LEARNING FROM PLACE

From reading Jean-Paul Restoule, Sheila Gruner, and Edmund Metatawabin’s article “Learning from Place: A Return to Traditional Mushkegowuk Ways of Knowing” I was able to get a better understanding of reinhabitation and decolonization. It explains how the Mushkegowuk people were affected drastically from the colonization that took place in their community. However, as time as gone on through the methods of reinhabitation and decolonization they have started to overcome the dramatic events that happened to them. Through the ways of knowing the youth are being able to learn many aspects from their culture that seemed would be lost.

Reinhabitation is essentially about the process of people having a better understanding of how to live appropriately with our environment. Throughout the article a way it shows how reinhabitation can be used is in the skill building workshops that the youth often partake in. These often involved going outside, being with the land and working alongside the elders which was ultimately what made this so effective.

Decolonization means that we need to make changes in the ways that our society  continues to think in regard to harming the environment and people. For this method an example would simply be the river trip. It is not only about the people that partake in it but other people that just hear about what they are doing can have their way of thinking changed. Another example would be when they were using the radio because they were reaching out beyond their community.  I also found the aspect of renaming and reclaiming of locations something that is really important.

As future educators it is important that we focus on topics in this area, specifically related to indigenous culture and the environment.  When I am an educator I hope that when I go over these types of topics that I can get the students to care about the information and think about it even when they are outside of the classroom. When covering these types of topics I would want to include a more hands on approach to learning and not just explain to the students for a whole hour why the should care. At this point I’m not sure how exactly I will go about it, but this article has given me a better understanding of how I might be able to.

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BEING A “GOOD” STUDENT IS COMMON-SENSE

In regards to education many schools and teachers usually want their students to act in a particular fashion or else they are not considered “good” students. Kevin Kumashiro talks about this in his article “Preparing Teachers for Crisis: A Sample Lesson” and the broad statement that is to categorize what exactly makes a “good” student. However, there are multiple expectations that are placed on students that are considered to be common-sense. Society has expectations from what schooling is to produce in a student. This is something that teachers should be trying to break away from simply because of the fact that each child is not the same. This is a lot easier said than done because society has implanted into our heads what exactly makes a “good” student. In regards to what makes up a “good” student it tends to involve being very well behaved and immediately doing the exact work asked by the teacher. From this logic we tend to want the students to act appropriate and accumulate the same answers. This is not how teaching should work and why we should not follow the typical format of how all students should be.

The students that can do exactly what they are told benefit from the idea of what exactly makes up a “good” student. If you have the focus and ability to listen to the teacher for however long and give the answers they want then you will be seen as a “good” student. There is nothing wrong with this as it is a fact that all people learn differently. It is just common sense in society to teach this way so you will most likely benifit if you are able to learn from this way easily. This is how some students are privileged when this is the way students are categorized as “good”.

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Since society is making it common-sense to who is and is not a “good” student it makes it more difficult for teachers to realize things. Teachers could fail to provide the right approach to teach some students just because they feel they are “bad”. It is clear that you have to be able to ignore much of what it is considered common sense because or else you may not give a student the education they deserve. When a child does not learn a certain way, you have to try another method then be blinded from society’s thinking and assume it is because they are “bad”.

HIDDEN CURRICULUM

In our first ECS 210 class we went over some different types of curriculum and one that peaked my interest was the hidden curriculum. The reason for this was because it is essential things that you learn in school that are not apart of the formal curriculum. This is the topic I’m going to look at for my critical summary assignment and an article I found very informative on the topic is called “Social Class and the Hidden Curriculum of Work” by Jean Anyon.

It begins by explains about five different schools and the social status of each school from working class level to families that have an annual income of over one-hundred thousand. In these working class schools it becomes very clear that the way these students are being taught is in the way of the curriculum used to transmit a syllabus. The kids are not given much explanation over anything and when they do not understand something it is because they need more practice. However, as you look to the schools in the middle class you can see vastly different approach to the teaching. The teachers are wanting the students to explain their answers and this can go a long way to proving they comprehend what they’re learning. As you move to the last level of schooling which is Affluent it is shown how students are supposed to express individually thought ideas and are to expand on them. These students work should be unlike the other students to show how personal the learning is for each of them.

The way that the students are taught depending on their social class is a big part of the hidden curriculum. Regardless of if the actual curriculum says the same thing for both schools, they have different standards on how they are teaching. This leads into a hidden curriculum because the students are learning much more than what is written in the formal curriculum. In the middle class they are wanting them to know how to explain their thinking and this is a valuable skill that the working class schools are not putting importance into.  This is just one example of how the social classes intersect into the hidden curriculum but there are many other factors and ways to look at it.

As for where I will go next in regards to this topic and the assignment, I think I will focus on how some other theorists approach the hidden curriculum. I’m not keeping my search focused on the social level of school effecting it because I feel that it is not the whole idea with hidden curriculum. As long it is not apart of the formal curriculum but from reading this article I do see that it has a big impact even on how students learn the mandatory subjects.

MODELS OF CURRICULUM

In the article Curriculum Theory and Practice, Mark Smith explains the advantages and negatives of four models of the curriculum. Although the curriculum is something that has been around for quite a long time it does not mean that it has stayed the same. When people think about the education system and how it works, they will generally think about how the curriculum sets academic goals and the teacher creates a plan to achieve them for their students. However, as time has passed it is constantly evolving and so is our perspective on the concept.

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The first model of the curriculum in the article is how it can be looked upon as information being transmitted. This seems like a good way to think about the curriculum but Smith mentions how people can mistake curriculum with a syllabus “Where people still equate curriculum with a syllabus they are likely to limit their planning to a consideration of the content or the body of knowledge that they wish to transmit”. This is something that should be considered because I feel that the curriculum tends to get looked as if that’s exactly what needs to get done. This can definitely be seen as a draw back because you are suppose to do much more as a teacher than pass on this knowledge. Obviously it is important to have these guidelines of what to complete and it is why this model still does have benefits.

The next model of the curriculum is about how it can be described as a product. This led to thinking that we should be discovering what skills would be needed for the students to succeed in life and teach those. There are various different steps to this way of looking at the curriculum.

A benefit of this model is how it is very organized and the results can be evaluated quite easily because there is a clear desired outcome. However, there are quite a lot disadvantages when attempting to use this method. For starters, the students have little say in the learning process as they are forced to do things one way regardless of their learning style. I feel like this would not be ideal because we should be giving children more opportunities to succeed instead of forcing them to learn a single way.

The third model is based off the idea of the curriculum being a process. The leans on the idea of educating following certain guidelines.

Smith later explains how a big part of this thinking is how teachers “enter the classroom or any other formal educational setting with a more fully worked-through idea of what is about to happen”. I think in theory this is something that has a lot of potential as it essentially means that educators should be coming very prepared for a planned outcome. This model still comes with its negatives as it tends to treat learners as if they are test subjects. I feel that you need more of a mix, you need a plan in place and that can be thought of as a process. However, you have to be willing to let your lessons lead to other possible outcomes.

The last model discussed in the article is the curriculum as a praxis. It is built upon some of the ideas of the process model and the main concept is that does not simply put a plan into action. Rather it mixes organizing plans, evaluating, and our actions together to help form the process. I feel this is a benefit in the classroom since all are such crucial aspects to think about when teaching. Smith explains how people who use this method “would be able to say how their actions with respect to particular interventions reflected their ideas about what makes for the good, and to say what theories were involved”. This is another benefit for this method because if you are using it correctly not only should you be able to say why your ideas are good but have the information to back up why that is true.

Throughout the article, Smith explains benefits and drawbacks of the different models of the curriculum. A topic like this can be interpreted in many ways because it is a very subjective topic. Smith provides information so the reader can decide for themselves which they feel is the most beneficially. In my opinion I feel that the curriculum as a praxis is the best route just because of how it combines things like planning, evaluating, and our actions to form the process. Looking back on how I was taught in grade school I feel I was exposed to different models of the curriculum. I feel in classes like math we did a process because the teacher wanted a designed outcome but in English, I saw the curriculum as a praxis. So, it really depends on the class and how the teacher feels it should be taught. In the end, I think that the curriculum should always be changing and that quite frankly you should never be one minded and get stuck doing the exact same thing.

COMMON-SENSE IN SOCIETY

I feel that the way that Kumashiro defines common sense in his article is essentially known knowledge. This means that if someone feels something is common-sense, then most likely they will not change their thinking on the topic. Kumashiro goes over how many times people will generally conform to what it is in fact considered common-sense. Even if someone has their own opinion on how to do something, it is easy to let it go and do what is look upon as the norm. Also, when you have common sense to fall back on it can be comforting for people because you know you’re in the majority. This does not mean that all common sense is bad it just means that we should not take it as the definitive knowledge. Sometimes common-sense is the logical or correct answer but you should think more critically about it to ensure you agree with it. Overall, these are the main points I took from Kumashiro’s article on common-sense.

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 It is very important to pay attention to common-sense especially in regard to education. For instance, the school system can be oppressive but common sense would not tell you that. This relates back to how it is easy to go along with common sense so we must pay attention so that we can change things like this from happening. It is also important for teachers to think of new ways that we can not only teach but learn as well so that the system continues to evolve over time. In our society there are many ideas that we consider common knowledge but as I learned in the first ECS 210 lecture that does not mean they are all right. There are more variables to consider and you have to think of situations from different perspectives. An example would be that tests are an easy way to mark a student’s progress, but students that might understand the material could have severe test taking anxiety. In the end, it is important to pay attention to common sense so that you are prepared to help create changes if they are needed.