The Problem with Downsizing

Recently I cleared out the detritus of eighteen years of teaching. I am still teaching, but I really don’t need some of the stuff that had just moved with me over time. Old curriculum manuals from Philadelphia Public Schools and class sets of copies went to the recycling. I have several bags of nice materials and books to take to school for any teachers who are interested in increasing their collections.

One thing made its way to my desk. I pulled out all of the old teaching material catalogs, and I see them in a in a whole new light. I really want to get a bunch of the stuff for my kids. More specifically, I want it to surround them with media, toys, and materials that fully align with the values I put into my teaching career so far. This set of catalogs is a distillation of all of the child development, social justice, environmental, diversity, adventure learning, hands-on learning, pedagogy, and other types of work that I have integrated into my practice.

I will list a few of my favorites with text from their websites:

  • Syracuse Cultural Workers: (Awesome posters and other visuals) Founded in 1982, SCW is a progressive publisher committed to peace, sustainability, social justice, feminism and multiculturalism. We create and publish visual materials, like calendars, posters, T-shirts, cards and postcards, and distribute them across North America. We also distribute selected products, like books, music and DVDs, to complement our offerings.
  • Teaching for Change: (Great books, videos, more) Teaching for Change operates from the belief that schools can provide students the skills, knowledge and inspiration to be citizens and architects of a better world — or they can fortify the status quo. By drawing direct connections to ‘real world’ issues, Teaching for Change encourages teachers and students to question and re-think the world inside and outside their classrooms, build a more equitable, multicultural society, and become active global citizens.
  • Acorn Naturalists: (Nature exploration materials)For over two decades, Acorn Naturalists has focused on developing and distributing resources that nurture curiosity about the natural world. Our selections provide teachers, outdoor educators, naturalists, parents, and others with unique, effective educational resources.
  • Youth Communication: (My kids are a ways away from this, but great writing by teens for teens) Youth Communication creates short, nonfiction stories that appeal to hard-to-reach teens. Teachers and other adults use the stories and related lessons to help students improve their reading and writing skills, and improve the social and emotional skills that support school success.
  • American Science & Surplus: (I built several science curricula using these folks) Here at American Science & Surplus we are fascinated by discovery and invention. And we are dedicated to having fun along the way. We offer an eclectic range of products, many with a science or educational tilt to them, others simply handy or amusing. Value is important, and whenever we can, we carry surplus at prices well below retail. We love closeouts, inventory overruns, mis-manufactures, and items whose time has not come.

Those are just a few of the many great sites out there. In recycling an couple of catalogs, I have the burning desire to replace them many times over with awesome posters, books, and hands-on fun for the kids (and for myself).

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