February 8, 2019

Prior to Reading:

Having very little knowledge on the topic I think that there must be a number of levels in which information and ideals regarding education are passed through in order to be developed into fully fletched curricula. I think that they are developed by considering what exactly is required for students to know in the current times based on what has been deemed as common sense, information that will aid students in their futures, and that will allow them to be productive members of society. All of these considerations tied in by a number of people likely allows the beginning of the development of curricula.

After Reading:

Following my reading of the article I now have a better understanding of the process of developing and implementing curricula. Like I suspected, curricula development is a lengthy process that must make its way through a number of steps, and that is why there is very little change throughout the years. Many people are involved in the development/implementation of curricula through reviewal processes of determining which aspects of curricula were lacking in the past, and which may need to be added for a more successful future based on their gathered data. Through this process they determine what needs to be removed, added, or altered.

Prior to reading, I had never considered how time consuming and near impossible the process of developing curricula could be. Ensuring both student’s academic success, while also considering their futures is certainly a trying task, and I am surprised that there has been any amount of success due to the extreme individualities of each student/person involved in the curricula’s creation.

Something that surprises and concerns me regarding the current education system and curricula is the focus on certain subjects over others, and the ways in which some teachers emphasize pushing through curricula and therefore teaching their students just the very bare minimum rather than beneficial, substantial life information. First of all, I think that there should be more emphasis placed on the arts in education, and a push for both mental and physical health. Where I do certainly see the importance of Math, English, and Science for example, I do think that there are benefits to Visual Art, Music and Dance that many overlook. I also think that when teachers merely teach the required info rather than focusing on the needs of their students, they are setting them up for failure. It is important to remember to not just teach curricula, but to teach students.

Expectations of Students

Expectations of Students

February 1, 2019

According to the common sense, there is truly only one example of a “good” student. This would be a student who speaks only in class when called upon after raising their hand, one who finishes their homework and all assignments to the best of their abilities and on time, who does what they are told without question, and learns the required material in the exact manner the teacher is providing it. Unfortunately, this belief of the “good” student is extremely one-sided and causes many brilliant students to be consider “bad,” or to cause unnecessary stress due to the traditional teaching methods.

This definition of “good” student only serves to benefit those who have the particular learning style the trope calls for. A student who requires more hands-on learning for example, or a student that can become very restless without breaks or activities will suffer due to the strict traditional views on teaching. Only one type of student can actually succeed in these methods as they are very restricting and heavily involve “curriculum as product” as their intended result.

This common sense view of what it means to be a “good” student causes many to feel that they are unworthy or inadequate due to a single method of teaching and learning. By considering the fact that all students are unique and individual people that will require a variety of teaching methods in order to effectively grasp the required material might allow future educators to develop new methods of teaching. Incorporating numerous methods into a single lesson that will benefit all students may result in less students being left behind, or labeled as “bad.”

Educational Theories

Educational Theories

January 25, 2019

Having began studying the various educational theories from the perspectives of a number of theorists in the field, I have come across a quote that I believe to be an excellent description of how education and curriculum should be taught in the future:

“Learning is not just about ‘correcting’ what students already know. Learning is not just about students’ acquiring what some in schools and society have already determined to be the things that they are ‘supposed’ to know. Given the recognition that curriculum cannot help but be partial, learning needs to involve refusing to be comfortable with what we already know and what we are” (Kumashiro).

This quote by educational theorist, Kevin Kumashiro describes the way in which he believes information should be handled. As mentioned in lecture, teachers should not assume that all students have the same prior knowledge, pre conceived notions, or even similar ideals of common sense, therefore students should not have to ‘scoop out’ all of their prior knowledge to make room for newer information that has been deemed ‘require.’ New concepts of knowledge, and this idea of ‘what students should know’ as determined by curriculum needs not interfere with what knowledge students will already carry with them, rather, it can be additional information from which students may grow and begin discussing prior thoughts in new ways. I agree with Kumashiro’s perspective in this quote as it allows individuals to embrace new topics and expand their horizons of knowledge without having to give up on what makes them who they truly are. Stepping out of their comfort zone without relinquishing their cultures or identities.

I believe that this style of teaching is incredibly possible and doable if teachers are open to understand where exactly their students’ prior knowledge comes from, and recognize that what they already know may differ from what you as an educator know, however that does not mean that they are wrong. Allowing students to gain new perspectives, rather than trying to correct what is already known. This understanding will require open mindedness from teachers, and a willingness to try new things for the students. A give and a take are what will make Kumashiro’s theory a successful one in practice.

This relates to my own understanding of curriculum and school more and more lately due to the critical thinking my education degree has pushed me to develop. While reading Kumashiro’s theory, I hope that I will be able to focus on the points he makes in my own future practice. By allowing students to explain their point of view, I will gain perspective myself, and will gain a better understanding of the diverse peoples I will be fortunate enough to teach.

Curriculum Theory and Practice

Curriculum Theory and Practice

January 18, 2019

In this week’s article, “Curriculum Theory and Practice,” writer, Smith, delves into analysis of curriculum in general, as well as the ways in which curriculum has come to be, and in what ways it influences a student’s overall education experience. Specifically, Smith discusses the theory of Ralph W. Tyler. Tyler’s rationale is based on a series of four questions, from which he further develops his focus on forming behavioural objectives in students. Tyler states, “[s]ince the real purpose of education is not to have the instructor perform certain activities but to bring about significant changes in the students’ pattern of behaviour, it becomes important to recognize that any statements of objectives of the school should be a statement of changes to take place in the
students” (Tyler 1949: 44). Therefore, he believes that emphasis is placed on the future of the students, and the need to reform the future generation into exactly what is required of them. His ideas particularly center around a “rational, orderly, systemic process that can be implemented across all subjects” (lecture).

In my past as an elementary, high school, and finally, university student, I have witnessed the Tyler rationale firsthand through the ways in which a typical class was run. Tyler’s first point of the rationale that poses the question, “what educational purposes should the school seek to attain?” (Smith 4) could refer to the aims and objectives that are currently laid out in the Saskatchewan curriculum. All of my classes were based around the central ideas that had been pre-determined and recognized as essential to my overall learning. Furthermore, Tyler’s fourth point that asks “how can we determine whether these purposes are being attained?” (Smith 4) has become the bane of my existence when it comes to education. In modern day schooling, these purposes are determined as being attained through the use of standardized testing, and tests the individual students on their ability to memorize.

Despite the popularity at the time, there are major limitations to the Tyler rationale. Specifically, the theory eliminates all opportunity for creativity, activist minds and even free thought. By expecting every student to behave in the same way, learn in the same way and therefore “turn out” the same way following graduation, Tyler’s rationale ensures the failure of many, and limits ways in which students may express themselves, and recognize their own truths regarding their learning. This style of education merely trains students to effectively memorize unnecessary information, and in the long run, this knowledge will not remain embedded in their brains. This rationale also does not allow for the success of a variety of students, with varying abilities, and learning styles. For those students who are not as successful with memorization, school is nearly impossible and this system ensures their failure.

Some potential benefits to the Tyler rationale include what Tyler believes to be “value neutral” that can rise above context, allowing every student the same opportunities. However, he does not consider that not all students are going to come into the school system with the same background knowledge, the same “common sense,” or even the same understanding of how the world works. Tyler’s rationale may also benefit those who work well in a neutral and equal environment, or who thrive with memorization, and enjoy testing as a way to show their gained knowledge. The rationale also makes further work on our current curriculum possible. By recognizing what has not worked the best in the past, perhaps we can learn how to create a more effective, fair and successful curriculum for generations of students to come.

The Problem of Commonsense

The Problem of Commonsense

January 11, 2019

In the article entitled Against Common Sense: Teaching and Learning Toward Social Justice Kumashiro defines ‘commonsense’ as the ways in which particular people, depending heavily by the influences of the culture and traditions of a specific place, decide what is to be expected in all aspects of life, and therefore anything that varies from an area’s ‘commonsense’ ideologies is determined incorrect, and even ridiculous. Kumashiro discusses their experience as an educator in Nepal and how that varied from their own education in the United States. They also commented on the reactions of the Nepali children to the ‘American education system’ and how the students were concerned that they were not being taught properly or learning the required material due to the varying teaching styles of Americans and the Nepali. It is through Kumashiro’s experiences teaching in Nepal that they came to the conclusion that although the Nepali ‘commonsense’ varied greatly from that of the people living in the States, that did not make their beliefs any less legitimate, nor did it mean that the American views were in any way superior. In fact, the experience provided the author with a better understanding and a clearer focus of the oppressive nature in which American and Canadian schools are ran based on what has been determined as ‘common.’

It is so important to pay attention to ‘commonsense’ because of the negative aspects these normative views can have on a variety of people. Specifically, Kumashiro discusses the ways in which ‘commonsense’ in curriculum, and how classrooms are ran in the States and Canada is in fact oppressive to students on the basis of the ‘isms’ such as race, sex, gender, class, religion, and more that can create a marginalized, subordinate group. Another important note is that what may be considered ‘commonsense’ or ‘common knowledge’ in a certain place will completely vary from that of another, therefore it is nearly impossible to determine what is truly ‘commonsense’ in all aspects of the word itself. It is important that I, as a future educator recognize that these sorts of beliefs will vary, as well as taking note to avoid the commonly oppressive nature of the normative expectations we have conceived in the Canadian school systems.

Constructing Teacher Identity

Constructing Teacher Identity

November 26, 2018

This week’s readings included “Exploring Teacher Identity:  A Yearlong Recount of Growing from Student to Teacher” by Krista Yerkes, the article, “Promoting an Activist Teacher Identity” by Pamela Osmond-Johnson, and “Understanding Canadian Schools: An Introduction to Educational Administration” by John Young, Benjamin Levin, and Dawn Wallin.

First of all, I learned about the experiences of one woman transitioning from the role of “student” to that of an educator. Krista Yerkes delves into her entire progress of growing into the teacher that she wanted to be, and discussed important elements such as teaching through anxiety, a bad home life, loss, relationships and supports and more that all influenced her growth. I learned about the importance of positive versus negative attitudes, and how having a positive and confident outlook on teaching can make you a much more influential teacher and one that students feel comfortable being around. I also learned about the importance of moving away from the old way of thinking when it comes to education. Oftentimes teachers are believed to be required to stay in the classroom, to focus on teaching within the classroom in a very structured and specific way, however this is no longer the best way to provide students with the required information. On page two of “Promoting an Activist Teacher Identity,” Osmond-Johnson states that “[w]e need to re-imagine teachers as leaders, learners, and policy actors whose influence goes beyond the walls of any one classroom” (2). This spoke to me, and I hope to be one of the teachers who will be able to accomplish this in my own classroom one day. And lastly, I learned about the debate regarding whether or not teaching is a profession. In the article, “Understanding Canadian Schools: An Introduction to Educational Administration” Young, Levin and Wallin state that “[w]hether or not teaching possesses a clearly defined, highly developed, unique body of specialized knowledge that is demonstrably linked to professional proficiency has been a subject of some debate” (Young et. al. 277).

Of the three articles assigned this week I connected the most to  “Exploring Teacher Identity:  A Yearlong Recount of Growing from Student to Teacher” by Krista Yerkes. This paper included all of the things that I feel I am currently going through and went explained Yerkes’ life changing experience of shifting from student to teacher. I feel that my internship will go something along the same lines as Yerkes did, both with moments of positive interaction and successful overall learning, however also moments filled with mistakes and anxiety that I will be able to learn from. I also connected this article by Yerkes to my placement in ECS 100 at a Catholic elementary school. I had both successful and perhaps less successful moments during my time at the school, however they were all excellent learning experiences for me, and I will be able to use these moments to help me in the future.

One question that I am still left with is, how can I maintain my “pre-teacher” self while going through the changes required for me to be the successful and influential teacher that I hope to be?

Constructions of Authority in Schooling

Constructions of Authority in Schooling

November 19, 2018

This week’s readings included “The Many Faces of Leadership” by Charlotte Danielson and “Teachers, Administrators, and the School System” regarding the creation and construction of authority in schooling that I hope to take into consideration during my future as an educator.

From these readings I learned a variety of essential information. First of all I learned about the importance of a committed teacher. A “real” teacher is one who concentrates not only on the curriculum and specific required knowledge but also on their students’ individual needs and the needs of their teaching community. Danielson states that “[t]eachers can find a wealth of opportunities to extend their influence beyond their own classrooms to their teaching teams, schools, and districts” (The Many Faces of Leadership). I hope to be the kind of teacher who will be more influential in this way. I also learned that a challenge for new teachers is the whole “fend for yourself” mentality in the isolation of a classroom. Teachers tend to have little adult interaction, spending most of the day with students in their classroom. This can be difficult for new and experienced teachers alike. And lastly I learned about “Teacher Leadership.” The article discussed how these leaders contribute in and out of school across their communities.

I connected this week’s readings to my ECS 100 class last year. All of my peers and I were placed in a variety of school’s for eight half days in order to get used to being in a school through the “mentor” role and switching our minds to the role of a teacher. Many of my peers discussed the various ways in which different schools were ran, and the newer method of open concept schools and teaching. These articles made me think about these new techniques and methods of teaching and the role of teachers in this ever changing educational system.

One question that I still have is how will I be able to teach in my own style in the way that I believe to be most effective without going against those in higher power such as my school principal or other administration if our ideals do not match?

Teaching for Social Justice

Teaching for Social Justice

November 5, 2018

This week’s readings feature more than just the typical articles and chapters of the text that I had become accustomed to, rather we read an article entitled “Why are Schools Brainwashing our Children” by Cynthia Reynolds on a website called MacLeans, “Racial Tolerance vs. Anti-racist Transformation” from the University of Toronto’s website, and a video titled, “Schools & Social Inequality: Crash Course Sociology #41” on YouTube. The variety in resources provided a new interest and a new way of supplying the required information.

From “Why are Schools Brainwashing our Children” I learned that throughout the years prior to the article’s publication in 2012, and onward today, educators are unsure as to a solution to the problem of teaching social justice in an effective way. The challenge is that so many people have varying views on the matter, and knowledge is constantly changing and growing with the times. I think that in order for me to teach social justice in the best way that I can, I will have to read up on as many different ideas and viewpoints as possible to provide my students with a well rounded education. Reynolds states that “the idea is to encourage kids to become critical analysts of contemporary issues, empathetic defenders of human rights and gatekeepers of the beleaguered Earth” (2012). I also learned that there are ways in which I can transform my assumptions and views towards a better racial tolerance and anti-racist classroom from the University of Toronto’s “Racial Tolerance vs. Anti-racist Transformation.” And lastly, I learned that our education system is set up in a way that is disadvantageous towards some students and advantageous to others, meaning that schools “ultimately play a role in reinforcing inequality” (Crash Course). This includes inequality in education funding, support in the home, the expectations of a person’s parents and community members, and even further in the schools themselves based on the high percentage of white teachers and administrators, and the “tracking” done to students. The video also discussed the challenges of standardized testing and the overall “teaching to test” rather than actually teaching a broad and educational curriculum.

I connected the Crash Course video to another video from our ECS 200 lecture from October 29. Both of the videos discussed the ways in which our educational system is currently flawed, and how the curriculum and testing based learning is likely not the most beneficial and equal for all students. I also connected the “Why are Schools Brainwashing our Children” article to the various ways in which social justice groups are protesting and pushing change in all sorts of different ways. Particularly lately there has been a push for reusable over one-time usage items such as straws and all containers for fast food. Specifically the article stated that “a six-year-old boy was disqualified from a teddy-bear contest because a Ziploc was found in his lunch instead of a reusable container” (Reynolds 2012). This seemed absolutely ridiculous to me. I agree that we should attempt to lessen our usage of single use containers and plastic materials however this reaction seems extreme. I want to be an educator that will hopefully teach my students to consider the future of our planet, however not overreact in such a drastic way.

One question that I am still left with following this week’s readings and Crash Course video is, how can I, as an individual educator, follow the constraints of the curriculum and the requirements of testing my students without reinforcing inequality, while ensuring I am providing them with a true, substantial and beneficial education?

Philosophy, Sociology and History of Education

Philosophy, Sociology and History of Education

October 29, 2018

    This week’s assigned readings included “Educational Foundations in Canada”, “Historical Dimensions of Canadian Education” by Terry Wotherspoon and “History of Education in Saskatchewan” from the Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan. From each of these readings I feel like I have gained beneficial information that I will continue to expand upon throughout my degree and into my future career.

From the article entitled, “History of Education in Saskatchewan” from the Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan I learned about the ways in which education has changed over time. In the past, education was based more on survival skills and culture, without an assigned institution of learning, the author states:

… the social group as a whole was the school; and the tribal education system         involved imitating the adults. Children were seen not as belonging to their parents, but rather as on loan from the Creator; they did not experience corporal punishment, and were rarely punished or scolded. Celebration and spiritual practice were an important part of the education and maturation process for children (“History of Education”).

I found this ideology of learning outside of an institution very interesting. I would like to be able to use some of these concepts in my own classroom to sort of break away from “typical learning.” Secondly, I have received plenty information about Indigenous people and treaties in the past,. Particularly Saskatchewan’s part in residential schools. I was not aware, however, that the government of Canada signed a treaty to provide education for Indigenous people. This sounded positive, until “[t]he promise of education for First Nations then became a commitment to church-run industrial boarding schools, which were modified in 1923 and became known as Residential Schools” (“History of Education”). I am mortified that after all my schooling and my years of learning about residential schools that nobody has mentioned that the Indigenous schools were originally supposed to be a positive and influential thing. And finally, I learned that teacher training in the past was very informal until teachers were available in surplus and a school was set up. I was not aware that the College Avenue campus in Regina was the first building of the University of Regina, and that the Education Program began the whole process. It is very important that I gather the information on the history of education in order to gain insight on how to proceed in the future.

I connected the various philosophies of education (idealism, realism, existentialism, and pragmatism) from the “Educational Foundations in Canada” reading to my Philosophy 100 class last year. I think that having a background in this class and information regarding education will help me understand ways in which to proceed. Keeping different ideologies in mind will give me options for all of the unique students I will be face with in my career.

One question that I am still left with is how can I take the teaching methods from the past (such as a focus on culture, outside of the institution of school, inclusive education, etc) but in an updated and more current way that still fulfills the requirements of the curriculum and ensuring that I am providing my students with all the information they need prior to graduation?

Culture and Diversity

Culture and Diversity

October 22, 2018

Chapter 6 of Educational Psychology by Anita H. Woolfolk Hoy, Philip H. Winne, and Nancy Perry regarding culture and diversity provided me with an excellent source of information that I believe will prove to be quite useful in my future career as an educator. In this section of the textbook I learned about the correlation between socioeconomic status (SES) and a student’s school achievement. I found it very interesting that even regardless of ethnic groups, all students who had higher socioeconomic statuses were found to “show higher average levels of achievement on test scores and stay in school longer than low-SES students” (Woolfolk et. al., 2016, p. 222). I think that it will be important for me to consider that these low-SES students may suffer from low self esteem and I will do my best in order to help them achieve their goals. I also learned specifically about the variances between “ethnicity” and “race.” In the past I was naïve in believing that the two words were more or less interchangeable. I know now, however, that the two are quite different, ethnicity referring to “culturally transmitted behaviour” and race referring to “biologically transmitted physical traits” (Woolfolk et. al., 2016, p. 201). Having learnt this I feel that I will have a better grasp at challenging discussions on the topic of race. Lastly, I learned that “culture is a program for the living” (Woolfolk et. al., 2016, p. 222). As it turns out, culture goes a lot deeper than I had ever considered before. The many conceptions of culture involve more than just the obvious characteristics (as I had formerly believed) but even includes rules, beliefs and values of a group of people. Understanding that culture is this program for the living will allow me to make deeper connections to my students through the uniqueness of culture, and hopefully provide knowledge for others to better understand as well.

I connected pages 207 to 212 regarding “Gender in Teaching and Learning” and more specifically, gender biases and gender roles to the current topic of my Intro to Women’s and Gender Studies 100 course of masculinity. The chapter discusses that women and girls portrayed in the media, although faced with many other problems, are allowed to demonstrate both “typically” male and “typically” female characteristics while men and boys, however, are seldom allowed to demonstrate any sort of feminine quality as it makes them seem like “less of a man.” I also connected pages 213 to 221 regarding “Multicultural Education” to Regina’s Multicultural Council’s annual festival of culture, Mosaic. Multicultural education is “a field of study designed to increase educational equity for all students … [and] Canada should be transformed into a society that values diversity” (Woolfolk et. al., 2016, p. 222). Mosaic is a way for the city to witness and be a part of the traditional dance, food, atmosphere and more of a number of various cultures. I think that if something similar could be done within schools to celebrate our differences we would be able to have a more appreciative and multiculturally accepting new generation.

From this week’s reading, one question that I am still left with is, in what ways am I able to aid my future students in discovering their own place in the world with regards to their gender and sexual orientation without crossing any lines? I want to be the kind of teacher who students feel comfortable coming to talk to about these sort of problems as a mentor, however I want to ensure that I am responding in a professional and respectful way.