Category: ECS 203

Queering the Classroom

The education system itself is against anything that falls outside of what is considered normal, when this idea of normal does not exist. Ever since we were kids we are told to “be normal” or “act normal,” and it’s all based off the idea that we are all capable of being the same, and this still applies today, everyone is different, everyone drifts outside the bounds of “normal” in some aspect of their life. The question I have to ask myself as a future educator is whether I am trying to normalize or am I trying to accept and celebrate differences? Personally, I think that trying to normalize is going to cause more harm than good.

I image Integrating queerness into my classroom as straying away from what is considered the traditional way to teach, with a teacher at the front of the classroom and teaching by lecturing. I would like to incorporate as much variety into how I’m teaching as possible, group work, student led assignments etc. I also want to make a space that is a safe and welcoming space for all students. When I think of the kind of space, I want to make for my students I always think of the teachers I had in high school and what they did to make it a good space. What I have found is what makes the most difference is how my teachers treated me or other students.

For me I think that teachers need to find the balance between recognising and addressing sexuality and not letting it affect the classroom so much that it takes over. The way I think of it is as if my students are my kids, it wouldn’t matter my kids’ sexuality I would still want the best for them and want them to succeed. However, a person’s sexuality has a (or can have) a significant impact on them.

Politics and Curriculum

In the article Curriculum Policy and the Politics of What Should be Learned in Schools by Ben Levin, he talks about how the curriculum is made through public policy. Because public policy is closely related to politics, politics tends to dictate what is in the curriculum and what is taught. It is concerning to me that politics controls curriculum because the government doesn’t have students’ best interests in mind. So much of education is controlled by what the government wants, therefore the curriculum benefits the government and produces a product that benefits them. The main priority of whoever is making the curriculum needs to be the students, it is easy for government to make a curriculum that benefits them, because they don’t see the effects of what they are doing, they just want what they want and that’s how they are getting it. Levin also mentions that experts help make the curriculum which can also be bad because not all teachers are experts in the subjects that they are teaching. Some teachers have to teach subjects that they didn’t necessarily want to teach, so when they go and try to teach it it becomes difficult do.

After reading both the article and the treaty education document one things that I notice is that since the government has a major part in making the curriculum, this should mean that treaty education would take its place in the curriculum, however, this is still a battle. I can only image that the idea of putting treaty education had a fair share of pushback before it was finally put into the curriculum. Even now there is not much for treaty education in schools. I remember when I was in high school there wasn’t really much for treaty education and for what was taught, it was a lot of the same things that just got retaught. One thing I do remember is in grade 12, I had a really good social studies teacher, I was not a fan of social studies, but this specific teacher was determined to teach us what actually happened in history instead of what was necessarily in the curriculum. She did a really good job of giving both sides of the story rather than just one, and that was the first time I ever learned the whole story.  

The “Good Student”

According to Painter “Sound education stands before me symbolized by a tree planted near fertilizing waters.” (1) This idea is giving the impression that if you do this set of things that is assumed to be the “right” things then you will end up with the perfect student every time. A common traditional belief that if you put information into a student head enough and often enough then they are going to understand it, and that definitely doesn’t work for all students. As a teacher we have to be flexible to teach differently than what we are used to. Traditionally the idea of a “good student” was because when students were done with school, they were expected to be workers and they wanted uniformed workers and it seemed to be more about structure and learning how to work then the curriculum and what they were actually learning. However, when more jobs and careers became popular most students needed more from there education then just the basic skills.

In the article “Preparing Teachers for Crisis: A Sample Lesson. What it Means to be a Student.” Kumashiro describes a situation from when he was in college and working in a daycare and experienced dealing with a child that did not fit the “good student” character. The idea of a “good student,” someone who follows all the rules and does everything that they are supposed to do and learns everything that they are supposed to learn in the way and at the time they are supposed to learn it. This privileges the students that learn the way that they are taught (the read the textbook and understand type) which is usually a small group of students. I have mixed feelings about the idea of a “good student” mostly because I was that student, I was the “good student” (or so everyone thought) and most of the time I hated it. I was praised for it, but I watched many peers struggle because they thought differently or learned differently or considered lazy because they already knew the material. This idea of a “good student” should not exist but it is still very present in schools today.

Tyler Rationale

In the article Curriculum theory and practice, Smith talks about the different ways in which we can approach curriculum, including the Tyler rationale. In my experience I never heard of the Tyler rationale until this class, but throughout high school especially it was somewhat clear that things were done in a systematic way. Teachers did things in a specific order, and in some cases, it was a good thing and in others it would have been better if it had been done differently. The rationale tends to leave little room for flexibility and creativity. It creates the mindset that everything must be done in a certain way and may not work for everyone or be effective for teaching all students.

One nice thing about the rationale is that it provides some stability and consistency, some students do best with that. I think this rationale has its place but I don’t think it should be written in stone as something that all teachers should follow all the time. Sometimes it just isn’t possible to plan and organize everything that happens down to every little thing. And one thing that I have been thinking about when it talks about “selection of learning experiences” in step 5, because you can’t always predict what students are going to learn from, there’s always going to be a kid that will come out of a what you think is a great learning experience and not get anything, which is why you have to continually asses your students and adjust from there.

One of the drawbacks of the rationale is that it puts assessment at the end, which seems to be the way that many teachers still do it, but it might not be the most effective way to do it. You might want to asses at the beginning of a class and all the way through instead of relying on that one assessment point. For example, if you were teaching math at the beginning of the year you might want to assess your students to see what they already know and what they need help on, this would give you a better idea of what you should be teaching.

[Un]Common-Sense

In the article The Problem of Common Sense, they talk about common sense being something that everyone knows but no one actually verbally says, they talk about it being different depending on where you are and what the culture is. Something that is considered common-sense to one person but to someone else that grew up in a different place and around different people. The author gives the example of when they went to Nepal and found that many things that were common sense in Nepal was not necessarily common sense to someone who was not from Nepal.

Common sense is important because, depending on where you are teaching the common sense might be different and the way that you teach will be different. For example, if you teach in a country that has much shorter school days, you might change how much time you spend on teaching topics or how much work time you would give. It is also important to take into consideration that the common way of teaching might be different. For example, in Nepal the common way to teach is to read a textbook and take a test, it is considered common sense that that would be the way to teach, however someone from North America might not think that is the best way to teach. It might not be easily accepted to teach differently than what is considered the norm.

My experience with common sense especially in high school was that the priorities of the education system was tailored for students going into a white-collar career. It wasn’t said but just understood that Math, Science, and English were the most important. It was just assumed that all students were going to university and that was the only thing that was important. If students were participating in sports, arts or even more driven towards trades or even having a job in school they were looked down on in a way. In high school I had a part time job because I was paying for university on my own and I wanted to save as much as I could so I wasn’t in a hole of debt for years after I finished school, and I often worked until late into the evening on school nights. I understand that this was my choice, and I worked hard to keep up but I had a few teachers assumed that I didn’t care about school because I had a job, if I was struggling with something it was because I had a job and didn’t spend enough time on school. This was frustrating to deal with because they didn’t get that I couldn’t just sit back and enjoy high school because if I wanted to go to university, I had to get myself there.

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