Summary of Learning

For my summary of learning assignment, my classmate Aurora and myself collaborated together to summarize up our learning journey throughout ECS 210. Take a look below!

To finish off this class I would like to thank both Mike and Katia for always doing a great lecture along with Katia for doing a wonderful seminar every Friday! As I know a lot of you will be in the same class as you next semester I will see you all their! Have a wonderful semester!

Literacy and the Curriculum

Growing up in a predominantly white town where mostly all of the residents either were farmers and owned their own land, they worked for farmers, worked in the pig barns, or at the mines our education was largely shaped towards this demographic. We were taught about the western perspective of the prairies and how everyone around the world benefits from our crop and grain. We did not have many perspectives other than this western culture, because to our community and our teachers, this was the only perspective we needed to understand. We had a very structured understanding of the narratives that we heard. These narratives again often focused on the dominant culture with the books we studied and the textbooks and examples we investigated.

With having such a narrow framework to learn from, I carried a lot of biases into my future studies. Biases are the lens in which we see things through, they shape every situation and form opinions on certain topics. The biases I carried from my schooling were biases such as racial biases as we only talked about other cultures when they affected us with a white lens clouding our vision, class biases following the understanding that people need to work hard to get the desired job they want, sex biases growing up in a class with all boys I learned quickly what my role was and what their role was, our westernized perspectives also reinforced these ideas. By studying only certain literature that was created by the western perspectives then enhanced these beliefs and made it real for us. As Katia mentioned in class, we were forming our own personal bubble where we did not see other perspectives or information. A good way to begin working past these biases is to first realize the biases and lens that a forming your perspectives. By recognizing what is fogging your vision one is then able to move towards challenging these perspectives by embracing and learning about new cultures, taking part in getting to know individuals instead of lumping them together. Once we have realized the lens that is in our way, we can then work towards cleaning these lenses to get a true and realistic view of the world around us, this can be done through education and becoming knowledgable about a vast variety of topics. One must want to challenge these values if they are interested in making a change in their lives.

Lots of the single stories that I learned throughout my grade school experience were also discussed throughout the lecture yesterday. To start, our school focused largely on studying western literature that obtained to our life, and the only time we studied other literature of diverse cultures often included stereotypes and false information that we then clumped all individuals of that culture as the same. I remember specifically this was seen through our First Nations community. The stereotypes of the First Nations communities that were spread both of individuals, for example, news stories of a First Nations individual getting arrested, we were then taught to believe that all First Nations people lived the same lifestyle. This is a single story that I then placed on all First Nation people. When discussing cultures and communities overseas where we often would send Christmas boxes too, we only ever learned that they were in need of these boxes of supplies. We were never taught about anything else of their culture, their country, or how they differ from one another. With that, I placed the single story that all these children in the specific country were in need of these boxes and had no money. By placing these single stories the people who only share these single stories, instead of diverse stories are the ones who’s truth matters. They are the ones being heard, and through fake news and other media representations, their story becomes what everyone believes. By having these single stories, we then dehumanize a particular community and force them into a narrow box where their diversity is never heard.

Born to be Mathematicians

I am not a fan of math, I never have been, however, after watching the TED talk, reading Jagged Worldviews Colliding, and Teaching mathematics and the Inuit Community I have come to learn that I need to reopen myself to the concept of math. As the TED talk states, we are all born to be mathematicians, it just depends if some take interest in math and if others do not. For many, including myself, math is seen as complex problems that do not have much meaning to the world we live in. However, maybe that is just how we were taught math and because other perspectives of the mathematical world were never taken into consideration when we were being taught.

My math experience is one that brings on my anxiety. I remember sitting in the classroom dreading the teacher coming in to teach a new lesson, a lesson I already convinced myself I would not understand. Our math lessons were straight out of the textbook and our teacher barely looked up for a few seconds to see if we were all following along. They often gave us two examples and then we were sent on our way to individually work through the many worksheets that went along with the assignment. When thinking about diverse learners in the classroom and how everyone learns differently, that was never considered in the math classroom. Our teachers surpassed all examples that used visuals or manipulatives such as the blocks to learn with and only stuck to the mental math, and pen and paper math examples. They had a certain way that they wanted all of us to learn math, and if our parents tried to teach it in a different way to help us understand we were usually marked wrong. The examples and worksheets we focused on were abstract questions that we had no idea how this would apply to our life in the world. We never looked at how other cultures viewed math, and if we did it was often “measure the circumference of this tipi” which as we learned last week is not a productive and accurate representation to acknowledge cultures in the classroom. My experience in math as the article written by Louise Poirier stated was singular and static.

“Mathematical knowledge is a social construction where the social processes of dialogue and critique are necessary. If mathematical knowledge is a social construction, then the learner’s culture and community will play an important role in learning”

~Louise Poirier~

LeRoy Little Bear in Jagged Worldviews Colliding reflects how even though there is a dominant worldview does not mean that it is the only way to interpret and understand the world around us. In a math context, we can then understand that there is not one way of interpreting math, and with that other cultural beliefs and understandings of math should be acknowledged and taught. In this context specifically, we are looking at how Eurocentric worldviews clash with the Inuit worldviews that are related to mathematics. All cultures have developed their understanding of math, along with other subjects to support their needs in the environment they live in. The first way I noticed the Inuit perspective of mathematics was quite different is they follow a base-20 numeral system, whereas the Eurocentric follow a base-10 numeral system. The Inuit follow the base-20 system because as Gale stated in lecture, they use their ten fingers and their ten toes.  The second difference I noticed while reading through the article by Louise Poirier was that the Inuit beliefs have a different level of importance given to spatial awareness. The current curriculum gives little emphasis or importance on geometry and space, however, for the Inuit communities they put a large emphasis on these teachings because of their relationship with the environment around them. The next point I noticed when reading through the article was the way they represented numbers. They represent numbers orally, as their tradition and culture are essentially all oral. They do not have another means of representing numbers and they express numbers in many different ways depending on the context to ensure all individuals understand. The Eurocentric views put heavily on the importance of pen and paper math, something the Inuit do not see the importance in. Another point I found very interesting is that the Inuit people measure with the tools they have, whether it be a body part or something nearby. They do not rely on made measuring tools such as rulers and other tools to measure their project, they just use what they have! The last point I noticed that was different between the Eurocentric worldviews is the Inuit’s traditional calendar. Their calendar is divided into months but it is neither solar or lunar. It is based on nature and is independently recurring yearly events. How long one month is, depends on how long it takes for a natural event to occur.

This week’s reading really got me thinking and connecting to other aspects of the course that we have studied thus far. The biggest connection I made was to the week we discussed curriculum as a place and the importance of taking the communities context into your teachings. Understanding that different cultures have different values and beliefs around subject matters, it is interesting to me that there is still a large emphasis on teaching math in a singular matter. There is a huge importance of teaching math in different ways, as well as recognizing differences between cultures and embracing these differences in the classroom.

What is Citizenship?

This week in ECS210 the class investigated curriculum as citizenship. Before reading the article or watching the video I tried to think about how citizenship was throughout my school. I had a hard time pinpointing specific examples where I learned how to be a citizen, or if it just came as we continued through our years of schooling. In Joel Westheimer’s video, he states that many people believe that schooling is not the right place to be teaching about citizenship, the home is. However, citizenship should be taught both in the realms of the home and in the classroom. Understanding that kids have a part to play in our democratic society supports the importance of teaching them about citizenship and what it means to be a citizen inside and outside of the classroom.

The article written by Joel Westheimer lays out three models of citizenship:

  1. Personally responsible: This citizenship is what most schools are really good at teaching and what many students partake in. This type of citizenship reflects on helping out. For example, volunteering or giving time to an organization. You sign up for your hour shift and then you go home feeling good that you contributed. These programs and views of citizenship reach to create contributing members of society, they are honest, respectful, and helpful human beings. With that, we can see this definition of citizenship relates to curriculum as product, the end goal is to create students to be good contributing members of society. This is the type of citizenship that is in many schools, including my own. We often did schoolwide town clean-up days where we went out and picked up garbage all around town. We held food drives out of our church and in the school and donated old clothes and shoes to the school to distribute to students who were in need. As we got older we were often asked to volunteer at school events such as sports tournaments and school functions such as pink day, school assemblies and hot lunches. In class, we focused on learning about taxes and the importance of paying those taxes, mock elections and the importance of voting, as well as the simple aspects of being a good citizen such as raising your hand to speak in class and helping classmates with a challenging task. Overall, this type of citizenship was the main focus throughout my grade school years. However, as mentioned throughout the class and the required reading for this week there are many aspects to this type of citizenship that limits certain individuals and actions. As mentioned above there is a large focus on helping individuals, so what about the individuals who are in need of being helped? Does that mean they are less of a citizen then the next, do they even qualify as a citizen? Do they feel as though they can not help others or play this role of citizenship because they are in need of being helped? This then creates a divide between the people who are the helpers and the people who need help. The class also discussed that in some states if you are incarcerated you lose all rights to voting, this then ruins your ability to be a citizen as defined by this model. Overall the marginalized groups in society are denied these opportunities to be a citizen as given by this definition of what it means to be a citizen. Another limitation this definition of citizenship gives to individuals is this model recognizes individual acts that lead to citizenship and does not have a large emphasis on collective initiatives to being a citizen and forming change as a group instead of alone. Understanding that you need many voices to rally together to make social change, this model limits the ability to lead to social change since it focuses heavily on personal acts that make a good citizen. This model also looks away from the causes of social problems and finds short term solutions to these problems, never facing the big problem, thus never finding a lasting solution. These individuals are less likely to understand these social problems, but they are contributing to the cause.
  2. Participatory Citizen: Participatory citizens are ones who actively participate in community activities that the personally responsible citizens would just help out at. Participatory citizens are individuals who instead of volunteering at an event will organize that specific event. These citizens would also be personally responsible as they are putting a lot of work into creating and implementing these community activities that benefit many individuals. I see this type of citizenship as curriculum as process and product. They put the time in and are engaged leading up to the event which then reaches an end goal. These citizens are more engaged in the community as a whole and will work collaboratively with other community members to come up with a solution. This type of citizenship was seen less throughout the schools. You only saw this type of citizenship through the students who participated in groups such as SRC and SADD. They were the students who planned pink day, hot lunches, bottle drives, food drives, etc. This citizenship still gives a large focus on helping those in need and finds short term solutions to these social problems that the community is faced with. Individuals who are participatory citizens put a lot of work into these functions and is recognized throughout the community for their contributions. These individuals would have a deeper understanding of the social problems they are helping, however, would still not know the root cause of these issues nor take social action to find these causes. That leads us into one of the limitations this model has, it does not allow students to take part in social change, and fully understand why some social problems are the way they are.
  3. Justice-oriented Citizens: This is the last example of citizenship that was laid out throughout the article. This model is the least likely to be seen throughout schools and is harder to implement. These citizens question the main causes of social problems. For example, instead of volunteering and giving time to an organization, they look at why volunteers are needed and what the main cause of the social problem could be. While brainstorming about this and how I have seen it throughout my school experience I am unable to think of any examples. This model reflects the understanding of curriculum as praxis as individuals are working towards social action and justice. These individuals are in search of fully understanding why systems are the way they are and finding ways to alter these social problems. They are in search of long-term solutions and less on short-term solutions. There is a large emphasis as collectively searching for a problem together while taking in many different perspectives of the big problem. They are looking at the inequalities of the world and coming together to fully understand the why and how to then move into how to form equity and resolve these big questions. It allows diverse voices to be heard and collaborative thinking to be addressed.

Understanding the three different levels of citizenship it is important to also understand that all of these models are important to society and as a citizen. These three models together will make a society that has individuals who are personally responsible and involved, ready to lead and help work towards social action and social change. It is also important to recognize that we as educators will heavily impact the type of citizens our students become. The way we define citizenship is linked to our values and beliefs that will then be passed on to our students. With that, it is important that we are positive role models and know what our values are when it comes to citizenship and how we want to represent that to our students. Our individual classrooms will look different if we all prepare students for different aspects of life. Citizenship has always been a foundational role in schools, we need to decide how we will portray that in our classroom.

To Whom it may Concern

Once treaties began being signed, the residents of the area both Indigenous and non-Indigenous became Treaty People, hence the saying “We are all Treaty People.” So why is there often push back in our education programs when teachers begin to incorporate Treaty education into the classroom? Cynthia Chambers in her article “We are all Treaty People” states that treaties have given all residents of the area both rights and responsibilities to abide by and that it is important to teach our children about these rights and responsibilities to form an understanding and relationship between these two communities that were lost through the process of colonialism. By understanding what Treaties are and how they were not abided by will begin the process of reconciliation and reforming relationships. The problem that arises is that many non-Indigenous individuals do not have the understanding that they are a Treaty person, and believe that the Treaties have done nothing to benefit them. In Dwayne Donald’s lecture “On What Terms can we Speak?” points out that having two different frames of reference (between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities) forms a disconnect with another and a lack of understanding of one another. This then makes it very complicated to begin incorporating education and learning that is seen as benefitting only a specific group. Dwayne defines colonialism as:

“An extended process of denying relationship whether it be with the places where we live or our head and our heart or people who look different from us.”

~Dwayne Donald~

With that definition, we can understand that having these divides between groups makes it very hard for people to come together to learn about Treaties and Treaty Education. It is also important to understand that although Treaties are not new, the importance of teaching Treaty Education is fairly new. However, that does not mean it is less important than our other subjects such as math and science. If we ever want to move forward and build relationships with one another, it is critical as Donald stated to take a step back to acknowledge and understand the past, understand how the past has impacted our present, and to be critical of how we want it to impact our future. Do we want to continue down the road of not acknowledging the impacts colonization had on our country or are we ready to acknowledge these impacts and become educated around the topic?

“At what point did we train our ears not to listen and our hearts not to care?”

~Claire Kreuger~

As future educators I think an important place to start our journey of teaching Treaty Education is to first recognize where you stand on the subject. For myself I was and still, am very undereducated of the realities of the past. As I continue my work throughout my university classes I become more and more educated on the topic but still have a lot to learn. I related very closely to the comment Donald made about “Canadian Canadian’s.” By being a Canadian Canadian Donald stated that they believe they do not have a culture because they are fully immersed and surrounded by their culture like a fish in water. After hearing this point I instantly reflected back to experiences where I was to describe my culture and I had a very hard time doing so because I didn’t believe I had a culture, I just lived a lifestyle that was considered “normal.” Donald stated when one believes they do not have a culture, it is then very hard for them to comprehend Indigenous understandings and way of life. This is one reason why it is so crucial to educate your non-Indigenous students about Treaties and Indigenous perspectives because if they are not being taught from a young age, it will be very hard for them to grasp this understanding later on in life and to accept the Indigenous ways of knowing.  As Claire states throughout her videos, the problem is not an Indigenous problem but a white problem. Claire states in her introduction video that when our students continue to grow up in a society where colonization and racism are still evident, they will grow up to be adults who carry these racist stereotypes. Understanding that we as teachers are role models for our students and our beliefs and values will reflect onto them is why education is a great place to begin to dismantle these stereotypes and the damage colonization has done. If we as teachers still hold the notion that treaty education is only important in schools with a high number of Indigenous students, then our students will then understand who is seen as important in our country and who is not.

As our non-Indigenous people do not have the understanding and education about Treaties and how that impacts their lives, it is very crucial to implement this knowledge into the daily teachings for all of our children. Indigenous children know the history, they understand what their elders, grandparents, and parents have gone through and they still see the problems the past has created to this day. As we have seen in all the examples for this weeks lecture, it is very easy for non-Indigenous individuals to avoid this education or simply dismiss it and become ignorant around the topic. Teaching our non-Indigenous students about Treaty Education will hopefully as Claire stated get their parents and families involved in the topic. As educators, we have to remember that we are not just teaching students and children, but we are also teaching their families. By providing this knowledge and stories, students both Indigenous and non-Indigenous are not only learning the content but as Mike and Claire discussed they are more importantly learning to think morally and show emotion for the history. To show empathy for the individuals who suffered and to understand that what has happened needs to be acknowledged and taught. Teaching about different cultures, in general, allows students to learn and respect individuals who are different from each other and to recognize the diversity between their classmates and families.

Some educators may be wary of teaching Treaty Education, however, it is our job to teach Treaty Education. Mike and Claire state that Treaty Education is not going anywhere and with that, teachers need to begin incorporating it into their everyday classroom. Claire in the interview stated that she did not receive a lot of push back, and if she would have she was prepared. There can not be a lot of push back on a subject that is in the curriculum, because it is a must do for that grade. If a teacher decides not to teach Treaty Education they are not following the curriculum, thus they are not doing their job. Since the Treaty ed curriculum is so vague, educators have a lot of say in what they decide to teach and what they decide not to teach. At the bare minimum, a teacher should ensure they cover the four strands of Treaty Education as mentioned in the curriculum. All of the outcomes and indicators of the curriculum embed so well into many other subjects, it should not be a challenge for teachers to incorporate it into their lessons. The goal is to give students an overall knowledge base of the four strands of Treaty Education. If that means starting from the kindergarten curriculum in your grade eight classrooms, that is what is to be done. Students need the prerequisites before moving on, if previous teachers did not teach the information, it is your job to fill in the gaps. As mentioned above the accountability for Treaty Education is becoming more and more with each year, it is now a must in every classroom to be teaching the students about the topic!

So what can we do to ensure our students are getting a well-rounded education in Treaty ed?

  • Begin small, by adding territorial acknowledgment and Treaty flags into your classroom. This is a constant reminder to students to honor and respect the land they are living on.
  • At the very least, ensure you are meeting the curriculum outcomes throughout the school year by integrating Treaty Education into many subject fields.
  • Begin planning early, by furthering your knowledge about the topic and collecting resources throughout your career will make integrating Treaty Education into the classroom a lot easier! Check out these links for some resources! Treaty Education curriculum, Claire’s blog, and this Treaty Education Resource Kit.
  • Share resources and activities with the parents so they have an understanding of what is going on in the classroom!
  • Try linking to the TRC!
  • Bring in diverse voices into the learning! This allows students to gain knowledge from different voices who have different perspectives! This can be done through bringing in elders, going on field trips, watching videos, etc.
  • Lastly, and most importantly understand that you are going to make mistakes and that is okay! No one is ever going to know all of the information so we need to be open to constructive criticism, learn as you go, and be honest!

Treaty education is not a phase, it is a life long learning journey for all individuals in society and with that, we as educators should embrace this knowledge in the classroom! Understanding that we are all Treaty People allows my view of curriculum to become more diverse and spread farther than the STEM subjects. The curriculum should no longer focus on teaching students basic facts, but how to become kind people to all.  If eight-year-olds can manage the complexities of our history, we all should be able to!




Place Matters

“The conceptualizations and analyses of place defined in geographical and metaphorical terms play a significant role in understanding curriculum and are an exciting, important and ever-increasing discourse in the field of curriculum studies.”

~Oxford Research Enclyopedias~

This week for ECS 210 the class was required to read a short article called “Learning from Place: A Return to Traditional Mushkegowuk Ways of Knowing.” I really enjoyed this article and I think it was a great way to incorporate Indigenous ways of knowing into the curriculum discussion. I have always found Indigenous teaching to be so interesting and I wish I would have had the opportunity throughout my grade school experience to learn from elders. They give their perspective on different situations and now that I have had the opportunity to meet many elders through my university experience, I have grown a love for their storytelling. This article reflected on a research project that was conducted to honor the Mushkegowuk Cree community concepts of the land, environment, and life. It followed the experience of joining young individuals of the community with the elders and going on an excursion past the river, doing interviews amongst the community, and making an audio documentary to tell their story.

While reading the article, we were asked to reflect on ways that we saw reinhabitation and decolonization throughout the narrative. The first way I noticed that the narrative was supporting reinhabitation and decolonization was through joining elders, youth and the generations in between on a voyage along the river to learn about the history, significance of the river, related issues of governance and land management, and the culture of the community. “The river trip helped members of the community share linguistic, cultural, historical, and geographical knowledge.” Bringing the many generations together allowed the community to reclaim the traditional knowledge of the culture. The next way I noticed reinhabitation and decolonization occurring was through creating an audio documentary about the river and the experience of the young individuals learning about their traditional ways of knowing and being re-introduced to this information in a way that allowed them to explore with other individuals who shared the same interests. By hearing from all different voices of the community such as band office, the health center, education system, elders and youth groups allowed for community involvement and overall re-connecting a community that was beginning to become lost through colonization. The documentary was shared with both the community and a broader audience with the use of the radio. This allowed the community members to become educated about the history, land, and ways of knowing that is being shared across generations as well as individuals who live outside of the community. The excursion empowered youth to become connected with the land and their elders and to recognize their home language and reclaim the names of the land that was set before colonization. Decolonization was seen through the process of taking the political map of Canada and writing the Cree names on this map. This recognized the names that were set before the settlers colonized the land. This gave the youth an even stronger connection to their community and allowed them to understand how colonization truly affected their community in all different aspects. The large focus on the word “paquataskamik” which means “natural environment” was an “attempt to retain a relationship to the rivers, the lands, and the communities joined together by them.” This trip not only rekindled old relationships amongst the community but also new relationships were formed both between people and the land. I found this quote from the article summed up the purpose perfectly: “the project has been about fostering the development of meaningful space for inter-generational dialogue and community research on social and economic relationships rooted in Mushkegowuk conceptions of life and traditional territory.” During our seminar discussion, Jean stated that changing the curriculum to fit the specific location and demographic was a form of decolonization of its own. By doing lessons, and activities to fit the needs of your students and communities we can then see the curriculum becoming tailored to more diversity.

When referring to curriculum as place we are looking at the broader context of the community we are teaching in. We also need to understand the history of the place we are teaching in as well as the background of your students to make for an enhancing experience for all the children! After reading the article I made some connections of how I could adapt these ideas towards the grade levels I plan to teach in my future career (elementary education). I understand that implementing curriculum as place allows teachers to give young children opportunities to view and understand the community in different ways. By implementing these kinds of experiences allows students to broaden their understandings to the community around them as well as begin to understand the history this country was built on. It would be most beneficial to be able to do an excursion like the one that was described in the article, however, with the budget, and the age of the children I plan on teaching it may not be suitable. That does not mean that students should miss out on experiences like this! This experience along with many that involve curriculum as place can be easily modified to fit the needs of your classroom and students. I would start by bringing elders and other voices into my classroom to allow my students to learn from other individuals other than myself. As noted from many other classes, it is important to give students a wide range of voices to learn from to allow them to reach their fullest potential in learning. Bringing in experts of fields will make it more real and relatable for the students. Another way to bring these lessons into my teaching is to challenge the curriculum and incorporate diverse perspectives on our country as a whole. I would also adapt the place component by recreating such discovery in the area of the school grounds and around the community. Allowing children to explore the outdoors to gain respect for the land that supports them and learn through storytelling. Along with learning from the outdoors, it is also important to learn from the community as well as bring the community into the classroom.

Overall, this reading has allowed me to understand that curriculum if implemented positively and restructured to fit the needs of our students and the community, learning can stretch much farther than the classroom, as well as shift the view of the classroom in general! After the lecture, I now am ready to continue my life long journey to find who I truly am as an individual and what changes I need to make to my life to benefit my future students learning and lives in the most positive ways possible.

The Formation of the Curriculum: Before and After Thoughts

Before the Reading:

I think school curricula are developed through a series of steps that are conducted to create a curriculum that suits the needs of the school and society. I imagine a group of higher individuals in the education profession meeting in a conference room discussing what is and is not important to include in the curriculum. I also believe that the teachers have some say into what is important and not. Through teacher conferences, surveys, and meetings teachers are able to confess their concerns, wants and needs to the board that will then be taken into consideration when it comes to forming the curriculum. I think the curriculum is formed by people in the dominant group at the specific geopolitical location and that they take specific consideration towards the desirable class (for example middle-class individuals). I think the demographics of society highly impact what is being seen as important to be taught as well as what perspective the information is coming from. Another important point I believe about curriculum is that it takes in little consideration of what students want out of their learning. Overall, I believe the development of the curriculum takes in many different factors before reaching the final product, these factors may benefit one specific group and disadvantage other groups.

After the Reading:

After reading the article Curriculum Policy and The Politics of What Should be Learned in Schools, written by Ben Levin I was able to gain a deeper understanding of how the curriculum was and is truly formed. This reading looked at how politics heavily impact the creation of the curriculum and the steps that are taken to form a new curriculum. To begin, my before thought of how the curriculum was created was not too far off what the reading stated. However, there were some key points that the reading reflected upon that I did not take into consideration before.

One of the biggest issues that was brought to my attention by Levin is, out of all the people to accommodate and the different values and beliefs these individual people hold, how does the education policymakers decide which individuals voices are heard and which ones are not. In my before the reading statement, I stated that the individuals of the dominant culture are often the ones who are heard, however, is this still true? The article stated the importance of bringing society in to play a role in the formation of curriculum, however, not all societal groups wishes are heard. Levin states that the people who often are the most financed, and their wishes and beliefs are understood more deeply are often the ones who impact the curriculum. For example; larger businesses have a say in the curriculum and what classes students should learn that will benefit their company in the long run. Another issue that was brought to my attention that I did not consider beforehand was the issue between subject experts and teachers. At first, I was unsure of what this even meant, however, after continuing reading a realized how this could be very problematic in the school. This issue looks at when subject experts such as professors are constructing the curriculum, their objectives are often to complex for teachers to successfully teach and for students to successfully learn. Teachers are more concerned about having a curriculum that embraces all students diverse learning needs and give their students opportunities to learn at their fullest potentials.

Who is involved in the process?

As mentioned above, before I did the reading I did not think many people of the community were involved in the development of the curriculum. I even thought teachers had little say in the formation and it was mostly up to the people higher up in the education field to develop and decide the important information that should be taught in the classroom. However, according to Levin, “education governance typically involves some combination of national, local, and school participation.” With that, people of the society, school, and government have a say in the development of the curriculum. Groups that contributed and had little say in the curriculum development would be parents, non-educators, students, and minority groups. The individuals who were apart of the reference committee were often teachers and other individuals apart of the federation. I am not so sure that this is always how it has been, and I am interested to see if all of these individuals are truly part of the decision- making process. Levin also states that the final say in curriculum and education policies come down to both the national and subnational governments. After going through grade school following the curriculum as well as taking this class and learning about many issues that arise in the school system because of the curriculum, I was somewhat shocked at how many individuals were able to give input to the formation of the curriculum. However, I was not shocked that some businesses and beliefs had a larger impact on the formation than others. This article was released in 2007, and Levin stated it takes many years to form a new curriculum, so maybe we will begin seeing more diversity through the pages as we explore the newly made curriculums in the week’s to come!

What is the process?

The process is conducted by jurisdictions that layout important guidelines that one must follow when revising the curriculum. The individuals who often revise the curriculum are teachers and subject experts, and the revising is often lead by a certain government official. It is important to state that the traditional views of the curriculum did not have many connections towards actual teaching in the classroom, just on the content. Levin’s perspective now looks at both the content and teaching methods by bringing experts of the subject as well as teachers together to collaborate to make a curriculum that benefits all who are involved. Curriculum reviews are now seeing more parents, students, and non-educators portraying their needs and wants. A rigorous process that can take many years to form is now developed through more voices than ever before. Again, one main concern I have with this is it actually happening, are people actually being heard and are changes being made? Because from the information we have gained thus far in the class I do not see nor hear many voices being portrayed through the curriculum.

Overall, there are so many considerations that must be made when it comes to developing the curriculum. Considerations such as ideology, personal values, issues in the public domain, and interests as Levin stated throughout his article. I found this article very interesting and what I thought I knew about how the curriculum was formed may be more about how the curriculum used to be formed. I really enjoyed how this article tied in the importance of understanding all that the government and policymakers have to do. I think we sometimes forget how much they must accomplish and overall, they are trying to make decisions that will hopefully benefit many individuals in society.

The “Perfect” Student

After reading both the required readings for this week I was able to understand more critically about what a “good” student looked like with regards to the commonsensical ideas. After reading the introduction piece of “A History of Education” by Painter, I was able to understand that no two countries hold the same values of their education system and they all have their own common-sense beliefs about what the education system should look like and what the role of both the teachers and the students should be:

“Among no two nations of antiquity have the theory and practice of education been the same. It has varied with the different social, political, and religious conditions of the people and the physical characteristics of the country” (p.5).

With that, Kumarshiro explains the commonsensical ideas around the American curriculum and who these ideas benefit and do not benefit. In this outlook, a “good” student is a student who falls into the status quo. A student that can learn the information in an appropriate way and does not interfere with the teachings. A “good” student in the eyes of common sense is one that can sit in an individual desk and be completely invested in the content being taught on the whiteboard. In the reading “Preparing Teachers for Crisis: What it Means to Be a Student” Kumarshiro describes a “good” student as an individual who would always complete “certain assignments and repeating on exams the correct definitions or themes or analysis in a strong essay format, and the closer a student got to saying the right things in the right ways, the higher that student’s grade would be” (p.21). A “good” student was one who conformed to the ideas that were implemented by the higher up people in the education system and their perspectives. A “good” student came into the classroom with no pre-existing knowledge and left with a brain full of knowledge that the dominant culture believed was the most beneficial to a student’s cognitive development. “Good” students were ones who succeeded on the standardized examinations and did not challenge the status quo of learning or society.

The students as mentioned above who were privileged by this common sense understanding of education were the individuals who conformed to the perspectives and teachings. The students who showed up to class ready to learn, who did not misbehavior or spoke out of turn were considered “good” students. Students who were in the dominant culture (white, middle-class individuals) often fit these common-sense ideas the best because the information that was deemed important often reflected off the values of this specific culture. Individuals who did not fit these commonsensical ideas were often individuals who did not fit the status quo. Individuals who maybe acted out, could not sit still for long periods of time, individuals of different cultural backgrounds who held different values and beliefs, and lastly, individuals who could not conform to the one-answer learning all did not benefit from these ideas of a “good” student. Individuals who did not succeed on exams or assignments also did not benefit from these commonsensical ideas of learning and what makes a “good student.”

Through these commonsensical ideas, the possibilities for some students turn into the impossible. These preconceived ideas silence different cultural beliefs and values that students bring into their classrooms, which then silences a huge part of their identity. Individualism between students is also absent, due to the strict standardized testing and curriculum that makes all students learn the same and think the same, this also hinders one’s creativity extremely. This can be seen in Kumarshiro’s examples of both M and N, they both showed no interest in the strict layout of the class, but once they were able to do assignments and activities on their own terms they opened up to their ideas about the content. These commonsensical ideas also conform individuals into the same perspectives of those who formed the curriculum and decided what information was important and not important. With that, these students did not learn any different and no social action would occur to change the educational system for the better. Overall, these commonsensical ideas of what makes a “good” student hinder one’s ability to break out of their shell and shoot for their dreams and aspirations in life.

The words of Elliot W. Eisner

“The arts teach children that problems can have more than one solution and that questions can have more than one answer.”

~Elliot W. Eisner~

Elliot Eisner was a professor of art and education at Stanford University. Eisner is well known for his contributions to the arts curriculum and the overall American curriculum. Eisner has “dedicated his career to advancing the role of the arts in American education and in using the arts as models for improving educational practice in other fields” for more information about Eisner continue reading this article! Eisner focused on bringing recognition to arts education and the importance of art for children’s development and wellbeing.

I chose this quote because I think it is a really good quote that represents Eisner’s goal to bring recognition towards the importance of the arts in the education system. When I read this quote I instantly relate the words to how in a school and classroom we have so many diverse learners that all learn and think differently. This quote explains the importance of children understanding that there is not just one solution to a problem and that there is always opportunities to expand on answers and look at a question in a new light. When I think of arts, I think of creativity and individualism, art allows children to express their thoughts and opinions in their own way, which then allows for more diverse conversations in the classroom. This quote moves away from the standardized testing that the curriculum has laid out, and moves toward individual learning that allows children to find their identity through the knowledge they are gaining. This quote makes individual human beings full of creativity and inspiration, human beings that will finish schooling and become the voices of social change, artists, educators, or anything they aspire to be. This quote makes the old way of schooling, the way in which produces students to all be the same impossible. Overall, this quote allows society to see education in a new light, a light that I hope can be produced as I continue my journey as an educator.

This quote would vision teachers as a leader, someone who leads students in the right path but also allows students to go through the path on their own terms and making their own decisions on how they wish to proceed through the path. Teachers would be seen as life long learners, continuously learning from their students and working alongside them to make their program better as the students bring new ideas to the table. Teachers would no longer be expected to teach straight from worksheets, textbooks, and then assess through standardized testing. They would now have more input in the activities they want to teach and how they wish to reach those goals using a creative mindset that will benefit all of their individual students. Students would no longer be seen as being incompetent if they do not succeed in an exam. They would now have the freedom to show their knowledge through their personal skills and talents that shine through. Students would now be seen as individual learners and not learners that must conform.

With my understanding of the current curriculum, I believe we have a long way to go before we reach a place that signifies the goals I have stated above. This quote I think represents a place in the education system that people are fighting to move towards, however, looking at the curriculum as it is, we are nowhere near reaching this place where learners are not expected to all think the same. This quote represents that no two individuals are the same, that differences are welcomed and embraced, and frankly, society and the education system have a long road ahead of them if they ever want to reach a system that embraces creativity over memorization. To this day, the arts are still undervalued compared to the core classes such as math and science. To move forward, one must understand the importance of the arts and all the benefits that will help a child prosper and become a responsible, individualistic member of society. Through this quote, we can reach a place that recognizes that not all answers are the same, that through different experiences our answers, values, and beliefs are shaped differently, and that is okay. The world is full of brilliant minds, we just need to let individuals see the brilliance inside themselves.

Curriculum as a Product: Beneficial or Detrimental?

Although there are many new and creative alternatives to the curriculum, most school institutions still follow a traditionalist perspective when it comes to the curriculum and teachings in the classroom. Not many individuals understand why the schools follow traditional viewpoints, maybe because that is what they are comfortable with, all they were ever taught so why change it, or maybe simply because they are scared to make a change. With that, traditional techniques of the curriculum see the curriculum as a syllabus to be transmitted, or the curriculum as a product. After reviewing the article, “Curriculum Theory and Practice” written by Mark K. Smith (1996, 2000), I now want to do a further analysis of the section that discusses curriculum as a product, specifically the Tyler Rationale. Through this analysis, I will make connections towards the major limitations of this concept, some contributions that can be taken from the rationale, and lastly my personal school experiences related to Tyler’s Rationale.

To begin, the Tyler Rationale was formed by Ralph W. Tyler and behavioral psychologist who was the father of assessment and evaluation. According to Smith the work of “Ralph W. Tyler, […], has made a lasting impression on curriculum theory and practice.” Tyler focused his theory on “rationality and relative simplicity.” His theory focused around organization and the end goal of behavioral objectives that will allow for “a clear notion of outcome so that content and method may be organized and the results evaluated.” There were four main processes of the Tyler Rationale that would be followed to reach the final goal of the topic. In short, the four steps Tyler formed proceeded in the order as follows: aims and objectives of the subject, content to support these objectives, how the content would be delivered to the learners, and lastly how the learner would be assessed or evaluated. The Tyler Rationale was closely related to Franklin Bobbitt’s theory on the curriculum as the main idea was to form young individuals to all be the same with no independent thought. Reflecting on this, one can see many problematic areas with these theories.

Although organization is key in a classroom, too much structure and organization can lead to some serious problems and conflicts. The first problem defined by Smith with regards to Tyler’s rationale was that his view on the curriculum was to be constructed with assignments that the students “are told what they must learn and how they will do it.” This did not allow for children to further their creativity or have a say in their learning. We also understand now that all students learn and retain information in different ways, having one way that the students must learn is very detrimental to the students who do not learn effectively by the common pen and paper assignments and examinations. A second problem stated by Smith was that “behavior can be objectively, mechanistically measured.” That is, students are taught to think, feel and learn in the exact same ways as their peers, and with that teachers never have to think past the measured criteria of what their individual students could have taken away from that specific experience. This second problem limits students to be the same and does not allow teachers to critically think about how their students are different and think differently from one another. In this case, it is often the students who are blamed for not succeeding, because as stated by Tyler, the curriculum is something that “can rise above context (social, cultural, and historical differences).” Another problem that Smith acknowledged states this rationale is the “problem of unanticipated results.” Because of the large structure and organization that comes with this rationale, students and teachers often only have one goal in mind; the final goal. All of the learning opportunities throughout the process of reaching the end goal are seen unimportant by both the learner and the teacher, which then can harm a student’s capacity to learn as much as possible from an activity or assignment. To list a few more complications with this rationale are: the rationale focuses less on the learning and more on the memorizing, it is not interconnected learning, we are teaching students to learn to take tests, context isn’t seen as important, the rationale is very predictable; meaning the curriculums serve the dominant group and does not teach activism in fear of the dominant group will lose their “status.” The last major problem with this rationale I want to point out is that the students and the teachers are the ones being blamed for their failures, where it should be the people making the curriculum being blamed for not adequately accounting for individual learners needs and wants.

After pointing out the problems of Tyler’s Rationale, one must understand that there are ways in which this rationale along with all of the perspectives of the curriculum before Tyler all contributed to finding new ways to approach the curriculum, and in general the school system. Specifically looking at Tyler’s rationale, this perspective allowed for more organization and structure that allows educators to have a starting point. This type of approach allows teachers to stay on task to their outcomes and keep their students organized and on task as well. Smith also stated that “[t]he apparent simplicity and rationality of this approach to curriculum theory and practice, and the way in which it mimics industrial management have been powerful factors in its success.” After reading the other theories that evolve around curriculum, I believe that Tyler’s organization would help a lot of teachers reach their goals, however, modifications would be needed to ensure the problems stated above were accounted for. This rationale or theory about curriculum is also a good theory to critique and then improved. Without this theory being formed, individual’s would not see the problems that have risen in the school system and started brainstorming ideas to improve the program to benefit all learners.

After reading the article and learning more critically about the Tyler Rationale, I was able to analyze my school experiences throughout grade school. I grew up in a very small town and spent most of my younger years in a triple graded classroom, with that the teacher and teaching assistant needed a very structured atmosphere to keep the grades aligned and to ensure that the content and objectives were met for all grade levels. At the time, I would not have known school any different than being taught in ten minutes of class and then the rest of the class you sat in your desk and worked through assignments while the other grades were being taught. Now looking back on my school experiences after gaining the knowledge about the curriculum from Smith’s reading, I realize that my education was severely limited because of the triple graded classrooms and the lack of diversity we had throughout our students. After communicating with friends I have made throughout university thus far, their elementary experiences were enrichened with field trips, outdoor activities, projects, etc. that allowed them to meet certain objectives while learning in creative and explorative ways. However, for myself, I never got those opportunities because year in and year out we followed a certain outline to ensure that all three grades were able to cover the curriculum in the year.  As I progressed through grade school, my experiences did not change that much. Now being in a split classroom, with two grades being taught, I followed the same routine of being taught for one half of the class and working on assignments at my desk for the other half of the class. We did the worksheets that the teachers taught every year to learn the content, once the worksheets were completed, we waited to be taught the next lesson and the cycle repeated. We also had very low numbers in the school, which resulted in a major focus on the core classes with a limited emphasis on the more creative and individual classes such as the arts. Modifications were not made to fit the needs of the different learners in the classroom, and the students had little opportunity to have choice within their learning. My school experiences heavily relate to Tyler’s Rationale and did not leave room for creativity or enriched experiences like my fellow university peers had throughout their grade school years.

So why are school systems still teaching from a traditional perspective? It is hard to know the exact reasons why we have not seen change, however, one can hypothesize it is because we have not seen any dramatic social changes in society to do so. Having the understanding that there are other theories that allow for more involvement and acknowledge differences between individuals seems to be a more suitable choice, so why are we stuck in a time of worksheets and lectures?