1. List some of the ways that you see re-inhabitation and decolonization happening throughout the narrative.
I saw this happening in the article in a few ways. One was the boundaries placed on the land by the colonizers seemed to dissipate to the participants in the project. By seeing how the land informed boundaries based on natural occurrences, trade routes, historical sites to the peoples and families, the formally defined boundaries were made less oppressive. The use of language to help connect the students with the traditional perspectives is also a form of decolonization as they are coming back to their cultural definitions of place and seeing themselves inhabiting those spaces. Even the facilitation between Elders and students can be seen as reinhabitation, as it reestablishes cultural norms that were being oppressed by colonization. When language becomes revitalized it also connects students to their cultural role in place and citizens of the land.
2. How might you adapt these ideas towards considering place in your own subject areas and teaching?
I think it will be important to look at multiple perspectives when teaching in any subject area and not seeing the dominant theory or pedagogy as the only one that is right. In visual art it has often been taught that European centred art and art history were the “right” way to view art and its history while Asian and Indigenous arts were treated as a separate, and less superior art narratives. This philosophy discounts all the ways that they share innovation and inform one another in the development of contemporary arts. Canada is now seeing First Nations, Inuit and Metis art as valuable and modern, and this shift is being seen in the way galleries and museums now show and feature these art works and histories.
In the same way teachers needs to look for the non-dominant ways they want to incorporate into their classrooms, whether this be First Nation views on the sciences, mathematics, literature, or any subject matter. To only teach euro-centred ways of knowing leaves out many perspectives that can help create an open and welcoming classroom to all cultural views.
Before Reading: How do I think school curricula is developed?
I believe school curricula is developed by education professionals who are employed by the Ministry of Education in a permanent or consoling contract that view existing materials to make changes reflective of contemporary values and issues. These changes are then reviewed and may be made into the permanent curriculum at a later date. Curriculum mirrors the dominant values of a society and has importance placed in areas that are deemed as the most necessary for future success (employment) of the students.
School curricula is developed and implemented by experts in a specific field, political opinions, relevant industry, and public opinion. This reading provided new insights into how complex the creation of curriculum can be and the various ways the creators have to navigate political and popular beliefs to create a palatable curriculum that has little objection. The fact that curriculum is often not based on empirical data and research is a little disconcerting, as the ability to actually teaching the curriculum may not be a priority for those involved. That some creators are experts in the field is a good thing, but if a curriculum requires that same expertise to be recreated, that may be an issue as some teachers are more broadly trained and educated, and may not have that singular knowledge base to pull from.
A major concern is to be teaching based on assessment requirements that may be created on a national level and not reflective of the province’s own curriculum. This could be dire as students may not test well in accord to a standard even though they have been learning the required materials. I also worry about the basis of what students are learning being directed by industry leaders who are looking to serve their own interests in having readily available workers. While I see it as important to be teaching hireable skills, the fact that we could be molding students on a path towards employment in a particular field without properly exploring multiple interests is a little discomforting.
I see how complex the factors that shape and dictate curriculum can be. It is hard to make everyone happy as well as create the best guide for teachers to facilitate learning with their students. That curriculum is always going through evaluation and change is a positive thing, even if teachers may need to be ever vigilant they are using the curriculum to best meet their students’ needs.
In the common sense definition a “good” student is one who is quiet, still, and participants when asked and sees the teacher as the benefactor of knowledge, and themselves and the beneficiary.
While these traits can make for an easy experience for the teacher, they are not always realistic when thinking of our student populations. Historically, this traits might also describe white, christian, middle to upper class students as well. Students who cannot even begin to be seen as this good student may be those with intellectual, physical, or mental impairments. A child who has Attention Deficit Disorder may never be able to fit this mold of the “good” student, as being required to sit still and pay attention for long periods of time may not be a capability unless medicated or under the threat of severe discipline.
Students coming from diverse backgrounds may also suffer under the comparison with their “good” peers. Children who have been taught in different settings (ex outdoor schools, homeschooled, etc.) may not know the conformed way that we teach and may have a hard time adjusting to the long periods of sitting in a chair or at a desk and being required to listen attentively while the teacher facilitates. However some students who come from even stricter educational norms may likely fit right in and even be seen as being among the best students.
Children with physical and intellectual impairments are also unconsidered in this definition as sitting still at all could be a struggle or even impossibility. The setup of a classroom may hinder participation and involvement as well.
When we think of “good” students we are perhaps wanting the calmest, easier classroom for ourselves. This is not a practical way to approach classroom management and may set teachers up to feel frustrated when our students are not behaving as we hope and expect. Knowing who are students are, their best learning approaches, their knowledge, and their interests are ways to engage the classroom and created invested students. We as teachers are meant to adjust to our classes, not the other way around.
Maria Montessori was a physician and educator whose philosophy on education is still well regarded today. In the above quote, I believe Montessori is making connections that to be a good educator we need to have love and compassion for all students.
When thinking of social duty many of us may be in the process of becoming teachers because we want to leave a mark on students that they carry with them. Perhaps we see ourselves shaping future leaders through our beliefs and morals as they are carried on. I like to think we all become teachers because we care about society and the future. But can we also lose touch with the children right in front of us? Sometimes it seems the education benchmarks and achievements are more important than recognizing the children we see every day and knowing what they are going through.
I think if we begin to make it our mission to help our students succeed because we love each individual in our room then we will have a meaningful connection to their growth and understanding of the world.
This quote places a lot of emphasis on the teacher, more than the student, but I see student success as having a lot to do with the adults in their lives as much as the students overall ability or interest in learning. If a teacher cares about their class and the individual students feel that connection, I feel it is likely they will want to learn to the best of their ability. When children feel apathy from teachers they themselves become unenthusiastic. Relationship building is important to the practice of teaching and creating genuine connection is as important as curriculum in my opinion. If we focus only on what we need to teach and not who we are teaching, we miss opportunities to create content links that are meaningful to students and disregarding the knowledge and learning that they may be bringing to the classroom.
In reading the article Curriculum Theory and Practice we were asked to then answer the following prompts:
Can you think about:
a) The ways in which you many have experienced the Tyler rationale in your own school?
In many ways I feel my schooling reflected the principles that Tyler highlights. Often learning was about learning a key point or purpose that is then brought down to basic skills that need to be practiced to have shown you are a good student. The outcome or product is very important and assessing whether that objective was met is a key tenant of my school experience. This may also be why certain subjects, like math and science, which may be seen as more focused on societal function, are seen as more essential to the school experience than visual art, music, and drama.
b) What are the major limitations of the Tyler rational/what does it make impossible?
Some limitations is that when focused on the product learning may start to become broken down to small components that are the building blocks of that subject but loses the big picture of the reason behind learning that subject. An example can be seen as learning formulas in mathematics but not seeing the real world connects and uses for learning them.
c) What are some potential benefits/what is made possible?
When the key facts or skills are made clear to students they have a good idea of how to work towards and build those skills. Teachers are also provided with a clear outcome to structure their curriculum towards and find ways to include all learners in their planning. This may also benefit teachers who are instructing in an area that is not one of their strengths, as they have clear cut goals that they are more capable of leading the students towards than having to come up with their own assessment in a wide field of study.
To see the original article this blog is based around click
In Kumashiro’s (2009) article The Problem of Common Sense, Kumahiro defines common sense as “What everyone should know,”(p. XXIX) and elaborates that common sense is the expected knowledge and way of doing something based on the societal norms present. Kumashiro in fact states common sense hinders the potential and creativity that could come into practices, such as teaching, because there is a set expectation in place that a specific way of teaching is the correct way, and others and ways are therefore lesser (p. XXX5). Common sense is what we are used to, and can feel comforting and seem the easy way, but we are ignoring the reasons why it has become the norm and who created that structure to begin with.
It is important to pay attention to why a process or structure is common sense because if we are not critical about the how and why of what we do, we are only reinforcing that practice. When we start to pay attention it may become clearer the hierarchy that is intrinsically linked into that norm that maybe we were not seeing before. Every person carries with them a sense of what is normal and therefore “correct,” but when we start to look at the norms of others, whether they be from another country, religious belief, socio-economic status, or maybe a differing gender or sexuality, we may see our “correct” view only really relates to people in very similar circumstances to our own and not as wide an umbrella as we first thought.
Common sense may seem like the way things just work, but if examined there may be other paths and ideas to think or do something that we are not using simply because we’ve become lazy or accustomed. The world is constantly changing, and as ideas and perspectives shift teachers need to continually examine their own beliefs and practices. I think of my time in the classroom growing up and compare that with students in classrooms I have been in during my internship and pre-internship, and see such a huge leap in valves for gender diversity, multiculturalism, and reconciliation that it is astounding. There has been a shift in the classroom away from some of the beliefs that were common when I grew up, and that fantastic. If we can look critically at the structure of all our “common senses” we may find ways to continually challenge inadequate and antiquated systems and structures that are holding some of our society away from achievement and success.