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KEEPS: The School of Education’s Mission Statement

The KEEPS mission statement of Long Island University’s Brooklyn Campus School of Education addresses one of the most important questions in urban education today: How can urban educators be expertly prepared to meet rising standards? One of the many strengths of the School of Education is that many of its future and practicing educators are themselves urban dwellers, immigrants, or members of ethnolinguistic and racial minorities. Thus, many of its educators bring to the classroom the experiential knowledge of urban and minority communities, essential to educating the children and families in those communities. The KEEPS mission is designed to help all urban educators meet rising academic standards, while also meeting performance standards that are based on the experiences and life of urban schools and their children.

KEEPS MISSION IN BRIEF

KEEPS: The desired qualities of Long Island University’s Brooklyn Educators.

To carry on the important mission of the Brooklyn Campus School of Education, we value:

  • KNOWLEDGE and intellectual inquisitiveness about children, schools and the world.
  • ENQUIRY, or the collective discipline of observation, reflection, and non-judgmental description of children and their school work, as well as descriptive inquiry of teaching and professional practice.
  • EMPATHY that rests on the human uniqueness and capacity to develop, as well as responsiveness to the needs and interests of urban learners and communities.
  • PLURALISM and attention to differences and to inclusion of all in the learning community of schools and the wider community.
  • SOCIAL COMMITMENT and the building of a just and democratic society.

KEEPS MISSION IN DEPTH

KNOWLEDGE and intellectual inquisitiveness about children, schools and the world.

Brooklyn Campus educators are intellectually rooted in the liberal arts, sciences, and pedagogy. We value knowing about the world, its people, languages and cultures, its natural and physical aspects, and its texts. We attach special importance to how to use that knowledge to teach others and work with urban children and adolescents in schools.

The curriculum of the School of Education advances this value by deepening the understanding acquired in liberal arts and sciences general education and major courses and contextualizing that knowledge through the world of schools and that of their clients -- families, in particular children and adolescents, as well as teachers and other school professionals. Foundational courses are interdisciplinary, attempting to deepen the multifaceted knowledge needed in the acts of teaching and learning, as well as spurring the dynamic and simultaneous use of interdisciplinary knowledge required in educating children.

Brooklyn Campus educators are interested in reading closely and writing carefully and extensively, and they understand that in doing so, they are constructing and developing their own knowledge about texts and the world, about the students with whom they work and the communities from which they come, about schools and classrooms. Varied modes of writings and discussing are used throughout the curriculum to generate deep knowledge of academic texts, children and learners, teaching practice, and one another. Technology is used to increase connections and interrelatedness and thus support the construction of knowledge.

We value knowledge constructed over time and thus collect our work and that of the students with whom we work longitudinally. We actively use our collections of work to deepen reflection and generate knowledge. We're responsible thinkers, capable of reflecting on our own work, forming our own opinions, and using our knowledge to act independently in socially responsible ways.

ENQUIRY or the collective discipline of observation, reflection, and non-judgmental description of children and their school work, as well as descriptive inquiry of teaching and professional practice.

Brooklyn Campus educators value being active inquirers, curious about social and natural phenomena, able to imagine, and to invent. We're seriously reflective, and take time to study, reflect on words and texts, observe, research, collect work. We observe learners and their work closely and are able to describe them accurately while withholding judgment. We also value description and reflective review of our own teaching practice. We attach great importance to our ability as a group to inquire collectively into these matters and to include the voices of all members of the learning community, regardless of rank or function. We value acknowledging the range of attitudes, beliefs, experiences, knowledge and lenses of the group involved in the collective inquiry, and we look for the common threads as community is shaped. We use our collective inquiry to shape community and to create knowledge as a base for action, review, and constant regeneration and transformation.

The School of Education's curriculum includes specific courses that develop the foundational discipline of collective descriptive inquiry as it applies to children, classrooms, and schools, and it provides ample opportunity to practice descriptive inquiry both in college classrooms and in schools. We read the best literature available, supporting the development of educators' habits of being active inquirers, remaining "wide awake" in the words of Maxine Greene, being attentive to differences, and being able to withhold judgment. This creates an inclusive space with an expanded range of possibilities, enabling our capacity both to act and to transform.

Brooklyn Campus educators are comfortable with inquiry and persevere with questions. We extend what learners bring by asking questions that widen their horizons of knowledge and experiences. We set up and construct learning contexts that stimulate active learning and the learner's curiosity, inquisitiveness and imagination. The Learning Center for Educators and Families (LCEF) provides experiences working with children and teachers in curriculum-related tasks, imagining, inventing, and investigating. LCEF also provides opportunities to conduct observations of student practice and to carry out research on the learning and development of children, adolescents and adults.

EMPATHY that rests on the human uniqueness and capacity to develop, as well as responsiveness to the needs and interests of urban learners and communities.

Brooklyn Campus educators know that no two students are identical, as each person comes with his or her own world of experiences and beliefs, innate talents and learned skills. We believe in the potential of all students and seek to help students build on their strengths and abilities. We are deeply committed to the idea that all learners are capable of reaching their own unique potential. As empathic and caring educators, we are interested in attending to each individual student. To accomplish the goal of helping individual students grow, we seek to understand the unique perspectives and backgrounds of our students and their social context, and work within their frames of reference to help them accomplish what they seek.

The curriculum of the School of Education uses collective inquiry, collaborative group work, and interactive dialogue journals to create a caring community of learners. From the very beginning, the curriculum includes field-based practices with individual children and families, building up the close familiarity that is required for empathy. The curriculum also develops students' ethnographic skills to study communities and to build transcultural understanding and empathy.

PLURALISM and attention to differences and to inclusion of all in the learning community of schools and in the wider community.

Brooklyn Campus educators value the sociocultural and sociolinguistic pluralism of a global world, and especially of New York City's children and communities. We strive to acquire the different experiential knowledge that diverse communities have, to find commonalities in the human experience, and to shape a transcultural learning context, a third space, that is inclusive of differences. We attach importance to understanding the sociohistorical and sociocultural contexts of diverse groups, most especially of African-American and Latino communities, groups who are historically underrepresented in the U.S. overall, and yet overrepresented in Brooklyn schools, and we use this knowledge in teaching. We also value ethnographic processes of observation and participation that enable us to gain understanding of the complex and dynamic pluralism of communities.

The curriculum of the School of Education advances this value by recognizing ethnic, racial, gender, language, and ability differences, and by framing issues of child development, language and literacies, and teaching and learning within sociocultural and sociohistorical contexts. All courses in the School of Education's curriculum pay particular attention to the education of learners with disabilities and those who are bilingual, bidialectal, or learning English. While developing knowledge of specific skills and approaches needed to educate different groups of learners, for different purposes, and in different contexts, we also develop strategies for inclusion of all learners.

SOCIAL COMMITMENT and the building of a just and democratic society.

Brooklyn Campus educators are committed to making sure that all students, regardless of race, class, gender, language, sexual orientation or abilities, receive equitable educational services. We value the importance of inclusion in education and the merits of children from diverse educational and ethnic backgrounds learning together. We understand the relationship between our educational and social roles, as we advocate for children and learners and the transformation of classrooms and schools, toward the building of a better and more just world.

The School of Education's curriculum has strong field-based practices and develops democratic plural communities of learners and educators who are actively engaged in the transformation of urban schools and classrooms. The curriculum prepares educators for social action, empowering them to transform practices, curricula, and schools, so as to build a more just world.