Tappan stresses education reform
Professor and Director of the education department Mark Tappan has a passion for social justice and civic engagement. Since coming to the Hill in 1991, Tappan has revitalized the education department by emphasizing and embracing these two passions in both the academic and co-curricular realms.
“Teaching for social justice is integral to our mission,” Professor Tappan said. In fact, Tappan has taught the introductory course “Teaching for Social Justice” for the last 20 years. It introduces students to the theory and practice of teaching and examines the dynamics of power and privilege. Tappan recently initiated a new course entitled “Multicultural Literacy” that will provide a similar emphasis on social justice and will stress a deeper understanding of diversity. “Multicultural Literacy” will be offered for JanPlan 2012.
A civic engagement component is an important part of “Teaching for Social Justice”, and students are required to spend a minimum of 60 hours volunteering in a local classroom. Tappan’s other classes, such as “Children and Adolescents in School and Society,” and “Boys to Men,” also stress civic engagement, requiring students to tutor local children and work with local boys’ groups, respectively. “My passion is providing opportunities for students to get out into the community,” Tappan said.
It is this passion that carries over to Tappan’s involvement with clubs, such as Students For Education Reform (SFER), Colby Cares About Kids (CCAK), and Male Athletes Against Violence (MAAV). Tappan personally planted the seed for the development of Male Athletes Against Violence on this campus. The club originally started at the University of Maine Orono. After exposure to the concept at the Orono campus, Tappan suggested the idea to the students in his “Boys to Men” class, and several students took the initiative to bring the club to the Hill. MAAV will soon begin conducting student-led workshops with athletic teams.
Before coming to the Hill, Professor Tappan earned his doctorate at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where he concentrated on human development. He received his master’s from The Ohio State University of Education, focusing on higher education, and it was there that he developed an interest in educational research. Tappan received his undergraduate degree at Oberlin College, where he majored in religious studies.
His personal research currently focuses on “understanding the experience of boys and young men in schools and society at large. This includes considering how the media shapes and influences boys' lives, helping boys interrupt male privilege, and exploring how to support boys' academic engagement and school success,” Tappan said. His most recent book, Packaging boyhood: Saving our sons from superheroes, slackers, and other media stereotypes, examines some of these issues.
Tappan had always had an interest in teaching as a profession, especially because of his extensive experience with teachers in his family. “Teaching is in the blood of my family,” Tappan said. “I personally love to teach because I love to work with bright, energetic, committed students like those who come to [the College]. It is both inspiring and rewarding.” He urges students to follow their passions and study what they love as he did. Tappan also advises students to “recognize your privilege, and the responsibility that comes with it,” yet again emphasizing his commitment to social justice.