Learning from Place

Learning from Place: A Return to Traditional Mushkegowuk Ways of Knowing is an article that discusses the importance of learning from place. This article is based on a research project dedicated to “Mushkegowuk Cree concepts of land, environment and life in Fort Albany First Nation”. There is a story of youth, adult, and elders going for a trip down the river. On this trip is where the people learn the meaning of traditional territory and everything that contains within.

From this reading, I can see the river trip as a whole being an example of reinhabitation and decolonization. As they go on this river trip, all the people are revisiting and reclaiming location that hold a traditional territory significance that they are learning about. During this process, the people are diving into reinhabitation. Reinhabitation aims to “identify, recovery and create material spaces and places that teach us how to live well in our total environments” (pg. 74). In the essay, the elders share that a river is more than just a body of water. The river holds emotional, physical, and spiritual meanings. The river is also used as a way to remember the people that one has lost for the river is used as a cemetery. This powerful moment in the article is a part of decolonization. Decolonization aims to “identify and change ways of thinking that injure and exploit other people and places” (pg. 74).

This article gave me a deeper understanding on how something as such as the environment can have a much more deeper meaning to some people. This article shares that there are some knowledgeable facts that are more important to other students. Knowing this, when I am a teacher I should keep in mind that knowledge just is not found within textbooks and the curriculum. Information can be found in within our community and environment. There is no limitation when it comes to knowledge and learning. This reading helped me understand that.

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Who Writes The Curriculum? Who Should Write It?

BEFORE THE READING:

How do you think that school curricula are developed? 

I think the school curricula are developed by people that THINKS they know what is best for students and what they need for the “real world”. Sadly, I think the people that created the curriculum are people that have never taught a class before or have never experienced leadership in a classroom.

AFTER THE READING:

“Curriculum is defined as an official statement of what students are expected to know and be able to do” (8). The curriculum is developed by the government and other authorities. There are also subject experts that take part in the creating process of the curriculum. Although there are people that are experts in their subject, the curricula people do not have the average day teacher on board. Due to the absence of teachers, the curricula people do not know what it is like to be in a classroom. They do not know the time it takes to learn something, and that is why teachers are always in a rush to get the material completed. The curriculum decides what is being taught in school and how far the subject gets taught. One thing that does comfort me is if the government does not think the curriculum is good enough, they will make sure it is edited or revised so it can be started all over. This comforts me because it shows they actually look at the curriculum and care about the quality of it. Another thing I learned through the reading is how deep the curriculum is in the political world. I never realized how big of a say the government has in the curriculum.

I am concerned with the fact that the curricula people do not have teachers come in for some tips and input. Yes, they have experts in subjects coming in but when it comes to the curriculum in grades k -12 schools, the teachers are the real experts. The teachers know exactly how much information can be taught in a hour, in a month, in a semester, and in a school year. Teachers know how a classroom is ran and they would be the best people to ask for help in the writing of the curriculum.

Reference

Levin, B. (2008). Curriculum Policy and the Politics of What Should be Learned in Schools. In F. Connelly, M. He & J. Phillion (Eds.), pp. 7-24. Found online from:

https://www.corwin.com/sites/default/files/upm-binaries/16905_Chapter_1.pdf

 

 

How Common-sense Shapes a “Good” Student

What does it mean to be a “good” student according to common-sense?

Common-sense shapes a “good” student as a student that everyone should try to be. These “good” students are people that show up for class and sit down at their desk and sit there quietly. A “good” student is someone who gets their work done quick, efficiently, and at their best of their abilities. A “good” student is someone that the teacher does not have to pay attention to because they behave in a way the teacher wants them to. A “good” student is a person that will raise their hand to speak. A “good” student is a person who portrays positivity throughout the classroom.

Which students are privileged  by this definition of the good student? 

The students that are able to sit quietly and still in their seats for long periods of time are privileged for this label of a “good” student. Students who are fidgety will struggle with this task. The students who are able to work fast and efficient are privileged for this label of a “good” student. Students who do not grasp the material quicker than the rest will have a hard time finishing assignments quickly and on time. The students that accept the fact that they think and learn based on the teachers are privileged.

What is made impossible to see/understand/believe because of these common-sense ideas?

These traits that are created by the common-sense of a “good” student make it impossible for students to express themselves. Students sitting at their desk and being quiet stops them from sharing there opinions during class. Students getting their work done quickly and almost perfectly applies a lot of pressure to students and applies unnecessary stress. Theses common-sense ideas create robots for the world to control. When I become a teacher I want the exact opposite of this. I want all my students to express their opinions and strive for their individuality.

 

Breaking down Montessori

“The greatest sign of success for a teacher… is able to say ‘The children are now working as if I did not exist.'” – Maria Montessori

I chose this quote because this is what I want for my future classroom and my students. As a teacher I don’t want my students to just memorize the material I introduce to them, but to understand it and know how to use it. This quote represents growth and individuality which makes complete sense for someone like Maria to say this line. Maria believed in hands on learning and she would give her students activities to help them expand their knowledge. This shows that with Maria’s teaching method, students were able to know the   information, use the information, and completely understand why and how the information is used. With this, students are able to take their knowledge and use it on more complex questions.. and they will be able to do it on their own.

As a future math teacher, I believe that students should not just memorize information. I want to introduce Maria’s teaching method by creating activities for the kids to do. It adds fun to the classroom and at the same time students are communicating with one another and sharing their knowledge. They are able to look at a math question and see multiple ways of doing it and they are able to pick what method works best for them. I think it is great when students can learn from each other and work like the teacher is not there. This means the teacher did their job and the students understand it so well they can do the work themselves.

It Has Always Been Like This…. Doesn’t Have to Stay Like It

This week in ECS 210, I read the article, Curriculum and Theory Practice. Within this article it talks about Ralph Tyler and his rationale.

1. What ways have I experienced Tyler’s rationale in my own schooling?

Thinking back on my entire school experience, it’s shocking how similar my experiences were with Ralph Tyler’s rationale. Every day at school it was common sense to sit down at your desk and be quiet. Students would sit, quietly, and write out word for word of whatever was presented on the chalkboard. In elementary, our art class would sometimes get cancelled so we can work on other subjects like Math, Science, English, or Social Studies. Starting in elementary students were slowly losing their creativity. Not only were those four classes prioritized, the way we were to learn those subjects were out of our control. There was a certain way to learn those subjects and only that way. Throughout elementary and middle school students grasped onto the idea that right answers on tests meant you got to move on to the next grade. I realized my classmates and myself were not understanding the material being taught, but memorizing it. Most cases students just wanted to memorize the unit being taught so when it came to the test, it was an easy pass.

2.  What are some major limitations of the Tyler rationale? What does it make impossible?

It is not surprise that all students learn differently. Considering that most schools follow the guidelines of Tyler’s rationale, a lot of students are not able to learn the content that is being taught. It will become discouraging for those students to see everyone succeeding. A lot of this unfairness is what causes students to drop out of high school and this is where inclusive education is flawed. All students have a favourite subject and a lot of the time students want to build their career around that subject. Considering there is texting in subjects like math, science, etc., students priorities lean to those subjects. For students who are interested in art and want to make a career out of it, it becomes impossible because of Tyler’s rationale. Tyler’s rationale strips creativity and individuality. Everyone learns the same and does the same: memorize the content, write the test, and hopes to pass.

3. What are some potential benefits?

This question was very hard for me to think of, I am not for Tyler’s rationale. I was able to think of a couple benefits that come with Tyler’s rationale. The curriculum and the guidelines of Tyler’s rationale makes certain that all students in different schools are learning the same thing. (That is if the students are able to comprehend it in the ways they are supposed to learn it). I do not think that a student’s knowledge should be based around tests. However, I do think it will take some time for a change in that aspect. With that being said, this is a good way for students to prepare for tests like a written drivers exam. Tests will especially prepare students that head to university because university is very reliable on exams.

Common Sense: What is it doing for the educational system?

I always believed that common sense was knowledge of the obvious. For example, it is common sense to own a winter jacket when living in Saskatchewan. It is common sense to pay for your products before exiting a store. After reading Kumashiro’s article, “The Problem of Common Sense” I learned that in the career of education, there is a separate definition for common sense. I believe that the common sense that Kumashiro shares is a way to hide everything that is wrong with school systems.

When I was reading Kumashiro’s experience as a teacher in Nepal I couldn’t help but think of Professor Hildebrandt’s first teaching experiences. Hildebrandt taught at a grade k-6 school. Whenever Hildebrandt would take her kids to a different part of the school, they would have to walk in a single filed line and be absolutely silent. If her kids would speak in line she was told to stop the class from walking and stand there until the kids became silent again. Their lunch times were exactly the same. The students in the school would all sit in a cafeteria in complete silence. Hildebrandt would get told that some of her students were getting suspended because of the fact that her students spoke DURING LUNCH TIME. Kumashiro’s experience was very familiar, except the students were the ones pointing out what he was doing wrong. The students were encouraging him to make sure to hit students when they were misbehaving. He wanted students to participate and engage in learning, overall just have fun with it. The students would just write word for word whatever was on the board. The staff and students in these two experiences believed that this behaviour within the schools was common sense. Not common sense in a way as in this is day to day knowledge, but in a way that it overshadows what is clearly wrong in the education systems. Teachers and students are feeding into “normal” school behaviour which consists of no talking, writing out what is on the board, not engaging in what is being taught, etc. I think this “normal” school behaviour is what I would call “educational common sense”. I think this is how Kumashiro is defining common sense. As Kumashiro says in his article, “Common sense does not often tell us that the status quo is quite oppressive” (36).

During this week’s lecture professor Cappello said, “Our belief of curriculum is relatively common sense”. When he said this I never really understood as to why he was saying it. After reading the article I made some connections as to what I believe common sense is and how it connects to the curriculum. As I said above, the common sense that people have within schools is a way to make sure people do not catch what is wrong with school systems that are being introduced.

There is a section in the article titled Anti-Oppressive Education. As I was reading this section I kept thinking of when the class in this week’s lecture were sharing our ideas of our own definitions of curriculum. There was one that stated that curriculums are guidelines but we can make them our own. Doing so, this is what differs teachers from one another and this is how educators can cheat the curriculum and create an education system that is less robotic and more interesting and fun for the students.

It is important to pay attention to these different types of common sense. The sooner people realize that this common sense is hiding the flaws of our school systems, the sooner we can make change. No more sitting/walking in single filed rows. No more raising your hand if you want to speak. It is time that students are encouraged to speak in class and participate in what is being taught. A few months back I came across a YouTube video that brings awareness to everything that is wrong with the school system. I get so inspired by it and I am going to link it down below for anyone who also wants to get inspired to make a change.