Constructions of Schooling

Over the last couple of weeks, we have touched on several topics that have helped shape and influence education. Throughout history, several teachers, students, and other professionals have played a role in shaping the education system and how education is viewed. In this section of the course, I learned the value of understanding the roles and hardships people have gone through to get education where it is today, as well as the importance of disrupting and challenging the structures that have been created in the field of education. In this paper, I will be highlighting three of the major takeaways that resonated with me from this section of the course – The importance and roles of educational philosophies and how they influence teaching techniques and styles, teaching as a discourse, and teachers as self-regulating leaders, advocates, and activists, and the importance of professional development and collaboration.

Developing an educational philosophy is something that has been emphasized ever since I entered my very first education course. I believe that it is highly emphasized as it plays an essential role in shaping our beliefs, how we want to teach, and what we want for our future students. The section of philosophies of education had me reflecting back on what influenced me in wanting to pursue a career in education – which were my own educational experiences; both positive and negative. Something that really stood out in this section is the importance of reflecting on whether or not a certain philosophy will work for all students. Moreover, during one seminar, we were asked to think back to one of our favourite teachers. Once we had this person in mind, we were encouraged to think of the certain traits and characteristics this individual had, and finally, we were asked to think whether or not this teacher was everyone’s favourite teacher or if this teacher’s teaching style was influential for every student. At this point, it came to my realization that just because this one teacher I had in mind was someone whose teaching style worked for me and I enjoyed, does not mean it will be the same thing for my future students. With that, I learned that to be able to ensure student success, I cannot just imitate or follow exactly how this teacher taught, but instead I must cater to the needs of each student and the class as a whole because each student and each class will be different and will learn in different ways. Similarly, just because a certain style of teaching did not work for me, does not mean it will not work for any of my future students. With that, I learned that when it comes to developing an educational philosophy or choosing a teaching style, we must keep an open mind and be open to changing our educational philosophies and teaching styles overtime.

Similar to how my past teachers have influenced my educational philosophies, the past educational philosophies and views on education were also influenced by trends and cultural and social norms back then. The main types of views on education overtime include perennialism and essentialism, which are the more of the teacher-led, traditional style, and progressivism and social reconstructionism, which follow a more student-led, contemporary style, and is open to change. Through the discussion of these four styles, I was also able to realize that these views are just structures that have been created throughout the history of education. Depending on our personal experiences within the education system, we may have different views or preferences of which style to use in our teaching, but because these are merely structures, it is important to challenge them. Through this class and many other education classes, there is a big emphasis on challenging and questioning preconceived notions and structures. In terms of educational philosophies and views on education, just because a certain structure did work out for students in the past, does not mean it is the best way. As future educators, it is our role to disrupt and challenge these structures and make room for new ways of teaching and learning. Overall, I have learned that each one of these structures has impacted and shaped what education is today and although we may favour one over the other, we may use a little of each in our classrooms.

In addition, another factor that comes into play when finding a teaching technique or style is the fact that teachers operate in a multi-operational system. In this system, everyone is entitled to their own opinions. With that, what the public, the students, and our colleagues expect from us influences our teaching practices. Something I took from this is the importance of keeping our philosophies, beliefs, and values within our teaching practices no matter how much pressure is put upon us, because it is important for us not to lose ourselves in our teaching while trying to fit into all these expectations.

Aside from philosophies, discourse is also something that is often discussed in education courses. Some examples include discourses on gender, race, social class, etcetera; but viewing teaching itself as a discourse was something new. Although the common expectations that society has on what it means to be a teacher is something I was familiar with, it did not occur to me that these expectations and instructions were considered to be the discourse of being a teacher – also known as the “teacher identity”. In addition, the discourse of teacher professionalism is another aspect of the “teacher identity”. There are two sides when it comes to this discourse – The democratic/activist and the traditional/managerial. During this section of the course, both the traditional ways of teaching and the activist way have been compared and contrasted. Through these discussions, I learned the importance of breaking traditional ways to be able to be a successful teacher and leader. A specific example of breaking the traditional ways of teaching is how social studies/history is being taught in schools. It was stated in class that the curriculum for social studies/history in Saskatchewan has not been revised in over twenty years. Since then, there has been a lot of changes made in the history of Canada. Some big examples include the closing of the last residential schools and the foundation of the truth and reconciliation commission. Although these are not mentioned in the curriculums, some teachers have been finding ways to implement them into their classrooms. This is an example of how it is important for teachers to be developers of curriculum and active participants in educational change, because if it were not for them, the exact same history curriculum that has been made years ago would be the ones being implemented in classrooms today; despite the changes that has happened over time. With that, while the constructions of schooling may follow a top-down hierarchy, it does not mean that teachers are prohibited to be leaders, advocates, and activists for what they believe is right and beneficial to their students and society.

Although teachers today have the opportunities to be leaders, advocates, and activists, it was not always possible for them. Through this section, I learned that self-regulation was something teachers in the past had to fight for and with that, I believe it should be something teachers today should take advantage of and be grateful for. Previously, teachers had little to no self-regulation in school and even in their personal lives. For example, they were forbidden from being out in the public during certain times of the day – even if it was just to get ice cream. I found this shocking, as education is now a field that allows for its professionals to grow and develop through working with the community and learning with and from others. Through the readings and lectures, I learned that overtime, teachers have worked hard and continue to work hard towards redefining and reconstructing what it means to be a teacher, which is something important for a future educator to be aware and take part of. Through self-regulation, teachers went from being people who were not allowed to be seen outside of school hours and perimeters, to being able to work directly with the families of their students and their communities. By doing this, teachers are now able to attend professional development opportunities, are encouraged to collaborate with other professionals, and are able to be active participants in educational change and be engaged in what is happening in education, rather than just being recipients that are trained to deliver curriculum within a limited box.

In addition, I believe that this goes back to our very first topic of Bronfenbrenner’s ecological model, which may be one of the reasons as to why this course began with the demonstration of the model – so could grow awareness of how much we, as future educators, can impact the development of our students. Furthermore, through self-regulation, collaboration, and professional development, we interact with individuals and communities within the microsystem, mesosystem, and exosystem, which all play a role in influencing our beliefs, values, and how we teach. By interacting, influencing, and being influenced by these external factors, we will be able to grow and develop better ways of teaching, which allows us to (more likely) be able to reach every aspect of our students’ development and learning.

I found this section on the constructions of schooling fascinating and different from the other education courses I have taken so far, as it goes into depth of the history of education, such as where education derives from and what factors have influenced education. Overall, I have learned that there are many factors that have influenced education and that there will be many factors that influence my future teaching. With that, this section has demonstrated the importance of knowing and understanding the history of what constructed education, as well as the importance of being a continuous learner, as education will be constantly growing and changing. It is also crucial to understand how the new and old education structures and teaching practices continue to influence student success and influence teaching philosophies, thus emphasizing the importance of questioning and challenging these structures.


Woolfolk, Winnie & Perry, Educational Psychology Sixth Canadian Edition, Pearson: Toronto, 2016.

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