Author: Nathan Moldenhauer

Erasure Hidden in Plain Site

As I was driving my daughter home the other afternoon, I noticed some new signage along stretches of road in Carver county (see below) that immediately caught my attention. According to a press release on the topic, there are 10 signs located throughout Carver county. To me, the erasure of American Indigenous people couldn’t be more blatant. The Stories We Tell As a teacher and scholar of pedagogy and language, I know that what I say and present in the classroom has a massive weight upon how our students think and feel about selected topics. But what we don’t say and/or present has just as much weight, if not more, on the public consciousness and the thinking of our young children. One of my favorite quotes from Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois sums up what happens when we only present one side of information when he wrote: How easy, then, by emphasis and omission to make children believe that every great soul the world ever saw was a white man’s soul; that every great thought the …

On Ukraine, And America’s Obsession With The West.

War is hell. No matter where you are from, what country you live in, or who is on the receiving end of artillery or an airstrike. The war currently going on in Ukraine is no different. Countless innocent lives will be lost, on both sides, all in the name of power consolidation and ideology. Whether or not the Russian soldiers believe in the cause is pointless. The same goes for Ukrainian soldiers. That also places the people in the middle of harms way, the civilians, in a position of total disregard. Yet, there is something American about this war; something ironic in saying that what Putin is doing is bad while ignoring the countless airstrikes our drones have implemented on sovereign soil for the last 20 years. This story is being sensationalized as the worst thing to happen since Hitler invaded Poland in 1939. Not only is this not the only example of war happening currently, the invasion of countries by western powers has continued non-stop since the era of colonization. But lets be real …

P-12 Education is a goat rodeo right now.

I have been rattling my brain for the past few weeks trying to figure out why this year feels so much worse than the last couple of years combined. I have been asking myself, “Why have more teachers and administrators started the processes of finding new jobs?” And, “Why have I felt crushed by pressure when things are seemingly the same as every other year?” And that is when it hit me. It is because things are exactly the same. Or, rather, we are acting like things are the same. All of our schedules have moved full steam ahead without regard to the continued chaos around us. It is as if your house were on fire but you decided to keep watching Netflix on the corner of the couch that isn’t smoldering because that was your plan, and no one likes interrupted plans. I think what makes matters worse is that no one in the higher echelons is even willing to call a goose a goose, let alone make meaningful change. They just keep saying, …

Student Names (An Example of What NOT To Do!)

I have been thinking a lot about the upcoming school year. I know it seems early, considering the kind of year this last one was. It seems even earlier to me considering that I am still teaching summer school. But I recently had new student come into school, and I made a huge mistake, a mistake that created one of the biggest ‘ah-ha’ moments I have had in the past year. This student was brought in because he had arrived at school but was not registered for summer school. He was brought to me to see if I knew him. Of course I didn’t. I’m not sure how it is in other districts, but this seems to be the norm with English learners, especially when we don’t have a translator available at the time. But this post isn’t about what systemically needs to change. This post is about what I messed up. I messed up when I started trying to look the student up. Instead of asking the student for his name, I asked the …

Krashen (Out of his element)

There I was minding my own business enjoying the latest issue of Language magazine over my lunch when I took notice of Stephen Krashen’s regurgitating the KS Goodman’s antiquated construct of reading as a “psycholinguistic guessing game.” For those of you who aren’t into reading and literacy research, the idea of reading being a psycholinguistic guessing game is best explained as making inferences and checking those guesses as we read. In his own words, “Reading is a selective process. It involves partial use of available minimal language cues selected from perceptual input on the basis of the reader’s expectation. As this partial information is processed, tentative decisions are made to be confirmed, rejected, or refined as reading progresses” (Goodman, 1967). The idea that reading is a psycholinguistic guessing game as KS Goodman stated in 1967 has been proven wrong by years of actual data. Literacy, and specifically reading researchers have spent the last couple of decades accumulating evidence for a few theories of reading, how we read, and how we learn to read. All of …

COVID And Learning Loss

Don’t get me wrong, I understand why we are not in person schooling yet. The safety of our students, their families, and our staff is far too important to risk, and I am extremely glad to have a governor who took a strong stance in the face of neglectful politicians. But to say that our students will be fine with a year off from education in their developmental years an absurd platitude meant to make us feel good.

Back in the saddle

Even with all the masks, face shields, social distancing, and awkward conversations, it feels great to be back in person. I didn’t realize how much I missed working with students in a face to face until I started doing so today. I’m sure I have said this before, but I cannot stand distance learning. There is just something so mind bogglingly dull about it. But beyond getting to see my students again, it was nice to be back on a new project. I have been asked to take on an afterschool program for students who are falling behind and may be at risk for not graduating on time. This is where I thrive. I love the problem solving aspect of it all. I spent most of today trying to gather lists from our student management system, testing different ad hoc reporting combinations until I landed on one I felt would give me the most bang for the buck. There is something satisfying in solving technical problems and discovering what works best. Now I just have …

Grad School (Again)

I didn’t want to put this out in the open until my application was fully in the hands of the prospective university I would like to attend, but my anxiety is creating a mess of mental difficulties that I feel compelled to put on paper. Originally, my intent was to wait until next fall when the schools started opening up their application windows. However, as I was browsing through different programs and researching which program would be my best fit, I found one that has a much later application window than the others. Normally, I would have skipped by this because I had my mind set on two other schools, but something caught my eye that I found impossible to pass up; a complete focus on diversity and equity in education as a doctorate focus. Many programs I have found have some focus on equity in education, but this one is unique in that its primary focus is on diversity and equity. Even the courses on leadership are studied from the aspect of equity. When …

Wounded Knee Anniversary, Precise language, and Perspectives that don’t matter.

Today marks the 130th anniversary of the massacre at Wounded Knee where 20 U.S. troopers received the medal of honor for the slaughter of over 250 unarmed men, women, and children. To put history in context, this atrocity still holds active consequences today in the gold mines still operating in the Paha Sapa (Black Hills). In fact, if you’re feeling up to it, you can join the thousands of others who have stolen from indigenous lands and pan for gold yourself. This got me thinking and writing, and I came across some realizations I wanted to talk about. First, that the use of precise language is important in how we teach history. The second is that the use of the word perspective is a terrible argument in defense of atrocious behaviors and quickly falls apart when used in today’s context. The Third is that treaties matter, no matter how old they are, and to say otherwise is nonsense. Precision Language in Social Studies The Massacre at Wounded Knee was not an isolated incident. It was …