Kathleen Ruen

BA, MA, Sarah Lawrence College. PhD, New York University. Special interest in arts education, multidisciplinary curriculum development, the history of education, and culturally relevant pedagogy. Recipient of research, arts, and teacher education grants. Founder and producer of The Art of Teaching Educational Film Series. Former movement/theatre teacher, assistant director, and DOE mentor at Central Park East I Elementary School. SLC, 2003–2019

Graduate Courses

Art of Teaching 2018-2019

Advisement Seminar

Graduate Seminar—Spring

The theme of the Advisement Seminar is to explore the connections among early childhood education, childhood education, and the ongoing education of teachers in the content disciplines. The seminar begins with observations of the very youngest children to help us begin to frame continuities and differences. Faculty from the Early Childhood Center and the undergraduate liberal-arts faculty help us to think about learning as an ongoing process across ages and stages of development, leading sessions devoted to curriculum and its evolution both for children in classrooms and for us as teachers. We consider intercultural perspectives and themes related to teaching in a diverse society; view videos and films of children in classrooms engaged in drawing, writing, reading, imaginative play, and social-studies explorations; read source material in the content disciplines; and engage in hands-on explorations.


Emergent Curriculum I and II

Graduate Seminar—Year

Emergent Curriculum is a yearlong course in which children’s interests and approaches to learning are at the forefront. Central to the course is understanding how to create a curriculum that is driven by ideas—striving for wholeness, integration, coherence, meaning—and focused on assisting children in applying knowledge and thinking to real-life problems. Classroom design and organization, media and materials, and approaches to teaching and learning across disciplines will be discussed, with an emphasis on the arts, sciences, and humanities. We will learn how to develop curricula with multiple entry points. We will reflect on ways of knowing in our own learning and that of the children and explore teaching strategies that expand children’s knowledge and modes of thinking and learning. We will discuss curriculum and teaching strategies for individual subject areas, with an emphasis on the connections among disciplines, building toward an interdisciplinary approach to curriculum and instruction. The roles of the teacher as observer, provisioner, collaborator, and facilitator will be discussed. During the year, we will engage in hands-on inquiry in workshop settings and take multiple local field trips to environmental centers, historical sites, and arts museums—reflecting on our own learning in order to draw implications for classroom practice. We will discuss how children’s interests and questions connect to the large ideas and questions at the core of the subject-matter disciplines. Value will be placed on enabling in-depth inquiry, experimentation, and discovery and on establishing classroom communities based on collaborative learning and rooted in social justice. National and state standards, including the New York State Standards for the Arts, Social Studies, and Sciences, will be critiqued and integrated into our work. By the end of the year, students will create their own multidisciplinary curriculum plan, which will become a resource for colleagues and Art of Teaching alumni.


Foundations of Education

Graduate Seminar—Summer

This course will explore multiple lenses through which we view the concept of education, including theoretical, historical, political, sociological, and cultural perspectives.  We will begin by considering the historical roots of contemporary education, with particular emphasis on the history of public education in the United States.  Drawing on a variety of readings, films, and in-class projects, we will examine constructs of diversity including race, class, culture, language, ability, gender, and sexual identity and discover ways to create an inclusive learning environment for students and their families. The work of John Dewey and other progressive educators will provide a basis for looking at democratic ideals and “pendulum swings” in American education, including current debates concerning standards, testing practices, and political agendas.  Throughout the course, students will be asked to reflect on their own school experiences and fieldwork observations in order to make connections between historical and current educational practices.


Previous Courses

Observation and Documentation

Graduate Seminar—Fall

In the Art of Teaching program, we place the observation and documentation of children and their learning at the center of teaching. The emphasis is on seeing every child as capable, unique, and knowable and on children as active makers of their own meaning and knowledge. Observing is focused on what the child can do and is interested in and on how each child thinks and learns. We assume that teachers create their knowledge of teaching and learning through longitudinal observation and documentation of each child as a thinker and learner. This knowledge is the foundation for curriculum development and instructional planning that accommodate individual interests and approaches to learning. The ideas and processes developed at Prospect Archive and Center for Education and Research, by Patricia Carini and others, will be the foundation of the work throughout the course. The Prospect Descriptive Processes and, in particular, the Descriptive Review of the Child will give students a formal and systematic framework for drawing together their observations of children over time. In addition, the review processes developed at Prospect Center will be discussed as avenues for collaborative inquiry and meaning-making among educators and parents. Students will participate in a Descriptive Review and will review longitudinal collections of children’s work. They will also learn about descriptive inquiry processes for reviewing curricula and teaching practice. Students will share observations of children in both early childhood and childhood education settings and develop a language of description. We will discuss the importance of creating classrooms where each child is visible through strength. Students will develop a child study that includes: a description of the child using the headings of the Descriptive Review, a collection of the child’s work, and reflections on the implications that the longitudinal documentation of the child holds for teaching.


Advisement and Practicum Seminars


The Practicum Seminar is a yearlong course that supports early childhood and childhood student-teaching experiences and provides opportunities to draw together the ideas, processes, and approaches in early childhood and childhood teaching practice, curriculum development, and instructional planning across content disciplines in prekindergarten through grade two settings and in grades one-through-six classrooms. Issues and questions that arise in student teaching and continue to be present in classrooms and schools will be explored. These include the role of observation and documentation as they inform assessments of children’s learning and of teaching itself; the creation of learning environments for children from birth through grade two and in grades one through six, inclusive of all children across racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, and learning differences; the development of approaches that enable continuity for children between home and school and in their school lives; the development of classrooms as communities of learners; and the exploration of the teacher’s role and approaches to classroom organization and structure that relate to very young and elementary-age children. Other topics of importance in the course are the creation of opportunities and processes for collaboration among teachers, parents, and administrators and the development of strategies to reflect on, renew, and revise teaching with an emphasis on the importance of professional development. The “Practicum Seminar” also supports students in their continued efforts to understand the political nature of teaching, placing emphasis on educating for a democratic society. The roles of the family, school, and community in educating children are explored, as well as current philosophies and climate regarding home, school, and community relationships. Practicum Seminar students will keep a reflective journal of their field placement and student-teaching experiences, including observation and documentation of children, classrooms, activities, curriculum planning and facilitation, materials, and media. Students will also begin to develop, refine, and share their thinking regarding their master’s project topics.