Human Nature and Diversity
ES 6330


(3 hours)
Course Prerequisites: None.
Website:  found on WMU’s homepages or at
http://vms.cc.wmich.edu/~pillsbury

Instructor:  Gerald Pillsbury
Office:  4019 Sangren Hall, 387-2979
Office Hours: TTh 11 – 12:30, 1 – 2:00, before & after class, and by appointment
Email:  pillsbury @ wmich.edu
Home phone:  373-7001
 (You are welcome to call any day, but not after 9:00 PM. please)

Required Texts:
 

No. Author Title Date
1. Plato/ Gallup, David. translator Defence of Socrates, Euthyphro, Crito. !999
2. Ridley, Matthew The Agile Gene: How Nature Turns on Nurture 2003
3. Pinker, Stephen The Blank Slate 2002
4. Gergen, Kenneth Relational Being 2009
5. Lutz, Katherrine A. Unnatural Emotions: Everyday Sentiments on a Micronesian Atoll and Their Challenge to Western Theory 1988


COURSE DESCRIPTION
"This course examines practical and theoretical issues in the definition of desirable educational aims and practices as related to the perceived needs, interests, and potentials of those involved.  The course places the process of defining aims in social, historical, and cultural perspective, with particular attention to the influence of conceptions of human nature and potential.  Prominent views of human nature and diversity that have influenced American schooling will be examined.  The course provides a basis for ongoing professional inquiry concerning the fit between educational practices and the diverse needs of those subject to them, and the way educational practices tacitly inculcate cultural assumptions regarding human nature, interests, and potential."
                                                                                          1999-2000 WMU                                                                                           Graduate Catalogue


 Paper Schedule

Author Assignment Due Date
Plato Paper #1 Sat. at end of 3rd week
Ridley Paper #2 Sat. at end of 6th week
Pinker Paper #3 Sat. at end of 9th week
Lutz & Gergen Paper #4 Sat. at end of 15th week

 

At least two reading records are due before each class.  Score for each comes from a) the quality of each, b) how easily classmates use them in class and in their papers and c) how heavily classmates rely upon them in their papers. Papers due by 5 pm by email on the dates indicated above.

Assignments

Item Points Per No. Points Possible
Participation

200

1

200 pts.

PAPERS

200

4

800 PTS

Total Possible

 

 

1000 PTs

Grading scale:

 

Point Values

 

 

 

 

1000

Possible

A

800

-

920

 

BA

919

-

880

 

B

879

-

820

 

CB

819

-

780

 

C

779

-

720

 

DC

779

-

680

 

D

679

-

600

 

E

599

&

below

 


Regarding Attendance, Incompletes & Late Work:

 

 

Course GOALS

Students will:

 

Perspective

In this class, we will spend much of our time in discussion where you will be expected to contribute ideas for our consumption, and try out, analyze and critique new perspectives. In these discussions, your classmates and I will challenge your ideas, thoughts and expressions with the intent of making each of these sharper. Teaching, as you know, is an activity that demands careful, critical thinking. A teacher must be able to think clearly and insightfully to facilitate student learning.
In addition, teachers as a group must think and express themselves well regarding the social context of their work. Doing so allows teachers to be forceful and effective advocates for the needs of children and to have an important voice in the nature and direction of schooling.
For these reasons, Human Nature & Diversity is designed to help teachers foster strong writing and thinking skills. Thinking and writing are complementary processes. Good thinking often begins in serious discussion, but thinking is clarified and deepened in the process of writing. This course requires diligent students to engage themselves in numerous and ongoing tasks involving both kinds of activity. A basic requirement of this course is that every student demonstrates solid competencies in the written and oral expression of ideas.
You can help each other develop such competencies by providing responsible, honest, critical feedback to others in the class regarding the issues they are working on, critical feedback when interpreting the text, critical feedback when defending their views, and by your peers providing critical feedback as you think through the statements you make. The informed, thoughtful, realistic, and complex view of human nature we seek requires a great many perspectives, including yours.

 

Academic Integrity
You are responsible for making yourself aware of and understanding the policies and procedures in the Undergraduate (pp. 274-276) [Graduate (pp. 26-28)] Catalog that pertain to Academic Integrity. These policies include cheating, fabrication, falsification and forgery, multiple submission, plagiarism, complicity and computer misuse. If there is reason to believe you have been involved in academic dishonesty, you will be referred to the Office of Student ­­Conduct. You will be given the opportunity to review the charge(s). If you believe you are not
responsible, you will have the opportunity for a hearing. You should consult with me if you are uncertain about an issue of academic honesty prior to the submission of an assignment or test.

 

Diversity
The Department of Educational Studies maintains a strong and sustained commitment to the diverse and unique nature of all learners and to maintain high expectations for each student.

 

Accomodations
Any student with a documented disability (e.g., physical, learning, psychiatric, vision, hearing, etc.) who needs to arrange reasonable accommodations must contact the professor and the appropriate Disability Services office at the beginning of the semester. The two disability service offices on campus are: Disabled Student Resources and Services 616-387-2116 or Office of Services for Students with Learning Disabilities 616-387-4411.

 

Student Academic Conduct

               Western Michigan University’s academic honesty and conduct in research policies have been created and defined by members of its academic community, recommended by its faculty senate, and adopted by its board of trustees. The Department of Educational Studies will adhere to all Student Academic Conduct polices and procedures as printed in the catalog. The processes necessary to support these policies are managed and facilitated by the Office of Student Judicial Affairs. All questions related to academic honesty will be referred to this office (387-2160).
               You are responsible for making yourself aware of and understanding the policies and procedures in the undergraduate (pp. 271-272) Catalog that pertain to Academic Integrity. These policies include cheating, fabrication, falsification and forgery, multiple submission, plagiarism, complicity and computer misuse. If there is reason to believe you have been involved in academic dishonesty, you will be referred to the Office of Student Judicial Affairs.
               You will be given the opportunity to review the charge(s). If you believe you are not responsible, you will have the opportunity for a hearing. You should consult with me if you are uncertain about an issue of academic honesty prior to the submission of an assignment or test.


Assignments

PAPERS
I expect your papers to argue and support a specific and detailed response to a question about each text. I will post these questions on my website the Sunday after the previous paper is due.  The questions, which your papers will address, will be ones of interpretation; that is, you are to convince the reader, Dr. Pillsbury, fellow students, your spouse or partner – anyone who might read your paper –what is the best way to understand the text on a particular issue.  Thus, the support you are to use must come from the text itself.   I do not expect you to do outside research or readings but I will not stop you from doing so either. 

Discussions
I intend our class discussions to help us better understand each of the texts and critically sharpen how you read and converse.  You cannot understand any of these texts by just reading it once.  These texts reward repeated readings.  They reward careful, thoughtful deliberations that stick closely to the text. 
Each discussion will meticulously examine key passages of the texts allowing you to share with your classmates insights and interpretations of key passages.  Of equal value with sharing your personal thoughts is allowing your peers to question yourself and follow your lead into various alternative interpretations about the meaning of passages you point us to.  Because we will focus on what the author meant, you are expected to bring your book to every class.  As you read, either underline or take notes so in class you can quickly locate important passages. 
We will spend most of our class time engaged in discussions.  Right after each class, I score every participant both on their level of engagement and the effect their contributions had on the discussion.  You want your contributions to have a powerful effect shaping, focusing, and/or summarizing your peers subsequent comments and questions. Each student earns a 0, 7, 8, or 10 each day for their participation.  Because this semester has 15 class meetings, you have the opportunity to earn 150 points total by the end of the semester. To calculate your final score out of 200, I simply multiply each student’s earned total by 1.33.

200/150 = 4/3 = 1.33     

So, for example, 135 points earned out of 150 would give you a final score of 180 out of 200.

When I evaluate your participation each day, I look for a very wide variety of ways you can participate in the discussion besides talking.  The Quality of your posted Reading Records is the first way I can judge your participation. Then in class, I try to make a mental note (which I record in my actual written notes at the end of class) of students doing at least some, or all, of the following:

Readings
The texts for this class are difficult not necessarily because the authors wanted them to be so nor because the writers didn’t write clearly, but rather, I feel, because the subjects they discuss are, by their nature, complex.  I expect you to read the assigned chapters and passages in these books completely and read them over several times.  While you read them, keep in mind the questions we raise in class and develop your own questions crucial to your own understanding of these texts.  You should record in your notes the questions you raise in your head while reading. While none of these readings are specifically about the processes of education, if we study them carefully, they can teach us a great deal about how our own conceptions of human nature influence our schools as well as our own practices as teachers.

 

 

 

Paper #1 Paper #2 Paper #3 Paper #4

 

 

Send comments regarding this page to:  pillsbury@wmich.edu
Last revised: May 9, 2013