Creating Citizenship

What examples of citizenship education do you remember from your K-12 schooling?

My teachers focused on personal responsive citizenship. There was a focus on picking up litter to make the community look good. The laws and rules were emphasized, and we had to obey school rules, or there would be consequences. Although recycling as we know it today didn’t exist when I was at school, I was always fascinated that the left-overs from school lunch were left outside the kitchen doors for the local pig farmers. This was my first sign of recycling.

What type of citizenship were the focus.

Personal responsive citizenship was the focus. I grew up in a different country and in a different era, where class was important and if you were deemed working class participation citizenship would be out of the question. Thinking, organizing, and running local government was meant for the middle classes or above. It was more important for the citizen to focus on themselves and understand what they could do to help the local community, rather than think higher ‘above their station’.

Explore what this approach to the curriculum made possible in regard to citizenship?

The personal responsible citizenship approach allows students to contribute to the community in a worthwhile way. It shows the importance of caring and sharing for others, and promotes well being for everyone. Students learn to respect others and understand that people have different lifestyles and shouldn’t be judged. Good citizens help when needed. This approach also helps to build honesty integrity, self discipline and hard work in citizens.

Explore what this approach to the curriculum made impossible in regards to citizenship?

When emphasis is given to personally responsible citizenship, many areas are lost. Students don’t understand the whole picture of society and they don’t question the root of the problem. Critical thinking is not encouraged. Students are not encouraged to question, and don’t understand others perspectives and arguments. Society as a whole doesn’t grow and move forward. Each person lives in a good community but society doesn’t progress; changes are not made, and social movements don’t progress forwards. It’s important for students to be taught about politics and “familiarize themselves with different perspectives” (Westheimer, 2017), so that they understand others arguments, think critically about subjects and have an understanding of our society.

Reference

Joel Westheimer: “What kind of citizen? Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M9WF4uVcrlU

 

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Curriculum Contributions

How do you think school curriculum is developed?

I think teachers, administrators, phycologists, and other educational experts, brain storm collectively to come up with a curriculum that will best meet all needs of society and what children are capable of at each specific age range.

How are school curriculum developed and implemented?

Everyone has an opinion on curriculum and everyone is more than eager to share their views. It seems that society and all it’s interconnected parts have a part to play when developing curriculum; it’s a political decision that incorporates schools, post education, interest groups, and at times the voice of the public.

But at the center of everything is the teacher. The curriculum may say one thing, but the teacher may teach in their predetermined style. It’s important to get everyone on board, focused and geared in the same direction for students to learn relevant information in a predetermined format.

What new information/perspectives does this reading provide about the development and implementation of school curriculum?

          I’m surprised that everyone has a vested interest in the curriculum. It seems the loudest and most powerful voices are the ones that are heard which isn’t necessarily the best way to go. The special interest groups who lobby the government can also be a powerful force, which isn’t good. Everyone seems to have something to gain from putting their spin onto the curriculum, while the teachers and students are just pawns in the societal game.

Is there anything that surprises you or maybe that concerns you?

I’m surprised that it’s generally middle aged, white, males that are making all the decisions. Although this is where the power in our society lays, women have just as much invested in their children’s education as do the men, and their voices are easily ignored. We need to include different perspectives in the curriculum creation process and invite First Nations elders, and leaders from other ethnic groups to be at the decision table. The curriculum affects their children too.

 

 

 

Every Child Has Insights

What does it mean to be a “good” student according to the commonsense?

A “good” student is someone who comes to class with a certain amount of knowledge and at the end of they year they know more. This student listens well, follows instructions, does what it expected of them. They comply to classroom norms and follow social norms. They don’t challenge the teacher or themselves, but accept everything that is presented. This student will end up being a good ‘product’, as they will conform and assimilate into being a functional member of society.

The “good” student is what society hopes for. But I suggest, every student is a “good student”. Every child comes to class with their own knowledge and understanding of the world, and when they share and contribute to the class, everyone gains greater insight. The sharing of oneself and respect of others is the foundation of learning; in this environment the students are engaged and contribute to their own education.

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

The privileged ‘good students’ are the ones that the society deems most important. In Canada our society privileges white people, with all other cultures in the middle except for our Indigenous people; they are at the bottom of the hierarchy.

Privileged students can sit still, listen, follow instructions and don’t disrupt the class. These students make the teachers life easier, and are less demanding. Again, these students know and understand societal norms and comply with them. The students who don’t know our culture, are at a disadvantage, as are those with different skin tones.

What is made impossible to see/understand/believe because of these commonsense ideas?

With these commonsense ideas oppression is impossible to see. The privileged people think that they don’t oppress anyone, and they lead good, honest, happy lives. The reality of commonsense is invisible to the majority. Oppression happens, and certain sectors of society are excluded.

We need to start teaching our students to challenge the norms that they see everyday. Challenging and criticizing our normative narratives is difficult and can be an emotional process. We need to feel uncomfortable, as this helps to view things from different perspectives. Being a societal robot and not questioning what’s really going on, doesn’t help society to change and evolve. Just looking at gender, race, and sexual orientation, in the classroom is limiting, these ideas need to be expanded and all areas of society needs critical examination.

 

Reference

Kumashiro, Kevin. (2010), Against Common Sense. Routledge. Retrieved 27 January 2018, from http://www.myilibrary.com?ID=107087