Please respond to the following in a blog post: What examples of citizenship education do you remember from your K-12 schooling? What types of citizenship (e.g. which of the three types mentioned in the article) were the focus? Explore what this approach to the curriculum made (im)possible in regards to citizenship.
Through the majority of my education, I would say it was a mix of personally responsible and participatory. In elementary, It focused largely on personally responsible in that you should be active in your community and take responsibility for themselves and their actions. As school went on, there was more of a drive for students to look beyond just their community, to develop a sense of nationhood and take part as a valid citizen in Canada. This was developed especially through lessons on democracy and what it meant to live in a democratic society. There were also points that hit environmental importance and how to live a generally clan life to better benefit the future. As school went on though, this pretty much was the limit. Personally responsible definitely took the cake for most of highschool, with a lot of lecture style learning rather than any sort of involvement in the class to fuel educational value. However, I did enroll in the IB Program for High School and will say that it definitely went beyond Participatory to focus on more of a justice-oriented citizen. I believe because it is a global program, IB had a lot of emphasis on being knowledge about things from across the globe and how to problem solve and become someone who can lead the future. I definitely remember a lot of things being in the direction of how to fix things like the problem of finite resources, or reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Also because many of the studies are in depth, student run projects, there is also a higher student involvement which makes a huge difference in learning value. For example, my geography class did a field study that involved us traveling 4 hours to the city of Vancouver and doing a full day walking study of the type of districts and how to classify each one (ex. manufacturing/industrial, housing affluence, shopping, etc). We also had to do a mandatory 150 hours of volunteer work and plan a large, globally oriented final service project.
I think in regular schooling, the Justice-oriented citizen is seen very rarely. From my interactions with fellow, mainstream students, I remember them as less enthused by school and that there significantly less 20 hours of mandatory service work, was often seen as a hassle and many students simply faked the hours to simply graduate and pass. Athletics were a really big focus as well, so having extra volunteering time or service club related activities were less desirable. My friends and I, for example, created a Gardening Club as part of our service hours, but we were the only members because other students did not want to give up their 45 minute lunch hour to work on bettering our school campus. The same was to be said for things like the main service club, called Saints Club, which focused on different service projects to help Less Economically Developed Countries. Their membership was certainly higher, but more because of students wanting to simply put something on a form rather than help anyone out. There fails to really be a connection between students and service to help others and the world, which is really scary.
Blog prompt (due by seminar on October 31): (note that Gale plans to call upon students to comment on these questions throughout lecture, so please be sure that you have read the articles prior to Friday’s lecture)
Finally, I want to comment on different disciplines of math. Students in high school had the option to take either regular Math (Foundations), higher branches such as pre calc, calculus or stats, or apprenticeship and workplace math. Obviously, students who took the latter option were considered unable to do math and not going to go anywhere. Even though the course focused on material needed specifically for trade fields and was useful for students wanting to go that direction, any student who took it was looked poorly on. It seems odd to me that while we offer students who are good at different things different paths to succeed, we ostracize them for choosing those options.
2. After reading Poirier’s article, here are three ways Inuit mathematics challenge Eurocentric ideas about math:
For seminar – use your blog to record and respond to the following prompts:
The article suggests that a “critical pedagogy of place” aims to:
(a) identify, recover, and create material spaces and places that teach us how to live well in our total environments (reinhabitation); and (b) identify and change ways of thinking that injure and exploit other people and places (decolonization) (p.74)
1. List some of the ways that you see reinhabitation and decolonization happening throughout the narrative.
2. How might you adapt these ideas to considering place in your own subject areas and teaching?
1) Reinhabilitation and decolonization, while two independent terms, are very interlinked in terms of either being successful, as seen in the narrative written by Restoule, Gruner, and Metatawabin. Place, especially in the process of decolonization, provides a space for history, memory and recovery. In learning to connect with that place and essentially reinhabilitate oneself with it, decolonization is within that process, a hope to be achieved. The article brings up how they used the word paquataskamik, a Inninowuk (Cree) word that roughly translates to the english meaning of one’s natural environment. They go on to say that “when youth lose a sense of what paquataskamik is, they may begin to lose the connections that form the complex set of relations that bind them together in a historically and geographically informed identity,” (Restoule et alt). The process of reinhabilitation and decolonization is complicated when youth start to lose their connections to the natural world and the history that lies behind that place. If there are no opportunities for them to interact with place provided whether in school or outside, the connection is more easily served to a point where it becomes nearly impossible to fix in adult life.
2) The idea of place is something we have been studying in my Outdoor Education class since the beginning of semester. With the increasing problem of nature-deficiency with children, interacting with the natural and historical world has more importance than ever before. Because the world is becoming increasingly urbanized, we are losing our sense of what exists outside the city and technological. However, a variety of subject areas can benefit from using nature as a tool to learn. For example, social studies could be a study on a specific area, perhaps to see how terrain would have affected early settlers and indigenous communities. They could look at how indigenous peoples used their surroundings to survive off the land and how early settlers struggled in trying to bring techniques they used in their prior lands to Canada and how this hindered their development. Which then could lead into a talk about how environment affects life and the need for adaptation to place. From an English aspect, there is perhaps some more difficult connections to be made. Of course, using place as a central location for writing nature related works is the easy route, but I believe it would be important to complicate this and make the interactions with place more meaningful. Perhaps having students continuously return to a place over the course of a semester and log the changes both natural and unnatural, and reflect on how these changes occur and how it affects their view of the place. There are a number of considerations, but using space effectively can lead to all sorts of higher level learning and connections for students.
Before you do the reading ask yourself the following question: how do you think that school curricula are developed? This is an entry point to this topic and whatever you write will be fine.
I imagine that the development of school curricula is an extremely lengthy process with lots of arguing and back and forths about what should and shouldn’t be included. At the very start, it is probably a huge long list of suggestions for what the curriculum makers want to be included. The rest of the process is likely mostly focused on narrowing down this list to what is absolutely mandatory for students to learn. The people who decide this should be people from a number of different positions, mostly within education. So, teachers or past teachers, from the subject areas of whichever specific subject curriculum is being developed. There should not only be high school or elementary teachers though, university professors should also be consulted. I would also see members of high position within the community have a small level of involvement. As well, ambassadors from support programs and elders from indigenous communities should have a voice as well.
After doing the reading, please write your blog entry. Reflect upon:How are school curricula developed and implemented? What new information/perspectives does this reading provide about the development and implementation of school curriculum? Is there anything that surprises you or maybe that concerns you? IMPORTANT - Please write your blog before our lecture as YOUR OPINION will be an integral part of the lecture.
The reading largely focused on how political bodies influence curriculum. While it may sound like the government has control of policy, what they decide is often dictated by the public and popular vote. Especially in a country where democracy rules, political parties are well aware that disregarding what the voters want could be their downfall in elections. Hence, the public eye has a lot of power. In addition, behind the scenes campaign supporters and suppliers may have things they want governments to put into effect if they get into power in exchange for their support.
Being that I’ve had guest speakers in previous and current classes who have been directly involved with curriculum development, creation and implementation, I feel I’ve had a bit of a better idea on the process prior to the reading. Not to say that I fully understand it, but this article gave an interesting look into the political process associated with curriculum creation. I hadn’t previously thought of how party platforms were influenced by the public’s wishes for educational curriculum so this was an interesting new point of interest.
Something that does concern me is the teaching of politics in curriculum. Recently, an issue arose in my hometown where a student spoke out on an assignment they were given to identify between the right and left wing, in which right wingers were identified as things like ‘racist.’ My brother later mentioned, having taken Law 12 from the same teacher, that they were incredibly leftist and liberal with most of their material and teaching. I see this as an issue because it does not allow students to develop their own views and understandings on politics, instead they are forced to be, or at least act, leftist in order to appease the teacher and get a good mark. Not to call out the left side, as I’m sure the opposite has happened in the past as well, but teaching based solely on your own views and biases is a problem.
Link to mentioned news article:
What does it mean to be a “good” student according to the commonsense?
The commonsense “good” student seems complex, but it really comes down to being impossible. Perfect grades, perfect attendance, volunteer work in and outside school, a good group of friends, outspoken and motivated, valedictorian material, kind and giving, environmentally oriented, and so on. The list is endless and, as I said, impossible. There is no balance and something has to suffer as a result, whether that’s a piece of the students grades, their friendships and social life, or their mental health behind the scenes.
Which students are privileged by this definition of the good student?
I would go so far as to say that no students are really privileged by this definition. There is a certain level of pressure put onto a child that demonstrates they have the potential to be a good student. The pressure to get good grades and perform well as set by parents, teachers, and other role models. While a student may seem fine under these circumstances, I still hold the belief that something suffers as a result and that they cannot perform perfect without sacrificing something.
What is made impossible to see/understand/believe because of these commonsense ideas?
In relation to some of my earlier comments, I believe that the role models who see/understand/believe a student to be the commonsense good student, also cannot see/understand/believe that they are anything but. They cannot fathom anything but perfection and as a result are blind to any sufferings the student may experience.
“Think what it means for children to grow up now, and how different their experience of nature and definition of life is, or soon will be, from the experiences of us adults.” (Louv, 22) Quote taken from Richard Louv's book, Last Child in the Woods
Without a doubt, the world is constantly changing and evolving, at a rate that is impossible to keep up with. As soon as we learn new, relevant information, that information because outdated. Hence the problem of creating curriculum when after the years it takes to create and finalize it, new information and knowledge is already available. However, that’s not just what this quote is focused on; rather, it’s the problem of the ever evolving technological nature of the world and the loss of interaction with the natural world that results.
Outdoor Education is something that can be seen as scary, or unsafe. Parents don’t want their kids away from home doing potentially dangerous tasks. Likewise, the school doesn’t want the liability of outdoor activities on them. This can make it hard for teachers to try and involve their students into the natural world of learning. However, it’s exactly those fears that also work as a convincing factor. If you, as a parent, are afraid to let your child stay overnight, on, for example, a camping trip with other adults for supervision and safety, as well as children they will spend their school years growing up and bonding with, how are they supposed to function on their own later in life? How are they supposed to grow up, ready to thrive in the world rather than hide away from it?
A teacher who is willing to brave the backlash of authority from the school and parents, just to give kids the chance to learn in their natural surroundings is one who is without a doubt, confident in the benefits. That alone is enough to be respectable.
I would like to also comment on the experiences I had with organizations like Girl Guides. I always find it amazing how excited and enthusiastic girls get about being able to spend a weekend outside, learning new skills and forging bonds with their friends. I think that sort of team building and experiential learning is something all age levels can benefit from, in all sorts of subject areas. Having a couple days, even just hours, away from technology and experiencing the natural world is something that doesn’t happen regularly for a lot of learners and it’s an important step for them to take before they’ve lost their connection to nature forever as an adult.
Louv, Richard. Last Child in the Woods. Algonquin Books Od Chapel Hill, 2006.
In closing, here are my final thoughts on the article:
As teachers, it is up to us to utilize things that Tyler's Rationale in that we take out the parts we consider key and critical, while recycling the rest. It’s entirely possible for something to give good points while simultaneously offering things we largely disagree on. Education and learning is about creating our own knowledge based on a plethora of thoughts and ideas. We can accept that things we may not necessarily agree with can work in certain settings, or worked previously, but also challenge that perhaps something else works better now. Learning is an ongoing process of trial and error and as teachers, we are forever going to be challenged to new norms and outcomes as set by society and our students.
PROMPT QUESTIONS: How does Kumashiro define 'common sense?' Why is it so important to pay attention to the 'commonsense'?
Kumashiro firstly defines common sense simply as things that everyone should know. However, as we become further immersed in his story on his experiences teaching in Nepal, it becomes clear that common sense is not the same for everyone and in many cases, is an extremely biased and ineffective way of teaching. What we deem as common sense is different for the next person, hence a reason why creating curriculum is difficult in the first place. With phrases like “students should know this topic because it’s common sense,” we are perhaps not focusing on where the students will be in the future and whether they will use the particular topic, but rather what we believe is needed for a full education. There are more than enough complaints about students not using calculus or the pythagorean theorem once out of school that perhaps we should reconsider how necessary these lessons in common sense material are. That’s not to say that those specific math skills are not important for career paths. Without a doubt, they are, but we have to understand that not every student is going to excel at or be inclined to use mathematics and that perhaps at a higher level, it should be purely choice.
As Kumashiro points out, part of the common sense problem of schools lies in that of tradition. Truly, the idea that the curriculum has been a certain way for x number of years and always consisted of x subject is an accurate representation. However, we almost seem to forget that the world is constantly changing and evolving in what we need to know. By not paying attention to this, we continuously teach students outdated information and fail to set them up for success. Kumashiro states that “Common sense is not what should shape educational reform of curriculum design; it is what needs to be examined and challenged,” (Kumashiro 36). This embodies the problem of common sense and challenges educators to reverse the way we currently think of it. To break past bias and tradition, and be on the up and up of the educational forefront.
Regarding this article, the following is my own personal thoughts.
Kumashiro’s article actually resonated fairly strongly with me because it is my goal to teach internationally after finishing my BoEd. Even though I haven’t been actively thinking about what or how I’m going to teach there, without a doubt I’ve already got a common sense bias to what should be taught, purely based on my own experiences and by what I’ve looked at in the SK curriculum. Especially depending on where I end up, it’s critical to watch what I teach to students, but at the same time, I want to give students beyond what the curriculum requires.
Another parallel I drew in regards to curriculum is based on my own experience with the BC curriculum compared to the one here in SK. I’ve noticed over and over how things vary and often wonder why certain topics are not more or less highlighted. Treaty Ed is a really good example of this, because it’s always been a big part of curriculum in BC starting in elementary school, and than more so as the focus for almost a full 3 years of high school social studies. So I’ve always found it interesting that many SK students I’ve met know very little about Treaty Ed and Aboriginal culture.
As a whole, Kumashiro's article gave me a lot to think about, and I believe I’ll have to challenge many of my own common sense knowledge prior to fully entering the educational field.
(Kumashiro. (2009). Against Common Sense: Teaching and Learning Toward Social Justice, pp. XXIX – XLI).