expectations.
Implicit in the writing there is sufficient detail of their living-educational-theory for it to be understood; however, it might strengthen the clarity of their living-theory if it were written more explicitly.
2. It is potentially comprehensible to an audience interested in extending their knowledge of the transformational possibilities of Living Theory research. The authors state that they are surprised that we haven’t been teaching junior-age students about ethics directly and I felt the same way. In Ontario, we have a character education section in the curriculum but not with the clear focus and emphasis that Jerry and Donna have implemented. Based on the visuals of the students and community members, the ethics course and their involvement in it have been transformative for all involved. As Jerry proposed, addressing bullying behaviour as a distinct issue divorced from the relationships and culture of the school is unlikely to bring about systemic change.
3. It can be understood by practitioners from diverse fields of practice and research. This article is well-written in that there is little context-specific language and jargon.
4. There is sufficient evidence to support the claims that are made. Having said that I would have liked to see some video of some of the conversations and/or some comments from the students and other teachers about their learning. As Donna points out, the ethics curriculum is not part of the curriculum of the school which is unfortunate but it resides in the lives and work of some of the parents and, I’m sure, the students.
5. There are sufficient details of how the authors have validated their claims to know so that the reader can share in that knowledge through the creative aspects of their own reading. The visuals are very supportive of the claims to know. Jerry’s creative ways of hanging the materials might have driven the fire inspector crazy but I loved them. The authors have not depended on words to convey their learning:
We drew what we meant; we role-played ideas; we moved without speech to represent feelings. There were so many ways as well as written words. In these activities, the students actively recreated the activities to suit their needs, wants, and uniqueness. We became a collage of the knowledge we were learning, the insights that were forming, and the new ways in which we were learning to get along. Treating each other as adversaries was replaced by working together as a team. The social environment was marked by respect in all directions, and how disagreement and respect can be compatible was revealed. (p. 8)
6. The normative background of the author and their work is clear.
7. The intra-personal context of the authors is clear.
The level of reflection today is quite different from the time during and after the ethics course was introduced in 2010. What we reflected on close to the moments of teaching the course was a life that no longer exists. The acts of teaching, and the work of writing the book about our multi-faceted experiences are here subjected to reanalysis. (p. 2)
8. The author's' explanatory principles and living standards of judgment are clear in this paper.
We had to change our theory from our early beliefs that if we just talked it out, we would come to real harmony. We moved to “We must expect to mange [manage] with imperfect agreements” (Allender, 2014, p. xi). Thus we moved from the idealism of the possibility of perfection to the idealism of the imperfect being all right. (p.17)
9. The paper is of a high intellectual and scholarly quality. There is a reasonable and well-reasoned argument made in the article and the authors have critically engaged with the thinking of others. They say,
Here and now, we need to discover an evolving process for discussion and reflection that matches the spirit of our work. (p. 3)
It is amazing how many ideas for teaching ethics have tickled our brains since we started writing this book. The ethics course was on the money, but as we read, thought, and talked together and talked with others, new possibilities emerged. And well they should have, because that is the essence of learning. (p.19).
I have long had a keen interest in ethics, in particular, in
action research. Some of the books referenced on ethics I recognized and some
others I did not but I am moved to read the ones I know again and to access the
10. The paper is in the EJOLTS house style.
Overall “Mazel Tov!”
Dear Donna and Jerry, A pleasure to read your paper. My own judgment is that it fulfils the EJOLTS criteria and hence I'm recommending it for publication.
There is one point you might like to think about adding to the ending of your paper that is related to your point:
in Jerry’s mind, stopping the bullying is only a small part of resolving the
problem. To fully express the kind of education for which we aim required an
expansion of the students’ understanding of the misbehavior as well as
achieving a wider range of self-motivated community experiences within the
junior high classrooms. From this vantage, we could build together a renewed
community—teachers and students—that embodies the skills necessary for getting
along ethically on a daily basis. This is not just a problem of confronting
suppressed anger and gross misbehavior. The questions raised entail digging
into how can we work together. The focus has to be on how do we learn from each
Having experienced you working together for over 20 years and presenting your research at the American Educational Research Association and the Castle Conferences of the Self-Study of Teacher Education Practices SIG, I'm wondering if your paper would be strengthened by some mention, in the ending, of how we learn from each other in building a renewed community external and internal to schools that influences ethical behaviour in cultures of inquiry within schools.
I think that you both recognise and understand that achieving a wider range self-motivated community experiences within the junior high classrooms is influenced by sociohistorical and sociocultural (including political and economic)pressures that act on schools, teachers and pupils. You might not wish to add any of these insights to your paper, but I think that you have enhanced your understandings of the importances of these influence over the sharing of your loving and productive lives and readers like myself would benefit from your recognition and sharing of these insights.