Check out the link to my very professional and interesting video! 😉
ECS 210 Summary of Learning Youtube video
ECS 210 Summary of Learning
The first few weeks of this course had me wondering, “What are we actually learning?” We blogged a lot and talked about racism but I didn’t feel like I was being TAUGHT anything concrete. But we were being taught how to think critically. Looking back on my blog posts I can see my hesitation and reluctance to engage with the issues the professors raised for us. I’m proud of myself that I’ve come a long way in my confidence to express my thoughts and feelings, even about things that are difficult to admit.
Overcoming challenges and engaging with curriculum
I was expecting to come into my second year classes and be TOLD what curriculum is, and TAUGHT how to be a good teacher. My journey this semester has taken me from being frustrated and confused… wondering “Why don’t the professors just TELL us what is right?!” I was somehow surprised that I was expected to think for myself and develop my own perceptions and understandings of curriculum. I thought that curriculum was just the physical document which would outline what I needed to teach my students. But I’ve come to realize that curriculum is so much more. And I can create my own version and understanding of it. Curriculum will be determined by how I perceive it. As Gerry says almost weekly, “You are only limited by your imagination!”
Constant process of growth
I used to think of my education degree as a goal with an end result. I would go to university and learn how to be a good teacher then I would be done school then I would go teach. I’ve learned that I’ll never be done learning. My teaching philosophy will grow and evolve many times throughout my career. I will discover new things everyday and constantly need to adapt my methods and mindset.
The lectures and discussions about treaty education really shook me awake. I had treaty education chalked up to mean a unit ABOUT the signing of treaty a hundred years ago that I would need to fit in once a year. While its important to understand and teach students about the history, treaties education is much more about the present. It’s knowing how the treaties are played out today and how they impact peoples lives. It’s investigating and appreciating First Nations culture and embracing Indigenous ways of knowing. It’s white settlers and First Nations students building relationships and mutual respect. I initially had the attitude that I wouldn’t need to deal with Treaty education because I was going to teach the lower primary grades. But I’ve learned the importance of doing so and ways to incorporate treaty education into all grade levels and all subjects.
Challenging myself and troubling knowledge
At first it was hard not to get upset every time Mike called us racists. Troubling knowledge is uncomfortable. But that’s the point and I need to accept that it will be a daily part of my life as a teacher. I have a lot of examination of my own privileges and biases that I will never be through scrutinizing. For a long time, it was easy for me to feel afraid of these difficult tasks and worried that some internal part of me will make me a bad teacher. But I need to shake of the doubt and embrace the uncertainty. Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.
This opportunity to blog about a topic of our choice was a serious pain for me. I know it was meant to be somewhat fun and creative but all I could think is that “I don’t want to blog about ANYTHING!” This component of the course has been hard for me. Blogging and sharing my thoughts and opinions in this way is not something that comes naturally to me. I’ve consistently felt like I’m writing in my diary for all my peers and professors to see. It’s uncomfortable for me. I’ve done the required blog posts grudgingly all semester and felt like this is some type of punishment. I may have even been a little over dramatic, thinking “Why are they doing this to us?! Why is this necessary?” Well the theme of the semester for me has been proving myself wrong and constantly having to realign my perspectives. I get it now. Blogging isn’t a useless task made just to fill my time. Our profs chose to have us do this for a reason. (gasp) Unfortunately a little late, but it’s finally clicked for me. As I began to think about the digital storytelling project in which I will reflect back on my experiences throughout the course, I realized the value of blogging. “Ohhh that’s why they had us do all those blog posts”. I can read back through my posts and see how my perspectives changed and grew over the semester. I can map out what I learned, what I struggled with, and the realizations I made along the way. And I realize I have learned A LOT! Sometimes by the end of the semester it can feel like you didn’t really learn anything, or you’ve already forgotten it. This way, I can SEE what I learned because there’s a written account of it. In a way, I still feel a bit like it’s been an invasion of privacy (get out of my diary,guys!) but I can now see the tremendous value in blogging and I’m going to try to keep a positive attitude about it and continue to implement it throughout the remainder of my schooling and into my teaching career.
“We need to be examining our lessons and lenses, their political implications, and possible alternatives…. we need to put front and center the very things we do not want in our teaching, the very things we do not even know are in our teaching.”
Everything I was taught from kindergarten to grade 12 has shaped me and impacted the teacher I will be. Actually more importantly, are the things that I was NOT taught. The things that my teachers left out or I failed to learn have a bigger impact on me today. School forms our views and opinions of ourselves more than we realize. The things that I need to put front and centre in my own teaching is the fact that I am white and have been extremely privileged. As much as I don’t want to, I likely carry with my ideas about students of other races and backgrounds. I will likely be teaching students whose lives are very different from my own so I need to keep in mind that I do not understand them completely and know their lives. If I can admit this, then I can begin to try to understand.
Given the complex relationships between formal curricula, political power, and the social order, what agency do classroom teachers have in enacting curriculum?
When we first started talking about curriculum in class and all the complex social factors that influence curriculum, it seemed dismal and as though teachers really have no power in the classroom. At first I felt very overwhelmed and under a lot of pressure. Just as I was starting to feel completely frustrated… Gerry to the rescue! His reassuring words that “There are no curriculum police” actually eased my mind. It is up to teachers to interpret the curriculum and decide for themselves what to make of it. I may find that some parts of the written curriculum are lacking in areas that I believe are important but I can choose to incorporate those things are my own. As Gerry also says “You are only limited by your imagination”
It’s also important to keep in mind that teachers can actually DO something about forming and writing curriculum. There is always the opportunity to advance into administrative positions and have a say in the development of curriculum. I think it’s critical for teachers to take advantage of these opportunities. It’s our duty as educators to be proactive and influential in what is taught in schools.
Because it made me laugh…
In elementary classrooms, a good student is the one who listens attentively, sits still, completes their work, is engaged and answers questions, works hard and get good marks, and gets along with the other students. Progressing into high school and university class settings, this doesn’t change much, but a good student is also expected to contribute to class discussions, be always organized, and excel in classes. I don’t know how these perceptions came to be but they are definitely perpetuated in all classroom settings. Even though educators now recognize that students learn in different ways and there are different types of intelligence, schools really don’t make room to accommodate these. If a student is unable to sit still or dislikes reading aloud in class then they are not viewed as a good student. Also, unfortunately, I think that teachers are more likely to view students from a higher socioeconomic status as potentially good students. Usually kids from families with more money have certain privileges before they enter the classroom; they had access to books and early learning opportunities and they won’t be hungry because there was no breakfast. A students’ life at home determines whether or not they can be a good student when they come to school. So certainly children from a higher socioeconomic background (often assumed to be white) are privileged by this commonsense definition.
These commonsense ideas of a good student make it impossible to believe that every student is truly capable of success. Just because a student struggles to sit still in his desk for hours, does that really mean he is not a good student? As future teachers we need to be mindful that we are not trying to mold our students into our definition of how they should be. Rather we must adapt and change ourselves to meet their needs and teach them in the way they require.
“Schools were built upon a fundamental premise that teachers and knowledge and information were scarce. That is no longer the reality.”
Unpacking this quote….
What I think the author of this quote is implying is that society assumes that schools are the only place that learning occurs…That academic knowledge is the only valuable knowledge. This view places the teacher as the transmitter of knowledge and the student as recipient. While the content learned within school is undoubtedly critical, there are certainly other types of knowledge that is just as valuable. People learn things everyday in through their environment, communities, families, and the world at large. These things being learned are what many would consider real world knowledge or “street smarts”. It is important for teachers to recognize that students acquire knowledge in so many ways and bring those valuable lessons to the classroom to share with peers. In this way, it is important for Saskatchewan teachers especially to incorporate Indigenous ways of knowing into their classrooms so they can reflect and honor their students lives.
In my years of schooling, this was not demonstrated. Teachers implied that everything you need to know in life would be learned in 12 years of school and while you may have other experiences, they aren’t really providing you with any knowledge. As a future teacher on my professional journey, I am trying to change my understanding of curriculum from linear to more holistic. I hope to show students that school is important, but that learning occurs in all places and continuously through their lives!
1. What educational purposes should the school seek to attain?
2. What educational experiences can be provided that are likely to attain these purposes?
3. How can educational experiences be eﬀectively organized?
4. How can we determine whether these purposes are being attained? (Tyler, 1949, p.1).
In my schooling experience, the Tyler rationale mainly manifests in the last point in aiming to measure students learning. A large portion of what I remember from Grade 1 – 12 was the tests, exams, and assessments-not the experiences that were provided to reach those goals. There is so much emphasis placed on the end result through the assessments that the way you got there becomes lost. I believe that the major limitation of the Tyler rationale is clearly in the focus on assessment. Not all kinds of knowledge and learning can be measured. Just because a student does poorly on the end exam does not mean they haven’t learned anything. I think the Tyler rationale still bridges from Franklin Bobbitt’s thinking that “Education is a shaping process as much as the manufacture of steel rails.” -there is an end goal that all students are expected to meet. While this can be rigid and limiting, it could also be considered beneficial because we do need direction and goals for teaching/learning. There has to be some purposes we seek to attain and standards for getting there.