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Black Ants and Buddhists: Thinking Critically and Teaching Differently in the Primary Grades
What would a classroom look like if understanding and respecting differences in race, culture, beliefs, and opinions were at its heart? Welcome to Mary Cowhey's Peace Class in Northampton, MA, where first and second graders view the entire curriculum through the framework of understanding the world, and trying to do their part to make it a better place.
Woven through the bo ...more
Woven through the bo ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published January 1st 2006 by Stenhouse Publishers
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I should have read this book years ago. I loved it! It is crammed full of great advice and insights for my students who are aspiring educators. Mary Cowhey is an unconventional teacher whose class is called "the peace class". But she doesn't teach in a trendy private school or a super expensive "Quaker" school. She teaches in a public school in the town of Northampton Massachusetts. Her school has many conventional and conservative teachers. Northampton, however, is a pretty progressive town, an ...more
Mary Cowhey's book is a phenomenal resource for teachers. It is directed for elementary school educators, but I learned a lot, and I am a high school educator. Her main focus is to promote social justice, action, and independence in the classroom. Cowhey weaves her personal life (she grew up without much money and as an adult, was a single mother on welfare) into her stories to show how she helps her students feel comfortable and safe when sharing their own experiences. She teaches them that reg ...more
Mary Cowhey has written a book that will inspire and challenge teachers to create curriculum rooted in social justice and designed to be authentic, inquiry based and integrated. Cowhey works with primary grade students, but they learn they can make a difference in the world by paying attention to injustice and emulating Cowhey's heroes--Ghandi, Eleanor Roosevelt and Martin Luther King. This book has the potential to ignite the passion of any teacher whose commitment to engage students in meaning ...more
As a preservice teacher, this book was required for a class teaching about respecting and honoring different cultures. I want to say that this has by far been the most interesting book I have read as a student. It was so good, that when I finish my program, I plan on reading it again before acquiring a job. This book teaches the importance of values for you as an individual, teacher, and influencer of young minds. It explains the difference between being a teacher, and being a guide. It explains ...more
Dec 04, 2016 Aliyah (BooksNotDetention) rated it really liked it
Fantastic book! I read this for my social studies class in graduate school, and I truly hope to be at least a fraction of the kind of educator that Cowhey is. She doesn't press any of her pedagogies on you while you're reading. It's just some of her methods that have worked for her and others that have not. I enjoyed reading it and plan on reading it again while on break to resonate it with it even more.
For a book that I bought for my teaching class, this one is actually surprisingly awesome. I enjoyed the stories that Cowhey wrote about and the way she got her students engaged. I was debating reselling it... but now I want to keep if for future reference. Seriously, I highlighted so many meaningful passages.
Aug 18, 2007 Annie rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: teachers and adults with children in their lives
Mary Cowhey does some amazing things in this book. She presents stories from her own life in a memoir-like fashion. The readers are taken on a journey through a lot of challenge and growth that has lead her to first and second grade teaching. Then she takes those same stories and explains how she uses them in her teaching to connect with her students and the curriculum. Finally she deconstructs the ways that she teaches these insightful and creative youngsters and how she came to her methods. Th ...more
As most of you know, I am anti little kid, so when I chose to read this for a grad class book study, I was a bit surprised, but it was honestly one of the best things I read for a class all year. This teacher and her students were completely inspiring. Everyone thinking about or currently teaching elementary school should HAVE to read this during their teacher preparation. As a kid-lit enthusiast (and yes, this is kid kid lit, not YA lit) this was a great resource for titles by theme, too. 5 sta ...more
Primary and intermediate teachers who are drowning in common core need to read Black Ants and Buddhists to remind themselves what critical instruction and socially responsible teaching is all about. Marcy Cowhey's classroom anecdotes reminded me of Vivian Paley. Her unflinching faith in children and honest teacher reflection inspired me to forge ahead in my endeavors to create a more nurturing, caring learning environment with kindergarten students.
A critical literacy approach to teaching is used to present an image of Cowhey's classrooms and the beliefs behind her teaching. It makes you analyze what you ask of your students and what are your reasons behind it. Do you do things in your classroom because that is the way you were taught or because that is what everyone else is doing? Or do you have a philosophical basis and understanding of your classroom procedures and ideas?
This book is inspirational to all new teachers! I found it very engaging and interesting. I would definitely want to be a part of Cowhey's class as a child, and would want to run a class like hers as a teacher myself. I love her views on teaching and how she describes her students' reactions to everything she does. This is a must read for all new teachers.
This is a great book for teachers with not much organizing experience or organizers with not much teaching experience who want to teach. A very practical and easy to follow guide for how to incorporate social justice issues into a primary classroom environment. She's a great story teller! This book made me laugh and cry a lot!
I enjoyed the questions Cowhey posed but found some of her advice impractical or simplistic. Nevertheless, her students are certainly VERY lucky to have a teacher like her, and I can only hope my classroom will be such a place of inquiry, rigor, cultural responsiveness, and exploration.
Jul 07, 2013 Katy Vance rated it it was amazing · review of another edition
Loved it! Even for a secondary teacher, this book helps you to reflect on how you build community and shape critical learners.