ECS 210

Week One: “The Problem of Common Sense” is an article pertaining to what it means to teach using your “common sense.” This article explains the experiences of a woman going over to another country that has a very different way of conducting the school day than the traditional western way that she attended school in, and is expected to implement these favoured “common sense” ways about doing school. The real problem about using “common sense” to teach in a classroom is that it caters to only one demographic that is the most privileged. This is important to recognize when teaching a diverse classroom of children as it’s important to recognize what children are being privileged though the teaching of this information.

Week two: Apparently the traditionalist approach to curriculum is very common in high schools in North America, which makes sense because I remember in both of the high schools I attended many teachers used this approach. Even in University, many professors use this same approach. I remember a few practice assignments throughout a course until the very last few weeks of school and then suddenly having what felt like 100 assignments due all at once. This is exactly what the seventh and last step of R.W. Tyler’s procedure for a traditionalist approach to curriculum. The seventh step of Tyler’s approach states that a teacher must “determine of what to evaluate and the ways and means of doing it.” This is why many teachers in high school still do final exams to this day- as they follow a traditionalist perspective. This perspective has both positives and negatives associated with it. The best part about a traditionalist perspective is that students are somewhat comfortable with this approach as it has been the common practice of teachers for many years. Students can feel comfortable that there is some sense of predictability even when taking a new class with a new teacher as the two teacher’s approaches shouldn’t differ that much. However, there are also negatives aspects of using this approach to a curriculum. A large portion of assessment tends to take place at the end of the curriculum instead of throughout as it is the last step in the traditionalist approach to curriculum. Students have the possibility of feeling overwhelmed with the amount of assessment at the end of a semester. This also prevents students from having the opportunity to having an indicator of where they nee extra assistance prior to the end of the year with the lack of assessment throughout a curriculum.

Week Four: When people think about the ideal student and what it means to be a good student they usually privilege a certain type of student. When you hear the words “good student,” a specific person may even come to mind, as usually there are certain characteristics that make up a “good student.” Typically “good students” follow expectations and orders, and also receive good grades in the process of responding to what is expected of them. The fact that certain characteristics apply to “good students” is complicating and causes a lot of pressure for both the student and the teacher. It applies pressure to the student to conform to what society wants from them- to exhibit the characteristics of being a good student (although some students are not capable of exhibiting these characteristics), but also applies a tremendous amount of pressure on the teacher to “produce this type of student” (Kumashiro, 2010).

Students often resist learning new things if the learning does not align with their prior knowledge on a certain subject. It is important to have students reflect upon this in their learning to help the teacher identify why their beliefs are the way they are, and help the student understand where their beliefs come from. If a student is not meeting the standards set out by society, it is important to identify why they are not meeting these standards. Students may not be meeting standards due to feeling uncomfortable with their learning, as all students learn in different ways. This is important for the teacher to identify as the teacher would not want to favour certain ways of learning and in turn oppress other ways of learning.

Week Five: In this week’s article Learning From Place by Jean-Paul Restoule, Sheila Gruner, and Edmund Metatwabin details out a research project on Mushkegowuk and the significance of location in their community. This research paper uses information acquired on a ten-day river trip with youth, adults, and elders from the Mushkegowuk community and focuses on the importance of the river within the community. The reason for this paper seeks to understand the ‘critical pedagogy of place’ to identify, recover, and create material spaces and places that teach us how to live well in our total environments and to identify and change ways of thinking that injure and exploit other people and places. This is done through storytelling, and the sharing of information from the people in the community on this ten-day river voyage.

The purpose of the ten-day river voyage inherently is involved with reinhabitation and decolonization. Throughout the paper many people from the Mushkegowuk community have the opportunity to share their knowledge and experiences with the river. This alone promotes inhabitation, as this is a way of identifying, recovering, and creating a space that assists in a healthy environment. All of the people whose experiences with the river were mentioned throughout the article have positive experiences with the river. Identifying these positive experiences educates others of the importance of this river on the members of their community. These stories, specifically from the elders in this community, can assist in educating the other members in the community to utilize the river in the best way possible. 

These stories also assist in identifying the best decolonization methods for implementation. For example, one statement from a community member from Fort Albany, First Nations identifies the impact that colonization had on their community’s language: “So you use paquataskamik if you are fluent (in Cree) and if you are a young kid you use noscheemik … they confuse, they’re not saying it properly. That’s too high a word for them so they just use the simple word, noscheemik.” This is one of the impacts that residential schools have had on the Fort Albany First Nation’s community. Identifying these implications of colonization assists in decolonization. 

Week six: Curriculum policy and politics of what we should learn in school speaks on the issue of mandatory classes, optional classes, and the outcomes and expectations for teachers instructing classes. School curriculum and what needs to be taught in schools has always been a subject for discussion, as many people value different subject areas more than others. Many educators do not necessarily agree with what is being taught in schools, and how it should be taught. However, it leaves them with little option to choose what they would like to teach as public policy dictates what will be learned in the classroom. “Public policy is about the rules for seizures governing public sector activities,” (Levin, 8) and and this would include schools and how they function. Policies are created on a certain authoritative level, and usually the view of the leads are taken into consideration when implementing new policies, but voter interest is also important when it comes to policy making. The popular opinion of those votes is usually what is implemented, as many governments don’t have any interest in going against the popular opinion and risk being voted out. However it is not necessarily an easy task for politicians to implement policies that everyone agrees with, as many people hold inconsistent beliefs or values that are compatible with other beliefs. This is the problem with school policy, as many peoples opinions contradict with their other opinions. For example “people can be in favour of more testing” and simultaneously be in favour of “more creativity” to ideas that contradict each other.

Week seven: Teachers are meant to teach aboriginal perspectives at this time and do not know how to. He just must be aware of the Socio economic differences that make up the classroom and have the capability to educate all students on what causes these differences. Dwayne Donald speaks to this, as his family’s reserve was disbanded after treaty signing to “benefit” and colonialism and settling in that area. The Canadian government did not want the reserve land to interfere with their plans for a city, so therefore Donalds belongs to a community that is no longer in existence due to the development of Edmonton. This is significant, as many students may have cultural ties to communities that no longer exist or that they no longer have immediate family ties to. It is the teachers job to inform the students accurately of the history of aboriginal cultures to preserve the culture itself. Colonialism had a lot of implications on aboriginal culture, as colonialism made it more welcoming for settlers to take routes in Canada, it had terrible implications for aboriginal people. Aboriginal people may have felt “chased away” and forgotten about while the settlers benefitted on a land that belonged to Aboriginal people for thousands of years. Dwayne Donald does note that this was not necessarily the case for his own family dynamic of aboriginal culture and European culture. Donald notes that his family of blended cultures had a positive relationship and they respected each other immensely. He argues that in order to “honour” the treaties, people must first be educated on aboriginal “issues.” For example, Donald argues that the University of Alberta is on aboriginal land, but if someone were to conduct a survey asking, “what is the historical significance of the land that the University of Alberta is located on,” very few people would know this land to be traditional aboriginal land. Informing students on information that pertains to Aboriginal issues around them would benefit all students, as education is what gives students power to make a difference. You can’t make a difference if you do not know there is a problem in the first place. Educating students to be responsible students while meeting treaty education outcomes.

Week eight: Throughout my experiences in school I have found that many of the examples of citizenship education that were exemplified in my schooling was aimed towards creating “personally responsible citizens.“ I remember a few times throughout high school having to do volunteer hours and having to reflect upon my experiences doing volunteer work. In most classes we were expected to be quiet when the teacher was talking. We were to follow the rules of the institution that are really set rules. This would include not questioning why we were learning what we were learning or asking any questions that may push boundaries. There were two classes throughout my whole key to 12 education that were aimed towards being justice oriented citizens, one being my grateful social class, but mainly my grade 12 AP English class. My grades 12 social class was mostly justice oriented just because of the content that the teacher was expected to teach in the curriculum already. But my grade 12 AP English class, my teacher Ms. Miliotis, treated each one of us as her equal. She didn’t really assign any homework, but conducted a lot of class discussions. She always let us explore and create how we wanted, and let us discuss what we were passionate about in relations to social justice. Many of the students in my class had a passion for social justice and it was a safe space for us to explore our passions how we wished.

Week nine: I would consider my experience in schools very sheltered, as my family always lived in Pearl or suburban communities. Most of the students that would have attended my schools will be Caucasian. In fact, in my room at community school I only remember there being less than 10 students who were not caucasian in the entire elementary school. I wasn’t really exposed to diversity in my community and I never really got to see the implications of Socio economic differences. I thought I did it because my mother worked at a used cut city facility and she always attempted to make me understand what white privilege is, and to insure I recognize that first Nations people and other my Nordie groups are merchandising oppressive in society. However, I was never able to fully understand this until I started my job at Ranch Ehrlo. Now I understand how narrow my world he was prior to my employment. It’s hard to see how these courses are oppressed until you see the consequences of oppression.

Week ten: I could see how mathematics could contribute to the idea that there is only one right way so there would only be one right narrative. Maybe because I come from a place of privilege, I never made those connections or felt that school was impressive towards me. There are lots of classes where one narrative is expressed a majority of the time, and if one were to internalize that a mathematical approach is the way to approach life then maybe one would also internalize one narrative for the over encompassing truth. I would argue that schools institutions teach you not to question a story, so therefore teach you to not question the narrative you’re taught and who it benefits. But I would still not agree with the statement that math would be oppressive to a specific group or groups of people.

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