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Black Ants and Buddhists: Thinking Critically and Teaching Differently in the Primary Grades
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Black Ants and Buddhists: Thinking Critically and Teaching Differently in the Primary Grades

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  353 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
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
Paperback, 256 pages
Published January 1st 2006 by Stenhouse Publishers
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Feb 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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
Cut Intan
Aug 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: teachers
Shelves: education
You can be a critical teacher after finishing this book. Believe me!
Aug 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Briana Brisco
Jan 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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
Aliyah (BooksNotDetention)
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.
Stephanie Erickson
Jul 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
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.
Kaleb Hargous
Nov 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Should be mandatory for educators to read before they begin teaching in any grade.
Aug 18, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: teachers and adults with children in their lives
Shelves: teaching
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
Jun 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: grad-class
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
Mar 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
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.
May 04, 2010 marked it as to-read
Shelves: education
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?
Oct 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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.
Oct 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
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!
Sep 09, 2015 rated it liked it
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.
Jun 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: have-read
Tremendously thought provoking and insightful book! One to read more than once for sure!
Katy Vance
Loved it! Even for a secondary teacher, this book helps you to reflect on how you build community and shape critical learners.
May 28, 2015 added it
Shelves: ecco
Awesome chapter on Funds of Knowledge
Jan 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
just begun but excited to see some local heroes noted and and quoted.
Jan 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I loved reading this book. Truly inspirational!
Jul 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A great book for anyone interested in education or teaching. Absolutely inspirational.
Aug 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is my inspiration for being an awesome, culturally competent, student-centered teacher.
Jun 23, 2015 rated it liked it
I liked the book. It had some really good ideas.
But there are moments where I felt it was too good to be true.
May 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
Great book for teachers and for parents. Some chapters are better than others but definitely recommend for anyone in the education field!!
Claire Aiken
Apr 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: pedagogy
Introduced ways to implement a social justice themed social studies curriculum.
Aug 15, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: teacherbooks
This book really got me inspired to teach social justice to young children. I highly recommend it.
Apr 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Excellent/practical book. I am currently using it for a graduate level class I am teaching. Provides a real life example of someone who teaches from the heart!
Rocheal Hoffman
Sep 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Must-have for every teacher.
Mickey Kudia
rated it it was amazing
Sep 01, 2013
rated it it was ok
Feb 28, 2014
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