ECS 210

Curriculum as Literacy

In my school experience, for the majority of my time, we were made to read the classic and books that were published by people that were long gone by the time I was born.  During their times, perspectives and opinions were drastically different.  I wouldn’t want to say that their thoughts were completely wrong but some were very prejudiced and would be considered offensive in current times.

Luckily, I was able to have teachers that, during my time as a student in elementary and high school would allow us to choose our own literature, and have current information for us to take in.  This including current event articles and things that would speak to the narrative of the author rather than implementing them without reasoning.

Because of this, I was able to form a working critical mind.  This meaning that I am always taking in the information given and put a critical lens up to it to allow my own opinions and thoughts to make my own decisions and actually see what may be right.

In a Ted talk given by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, she speaks to the “single stories” that are found in our literature, especially children’s literature.  These “single stories” being the single perspective that is given and thus the only one to be understood.  What she read at a young age was very Eurocentric, this was a deciding factor about what she wrote when she began writing at the age of 7.  Because of how impressionable and vulnerable children are her stories always had blue-eyed children drinking ginger beer and talking about the weather, which was not familiar to her. How these “single stories” can paint a picture of her and her culture in others’ eyes without even knowing her, just where she is from and what she looks like.

This perspective is still very prevalent in our classrooms of today, we don’t have enough diversity.  It has been getting better but still isn’t to where it should be, allow all voices to be heard and all stories to be understood and experienced.

I found that the “single stories” found in the classrooms that I grew up in were so integrated into the classroom that I didn’t notice they were there.  But now that I am able to reflect upon my classes, I find that we mainly took things from a single [white/male] perspective, this is because “knowledge is always framed by bias” (Kumashiro) and that was the bias at the time. At the time this highly affected how I perceived myself and the world.  To my delight as I aged through the elementary school grades, some changes were made and we were given different perspectives through literature and were encouraged to think for ourselves.

When asked the question “Who’s truth matters” in the sense of literacy, especially from the standpoint of curriculum, the best answer would be everyone’s.  Even with saying that there leaves a grey area on what it means to include everyone.  At this point, it becomes difficult to even understand or touch on all perspectives.   I fear that there will never be a change and in our curriculum, it will just infer that everyone is accounted for rather than being explicit.

 

ECS 210

Citizenship Education

When people try to introduce what citizenship means to a conversation in a classroom, or even in general, most will become stuck on what exactly it means to be a citizen.  This is even more evident in the classroom, especially when first introducing this idea to their students.

Joel Westheimer speaks to this introduction in an interview titled What Kind of Citizen. 

Joel describes “schools as job training institutions” (Westheimer) instead of what schools are meant to be.  We have lost the purpose of public education.  But this is because “…schools are at least in part about… getting kids to be the best versions of themselves that they can be, and happy and productive members of society”  (Westheimer).  This is how we are introduced into the discussion of citizens.

Joel Westheimer and Joseph Kahne write about the three groups of citizens that we can see in our society in What Kind Of Citizen? The Politics of Educating for Democracy.

1.The Personally Responsible Citizen

This is the type of citizen that will act responsibly for their community.  Performs their civic duties (paying taxes, voting, obeying laws, etc).  It is all about character with this citizen. They tend to focus on honestly, integrity, self-discipline, hard work, etc.

2. The Participatory Citizen

This citizen “actively participates in the civic affairs and the social life of the community at local, state, and national levels” (p. 4).  This person puts importance on the learning of how government and community organizations work as well as planning and participating in organized efforts.

3. The Justice Oriented Citizen

This type of citizen “needs opportunities to analyze and understand the interplay of social, economic and political forces” (p. 4) of society. They pursue social justice and injustices, in order to improve society.

A great metaphor that was written in this article and was touched on in class was one of the roles of each of the citizens.  The personally responsible citizen is the one that brings cans to the local food drive.  The Participatory Citizen is the one running the food drive.  Finally, the justice-oriented citizen is looking further to see why the people are hungry in the first place.  This example gave me a very general idea of each role.  Each citizen is important in society.  They all have their place, and if you were to lose one of them, there would be a hole in the line of responsibility.  If this were to happen, nothing would get done.

Being able to begin conversations within a classroom about these types of citizens, how they can benefit society, and how the students have a role to play in history is very important.

ECS 210

Curriculum as Treaty Education

In a situation where Treaty Ed is not being taught in a classroom, no matter the number of first nations students in the school is the job of the teacher.  It is specifically written so that we integrate treaty knowledge and indigenous ways of knowing into every subject easily. Of course, there is preparation needed as any teaching does, but looking at the treaty ed curriculum document you can plan an activity and have it fall so nicely into another subject, so there should be no need for it to be omitted from your teaching.  Another point is that teachers are required to teach treaty ed so there is no reason to ignore it.  Will lowered numbers of Indigenous students, there should be an increase in cultural programming, relationship building, and learning of the past.  In a classroom setting our teachers are educating the youth which will then take this information, their relationships and their emotions tied to the information and relationships and share them with the rest of the world.  This is why it is not enough just to learn dates and significant moments, but for children to learn how they feel about it (sitting with this grief, feeling the empathy) which can become more concrete than dates and names.  Without teaching treaty ed in your classroom you are unknowingly teaching racism to your students because if you don’t educate them properly they will fall back what they experience and see others doing which may be incorrect.  John Milton interprets the Treaty Ed curriculum as “the true curriculum, the one that calls us to renew our relationship with one another, that calls us to renew our commitment to what we have in common, to our stake in the world and it’s survival, upon which our own depends.” (John Milton)

 

“We are all treaty people”

But what exactly does that mean?

We hear this said at every event that we go to whether that be a music concert, a sport, a theatre performance, school events and any time of large performance.  And while we can say this, do people actually understand what this means and why they are saying it. Personally, I think people have just accepted that it is what they will hear when they go out, but it is something to be internalized rather than just accepted.  Or if people assume they are not treaty people because they may not be First Nation.  But in fact, as the saying goes “we are ALL treaty people”.  This is because we are on the land that is treaty land, and no matter who you are, it is about ownership of our history and our relationships.

Cynthia Chambers writes in her paper We are all Treaty People her relation and interpretation of the importance of treaties and learning about them. 

“It is our story: the one about the commons, what was shared and what was lost. It is an elegy to what remains to be lost if we refuse to listen to each other’s stories no matter how strange they may sound, if we refuse to learn from each other’s stories, songs, poems, from each other’s knowledge about this world and how to make our way in it.” (Chamber p.29)

I find this quote to be very accurate in how we should be looking at Treaty Education in our schooling system and thus put meaning to the phrase “We are all treaty people” when some seem to forget. Doing this in order for a brighter present and future by looking back and acknowledging the past.

 

ECS 210

Curriculum as Place

While reading through Learning from Place: A Return to Traditional Mushkegowuk Ways of Knowing written by Jean-Paul Restoule, Sheila Gruner, and Edmund Metatawabin we can see evidence of reinhabitation and decolonization within the narrative of the paper.

The project that is being described is one that connects the youth and the elders to reconnect and to connect with each other. And by reconnecting to land, it means to reconnect with the traditions of the land and how the land passed down knowledge, and the cultural identity of the people. This was done by putting together an advisory group of youth, adults, and elders in order to educate the youth.

This decolonization is seen through educating the youth through the elder’s storytelling.  This storytelling is a connection to their culture that the youth may or may not have.  In this article decolonization is also seen through “the processes of creating an audio documentary about relations to the river and engaging in trips along the river were part … of remembering (following Haig-Brown, 2005) as younger generations were re-introduced to traditional ways of knowing.” (Restoule, Gruner, Metatawabin, p.70)

Through these actions, the reinhabilitation happens.  Being able to gain and realize this lost knowledge that was once lost can lead to a connection to the land and the people that surround them.

How might you adapt these ideas towards considering place in your own subject areas and teaching?

This is a tricky question.  My subject of choice is secondary math.  One of the biggest things is to be able to seek help from others.  Having minimal experience integrating this into my teaching may be a factor in what I teach and how I teach it, but there is no harm in asking for suggestions and doing some research of my own to find out what other successful secondary math teachers have done in their classrooms.

ECS 210

Are You a “Good Student”?

In the general sense, when Kumashiro was describing what they expected in their classroom, a “good student” would show some of these particular traits: getting along with other students, be self-aware, expressive through arts and crafts, posses basic academic concepts, follow instruction, sit quietly, follow the teacher, etc.  These behaviors were seen as common sense for the age of the student.  And this common sense is a set of behaviors that you expect every child to have a mutual understanding and grasp of.  The fact that “…being a student requires thinking and behaving in only certain ways…” (Kumishiro, Against Common Sense p.21) leaves the students in a metaphorical box where the expectations are laid out for them and they must follow them based on common sense created by our societal standards.  But this doesn’t only restrict the students it also puts restricts the teachers in that the government and school boards put “…pressure to produce this type of student” (Kumishiro p.21).  All of this with the goal to create and maintain the idea of a “good student”.  Being able to learn in this way – learning to the test – is a great benefit as your grades will reflect highly on you creating a seemly “good student”, rather the student(s) who may learn in different ways or require deeper meaning to the knowledge will be penalized as their grades may not reflect highly as they were not taught to their specific needs.

Luckily as time moves on our beliefs on how and what students should learn in classrooms and what would define success changes, the definition of learning evolves.  that instead of successful leaning being “…completing certain assignments and repeating on exams the correct definitions or themes…” (Kumishiro p. 21), now students will “…learn the more correct ways of thinking about the world…” (Kumishiro p.27).  This broadening the value of school and learning from getting good grades by completing tests, but rather by looking outwards and learning about the world around them.  And while some may think that this is only a part of the future of learning, this may become the greatest part of learning.

To do this we begin to promote problem-solving.  To encourage problem-solving you must begin with creating a situation of discomfort for your students in order for them to begin to process and work things out for themselves.  And from this discomfort no matter the subject, even in the real world, that students begin to see problems and make changes.  And I find that these students are overall the “good students” if “good students” even exist.

ECS 210

Death is Inevitable, Yet Ghosts Remain – Curriculum

Snaza describes the curriculum as, in crisis.  In particular “crisis of methods: ‘the field of the curriculum is unable by its present methods and principals to continue its work and desperately in search of new and more effective principals and methods’ (Schwab, 1969, p. 1)” (Snaza, 2014, p.156).  By this, “…curriculum theorists can no longer tell k-12 schools what to do” (Snaza, 2014, p.156).  As this happens aspects of the curriculum begin to change and die.

“…Curriculum development no longer belongs on or even primarily to curriculum specialists…  The loss of this domain was gradual until the 1960’s when Kennedy administration’s national curriculum reform projects made clear that the traditional curriculum field was no longer a major player in curriculum development and revision on a national scale’ (Pinar et al., 2002, p.39)” (Snaza, 2014, p.157).  As changes were made, things were discarded from the updated curriculum and these pieces would become diseased in the sense that they were removed permanently and forgotten by most.  In the fantasy world, with death comes beings related to death.  These being ghosts, vampires, and zombies.  All represented by an aspect of either the elements of the curriculum or something that affects the curriculum.  Ghosts being the parts of the dead curriculum that revive and haunt over the curriculum. Vampires being capital figures.  Sucking the life out of living labor.  Zombies being the “…imperial government … as an empty shell or parasite’ (p.359)” (Snaza, 2014, p. 162).  There was a “…coming-to-awareness within curriculum studies of a political crisis.” (Snaza, 2014, p. 159) because of Kennedy’s Administration reacting to the global war of communism. The curriculum was becoming more political than it had ever been.  This was because “…the goal was to create citizens capable of participating in organized political life.” (Snaza, 2014, p.160).

It is widely known that there is a business interest in schools but during wartime interest of both communism and capitalism are the same as State interest, therefore businesses had a great influence on what was taught in schools.  Unfortunately, the “…curricula they were developing [was] no longer relevant…” (Snaza, 2014, p.160)

After all of this crisis and “Sickness of methods” (Snaza, 2014, p.158), the curriculum began to grow past its outcome and indicators, both inside and outside of the classroom, also including the growth and visibility of the “hidden curriculum”.  It was due to methods, seemed to put the ghosts to death, but would also become ontological, ethical, and political in regards to what was put to death in the first place and what was able to make its way back.

The act of Understanding Curriculum or curriculum study is the act of mourning the death of the curriculum and perceiving the ghosts that are created from these deaths in the curriculum.

 

 

Nathan Snaza (2014) The Death of Curriculum Studies and Its Ghosts, Journal of Curriculum and Pedagogy, 11:2, 154-173, DOI: 10.1080/15505170.2014.966932, https://doi.org/10.1080/15505170.2014.966932

ECS 210

The Tyler Rationale

Although the goal always seemed to be, to learn and open our minds to different opportunities and thought processes, there was always this underlying expectation of examinations.  This I always refer to as “teaching to the test”.  This happens in almost every school.  During some of my prior classes and some fieldwork, while creating lesson plans, you are expected to follow a certain criteria that gives you a particular final result.  In order for a student to be successful even in that particular lesson, they have to have reached a specific and predetermined goal.

The Tyler Rationale puts many limitations on what the teachers are allowed to teach.  This then becomes a limitation to the students because their education gets put into a box that they cannot expand using the resource that is their teacher.  Also from this limitation, this restricts ways that the students are allowed to learn, so students that may learn in a slightly different way than provided they will have an unfair disadvantage.  It is almost impossible under this rationale for there to be any independent work done by the students in which each student will have a personalized outcome and proof of learning.    The Tyler Rationale puts more focus on the result rather than the journey that the students and even the teachers took to get there.

While there are many negatives to the Tyler Rationale, there are positives to it as well.  While some people think that structure is a bad thing, there are a lot of students that require this structure to be successful.  There is a focused objective which means that you have a point where you are certain that your students are successful and understand the topic that is given.  Using this rationale there is an agreed-upon set of outcomes and goals that each student needs to reach, which means that there is a set expectation of the students and the teachers.

ECS 210

Response: The Problem of Common Sense

Commonsense is described as the shared common knowledge, internalized and held by all in a certain community.

In the case of this story, the factor that is common sense is both apparent and observed over time.  

In the schools of Nepal where our author was located using his prior knowledge of what school was like for him, he expected a certain way that the schools would function.   This outlook is very cultural towards where they grew up. In this case in the United States. But was shocked when he was presented with an “old fashioned” way of looking at teaching and learning.  The classrooms in Nepal functioned in a way that was how they thought the United States schools were run. This was teaching to the test rather than teaching to learn and reflect as we are taught in schools in most of North America.  But because this is how the schools had been taught and functioning for years this was their normal. In this case, it became their common sense of how schools should work, how teachers teach, and what is expected from their school experience.

This can become quite hurtful because things then become missed in the case if certain classes.  Students begin to solely focus on the subjects deemed the most important. That being math, science, and English.  But doing so excludes the subjects containing what is frequently called the hidden curriculum. These are things being learned without being assigned to learn.  This including manners as well as ways to act and react in society. But also with these reduced subject, the student can lose the things that connect them to the world outside their own community.  Thus begin to oppress what they do not understand.