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ECS 210, Home

Curriculum as Public Policy

This week while reading Levin’s article, I learned some new facts about the implementation of the curriculum in schools across Canada. To begin, Levin defines curriculum as β€œ what students are expected to know and be able to do.” (p. 8) According to the article, teachers have a big role in the development of the curriculum. However, Levin describes the government as the biggest influencer in curriculum decision maker, since curriculum is basically shaped by political action. The new information that I found on this reading is how government and other associations have more power building the curriculum than teachers. I feel that the government is not aware of many important facts that teachers would be more familiar with, like student’s development process or skills in the classrooms. Also, as Levin explains, some important decisions made by the government are often made very quickly with limited information and discussion due to no other alternative. Another new information for me is how the involvement of experts in curriculum development can cause disagreements and confusion on what to do since they can make the subjects too hard to teach and learn. I agree with Levin when he suggests that community members should be involved in the curriculum development because their thoughts also need to be considered. I, as an community member and future teacher, think that we should have a louder voice and our opinions should be heard more when it comes to creating the curriculum; because at the end of the day, teachers are the ones who must use the curriculum daily and deal with it through the year.

As reading pages 1 to 4 of the Treaty education document, I learned about the goals that are set out from Kindergarten to grade twelve, which outline what outcomes should be achieve in the class and the knowledge students need to acquire. I consider that Treaty Education should be apply in different subject areas and in all grades with no exception. This document similarly to Levin’s article, brings the idea of how many people and components it takes to create and develop a curriculum.

ECS 210, Home

Learning from Place

Throughout this reading I saw decolonization and rehabilitation through the ten day trip of the Elders with the youth, sharing knowledge and beliefs about their connection to the land. This trip allows Elders to pass down stories to the youth, sharing experiences and engaging them with this reconnection with nature. The Kistachowan document that the youth and the Elders created together is another way of reinabitation since it provides the youth with an understanding of the decolonization process from a different perspective. This opportunity to experience learning in a none-western way allows the youth to have a better insight about indigenous culture and ways of living. 

A way that decolonization can be seen through this narrative is the economic exploration and large scale extractive development of the Mushkegowuk people. Together with this, the role of the land and the strategies they had to maintain their historical identity and way of life. These interviews were meant β€œto encourage intergenerational relationships and catalyze knowledge transfer from elder generations to youth. The interviews were ways of bringing together community, of fostering dialogue and generating spaces for socializing conceptualizations of the territory from a Mushkegowuk perspective.” (p. 74-75)

As a future educator, I think it’s really important to encourage students to explore the meaning of place and their identity. I would like to use these thoughts to help my future students connect with these ideas. I will achieve this by giving students opportunities to work towards understanding how their culture impacts their identity and together they shape who they are. I would like to provide students with activities where they can find it easier to connect with the land, with nature, taking them outside the classroom and engaging them into more outdoor activities that will create lasting memories. For instance, finding a sit spot in a calming place where they can close their eyes and feel more deeply the world around them and how everything is connected. Another example I can think of is taking students to field trips and find different ways to keep working on this connection with nature. 

ECS 210, Home

What It Means to be a Student

According to the article of commonsense, being a good student is to learn in a particular way according to the way the teacher intended. A good student is described as one that listens attentively  and absorbs all the information given. In my opinion, a good student is not just about listening and taking notes, but rather one that is challenging oneself, that is engaged with what is happening in the class and participating actively while meeting the outcomes. 

I think that based on the definition of a good student according to commonsense only students that are β€œeasy” to teach will be privileged by this definition in the classroom. This way, teachers will only focus on teaching the lesson and not β€œwasting time” listening to students’ opinions and experiences about the topic being taught nor challenging them to think about it. In this case, students that want to participate and share their different points of view might be seen as β€œbad” students. 

This commonsense idea makes it impossible to understand and see the different learning progress students have, and can create biases within the class. In my opinion, this is not how teaching and a class environment should be like.

ECS 210, Home

Place Based Learning

Place-Based Education is an approach to learning that takes advantage of geography to create authentic, meaningful and engaging personalized learning for students. More specifically, Place-Based Curriculum immerse learning experience that places students in local heritage, cultures, landscapes, opportunities and experiences, and uses these as a foundation for the study of language arts, mathematics, social studies, science and other subjects across the curriculum. Place Based education meets a wide variety of curricular outcomes. It can be used in all subject areas. Rather than thinking of place based education as a subject area, we need to think of it as a method of teaching.

I found an interesting article about the benefits of place based education that discuss how learning is more than memorizing words on a page. β€œIt’s water moving around our boots. It’s mud and cold. It’s all these sensory dimensions in the real world we’re part of.” Place based education, according to the article, is basically a way to connect with nature. This way kids gain more respect for the land and can see themselves as part of it. 

The article also mention how place-based education is equally relevant in small towns and big cities; and also equally effective for any age, since kindergarteners to high school students. β€œPlace-based education helps students learn to take care of the world by understanding where they live and taking action in their own backyards and communities.” In the article you can also find some teacher’s opinions regarding their experiences with place based curriculums: β€œIt was that link that gave me the push to get the science committee to commit to the outdoor-focused curriculum… What these students are learning and doing is real. This is real education”. 

Nps.gov. (2020). The Benefits of Place Based Education: A REPORT FROM THE PLACE-BASED EDUCATION EVALUATION COLLABORATIVE. [online] Available at: https://www.nps.gov/mabi/learn/education/upload/Benefits%20of%20PBE.pdf

ECS 210, Home

Tyler Rationale

Reflecting on my school years, I could realize how the Tyler rationale had a big impact on my learning process as a student. From elementary to high school, I attended a catholic school back in Argentina. We were evaluated by the traditional way that applies to most schools, we were tested by having pop quizzes or regular exams in most subjects, added to the amount of homework and assignments we had daily. According to Tyler rationale, this was a way of determining whether the purposes were being acquired in the classroom or not. I remember my school was pretty strict in following the curriculum established by the ministry of education from my city, although sometimes a couple of teachers applied few exceptions. The school did not only have the purpose to shape us as responsible students in the classroom but also as responsible individuals in society. 

I can find many limitations of the Tyler rationale. One of them is the limitation to change. Teachers, parents and students believe the curriculum system should be followed the same way it has been followed over the years. However, society and many factors keep changing over time, therefore we need a more 21st century accurate curriculum which encourage students to learn in a more progressively way. Moreover, schools seem to be focused on the final grade more than in the process and development students have during the course. Another limitation I could come up after reading the article is that the Tyler rational may also create limitations, not only on the curriculum but also on the teachers. The Tyler rationale does not seem to let teachers be creative and share their own way of teaching, since they follow a curriculum. Teachers tend to revert to teaching in the way they are being told to do it without applying any exception. 

There are also some potential benefits when it comes to the Tyler rationale. One benefit is that the Tyler rationale provides a guideline to follow, a structure plan that helps students learn in an organized way. Structure in a classroom is essential for a successful learning. Schedules, itineraries, and organization are important to keep students engaged. I think as teachers it is also essential to have a guideline to follow, a base to start from, but always leaving room for creativity and for opportunities to expand some concepts with personal strategies according to each teacher. 

ECS 210, Home

The problem of common sense

In the article β€œThe Problem of Common Sense” by Kumashiro, the author analyzes common sense. Although the author does not provide a specific definition of common sense, he refers to common sense as something everyone should know. So basically, the definition of common sense should be common sense and then the author further his explanation of the meaning of this word providing some examples.

Kumashiro explains how the way of teaching in America varies from the Nepali way of teaching and reflects on how it is wrong to assume by β€œcommon sense” that one way of teaching could succeed in the other country because the needs are just different. On the contrary, this will work against a critical knowledge that drives students to move and criticize the social situation of Nepal, in this case. While both countries believe their own approaches to education to be common sense, they are ignoring the values of the other education system. Common sense is not the same for everybody, instead it changes for every society and every context of life and this is evidenced in the experience of Kumashiro in Nepal.

I agree with the author when he makes reference to the fact that the sometimes the system might allow problems of racism and religious intolerance to get into the educational experience. For example, several activities that are carried out daily could end up being offensive to certain students or simply make students feel they do not fit into society when learning ideas that differ their values learnt at home.

So I believe one solution would be verifying if common sense actually has the power to face education since this leads several activities that are oppressive, specially in a society as diversed as the United States or Canada. The lack of questioning prevents the education system from evolving into something that may be better. Society does not question why the school system is the way it is and that is why schools continue dragging the problems it always had. The community plays an important role, but instead of proposing the questioning, it is only structuring and holding on to those attempts of a different education. Basically, school have the image of a structured system that can’t change, when it actually needs a change. Finally, I believe it is very important to have an education without oppression and obviously keep promoting a change in the structure of the education system.