Summary of learning

I have made a prezi that goes through my personal and academic development of the course through dissecting the concept of curriculum. I go through what I initially thought about curriculum, how I have come to understand it now, and ways to apply critical pedagogy and Treaty Education in my philosophy and  future classroom. 

Thanks for the great semester!

Reflection on the Course Material

Treaty Education: I have been all for teaching and incorporating treaty education into my future classroom, but I have struggled with how I would implement this in a practical way. All this time, I was under the impression that treaty education meant teaching a culture. I was confused as to why I was been encouraged to teach bout a culture I did not grow up in or even identify with because I am not First Nations. However, After listening to Claire it had an epiphany. It’s not that we are to teach the culture, we are to teach the treaty history, the colonial history in Canada, and essentially what happened and what needs to happen with regards to reconciliation. This was very encouraging, and I now gain a better understanding on the subject of treaty education.

Racism: The fact that we are all (or most) racist was not a new concept to wrap my head around, and so I was familiar with this conception of racism. However, with extensive discussion on this subject and the idea that we are all racist because its the air we breathe because it is embedded in our discourses, I fear the intensity of this word will weaken. Before, we are told that racism is not a problem anymore because the overt forms are rarely seen. Now we are told that that it is inescapable because ways in which we think and the systemic implications (education, government, socio-economic implications) have become determents of this current existing problem. If we all agree on this issue (which I would argue we should), and if we are told there’s really nothing we can do to change yourself but be aware, will the term racism adopt a new definition; a definition that people will give up on because there is no easy solution? I would argue that we need to allow ourselves to address this in a way to education the younger generation. Clearly, we were brought up in ways that have exposed us to these discourses without our conscious knowing. We know this now, so why don’t we change how we socialize the children who have not yet been exposed to such an oppressive paradigm. This sounds like hard work…. almost impossible… but like I said, there is no easy solution.

Teaching About Place

Reinhabitation is seen in this weeks reading in a variety of ways involving physically exploring and learning about traditional ways of Aboriginal culture. An example would be how some youth traveled with Elders on traditional land in which the Edlers shared knowledge and, “Offered a wealth of insight into the importance of land for social and economic well-being among people in the remote First Nation” (p. 75). Because of colonialism and capitalism, it is argued that Indigenous governing practices are “less visible,” and in order to “reestablish connection to the land”(p.80) doing practises like these reinforces this connection. In an attempt to portray decolonization, many procedures took place in this research study having to do with changing systemic ways of thinking by using reinhabitation as a tool. This is done is by, deconstructing mindsets involving ways to think about culture and reestablish relationships. As community members embark on journeys and telling stories that have shaped the land we live in, they are displaying a way to decolonize.

As a future educator, looking through this perspectives allows me to implement Treaty education in an appropriate way. From what I have observed in many curriculum documents, multiculturalism and First Nations cultures are addressed, however they are neglected in many indictors. For the educators who are unaware of the logistics of other cultures, they may struggle to properly educate their students on the subject. The significance of Elders, connection of land and culture, and the importance of language takes on a different role when I know that physical action and inquiry is required. Being aware of the extent to my own knowledge and knowing when to bring someone else in to speak to my students about these kinds of subjects is another I see myself being able to implement teaching about place in my future educational career. 

Formal Curriculum vs. Teachers

I found the reading by Levin extremely insightful and resourceful in terms of politics, government, and education. However, in all honestly, I don’t really know where to start when discussing this complex notion of  “who get’s what”(p.8) then asking how and why and who’s responsibility? It would be easiest to simply answer the question, “what role do teachers play in enacting the curriculum.” My simple answer to this would be to use the formal curriculum as a guide to inspire different praxis to reach the intended outcomes. As for meeting expectations, it is obvious that the expectations are going to vary immensely among the government, school administration, teachers, and parents. Social context comes in to play, such as the issue of what the community thinks should be important, and what the ministry of education is actually able to implement based on government feedback. The complexity with this is the fact mentioned in the reading as well as in lecture about facts versus opinions. Research can prove one thing, but the power of the community’s opinion clearly has an influence which causes policies to go through adaptive, complicated procedures in order to come to a final conclusion.

Given this formal curriculum, the role of teachers than is to find out what needs to be underlined in terms of the individual students within in their classroom. From my understanding, teachers have little influence in the formal make up of the curriculum, but what they do have influence over is their own personal process of teaching based on their own philosophies of education. If you think about it, though there may be similarities, every teacher’s philosophy will encompass different ways of enacting the curriculum. Since there is no way to cover every academic, social, and culture subject/issue throughout the year of elementary and high school schooling, what teachers can do is do what they can. Critiquing and taking what is meaningful to them and their classrooms at the time is what they can do to provide relevant inquiry and equity to their students.

How to be a Good Student

The shared values, beliefs and perspectives within a give culture can be seen through the acceptable behaviours in that society. With regards to education in a Western culture, a good student displays these common behaviours because they are reinforced and taught by parents, teachers, and peers. Some of these behaviours within a school setting would be sitting quietly, sitting still, being able to work independently and within a group setting, participating in the activity/lesson that is given, listen to instructions then work accordingly, be presentable, use proper grammar, share, and the list goes on. Although not all these behaviours are “bad” as in they do not really harm anyone (ex. it’s nice to share and really, that benefits everyone), a lot of these ways of acting in a school setting are the expectations for all which would be challenging for those who don’t speak english as their first language, like to challenge everything you say, have a physical or mental impairment, or come from a low socio-economic family (bad hygiene, bad manners, may be violent because of lack of parental support etc). When student deviate from these behaviours they are told to behave and conform to the common shared knowledge about how to “properly” act. 

Because of commonsense, it is impossible to see the big picture unless you’re looking for it. The idea of partial knowledge contributes to this fact because we may be blinded by how we are suppose to behave and not understand different perspectives and most of all, different circumstances. Opportunities are lost for those who do not fall into these shared beliefs because they are told to oppress their thoughts and feelings in order to be more like the common white folk. Obviously I am stating general assumptions about common sense and I know many people challenge these ideals and standards which leads me to the idea of troubling knowledge… As much as I agree with critical education pedagogy, I see some challenges/critics for Kumashiro’s approach.

Challenges of teaching through crisis:

  • Students are in vulnerable stages in their lives and may feel overwhelmed and utterly confused – their abstract thought process may not yet be fully developed
  • Dealing with traditionalist colleagues and parents
  • Deconstructing and recreating paradigms does not happen over night

I most definitely don’t have the solutions, by I have resources to get there. I get what Kumashiro is saying, and as someone who is interested in anti-oppressive education, I see it as basically taking the most vulnerable and innocent and socializing them in a way that contradicts their comfortable beliefs and the way they see the world in hopes to create critical thinkers and awareness.

Beneath the Surface

“Schools do not only control people; they also help control meaning. Since they preserve and distribute what is perceived to be ‘legitimate knowledge’—the knowledge that ‘we all must have,’ schools confer cultural legitimacy on the knowledge of specific groups.”

-Michael Apple

“Every educational system is a political means of maintaining or of modifying the appropriation of discourse, with the knowledge and the powers it carries with it.”

-Michel Foucault

My understanding of what Apple and Foucault are implying here is that cultural dominate ideologies are being implicitly conveyed through the education system. Another way of understanding this is looking at the power of the hidden curriculum. The ‘knowledge’ that is being transmitted in schools goes beyond curriculum outcomes and indicators; they are “maintaining” a particular discourse that has been created and reinforced by power structures. So what does this mean? Students are being socialized to believe that what they see and experience in schools is how society is suppose to work. This could be what is being taught in History class or in the literature they read, it could be a lack of support and attention to those from low SES families, EAL students who are struggling with the material, and/or students with a cognitive impairment. On the flip side it, could be the circumstance that a school has many resources to provide fortunate students with endless opportunities such as high quality technology.

The role of the teachers in this perspective can be different depending on the individual, in my opinion. Depending if the teacher believes in equity and anti-oppressive education, the teacher can decide what to incorporate in history lesson and literature, and so on. They can challenge dominate ideologies that include gender issues, streaming, white privilege, among others. However, I would also argue that Kumashiro’s concept of “common sense” plays a large role in this.  The quality of teaching is a huge subject, but I think it is important to address when dealing with socialization and challenging the power-structures around them. The teacher has the opportunity to deconstruct and recreate the meanings and mindsets within a school system. However, this is much easier said than done.The student, in this case, is a child who is adapting and reacting to their experiences. The opportunities for students that are present in the school system varies with different students. When Foucault talks about the power knowledge carries, I believe he is implying that those in control of deeming what is “legitimate knowledge’ are those already in power and in order to be successful, this knowledge is the tool to get you there. We can see how this benefits some and not other because the means of acquiring this success is not attainable for all people.

The Tyler Rationale

The Tyler rationale was definitely present in my own schooling throughout my life. I was told the objectives of the subject at hand, otherwise known as the outcomes, which lead to assignments that were comprised of indictors to show if I was on the right track to the outcome(s). In the end, I was graded and tested which was said to accurately asses my knowledge and understanding of the material. The major limitations to this rationale is the clear fact that it views the curriculum as a product. The goal is essentially to produce “educational” students. However, what is seen as educational/knowledgeable needs to be conceptualized because this theory restricts other forms of development, progression, and the importance of process. What can and should be learned in the process of education is what comes out of the process itself. The potential benefit of a practise like the Tyler Rationale is that having outcomes and goals is not a bad thing, however the process and anticipation needs significant attention and importance when developing and using the curriculum as a guide line.

I came across an interesting quotes from another reading for a different class I’m taking. In terms of teaching another person something, Greenland, Willard and Shaltzman say, “When we consider intentions instead of goals we focus on the process which we can influence rather than an outcome over which we have little control”. I thought this was an interesting way to perceive goals versus intentions. It combines goals with outcomes and intentions with process. Looking at process in this perspective may open up more ideas and thoughts about how curriculum can be theorized. I would argue that intentions needs to be open minded and include much anticipation especially because of the diversity of students. The fact that we want to influence the process does not mean we should have control over it, but rather the idea can help point us in the direction we want to go based on what students are learning, observing, and applying in their daily lives.

Our Way or the Highway

My understanding of Kumashiro’s definition of common is that common sensical ideas are the customs, values, ideologies, practices, assumptions, and expectations that a society has adopted that are socially acceptable, seen as what should be followed, and are practiced and reinforced in social institutions. They become automatic and unchallenged which ultimately leads to oppression because much of  “common sense” privileges one group while marginalizing others. In Education, there are certain standards of knowledge and skills which are, as Kumashiro argues, administered by people who come from already privileged circumstances and experiences. This limits the purpose of schooling, alternate perspectives, and anything that challenge the “common sense” which are are easily dismissed. As privileged members of a society, I agree with the fact that we abide to what we should be doing and should be thinking because of the social pressure to conform and the reliability of our own comfort. If everyone around you is acting and “doing” a certain way in a school, it would be hard and exhausting to challenge because we would be going outside of our comfort zone (check out the Asch experiment on conformity to peers as well as the Milgram experiment on obedience to authoritative figures). We have adopted the mindset that how we should be doing things is the right way and dismiss any challenging ideas which would most likely mitigate oppression. However, different dominate ideologies and values in education are silenced which is why we need to pay attention to common sense.

Oppression has become normal and I think it is pretty easy to be blinded by privilege to actually see what is going on. I know people who argue that we get what we put into it (meritocracy) and totally dismiss the idea that marginalized groups are victims of their circumstances. As Kumashiro puts it,  oppression is masked in concepts that this is the way things are suppose to be, and in order to fully understand the consequences of this, we need be aware and implement practical anti-oppressive strategies in our education system. Kumashiro outlines what these steps so I wont go into detail, but basically, educators have the opportunity to make a difference in shaping the perspectives of students and how they, as a future generation can view the world in an anti-oppressive way.