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Lila Gaertner's Education Portfolio

"Education is a journey, not a race"

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ECS 210

Summary of Learning

Hey everyone,

Here is my Summary of Learning from my ECS 210 course.

I hope you enjoy hearing about what I have learned, as much as I did learning it.

Thanks for watching!

Here is my Script if you are interested in following along with the words.ECS 210 Summary of Learning Script.

 

Digging Deeper into ECS 210

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So far in my ECS 210 class, I have been realizing that the overall challenge of the class is to dig deeper into the Education system by searching for answers from past educational philosophers, past or current teachers’ experiences, and even the Saskatchewan curriculum itself. This class is not only a class that involves our own efforts to research what other philosophers and teachers have discovered or experienced in the classroom, but it also involves each and every ECS 210 student’s efforts in searching and discovering what they have learned and experienced in the classroom. This class requires us as ECS 210 students to dig deeper into the curriculum and to analyze it to see if there are any hidden messages in it, specific usage of language, and even different forms of oppression. As a future teacher, it is important to be able to have a keen eye on what the written curriculum is trying to tell you. Sometimes things come out of our teaching when we do not even mean them to. That is just how it is. That is called the hidden curriculum.

As I have been digging deeper into this class, keeping up with the readings, and listening to guest speakers, I have found that it has been challenging me to look at my past experiences and try to notice how the curriculum was being taught to me in my classroom. What I have noticed is that there was very little Treaty Education being taught in my classrooms or even in my school at that matter when I was back in my hometown. There were very few teachers that thought that it was important to teach Treaty Education because there were very few First Nation’s students in our classrooms. Looking back at this makes me upset because I could have had a better understanding of the First Nations people in my classes and would not have been so judgmental and even racist.

Now that I am learning about how to teach about the First Nations people, white people as settlers, and all people as Treaty people, I have noticed that a lot of my prejudice thoughts towards the First Nations people have been disappearing. These thoughts have been disappearing because I have a better understanding of what really happened with the residential schools and I also have a better understanding of how hard it would have been to have been treated so poorly by so many white people. I think that if I can find this First Nations history and newly understood knowledge to be interesting and beneficial to apply to my life, then almost all of the other students in my school in my hometown would have found this information to be helpful. The sad part about this is that there are still people who are unwilling to listen and learn about the First Nations’ history. They are still stuck in their ways and they still have the same prejudice thoughts and oppressive actions because they do not realize their privileges or do not have an understanding of what it would have been like to go through what the First Nations people went through.

I believe that as future educators, we need to be aware of what we teach and how we teach it, so that our students can abandon their old prejudice views towards race, gender, class, religion, etc. If teachers begin to teach the curriculum in a way that helps students to also dig deeper into their own lives and realize how their actions can affect someone else, then some forms of oppression will begin to diminish, especially the ones towards the First Nations peoples. Then our classrooms would be a more impactful place where oppression in all forms could be diminished.

“We Are All Treaty People”

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I think that many schools are resistant towards Treaty Education because the teachers have many misconceptions or fears about teaching it in their classrooms. Some teachers seem to think that they do not need to teach Treaty Education because there are not a lot of First Nations, Metis, or Inuit children in their classrooms, but this in fact is not an excuse to not teach Treaty Education in your classroom. Teachers may have a misconception about Treaty Education because they have forgotten that we are all Treaty people. They may not even know that the treaties were written agreements between the Government and the First Nations people to share the land. Regina is a part of Treaty 4 and it has been a part of that Treaty since 1874 when it was signed, therefore, it is a part of our history and important for all people to be aware of. We need to all be aware of what agreement we are in with the First Nations people and respect that. It is important to also know the history of the Residential schools and know how the white people mistreated and oppressed them. This will give the white students more of an understanding what some of the First Nation’s families or grandparents would have gone through. Teaching Treaty Education as “Settler Education” may be an easier way to draw students into the topics and you may even see less rebuttal. As a teacher, you have to make sure that your students know that the purpose of this Treaty education is to make them more aware of their Canadian history, know that they are settlers to Canada, and know that they are included in the Treaties because they are Treaty people who still live and share the land with the First Nations, Metis, and Inuit people on this land that we all call our home.

I believe that “we are all treaty people” and this needs to be constantly taught in all schools across Saskatchewan. I believe that this is important because Treaty Education is supposed to be taught throughout the Saskatchewan curriculum. I am not saying that this only needs to be taught because it is in the curriculum, but that it also needs to be taught because there are truths about our history that need to be uncovered. We need to uncover our mistakes and make up for them for the future. We can do this by realizing that we are Treaty people and becoming aware that we need to keep our end of the deal. I think that white people need to be humbled and realize that we are settlers to Canada and that we did not always live here. We need to realize that we do not have ownership to the land that we live on, but that we have a shared agreement with the First Nations, Metis, and Inuit people to share the land together. We need to make sure that Treaty or Settler Education is being taught in our schools, so that everyone is more aware that we are all in this together and  that we are all Treaty people.

Pedegogy of Place

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J.P. Restoule’s article suggests that a “critical pedagogy of place” aims to:

(a) identify, recover, and create material spaces and places that teach us how to live well in our total environments (reinhabitation); and (b) identify and change ways of thinking that injure and exploit other people and places (decolonization) (p.74)

After reading J.P. Restoule’s article called ” Learning from Place: A Return to Traditional Mushkegowuk Ways of Knowing”, I can say that I have found a few examples of reinhabitation and decolonization. For example, there is reinhabitation happening during the canoe river trip. There were youth, adults, the generation in between, and elders participating, which meant that the relationship between all of the people was growing and their knowledge was being shared. The generations of people were sharing about the relations between the people and the lands and also the related issues of governance and land management (p. 70). As the generations of the people came together on the land, they were able to advance their community’s recognition and reclamation of the Mushkegowuk knowledge, culture, and cultural identity by having them participate in community building activities (p. 70). Knowledge was also passed down from the community members and the elders about the Mushkegowuk people by conducted interviews done by the youth. I found that decolonization occured as the generations of individuals on the canoe trip came together on their land and water to experience the place together traditionally. They also discussed and communicated to one another using their Cree language. I think this traditional communication allowed redistribution of knowledge and language, which was being lost due to colonization many years ago. Overall, decolonization occurred when the people freely spoke in their own Cree language, shared their traditional knowledge, and renamed and reclaimed their original places with their original names in the Inninowuk language.

I believe that knowing the history or background of a certain place where you have lived will greatly benefit anyone. I believe this because I think that knowing your history of the places that you have lived gives you a sense of your own identity. This would also benefit people who are just visiting a new space or place. If students go on a field trip, I will give them some historical knowledge that they will hopefully remember and be able to share with others after they leave. My hope would be that my students become aware of the history of the land that they walk on and that they will grow to appreciate it. If I ever take my students on a field trip, I will make sure to touch on the historical background of that place or even get an elder to come in and speak to them before we attend the field trip. I will also try to help them become more aware of what reinhabitation and decolonization mean. I would hope to do this by taking them on a field trip so that they can learn by doing.

How has Curriculum Shaped Me?

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“We need to be examining our lessons and lenses, their political implications, and possible alternatives…. we need to put front and center the very things we do not want in our teaching, the very things we do not even know are in our teaching.” ~ (Kumashiro, 2009, p. 41).

When I reflect on my past education and experience in school, I realize that not only was I learning the recommended and written curriculum, I was also learning the hidden curriculum. When I think of hidden curriculum, I think of lessons being taught by a teacher that are not necessarily spoken. They are lessons that can be shown through a teacher’s actions, moods, reactions to situations, and behaviors in class. I have now come to the realization that this hidden type of curriculum has been shaping me even though I did not know it since I started school in Kindergarten. Some examples of these hidden lessons that have showed up in my classes would be racism, sexism, classism, and ableism. These types of messages that were being sent to me in my small town of Tisdale  were looked at in this way: race mattered and if you were white you had more privilege; males were dominant and had more authority; socioeconomic status mattered because if you were rich, more people respected you and liked you; and being physically able was beneficial because you were able to participate in sports, which then made you more physically fit and popular.

Other hidden messages that were being sent to me were the messages of what it meant to be a “good student” and even a “good teacher”. I looked at my teachers and saw them as “good teachers” because they were knowledgeable, caring, charismatic, patient, respectful, organized, creative, optimistic, and fun. The example they set made me want to become a “good teacher” as well. I also saw how the “good students” were praised for their good behavior in class and I wanted to continue to do that so that I would be seen as the “good student”. Now that I am aware of these hidden messages and the hidden curriculum, I will try to face this head on like Kumashiro (2009) suggests in his book called Against Common Sense: Teaching and learning toward social justice (p.41). I want to look at the hidden curriculum and put it right in front of me and question it and ask myself if I can do anything about this hidden curriculum. I want to be able to make the hidden curriculum stand out so that I can deal with it appropriately, make sense of it, and challenge it even though it is going to be uncomfortable. I want to make these hidden messages stand out, so that I can help create anti-oppressive education.

Kumashiro, K. (2009). Against common sense: Teaching and learning toward social justice. New York: Routledge. p.41.

Agency in Enacting Curriculum

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Given the complex relationships between formal curricula, political power, and the social order, what influence do classroom teachers have in enacting curriculum?

After finishing the reading and attending class this week, I have been learning many new things about curriculum. One thing that I have learned is that curriculum is political. The education system has a minister of education, a ministry of education, technocrats, educators, and school boards, which are all equally important in the education system.

Another valuable piece about curriculum that I have been learning about in class is that the stakeholders who are knowledgeable are responsible for creating the curriculum. These knowledgeable stakeholders are the curriculum developers, researchers, governments and teachers. Each of these play a role in creating the curriculum, but teachers actually have the least amount of power when it comes to creating the curriculum.

The teachers are given the curriculum to teach, which has specific outcomes that they are expected to teach their students. The indicators are written beside the outcomes as guidelines to make sure that the students learn the outcomes. The government mainly decides what is taught even though they are not the ones who will be teaching it and the teachers are then allowed to use the indicators in any way that they want so that they can get the outcomes set in stone. One way that my Professor Mike Cappello described the curriculum was that the “outcomes are written in stone and the indicators are written in sand”. This means that the teachers have the power to shift the “sand” or indicators around so that the outcomes can be set in stone as the students learn what is important.

What I found interesting this week was that as the teachers educate their students, they are allowed to teach what they want and that technically there is no punishment if they do not follow the curriculum. What I find even more interesting is that I’ve heard of teachers who did not teach about Treaty education and they have not been punished or told to change the way they teach. I think that this is one topic that should not be left out of the curriculum and I think that we as future educators need to educate ourselves about Treaty Education, so that we can confidently teach it to our students and not choose the easy way out by not teaching in depth about Treaty education.

“Good” Students?

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According to Kevin K. Kumashiro, being a “good” student is a student who conforms to the natural behaviors that come from mainstream society, which is also known as commonsense. This commonsense behavior that makes them a “good” student can be seen in a student who behaves or has certain knowledge and skills in certain areas that makes them seem like they are saying and doing the right things. Being a “good” student can also be seen as someone who follows the rules, hands in their assignments on time, comes to school everyday, has their needed school supplies ready, is organized, pays attention in class, follows directions, asks for help when needed, participates in class activities, always does their best, and gets good grades on their tests. In Kumashiro’s text, he writes about how he was making his students conform to be “good students” by having them complete certain assignments in certain ways, and then he would get them to repeat the answers on their exams with the right definitions, themes, analyses according to what he thought was correct.

What Kumashiro did not realize at first when he started teaching was that the closer a student got to saying the right things in the right ways, the higher the student’s grades would be. This shows that the students who were saying the right things and doing the right things were given privileges such as praise and good grades by being the “good” student. Students were also expected to interpret the books that they read and answer the exam questions in the way that the teacher said was right and if any of the students had other opinions that did not line up with the teachers, they were penalized by getting a lower mark on their test scores. By fitting this mold of the “good” student, other students were not as engaged because they were not give the room to be creative in their assignments or they were not learning in the way that they learn best.

Because of these commonsense ideas it makes it difficult for students to stand up against these ideologies that their teachers are displaying to them. It’s difficult for the students to ask the teachers to teach in a way that they learn best if the teachers are used to teaching a certain way. It is also difficult for students to voice their criticisms of their educators’ teachings. Though some students are able to voice their opinions, not all teachers take those comments to heart and think about changing the way they teach, encourage learning, or the definition of being a “good” student.

 

Learning is…

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A famous quote that John Dewey said is “Learning is doing.” This is a quote that Dewey thinks describes education. He believes that education is done by actively living your life out. Another way to say this is in another one of John Dewey’s quotes: “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.”

If I look deeper into these quotes, I think that Dewey is trying to say that education happens in everyday life. Education is another way of saying that you are learning and since we are constantly learning, we are constantly being educated, even though we are not in a classroom or at school. I think that you could look at this quote in a whole new way and think: if education is life itself, then our everyday lives are being educated in a classroom; which could mean that the world is just one big classroom. I think that this means a school is just a smaller classroom within the world, which is just a larger classroom built for learning. We will all go through different stages in our lives where we are educated, which could even be in different parts of the world, but this could be seen as just another classroom in our school. The big picture is that the world is just one big classroom and there are many different classrooms and places that we will learn in over our lifetimes. Therefore, we are not simply preparing for life when we learn things, we are simply living our lives, since living is learning and learning happens by living or doing.

Overall, Dewey’s two quotes make learning a “hands on”, practical learning experience for students. Dewey is saying that learning is doing and being educated, therefore, education is life because we learn and do new things in our everyday lives. These quotes explain that education is not used as a tool to prepare for something else that may show up in our lives, but it is life itself. These quotes can seem to be very closed off to the idea that education can be used to prepare one’s self for another stage in their lives, but that depends if you choose to look at it in that way. In Dewey’s two quotes, he basically says that the teachers help their students to learn by helping them “do”, “act out”, or “practice” what they are focusing on in class, therefore the teachers act and serve as guides to their students’ learning. He is also saying that the teachers do not help the students prepare for life, but that they help them live it by “doing”. The student on the other hand is the one who is learning from the teacher as they guide them to live their lives by “doing”. I can relate Dewey’s quotes to my own life because I am a kinesthetic learner and kinesthetic learners learn by doing things that involve using their bodies or hands. I can also relate these quotes to the curriculum in school because some of the outcomes that students have to reach deal with the students having to be able to concretely show how something is done. Examples of how a student could show their kinesthetic learning would be through building a model, acting it out, or presenting information in a way that involves physical activities. Overall, Dewey has an understanding that learning is done by “acting it out” in the classroom and for one to do that, all they have to do is “live it”.

 

Tyler’s Rationale

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Curriculum development from a traditionalist perspective is widely used across schools in Canada and other countries. And there are ways in which I have experienced Ralph W. Tyler’s rationale in my own schooling because I have been evaluated by tests and exams all the way through my schooling experience. Tyler’s hope was that by evaluating students’ learning experience, the teachers would be able to know how much the students were learning and remembering. Tyler wanted to know how effective the teachers were teaching and how well the students were learning, so when the results were in, they could revise the areas that were not as effective for the students to retain the knowledge that the teachers were presenting.

Tyler’s rationale was limited and criticized for being overtly managerial and linear in its position on the school curriculum. Some critics have characterized it as outdated and a theoretical, suitable only to administrators keen on controlling the school curriculum in ways that are unresponsive to teachers and learners. The most well-known criticism of the rationale makes the argument that the rationale is historically wedded to social efficiency traditions.

Though there are critics and against Tyler’s rationale, there are also some benefits to his rationale. For example, his rationale supports educators in identifying the important goals and objectives for each course.  Whether you are beginning to develop curriculum or you are revising existing documents, the answers to Tyler’s questions will provide yourself with purpose and direction. Tyler’s rationale questions define appropriate learning objectives, introduces useful learning experiences, organizing experiences to maximize their effect and help to evaluate the processes being used to teach and revise the areas that were not effective.

 

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