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

 

 

Montessori Motivation

The greatest sign of a success for a teacher…is to be able to say, “The children are now working as if I did not exist.”

  • Maria Montessori

This quote is awesome. It says that the teacher has empowered her students. Maria Montessori allowed children to learn through practical play. In doing so, she allowed the students to chose what they wanted to learn and explore what interests them. Through her unique teaching style she gives  children the knowledge and understanding to tackle problems with confidence and skill. The students use their own logic and reasoning to find answers to their questions. The students explore and discover knowledge at deeper levels while the teacher acts as a guide.

The students are self confident, and eager to accept the challenge of learning new concepts. They are encouraged to use their own initiative and develop their abilities. The children are on the road of discovery and are directing their own learning. The students have the power and control of their own educational destiny. They learn what they need to learn through practical play.

This quote makes it possible for children to be imaginative and creative. They are allowed to follow areas of their own interests and think critically. They aren’t robots and learning by route, instead they use their own minds and ideas to solve problems.

On the negative side, student work would be more difficult to mark and grade. The consistency of the learning journey isn’t there as each student is learning at their own rate rather than a predetermined level.

This quote takes the curriculum which I tend to think of as a dull and boring document, and breathes life and vibrancy into it. Montessori’s approach makes the curriculum a dynamic tool allowing the teacher and the students to be creative.

Her students would love to come to school, as her classroom would be a place of ideas and revelations. It would be a fun place. I want to be like this teacher.

Reference

ECS210. (Winter2018). Some Educational Quotes https://docs.google.com/document/d/1LqctuKiZuTiY7NLPBEv_9xhpJEYE9jChsheqdxqBzU4/edit

Curriculum and It’s Impact on Society

Explain the ways in which you may have experienced the Tyler rationale in your own schooling.

The Tyler rationale views education as a process that focuses on curriculum goals. These goals are achieved through acquiring new skills in which students can demonstrate knowledge, i.e. exams. It was considered important for students to learn and change behaviours to become smarter. To learn new behaviours, students had to learn through experience and by doing. Teachers needed to control the learning experience and organize materials to ensure students learned effectively. The teacher had evaluation tools such as exams to test if the student had reached the predetermined goals of the curriculum.

All my early and middle education was build on Tyler’s rationale. My teachers would break down subjects into small pieces and then build on that knowledge. All learning was by route. Exams were important as they showed how successful I was in a given subject. There was no inquiry learning, and exploration; creativity wasn’t encouraged. School was not dynamic and fun; it was boring and dull.

What are the major limitations of the Tyler rationale?

The Tyler rationale doesn’t allow the student to have their own voice to say how they are being shaped and molded. Each person has different learning styles and Tyler’s interpretation of the curriculum doesn’t allow for that. His rationale doesn’t look at the person and their specific needs, the individual is left out of the equation and Tyler’s rationale is sterile. There are no values given for positive or negative attributes “kind/unkind, moral/immoral, responsible/irresponsible” (Schrio, p. 78), these attributes are what makes us who we are, and unique.

What does Tyler’s rationale make impossible?

Tyler’s rationale makes creativity impossible. Students aren’t allowed to have self expression and follow areas of self interest. Students imaginations are not stimulated and allowed to be expressed, which is an important part of education.

What are some potential benefits?

Tyler’s rationale does have benefits. Students have the skills to be productive within society, as the schooling system has taught them necessary skills for success. Education is standardized, and all students have the same knowledge base.

What is made possible?

Everyone conforms to societal norms as all individuals have the same educational background; society as a whole moves forward as a collective unit.

Reference

Schiro, M. (2013). Curriculum theory: Conflicts visions and enduring concerns. (second Ed). SAGE.

Common Sense Needs Criticizing

How does Kumashiro define ‘common sense’?

Kumashiro teaches that common sense is the cultural normative narrative. It’s the way things have been done traditionally and we feel an intense pressure to conform to the norms of society. As Kumashiro explains common sense is the term used when we “continue to privilege only certain perspectives, practices, values, and groups of people” (p. XXXVI) and because of this, common sense needs to be challenged.

Why is it so important to pay attention to the ‘common sense’?

Because of our normative narratives or common sense, we tend to follow our society and cultural norms without asking questions. We accept things the way they have been done, and assume traditions are our base line for society. Common sense gives us the feeling of comfort and we like to feel comfortable. The problem is that our society is oppressing people without the majority realizing it. Common sense is like a giant blanket where those with privilege are wrapped up feeling cozy, while others on the outside are freezing in the cold; unseen and unnoticed.

We need to pay attention; who is seen and who is unseen. Who is standing in the peripheral sphere of society and has been ignored, ridiculed, or harassed? Those of us wearing ‘rose tinted spectacles’ and walking around with white privilege need to take off the glasses and start asking difficult questions. The “Status quo is oppressive” (Kumashiro, p. XXXV) and we need to challenge the status quo and shake up common sense. Oppression is wrong. Common sense needs criticizing.

Reference

Kumashiro. (2009) Against Common Sense: Teaching and Learning Toward Social Justice, pp. XXIX – XLI.

Inclusion – (Anthea Holczer)

We tend to be frightened or uncomfortable when we see someone with a disability; they look different from us, which unnerves and scares us. We need to understand that they are just the same as we are. They want to be included in our society, with us. People with disabilities have hopes and dreams just as we do. Just because their bodies don’t function the same way as ours, doesn’t change who they are and the gifts they have to offer society.

A person with disabilities wants to be included. They want to feel like they belong. They are part of a family, but want to belong to the neighbourhood, community, and school. These are all parts of our society we take for granted but it isn’t always shared with someone who has a disability. They need to be included too.

The children who are challenged and are included in society have better outcomes, socially and cognitively than those who don’t. Their inclusion also benefits regular students. It has been proven that regular students school work increases by 15% when having a special needs student in class. The students are more engaged with school work and are motivated to help their friend succeed. In helping the challenged student, the other students learn and understand the material more thoroughly. Everyone benefits.

Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems, apply to everyone; not only able-bodied people but to those with challenges also. The microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem, macrosystem and chronosystem all work in the same way for those who are able bodied and those who aren’t. We all want to have a healthy social identity, and school plays an important role for all children no matter what their challenges are.  We all need friends, and want to be accepted.

I have a sister who is blind, although she is accepted within the family, she has a tough time with society. People shout at her, thinking shouting will help when talking to her; her ears work perfectly it’s just her eyes that don’t. Thankfully she has an outgoing personality, and takes others lack of understanding in her stride.

How do you break down the barriers of peoples’ prejudice?

How should people start a conversation with respect?

‘The Secret Path’ (Anthea Holczer)

Gord Downie was inspired to write the songs and orchestrate the movie ‘The Secret Path’ when he learned about the story of Chanie Wenjack. The train tracks in the movie are an important image, as Chanie is trying to find his way home, and the tracks are an easy path to follow. But, the tragic irony of the tracks, is that trains were used to ship Indigenous children to residential schools. The trains were full of crying children forced from parents and homes; these trains were nicknamed ‘trains of tears’ and it’s easily understood why. The families had to comply as it was the law, if the law was broken they were arrested, put in jail, or fined. Chanie’s walk home following the tracks makes sense; the train brought him to the residential school and the tracks will lead him home, unfortunately he doesn’t make it that far.

It is surprising to learn that only 66% of Canadians know about residential schools. Everyone in Canada should know about this part of our history, it’s part of our Canadian story. It’s even more surprising to learn that 40% of Canadians have heard about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. What have 60% of the population been doing? Maybe, this is our colonial blindness resurfacing; not listening to First Nations issues, and blocking out any ugliness we don’t want to see.

Canada has a history of not listening to First Nations peoples and easily turns a blind eye to their issues. Gord Downie, a white man, has championed the Indigenous fight to be seen and heard with his work “The Secret Path’. Downie was a beloved Canadian rock icon, he used his fame and influence to make the plight of Indigenous people common knowledge and main stream. Well done Gord Downie!

As teachers we will have First Nations students in our classes, and it’s important for us to understand, respect, and honor traditional ways. We need to learn the truth of our ugly history, own that truth, and work towards an anti biased society. As teachers we have influence on the students in our classrooms, and we will help the healing process which has only just begun.

We are very lucky to be students at the University of Regina, it’s an excellent school, that also has the First Nations University on campus. I try to take as many classes as I can at the FNU, and participate in social activities. I want to learn ‘Indigenous Ways of Knowing’ and make Indigenous friends.

Is it possible to build High School’s on reserves? Keeping young teenagers at home with their loving family is so much better than sending them south to finish school.

 

Constructions of Identity (Anthea Holczer)

The classrooms and hallways within a school are unkind and cruel to those who are different.  High school is a place where students are learning about their sexuality, and if they don’t conform to the heterosexual narrative, they can be subjected to verbal and physical bullying. If this isn’t bad enough the students can also feel isolated and invisible; they feel broken, and deviant. Fitting in and having friends is important at this age, and when they don’t, LGBTQ students are at risk mentally, physically, and emotionally.

Teachers and schools have a role in stopping the bullying behavior, and supporting the LGBTQ students. There needs to be an openness within the classroom for safe discussions about gay’s, lesbians, and bisexuality. Harassment needs to stop, and acceptance of different sexuality needs to be explored without condemnation. Issues of sexuality affects all students and they need to understand the whole spectrum. The more the students are educated in the area of sexuality the greater the chance we have of stopping bigotry in our youth.

Bigotry and harassment targeted at LGBTQ students decreases their chance of academic success, they have a higher rate of substance abuse, and are at risk of suicide. When there are reduced levels of victimization within the school, students have been found to be statistically just as successful at school as their heterosexual peers.

Anti-bias education stresses the need for students to have a strong sense of self worth, understand others feelings, understand human differences, make caring connections, take action and understand fairness. These goals are strengthened as students are empowered to act against prejudice and discrimination. We teachers need to stress and incorporate these core ideals into every classroom to ensure differences are accepted and everyone is respected.

In Bronfenbrenner’s model the teacher has an important role in the student’s micro-sphere. It is up to us to be nonjudgmental regarding sexuality, and give as much objective information as possible. We need to be open minded and supportive of all students. Our attitudes help to uplift, and empower students to be their true selves. We want students to be free to be themselves and fulfill their destiny.

How can we make ourselves more approachable to help students who are truly in danger of self harm?