The Double R’s

The Double R’s: Rivers and Reinhabition. What is Reinhabition? According to the article “Learning from Place: A Return to Traditional Mushkegowuk Ways of Knowing” written by Jean-Paul Restoule, Sheila Gruner and Edmund Metatawabin, reinhabitation is to “identify, recover, and create material spaces and places that teach us how to live well in our total environment,” (pg. 74). Rivers can be compared to this. Rivers are a space in the environment, recognizably, the outdoor environment which has been proven in multiple studies on how the outdoors teaches us how to live healthily. While talking about rivers and their benefits to us and the environment is not relevant to this article, the connections between reinhabitation and decolonization within the Fort Albany First Nations in connection to honouring the Mushkegowuk Cree beliefs through a 10-day trip along a river. Throughout the article, examples of reinhabitation and decolonization can be found. 

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The Elders and Youth went on a 10-day trip along a river
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For instance,

  1. Throughout the trip, a relationship was formed between the youth and the elders. 
    1. Ex: “Elders would share knowledge with youth about ways to live off the river and lands and note key sites along the way. As part of the project, youth and Elders travelled together…” (pg. 75)
  2. Youth were given the opportunity to exemplify their learning.
    1. Ex: “Youth conducted interviews with peers, adults, and elders on key issues…” (pg. 75). 
  3. Traditional teachings, such as language were taught. The Elders taught youth their language as they feared it might be disappearing.
    1. Ex: “Some community members worry that the decreasing use of words like paquataskamilk means that the ability to form a linguistic connection to traditional territory could be at risk within a short period of time,” (pg. 78). 
  4. The knowledge learnt was shared with others. 
    1. Ex: “Fifteen interviews were collected and formed the basis for a short audio documentary, titled The Kistachowan River Knows My Name, which aired in the local community and on Wawatay radio, which reaches a wide audience in Northern Ontario,” (pg. 75)
  5. The project encouraged discussions.
    1. Ex: “These smaller projects became part of the broader effort to engage the community in a discussion about what activities can and should take place on traditional territory and how decisions about those activities should be made,” (pg. 83).
  6. Knowledge was shared.
    1. Ex: “The river trip helped members of the community share linguistic, cultural, historical, and geographic knowledge,” (pg. 81). 

Throughout the article, one could sense the Elders were pleased with the knowledge they passed onto the youth, as they feared it was becoming lost due to colonization. It was also apparent that the youth were engage in what they were learning as they used audio aids to help encompass the trip and were made available to share with others. To continue, to read the article, one may feel like they can sense the power and emotions participants experienced. The personal accounts included in the article, I found, were very moving. When it comes to incorporating these ideas into my own classroom, I had a couple ideas come to mind. Instead of trying to teach a concept I am unsure of like the idea of culture in a social studies class, I could invite families or those who identify as that culture into the classroom. Furthermore, the class could leave the classroom for a field trip. For instance, would students learn more about The Medicine Wheel from me, teaching it in the classroom. Or would they learn more by visiting an Elder in a space they are comfortable in, where they are able to engage more? This is all involved in Place-Based Education. For math, students could experience careers which deal with math on a daily basis so they can see math “in-the-real”. Incorporating place-based education into the classroom would better the students understanding and make their learning more meaningful to them. 

Until next time,

  • Jayden 

The Diary of a Good Student

A good student. I was a good student. I raised my hand when instructed, I handed my assignments in on time, I did anything the teacher asked of me. Did this work? Yeah sure, I got 90’s but why? Did I challenge the teacher? No. Did I look critically into what the teacher was saying? No. Did I dare to challenge what the teacher was teaching? No. I simply did well in high school merely because I just took the information the teacher told me, and portrayed that information through an assignment or a test. I never interpreted ideas, mostly because my ideas I knew, were not the ideas I would be assessed upon. I remember one instance where I did interpret a poem differently than the teacher. While my interpretation was correct, I got the answer on the test wrong. Why? Because the question was multiple choice and I had to choose either the answer which I gathered to be the correct answer or the answer which the teacher gathered to be the correct answer. I chose the answer I thought was right, based on how I interpreted the poem and was marked incorrect simply because it did not align with what my teacher decided the answer to be. I know right now this story may not make sense but keep reading to find out where I’m going with this!

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In my opinion, multiple choice assessment creates a good student as it requires students to answer the question based on the teachers’ answer.

Photo Credit: pennstatenews Flickr via Compfight cc

This week in ECS 210, we were required to read Kumashiro’s Chapter 2 “Preparing Teachers for Crisis: What It Means to Be a Student?” in the book, Against Common Sense. This article addresses what it means to be a “good” student according to commonsense. While the answer is not explicitly implied, it was implicitly stated. A good student is a student who answers questions with the answers the teacher wants to hear and does not question the teacher. These students are the one who fulfills teachers’ expectations and complies with rules and norms whether they are implicitly or explicitly stated. Kumashiro says “mainstream society often places value on certain kinds of behaviours, knowledge, and skills, and schools would disadvantage students by not teaching what often matters in schools and society,” (22) meaning society has determined what a good student is. This brings me to talk about the hidden curriculum. I wrote my first assignment on it and the notion of a good student reminds me so very much of the hidden curriculum. I have learnt the hidden curriculum to be the one where the dominant narratives of society deem important. An example is raising your hand, in Western culture it is appropriate to raise your hand to answer a question while in other cultures, just saying your answer or your thoughts/questions can be said whenever. Is this correct? Should a student just be a memorization machine where they need to memorize answers the teacher expects of them? Or should we build students to be critical students? I believe we should build students to be critical students. I highly believe students are smarter than adults, they look at things with a new perspective and they are brilliant with their ideas. Students are more creative than adults, why? Because they are more fearless, especially younger students. Why? They have not gone through as many years as an adult of complying to what their superior says. If they want to believe a cloud looks like a unicorn, then let them. Don’t tell them it looks like a cloud. 

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Furthermore, the students who are privileged by this definition are simply those who simply listen and accept what the teacher says. This assimilates students to being all the same. Students are not taught to be able to think on their own, because if they do, there is a high probability that their answer will be wrong because it does not agree with the teacher’s answer. Student who are a “good” student isn’t overly that good. These students are not being taught to show their creativity, look at topics with different perspectives, or speak their opinion. If students are able to do this, then they would be good students because they are building critical-thinking skills which will serve many beneficial purposes. Every student will be able to succeed if the definition of a good student alters. 

Now I leave you with a question. Why were you a good student? Did you look at ideas through different perspectives or did you just memorize what the teacher said in order to pass a test? 

Until next time…

Choices

Life is full of choices. For instance, today, one of my choices was which outfit to wear. I had a wedding to attend and the weather was not warm at all. Thus, my outfit choices were put to the test. Should I wear dress pants and a nice shirt or should I wear a dress? Will I be overdressed if I wear pants? Will I freeze if I wear a dress? In the end, I wore both and switched outfits as part of the wedding was outdoors and part of the wedding was indoors. While this choice seems silly to discuss with you, it is simply an example of the many choices we face everyday. Where am I going with this? Keep reading to find out.

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The most challenging aspect of this project I found was deciding a topic.
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For our first ECS 210 assignment, we were given numerous choices. The first choice was to either pick a curricular scholar or a topic/concept to examine? I chose to examine a topic. With this, I then had to choose a topic. What would I choose? Sex education and the curriculum? More than human and the curriculum? There were so many choices to choose from. To choose a topic, I picked on which interested me, while many topics interested me, one stood out. The one which stood out to me was ‘The Hidden Curriculum”. To start researching this topic, I simply typed in “The Hidden Curriculum” into the U of R library database where I was met with many results. From here, I saved a few articles to my account of which sounded interesting and related to my topic. After this, I began to read each of my saved articles and recorded which each one discussed. In the end, three articles stood out to me.

The article which caught my attention was Quality Indicators of Hidden Curriculum in Centers of Higher Education by Ghasem Barani, Fereydoon Azma and Seyyed Hassan Seyyedrezai. Within this article, the one line which grabbed my full attention was, “The hidden curriculum of the educational system reproduces the basic structure of the culture,” (Barani et al., 1658). Essentially, going off of this line, this article discusses how the hidden curriculum is related to culture, the dominant culture which in more cases than none, is typically white culture. This has detrimental effects to the students as well as the teachers, the article states. By following culture, class inequalities are also included in the hidden curriculum where different class students are treated differently unknowingly to teachers and to the students. With developing a keen interest on culture and the hidden curriculum, I read my articles I had saved in the U of R database, focusing my interest on society and culture. 

The article, Starting Where You Are, Revisiting What You Know: A Letter to a First-year Teaching Addressing the Hidden Curriculum written by Cassie J. Brownell relates to the article above. This paper is not your typical article, it is written like a letter with journal-like qualities which sparked my interest. This article addresses how society impacts the hidden curriculum. Like the article above, Brownell discusses how society creates inequality and creates a generational effect of inequality. But unlike the above article, this article discusses how the hidden curriculum is reflected in the world in general and how it is difficult for teachers to change this dialect. Lastly, a third article entitled, Belonging and Learning to Belong in School: The Implications of the Hidden Curriculum for Indigenous Students by Kiara Rahman is very similar to the first two articles as it also discusses society and culture within the hidden curriculum. It also talks about the effects seen from the impact of the hidden curriculum on the Indigenous students of Australia. 

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Keep reading to see the next steps of my project!
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For the next steps, I plan to re-read the articles. This time, I will highlight similarities of the articles in one colour, and highlight differences in another. By doing this, I will be able to see the similarities and differences in the articles to gain a better understanding of the topic. From here, I will begin writing my paper. I hope to finish the paper in ample time to give myself enough time to proofread and make changes I deem necessary.

If you have any questions or comments about my progress, I would love to hear them!

Until next time…

Curriculum As A… Blog Post!

Curriculum. What exactly is curriculum? What are the models of curriculum? This week in ECS 210, curriculum models were explained in the article “Curriculum Theory and Practice” by Mark Smith. In this article, I learnt that there are four models of curriculum. The first model is Curriculum as a body of knowledge to be transmitted. Smith defines this model to be “a concise statement or table of the heads of a discourse, the contents of a treatise, the subjects of a series of lectures,” which basically means that whatever the teacher knows, they just put onto the students in a lecture type class typically. The benefits of this model are it provides a “’logical’ approach to the subject,” (Smith) essentially where the curriculum states what a teacher needs to teach. The downfall to this approach is “they [lesson planners] are likely to limit their planning to a consideration of the content or the body of knowledge that they wish to transmit,”(Smith). This means that a teacher may limit their lessons to what the curriculum says instead of going above and beyond the curriculum to better their students or changing what the curriculum says. 

The second model of curriculum is Curriculum as Product. Smith defines this model as a routine by saying “objectives are set, a plan drawn up, then applied, and the outcomes (products) measured,” (Smith). This model of curriculum enforces the notion of which a class begins with certain objectives which must be met at the end of the class. The article focuses on the benefits of this approach. One issue with this approach is this approach focuses a lot on planning with a fail or success pattern. It strives for student success with no consideration for what the students want. Also, this model can become messy as academic success is measured with grades and not actually what students are retaining in the classroom. The third problem defined, and what I believe is very important to note is “much of the research concerning teacher thinking and classroom interaction, and curriculum innovation has pointed to the lack of impact on actual pedagogic practice of objectives” (Smith). This means curriculum lacks communication with objectives. 

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Curriculum as a Product focuses on failures and successes.
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Curriculum as Process is the third model of curriculum. “In this sense curriculum is not a physical thing, but rather the interaction of teachers, students and knowledge. In other words, curriculum is what actually happens in the classroom and what people do to prepare and evaluate,” (Smith) meaning is based on interaction with teachers and students where there is no set curriculum or outcomes to be met while students are still attaining knowledge. One benefit to this approach is that is expects curriculum to be practiced before being set forward. Another benefit of this approach is “they [students] have a clear voice in the way that the sessions evolve. The focus is on interactions,” (Smith) where the students have a sense of independence where they define what is being taught. One downside to this model is where learning stops once the goal is achieved where students may lose interest since the goal is achieved and there is no urge to go above and beyond since the ‘mission is accomplished’. 

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With Curriculum as a Process, students are given a voice as compared to the first two models.
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The last model of curriculum is Curriculum as Praxis which the author defines to be “a development of the process model,” (Smith). While the Praxis model is related to the Process model, it is different. This model takes the students into consideration such as their life experiences, their roles and who the students are as a person, not a ‘factory worker’. The downside to this model, in the way I interpreted it, is the model does not follow curriculum closely which could lead to detrimental effects to students later on in their schooling if they are not reaching their outcomes and indicators early in their education. While this a con for the Praxis model, there is one upside to this model. That is, this model takes into consideration the students’ needs and wants and lets them achieve their goals based on those. 

In my experience in schools, I have seen the transmitted model used. I have seen this model used mostly in university classes, where the professors simply stand in the front of a lecture hall and speak what they know on a topic and do not overly pay attention to you as a student. This has made learning for me possible since I am an auditory learner for many subjects such as history. But this could be detrimental to students who do not learn very well with the auditory method. Another model I have seen used in classes I have been in include the Product model. In my high school math classes (ex: Calculus 30), the teacher simply stated what we would be learning, and a few days later, we would be tested on it. This method made it impossible for one to do well in the class if they did not test very well. If another means of evaluation, such as incorporating the Process model where students needs are then considered, there may have more possibility for students to take these classes instead of avoiding them since they knew they would only be evaluated on tests. Lastly, I have experienced the process curriculum where teachers view us as students and do not see us as outcomes or a “mini-teacher” (someone who knows the exact information as the professor and recites it like a robot like in the transmission model). This makes a student feel included and given a voice in their education. All in all, I have probably experienced pros and cons of each model of curriculum but until now, I was simply unaware.

Now as I leave you with this post, I would like you to consider, which model of curriculum do you feel made you a better student? 

Until next time,

Jayden