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 book is Mary’s unflinching and humorous account of her own roots in a struggling large Irish Catholic family and her early career as a community activist. Mary’s teaching is infused with lessons of her heroes: Gandhi, Eleanor Roosevelt, Helen Keller, Martin Luther King, and others. Her students learn to make connections between their lives, the books they read, the community leaders they meet, and the larger world.

If you were inspired to become a teacher because you wanted to change the world, and instead find yourself limited by teach-to-the-test pressures, this is the book that will make you think hard about how you spend your time with students. It offers no easy answers, just a wealth of insight into the challenges of helping students think critically about the world, and starting points for conversations about diversity and controversy in your classroom, as well as in the larger community.

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  • Stenhouse Publishers

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|| Comments

    By Lioness on June 03, 2018

    For Parents and Teachers Alike I have recommended this book to everyone I know who interacts with children, including a high school student who is completing an internship at her adjoining elementary school. I’ve also given the book to parents because it presents wonderful ways of relating to children. I am appalled by the lockstep, test-taking, “start them out of the womb” approach that so many are advocating as education these days. I am very worried about children experiencing the current educational system. So many of…

    By Budgie Feather on June 03, 2018

    I really cannot say enough good things about this book This book is something that should be required reading for every future educator. Mary Cowhey has a way with words and a way of relating her life to what happens in the classroom- truly, after reading this book, most of my doubts about being a teacher who can impact students’ lives were lifted. I really cannot say enough good things about this book. It’s not pretentious, it isn’t preachy- it’s very real. Realness is what is needed in this changing educational climate. Please check this book…

    By Anonymous on June 03, 2018

    I cannot rave about this book enough! If you are going to be a teacher or are one already you have to read this book! In this book Mary Cowey tells you about her diverse classroom and all of the many conversations she has with her children. She talks about how she teaches them social justice, and going against the main stream way of teaching. I have cried many times reading this book because it is so moving. She give so many examples of how she taught lesson, what books she used etc. ABSOLUTELY…

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