Culturally Relevant Pedagogy and Sense of Place

Throughout the educational experiences I have had, I am often being introduced to new concepts which can assist me as a teacher and in the classroom environment. At first, using these concepts and applying them may be challenging although, through proper use and establishment of Culturally Relevant Pedagogy and sense of place, these can be introduced to students and practiced often.

The first article, Anne Lopez’s Culturally Relevant pedagogy and critical literacy in diverse English Classrooms:  A case study of a secondary English teacher’s activism and agency. To answer the question of “what will culturally relevant pedagogy look like, sound like, and feel like in my future classroom”, first means taking the effort and ensuring that I can use a critical lens to be critically aware and produce engagement with students. This can be done in the classroom environment and a praxis model of curriculum. Having a classroom with different cultures is an amazing opportunity and experience for both teachers and the students as it brings opportunities to practice learning among various cultures and adapt to how they differ ( Lopez, 2011, pg. 77). As this could be linking the curriculum and the different outcomes to students’ different approaches to learning, the classroom would sound like an open discussion. Linking critical literacy to the classroom environment would involve assisting students to deconstruct the power bases, values, and attitudes in frequently used texts and focus on understanding a critical thinking criteria to overcome these dominant narratives and work to empower various social groups ( Lopez, 2011, pg. 78). This would allow the classroom to establish itself and look like an inquiry-driven environment. This approach and pedagogical approach through the teacher offers students opportunities to speak their point of view and on behalf of those who are often silenced or marginalized (Lopez, 2011, pg. 78). Ultimately I would say this finally allows students to feel they are a part of and included in a larger and inclusive environment. This is vital to keep in mind as students will work with literacy that happens in social, historical, and political contexts (Lopez, 2011, pg. 79). With a growing presence of inclusion and methods of learning, culturally relevant pedagogy is a necessary approach for educators.

When looking at the second article, Julia Brook’s Placing elementary music education: a case study of a Canadian rural music program, we are introduced to the concept and benefits of place-based learning and sense of place. The first way in which I can contribute to forming a sense of place is by explaining and guiding students to see that positive relationships can be formed with the land as well as with others ( Brook, 2013, pg. 293). With this comes benefits for the students including showcasing the positive aspects of their place and strengthening their connections to the various performance places ( Brook, 2013, pg. 294). Contributing to a sense also means making sure that diversity is acknowledged in the classroom in more ways than having a discussion, for example including learning opportunities based on students’ perspectives. I think the values that this brings with it will allow all students to learn that everyone has their own sense of place. The exchanging of ideas and connecting activities to experiences could involve exploring different locations for classes such as treaty education or social studies through various field trips. Developing a sense of place allows students to see the value behind their ideas and incorporate their traditions to help deepen their learning ( Brook, 2013, pg. 297). Finally, there is a dynamic between school learning and out-of-school activity which highlights that learning includes more than just the curriculum.

In conclusion, many of these different concepts are new to my education experience yet they bring with them new opportunities for learning. As educators, this means not just understanding culturally relevant pedagogy and sense of place but ensuring there is proper implantation of them in order for students to connect with them and learn.

Brook, J, 2013. ” Placing Elementary Music Education: A Case Study of a Canadian Rural Music ProgramMusic Education Research, Vol.15, No.3, pg. 290-303.

Lopez, A, 2011. ” Culturally Relevant Pedagogy and critical literacy in diverse English Classrooms:  A case study of a secondary English teacher’s activism and agency.English Teaching: Practice and Critique. Vol.10, No.4, pg 75-93.

The Challenges of Progressive Education

For the sixth blog post and looking into the challenges of progressive education, I selected the reading by Waks “John Dewey and the challenges of Progressive education.” Having the chance to be introduced to John Dewey in this course I have been able to understand the key principles and also understand his focus when it came to education, including learning not passive but as an active experience. Dewey also notes education being the current experience and engagement, not preparing for future experience. In the context of Waks work, it can be seen that Dewey’s background of education involved the setbacks he faced when looking at the social approach toward education and moving away from the factory system. This was established during the industrial ages of learning and factory-oriented approaches to teaching. Dewey has also noted that education requires more than just information, but rather intelligence to contribute to retaining knowledge, an example of this could be crystallized intelligence (Waks, 2013, pg. 76).

To answer the first question, of how we can understand new educational trends in relation to the global network context we can see that there is a transition needed to move away from the crystallized knowledge and focus on achieving a fluid understanding of knowledge. This is needed by many of today’s network users (Waks, 2013, pg. 76). As mentioned in the article, global networks are now demanding more interaction and focusing on the speed of thought as “static bodies of knowledge can be reduced to computer software” (Waks, 2013, pg. 76). With this in mind, we can see trends that involve different approaches to learning such as active and cooperative; as well as interdisciplinary projects, networked distance learning, and global spanning universities (Waks, 2013, pg. 77). Many of these points we can directly relate to remote learning during the pandemic. A point that was highlighted and as educators we need to understand is that due to the growing presence of online resources “students are going to have access to stuff that a teacher can’t control, and the more that happens, teachers are going to have to organize their lessons around it”(Waks, 2013, pg. 77). Technology can be a great tool to help utilize education, yet the challenge could be making sure that students are balancing their personal connections with what is required through the curriculum.

Moving to the second question, how may we build upon and direct these new educational trends to realize the contemporary democratic aspiration of a global network society? We can identify a series of different themes to describe and build these trends in the global network society. The first is looking at structural transformation. Dewey attempted transformation to introduce active learning (Waks, 2013, pg. 77). This was then continued through corporate and political elites supporting a networked-based classroom, as they believed it would help with generating more knowledge (Waks, 2013, pg. 78). Due to the current presence of technology and the computer network era, structural changes are more possible. The second theme looks at nature and child instincts where it is explained that a global network society can be utilized through a neo-progressive blend of constructivist methods (Waks, 2013, pg. 78). The primary logic for this method is looking at the benefits that online learning and computer software can bring as an educational resource. The challenge that stems from this would include the connection between technology and real life. A critical component of education involves making sure students are able to apply skills they learn to real-life situations. Finally, there is embryonic democracy. In this point, it is explained that education is subject to a neo-liberal regime which seeks to privatize public education and impose corporation-operated charter schools emphasizing route learning (Waks, 2013, pg. 80). As we discussed in the class, education and curriculum can be influenced and controlled by those who are in power and political organizations. If different aspects of education are privately controlled, then students may not have access to different forms of technology or other necessary resources. As educators, we need to make sure that students are provided with a proper education experience that is accessible for them.

In conclusion, Wak’s article provided greater insight and understanding toward John Dewey as well as the scale and time that is needed to implement change. This reading also emphasized the presence of online resources and the computer network that students are growing and learning in. To ensure that students have equal access to educational experiences means clear communication with educational leaders and democratic publics.

Curriculum Building and Control

For the fifth blog post, having the chance to review and discuss my thoughts on the curriculum and the different political factors and policies, highlights the scale of actions required for the different parties involved. It can be challenging to navigate the different levels of bureaucracy with different positions having more control over others. With this power base comes the question of who decides what needs to be learned. The first reading, Curriculum policy and the politics of what should be learned in schools by Levin delves into how policies govern every aspect of education which directly relates to the curriculum (pg. 8). With this in mind, we need to acknowledge that every system and ministry has people with their own affiliations, biases, and interests meaning that certain actions could be based on personal values with limited consultation with educators. As well, government influences always impact the curriculum; as the curriculum is part of the politics of those in power. To counter this, strong voter interest drives the external pressure to please the public interest/ voter base. People’s views on education policy is based entirely on their own personal experiences. It can be observed in the past how government changes are subject to media influence and change. The way that curriculum changes are discussed in the media creates a political atmosphere that shows how education is so personal. A fundamental aspect of maintaining curriculum policies is by following the formal curriculum and continuing the creation and maintenance of relationships that are associated with “real teaching”.

The second article, The Saskatchewan Way: Professionally Led Curriculum Development, discusses the question of what the proper curriculum looks like, and how it is established in the classroom. Although we see that teacher input and control is minimized when establishing the outcomes that need to be met are being formed, for example in the K-12 Ontario Curriculum ( Saskatchewan Way pg. 1). In the Saskatchewan context, curriculum development should foster teacher ownership of the curriculum and its development through a collaborative nature ( The Saskatchewan Way pg.5). As well, curriculum development involves “teachers, trustees, administrators, university faculty, and other parties such as parents” (The Saskatchewan Way, pg. 5). Having this legacy of cooperation can continue to maintain everyone’s voice and will help ensure teachers have a direct connection to the curriculum.