Week 6: Curriculum as Place

Physical Education (P.E.) is an excellent subject for teaching and understanding traditional First Nations, and history of First Nations people.  Through P.E. we can teach students about traditional games, sports, pass times, and games and sports that we have adapted and play today.  As well in conjunction with Outdoor Education (O.E.) we can teach traditional hunting, gathering, and survival during the different seasons.  Finally how does this tie into our modern lives?  We get hungry, we go to the fridge, to the cupboard, if there isn’t food there we get in our car and drive somewhere for food, or my personal favourite “Skip the Dishes” because they have McDonald’s on there now.  But how would it be different if we had to live traditionally, and you couldn’t just skip those dishes?  I think it would be a fascinating opportunity to live like this for a week or a weekend, find food, shelter, water, and do something like this with a class.

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Week 5: Curriculum Development

As much as I want to believe that teachers have a large part in curriculum, I know that it’s not true.  The public has probably one of the larger voices when it comes to developing curriculum, parents have a large voice believe that they know best when it comes to teaching their kids.  And when a parents voice doesn’t get heard by the school or the school board, it becomes a government issue, hence the government is another extremely influential developer of the curriculum.  If the current curriculum doesn’t fit their platform, they’ll get rid of it, and if enough people are complaining about a specific part of the curriculum, they’ll make it a part of their platform to get elected.

However, I personally believe that teachers should have one of the largest inputs on curriculum given that teachers have to teach said curriculum everyday.  We don’t let patients dictate how surgeons have to perform complex surgeries that they don’t understand, and same should be with curriculum.  However, the difference is parents believe they have their children’s best interests in mind, but if teachers didn’t have students best interests in mind, then they wouldn’t be teachers.

Week 4: Student Commonsense

Being a “good student” hasn’t really changed much in the sense of the term since 1886.  Even using a fairly specific “how to” list everything applies to education in 1886 to education in any 2018 classroom:

  • Obey the Teacher
  • Listen to the teacher
  • Only refer to teacher as “Miss”, “Ms”, “Mrs”, or “Mr”
  • Remain in your desk during the lesson
  • Do not speak unless spoken to or prompted to speak otherwise (raising hand)
  • Respect fellow students
  • Hand in school work on time
  • Achieve passing grades

And for the most part this list could be used to succeed as a student in anytime period, but even looking at it, it seems very strict and stern, and somewhat old school but when you do think about it; classroom rules and principles haven’t exactly changed in the last 100 – 150 years.  The only thing I excluded from this list since public schools are a thing: the study of faith.  But since there are so many Catholic schools in cities and many rural towns still only have Catholic schools, studying faith is a much more common practice to many people.  So common sense for students is to be a respectful, ideal, functional members of society which is exactly what teachers have set out to do.

Week 3: Re-Thinking Curriculum

“When the student is ready, the master appears.” – Buddhist proverb

I adore this quote for its truthfulness, relevance, and personal influence on me as a student and as a teacher.  However, I think this quotation could be misconstrued if someone were to say “What if the student is never ready, I worked with them for a whole week, and nothing!” To counter your reaction to my quote using a metaphor: The Earth wasn’t created in a single day.  It takes time to shape and mold students, not into a cookie cutter projection of what you want them to be, but mold them into themselves and who they want to be.  Believe it or not, students are ready to learn and excited for a future in education, however if a student doesn’t receive the attention of help they may need, that’s when we see students begin to “drift away”.  So, as I experienced as a student through the education system; it was no “one master” that helped guide me, it was an entire team of teachers in my high school; each serving a different purpose and having a different impact on me; but non-the-less important.  So as a teacher my advice involving this quote would be: before you give up on a student, before even begin working tireless hours on a single math problem with them, understand their strengths and weaknesses, as well as your own.  Get to know your co-workers strengths and weaknesses, guide your student in the proper direction towards success.  While you may not be the “messiah” for any one student, you may be an intricate, necessity; Never give up on your students.

 

Week 2 Post: Traditionalists

Everyday when I wake up and go to school I experience some form of traditional style of teaching.  University is a prime example of a traditional way to teach curriculum, a teacher or professor standing in front of a room of 20 plus students, spewing information and potentially losing over half the class in the first 10 minutes because not everyone learns that way.  Yet, it’s still a very popular from of teaching curriculum at all levels of education.  This traditionalist form of education also extends to teaching proper behaviour, and since I was 3 or 4 years old and going to preschool I was being formed into a mold that traditionalists have created to produce “cookie cutter” members of society, and now it has become part of our everyday ideology.  While somethings make sense like taking care of your personal hygiene, or taking off your wet or dirty shoes when going into school or your house, others seem a lot more impractical like not chewing gum in class unless you have a piece for everyone in the school, and not wearing a hat or other types of head wear; which seem absolutely absurd once you leave elementary school.

There are some positives to teaching curriculum using the traditional form, which would be that it’s very easy to teach, and as a new and learning teacher this is a very simple and practical way of teaching the information.  However, this can be very boring to many students, as well as the teacher.  The students can lose interest very easily if the lesson doesn’t engage them in a way they need to be able to learn, and as the teacher doing 4 or 5 lessons like this, every day for an entire school year would get very monotonous, and would probably make you hate your job.  Another positive of this method is you can get through a lot of material , very quickly, and meet the expectations the curriculum sets.  Yet again, not everyone learns this way, and teaching content this quickly can be difficult for students to keep up and actually absorb the material.

Finally, a large positive to this entire thing is that there are many other ways of teaching curriculum so as a teacher your job doesn’t have to be so boring, and your students actually enjoy your class, and better yet actually take knowledge away from your lessons.

 

Week 1 Post: Commonsense

Kumashiro defines commonsense as an unchanged practice, and common knowledge.  In other words: that’s how it’s always been and that’s what everyone knows to be true and there’s no other way to do something.  Like when she is teaching in Nepal and it’s commonsense to hit students that are misbehaving, and teaching directly from the textbook to better prepare for standardized tests, etc.  Commonsense is also applied to things like: students’ ideology on religious views, or how to treat people of a different race, sex, gender, etc.

It is very important to know and understand commonsense wherever you are and/or whatever situation you find yourself in so that you don’t offend the common population, or prevent someone from potentially offending people where they are, because commonsense is different from region to region.  A simple example of different commonsense is in North America when people greet each other they shake hands, while places in China people bow towards one another when greeting each other.  While bowing instead of shaking someones hand in Canada or America wouldn’t greatly offend anyone it would be seen as weird or odd; because it’s not something commonly practiced here in North America.  However, there are things that people from other countries do that would offend people from another country, and as a teacher that will potentially be exposed to students from other countries and not yet used to commonsense in Canada, it’s important to nip the bad behavior in the bud and begin teaching commonsense to avoid a potentially disastrous social encounter.