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Dan Butin
Dan W. Butin is an Associate Professor and founding Dean of the School of Education and Social Policy at Merrimack College and the Executive Director of the Center for Engaged Democracy. More about Dr. Butin’s scholarship can be found at

Entries by Dan Butin

Deflate This! On Footballs and Higher Education

(0) Comments | Posted January 23, 2015 | 1:21 PM

As all of us in New England do some soul searching about how far a football team will go to win, it may actually help to take a page out of the Patriot's playbook. For as Tom Brady knows, and physicists concur, a slightly deflated football provides a...

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The College Course Is Dead?

(1) Comments | Posted September 4, 2014 | 11:47 AM

The college course is dead. Or at least that's the argument I make in an op-ed today about MIT's report. And if it's not dead, I hope that someone will soon kill it.

By this I mean that most college courses are not structured for...

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College 2.0?

(5) Comments | Posted August 5, 2014 | 5:49 PM

I need your help.

I believe we are at a crucial turning point in how teaching and learning occurs in colleges and universities. The traditional model of teaching -- whether in small seminar-style classes or large lecture halls -- is being torn apart. Whether we call it online learning,...

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Love: Who Cares?

(0) Comments | Posted March 10, 2014 | 4:35 PM


Who cares?

Apparently, a whole bunch of high school students.

I'm giving the opening keynote talk at the University of New Hampshire on Monday to 500 high school students from around the region. They're participating in the HYPE (Hosting Young Philosophy Enthusiasts) program, which brings...

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Kristof Is Right About the Lack of Public Intellectuals. Thank Goodness!

(0) Comments | Posted February 20, 2014 | 10:04 AM

Nicholas Kristof declared "Professors, We Need You!" in his Sunday New York Times op-ed. Scholars who make an impact on the public debate, he argues, are pretty much long gone. PhD programs focus on "arcane unintelligibility," professors "marginalize themselves" through "gobbledygook" writing in "obscure journals," and entire disciplines,...

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(0) Comments | Posted September 20, 2013 | 5:25 PM

Run. For public office. Because, yes, it is still possible and critical to make a difference at the local level through city and state political involvement.

That was the message that former Massachusetts State Senator and majority whip Marian Walsh gave as she launched the "Building Community, Reaching...

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Breaking Down the Walls

(0) Comments | Posted August 26, 2013 | 6:08 PM

"While my inside [incarcerated] classmates live in cages, I have been educated in one."

This is a shout-out to the most transformational model of teaching and learning that I have ever seen: the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program. Started by Lori Pompa, a faculty member...

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My Teacher, the Robot

(4) Comments | Posted June 9, 2013 | 4:23 PM

So here's the question: Would you rather watch your professor from the back of a massive lecture hall or on your iPhone? No pressure, but how you answer this question may determine the future of higher education.

A little context: I've been spending a lot of time

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Don't Save My Students... Teach Them

(5) Comments | Posted April 11, 2013 | 3:48 PM

The School of Education that I lead partners with a wide variety of schools and school systems in the region. One of them is the Community Day Charter Public School, just five miles away from the college.

But those five miles matter. The median house price in...

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We Must Act

(0) Comments | Posted January 22, 2013 | 5:19 PM

"We must act," President Obama proclaimed in his inauguration speech, "knowing that our work will be imperfect. We must act, knowing that today's victories will be only partial..."

Indeed. I am ever more reminded, as I begin to co-teach a course titled Cultural Diversity in Schools, that justice...

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Who Cares?

(0) Comments | Posted January 7, 2013 | 2:54 PM

As the spring semester begins for most college students, I want to offer a simple suggestion that may greatly enhance your education: Ask "who cares?"

(Sure, it may also get you into trouble... so, hey, you didn't hear this from me.)

When I suggest this in class, most of...

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Arm Teachers! A Response to the NRA

(10) Comments | Posted December 21, 2012 | 10:21 PM

I want to arm teachers.

I want to arm them with the realization that schooling is different than education, and that it takes passion and purpose to move from the former to the latter.

I want to arm them with enough knowledge of what they teach, but not...

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I Don't Buy It

(1) Comments | Posted December 17, 2012 | 10:24 AM

"There is the same exact equation," the philosopher John Dewey wrote, "between teaching and learning that there is between selling and buying." We would laugh at a merchant, he explained, who claimed that he sold something if in fact no one had come into the store to buy anything.

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Just Tell Me What to Write About

(4) Comments | Posted December 5, 2012 | 5:37 PM

If it's December, it must be the season of final papers. And for many of my students it's a time of panic.

My standard final paper prompt for the students in my introductory Foundations of Education course is to write about something they were passionate about during the course....

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Disrupt This

(1) Comments | Posted November 30, 2012 | 5:54 PM

What's the point of going to class? Honestly, you can just read the textbook chapter, copy your friend's notes, or, if you have a tech-savvy professor, watch the lecture she recorded and posted on the class website.

In fact, the whole idea of sitting in a seat and listening to...

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