ECS 210

Saskatchewan Curriculum

I think school curriculums are developed by a small similar group of highly educated individual and are adapted according to the majority of students needs, rather than individual circumstances. I think of curriculum as as list of expected outcomes and indicators that teachers expected to use as guidelines and students are expected to meet each year. It is lengthy, complicated and in some cases unrealistic.

The article Curriculum Policy and the Politics of What Should be Learned in Schools, defines curriculum as an official statement of what students are expected to know and be able to do. It is “developed by governments or other sanctioned authorities for standard use in schools across a state, province, or country” (Levin, 2007, p.7). Each teacher is expected to use curriculum as a guide to implement it in their classrooms.

This reading providing a political view about the development and implementation of curriculum. Prior to this, I looked at it from a practical point of view. The article explains that the government is responsible for everything in some sense (Levin, 2007, p.11). They are in the position to make decisions about a vast variety of issues, therefore education is not the main focus . Although politics is my least favourite subject to talk about, I agree that it is important to have a group of higher power in charge of making important decisions. However, I do not agree that the people making these decisions should have no experience in current classrooms and working with the education. A variety of teachers are brought together to draft certain aspects of the curriculum, except it would be difficult to gather a small group of educators that represent the profession equally. This system can make educators feel lost in a sea of others who feel as though they are not being heard.

I was surprised by the debate about including indigenous language, history, and literature. Through different experiences I have been exposed to aspects of indigenous culture and have grown to appreciate the different way of knowing. Therefore I am grateful for those experiences and desire to learn more. The debate of this inclusion led me think about the culture it places in non indigenous lives. I think it is an important topic to be acknowledged and considered, but not force. I believe if one culture is included and expanded upon, other cultures and religions should have equal opportunity. In some ways it seems as though christianity was removed from the public school system and was replaced with indigenous ways of knowing. Although there is more to this subject, my final thoughts would be regarding the question of when is it okay to teach culture and where is the line drawn?

 

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ECS 210

“What it Means to be a Student”

It is indicated in the article, Preparing Teachers for Crisis: A Sample Lesson, that a “good” student according to commonsense is one who is able to properly follow instructions, able to stay on task, meets the expected outcomes and expectations, is punctual, able to sit and listen, and able to take turns (Kumashiro, p.19). This definition is very specific, which limits and discourages diversity. Quite often students struggle to fit the standards of this narrow definition, making them feel like they have failed as a student. Teachers also feel pressure from the school and the surrounding society to produce “good” students (Kumashiro, p.21). Students who fail to meet these expectations not only feel frustrated with themselves but also cause their teachers to feel frustrated with them. Teaching with these standard expectations is almost the same as setting your students up for failure.

The students who are privileged by this definition of the “good” student are those who fit the majority of the qualities listed previously. Students who appear to demonstrate proper punctuality, meet the expected outcomes, are good at listening, and so on. These students receive the most praise and attention from their teacher and sometimes more opportunities. They often receive the most awards and the scholarships because they fit the definition of the “good” student. Their way of learning and abilities as a students allow them to achieve success.

The definition of the “good” student makes it impossible to see different ways of showing understanding. It makes it impossible to understand other ways the multiple ways students are able to demonstrate their knowledge. These common sense ideas make it impossible to recognize that “challenging oppression requires addressing the broader social context in which we live in” (Kumashiro, pg. 28). The common practices of teaching in school is not was constitutes all learning. As we are finally starting to recognize diversity in learning, we are able to look past this stereotype enough to acknowledge that each student has the ability to learn, whether or not they are a “good” student or not. The stereotype fits such a limited number of people, that it almost should not even be referred to at all. Each student is an individual, therefore they should be assessed individually.

 

ECS 210

Educational Success

The greatest sign of success for a teacher is to be able to say, “The children are now working as if I did not exist.” – Maria Montessori

This quote from Maria Montessori portrays teaching in a way that allows for student development and individual success. It makes it possible for the learning to be facilitated by the individual student based on their personal interests. It is well known that children progress at their own pace and effective learning can be done through play. Although this is an important aspect of education it makes it impossible for students to explore other methods of learning. Children who are able to work as if their teacher did not are able to form many new skills that revolve around the idea of independence. However, this limits them from developing the necessary social skills that are derived from group work and following instructions. It is also not beneficial for students who thrive in group learning settings.

This quote implies that the teacher believes in the benefit of allowing students to construct their own individual knowledge by being there to provide and guide learning opportunities. It reveals the ways a student is able to work individually and ways they are lead by creativity. Although these are all good things, I views them as aspects of education rather the the entirety of it. The ability to self regulate and guide your own learning is an important life skill, but I would argue that it is one of many aspects that should be encouraged. My own understanding of curriculum and school is developed from my own personal experience and what I hope to establish in my future classroom. I do not overly agree with the montessori method for it is restricting to individual based learning. I feel as though it is valuable to allow students to learn individually within certain boundaries. This could involve opportunities for individual based learning among other learning and teaching styles.

 

ECS 210

Tyler Rationale

The Tyler rationale theory is described in the article, Curriculum Theory and Practice as having “emphasis on rationality and relative simplicity”. It is based off of four fundamental questions that examine educational purposes, what experiences can be offered to attain these purposes, how they can be organized effectively and how to decide when these purposes are complete. Learning is planned and guided through the curriculum. It follows a pattern of being introduced to content, practiced, and tested on. It allows for organization and even distribution of content as it is the basic routine that most schools abide by.

I have experienced the Tyler rationale as a student for we mainly focused on the four core subjects (math, english, science, and social studies) and other courses were taken as electives. As I continued through school each class followed the same routine where we were introduced to a new concept, given time to explore and practice the material we were taught, then was often tested on the subject material either through a formal exam or a project. When I felt as though all that I needed to work on was preparing for the test in order to do well, I did not put much effort into the assignments or class work that wasn’t going towards my final grade.

Although the structure of the Tyler rationale allows for great organization, heavy structure has limitations. In lecture we discussed how theory gives us the impression that if you teach it correctly, all students should be able to learn what is being taught. Teachers are then blamed for students lack of knowing. What is not considered is the impact each students individual learning style can influence their own understanding. If a student who is better at verbally expressing their way of knowing, then a written test is not an accurate representation of the students knowledge. Flexibility in the structure and the ability to adapt to each students individual needs could potentially allow for better success. Not all students can be assessed the same.

The Tyler Rationale makes it possible to cover most material that one intends to teach for it is very organized. The origination of this rationale is definitely a strong point. As a person who enjoys being organized, I would gravitate to this method for that alone. I do not think it is the wrong way to go about teaching. However, some consideration is needed to integrate individually, to move past one way of thinking.

 

ECS 210

“The Problem of Common Sense”

The article “The Problem of Common Sense,” explains that, “common sense does not tell us that this is what schools could be doing; it tells us that this and only this is what schools should be doing” (Kumashiro). Common sense is the way we have come to understand the world for it is often derived throughout personal experiences and the influence of society. The basic routine of school and the different approaches teacher take as to study and explore each subject define one’s understanding of common sense. These practices, attitudes and actions are seen as normal, and are almost expected. It“ is not what should shape educational reform or curriculum design; it is what needs to be examined and challenged”(Kumashiro).

It is important to pay attention to the “common sense” for the public views curriculum from a common sense view point, for their knowledge is based of their own experiences in the school system. As we are aware of common sense and the expectations that comes with it, teachers could feel limited by these boundaries. Although it is important to be aware of it, we shouldn’t be afraid to move past what we know in order to explore new ideas.