Curriculum As Place

1. List some of the ways that you see reinhabitation and decolonization happening throughout the narrative.

Reinhabitation – identify, recover and create material spaces and places that teach us how to live well in our total environments (Restoule et al, 2013).

  • inhabit a place again (Webster Dictionary)
  • In this article, the participants went on a 10-day river trip of the traditional waters and lands to learn about traditional ways of life of Mushkegowuk people.  They went back into the natural habitat of the First Nations people (away from communities and people). By participating in the canoe trip, the participants learned about the Mushkegowuk relationship to nature, water, and land.

Decolonization – “identify and change ways of thinking that injure and exploit other people and places (Restoule et al, 2013).

  • describes ongoing theoretical and political processes used to contest and reframe narratives about indigenous community histories and the effects of colonial expansion, genocide, and cultural assimilation.
  • This project brought people together to support learning more about the Mushkegowuk knowledge and culture that was lost when the Europeans forces First Nations off their lands. This re-introduction to the land to transfer knowledge to younger generations were part of the process. This process brought together youth and Elders to learn from each other which is very important to pass on history in the First Nations culture as there are not books to learn from (oral storytelling is important).  Reconnecting youth to the land is very important to continue and preserve the culture and history of First Nations people. The teaching of traditional words were part of the project to ensure that youth did not lose the meaning from the Cree culture.

2. How might you adapt these ideas towards considering place in your own subject areas and teaching?

  • Many of the issues that were discussed during the research phase would be important to consider as I begin my teaching career.  I believe our traditional textbooks have a view of history and events that does not teach us the history of Canada. Teachers need to be aware of the history of our province and not rely on old sources of information. I will need to ensure that I learn First Nations perspectives and ways of knowing to be able to share these with my students.
  • I would definitely need to be aware and research, the Treaty Territory that the school is located on.  It is very important to acknowledge Treaty land. The curriculum areas that would be relevant would be learning outcomes that have to do with culture and community.  It would be important to build relationships with the First Nations in the community and hopefully they would support learning within the classroom. I also think place would be able to be considered as there are many historical landmarks that would be relevant to student learning (if I was teaching in Saskatoon or area, my class could visit Wanaskawun).  There would be learning to occur with First nations celebrations and powwos and these cultural pieces would fit within various curriculum (social studies and the arts).
  • I think that bringing nature into my classroom would support place.  I would be able to bring natural objects – branches, leaves and rocks to support learning of the environment.  I would be able to bring in an Elder or people for the First Nations to build a tipi with the class. I could have language introduced by someone who speaks a First Nations language. We could look at community maps as explained in the article about the Cree names on the map and the Mushkegowuk words that were alongside to share the stories of what was on the map.
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Curriculum policy and the politics

Before you do the reading ask yourself the following question: how do you think that school curricula are developed? This is an entry point to this topic and whatever you write will be fine.

How do I think or maybe hope curricula are developed is interesting to reflect upon.  I would hope that there is research into best practices, child development, how students learn best, and how to ensure they students learn skills that will carry them out into the world beyond high school.  I would hope that curriculum is developed with input from experts and people who have learned along the way what makes up great curricula. Curriculum have been developed many times, by many countries, with many philosophies and I would hope there are lessons to be learned by what is developed previously.  

I also think that we would not be boxed in by a design that was created for schools that were built in the 1900s and we can think about learning differently.

That being said in how I hope curriculum is developed, I also think that the government has influence on what the final look or outcomes would be.  The government is in charge of curriculum so I would also think there is decision making at that level as well.

After doing the reading, please write your blog entry. Reflect upon:

How are school curricula developed and implemented? What new information/perspectives does this reading provide about the development and implementation of school curriculum? Is there anything that surprises you or maybe that concerns you? IMPORTANT – Please write your blog before our lecture as YOUR OPINION will be an integral part of the lecture.

Well, the first part of the chapter does indicate that curriculum is political.  Governments change with the will of the people and they are not likely to create a curriculum that would cause great controversy.This was a surprise to me as I would have anticipated that curriculum was a non political document based on best practice and research.   It was also interesting to read that he individuals who happen to occupy critical positions influence the decisions that are made as some have more influence which leads me to think that decisions are subjective and not objective with the decisions that are made. I agree with the article when it mentions that it is reality that since everyone has attended school then they think they have an educated opinion about what should be taught in school.  

Curriculum is “organized around at least two levels of objectives—very general or broad goals and then much more specific learning activities and objectives”. This is something that I am familiar with from my classroom experiences.  There are learning outcomes and students are assessed on learning the outcomes. To revise curricula, governments generally bring in large groups of teachers and education stakeholders (such as post-secondary educators) to revise or revamp the curricula.  When curriculum is reviewed the people involved would examine the existing curriculum to determine where gaps are and what would need to be revised to strengthen the curriculum. Sometimes there is a version that is tested first in the classroom and teachers will provide feedback for revisions to occur. Sometimes there are sessions to inform parents and community people about the revisions to curriculum in order to have additional feedback.  There may be lobby groups who want various items to be included in the curriculum as well. Research also plays a role in curriculum renewal and revisions.

The politics of curriculum discussions have two main ideas – the first concerns the overall shape of school curricula: what subjects will be included (or excluded) and the other is the content of particular subjects. The course controversy would include what would the high school subjects look like and in Saskatchewan high school science and math was revamped. This may also include what needs to be included in Fine Arts – is is music, art, dance and drama and does each grade include all four areas? There is lots to consider when revamping curriculum.

In the United States curriculum is controlled mainly at the district or even school level, creating some substantial disjointedness. In Saskatchewan, curriculum is provincial and controlled by the government. Schools have influence in high schools about what optional courses to teach and in elementary schools there can be some local decisions about a course such as Core French.  Schools and divisions can also influence and decide on what professional development is needed.

The conclusion said it well “Although curriculum is a fundamental part of the framework of schooling, curriculum decisions and choices are shaped in large measure by other considerations—ideology, personal values, issues in the public domain, and interests.”  Again, this is continues to be a surprise to me. It should be more objective and not based on individuals who have various opinions not based on research.


Week 4 Blog – “Good” students

  • What does it mean to be a “good” student according to the commonsense?

A good student in a traditional classroom will follow the rules and expectations, play the games and do the activities as set out by the teacher.  A good student will listen and raise his/her hand to respond and follow sequential order. Schools and society lend itself to producing this type of student.

A good student will also be able to memorize facts and write them down for an exam in an attempt to show the teacher that the facts were learned.  The good students agree with the thoughts and ideas as presented out in class and do not question other ways to find answers or meaning.

This article indicates that mainstream society values certain behaviours, knowledge and skills and we try to reward those in our classrooms.  

  • Which students are privileged by this definition of the good student?

The students who are privileged are the ones who are able to sit, not question, memorize and regurgitate facts.  These are the students who will get the good grades. The student that is able to

do the work that is provide in classrooms as set out by the teacher is generally the one that benefits. The child that benefited would have pre-existing knowledge of the expected behaviour and skills.

  • What is made impossible to see/understand/believe because of these commonsense ideas?

This view hindered social justice.  We are comfortable with the commonsensical ideas that do not challenge the status quo.  We need to challenge oppression which addressed the broader context of society. Children need to learn that different views and practices have different implications in the larger society (it is not that a progressive view is better).

This approach would ensure that teachers value and support learning that happens through the family and culture but then teaches children how to think critically about the world and implications of different values and knowledge outside the classroom.

I think that students who enter crisis (a point where they encounter troubling knowledge that they encounter discomfort) and have the skills to think critically and analytically will build problem solving skills to apply to real life.  This is hopefully what is happening in the classroom as we challenge students to think outside the box and how concepts transfer from one subject to the next or one real life situation to the next. I appreciated the comment in the article that teachers may wish to gloss over topics that may put students in crisis (sexual orientation, religion) but we need to know how to have conversations with our students so they can explore information in a safe and respectful environment.  

Jerome Bruno – Quote about Learning

“Grasping the structure of a subject is understanding it in a way that permits many other things to be related to it meaningfully.”  (Bruner, 1977).

This quote is very meaningful to what I think today’s classroom needs to be for successful student achievement.  It means that for a student to have an understanding of a concept he/she must be able to relate that concept to another situation or example.  For example, if we only teach about pollution and a few things that we can do in our school to reduce pollution students may not be able to relate the knowledge to a situation where he/she is asked to reduce pollution in an area that they are not familiar with.  This aligns to current research from Julie Stern on teaching for deep understanding through conceptual understanding as “students’ understanding of conceptual relationships should alter how they see the world beyond the walls of the classroom and how they solve problems that occur outside the neat, teacher constructed parameters of academic exercise” (Stern, 2018).

Students need to be able to transfer their knowledge from one situation to another.  Students need to be able to problem solve and find solutions to questions that do not require rote memorization to answer.  Bruno goes beyond saying that a student needs to sit and listen and take notes then regurgitate it on an exam. He is saying that the student must understand content to be able to related it to a situation, question or example that may be different than the one the teacher used for explanation in  the class. Bruno did indicate that understanding would make a student able to relate other things to that topic meaningfully.

The classroom where this happens in not the typical classroom where the teacher talks the entire time.  This means that the student is an active learner. The teacher needs to facilitate learning and ask questions that promote critical thinking. A response to a question will require thought and understanding of a topic.

Julie Stern writes “we can honor developmental stages of children with intellectual rigor”.  When we set high expectations that students are able to understand concepts then they are able to transfer their knowledge to other situations. Students of all ages are able to do this.  We must ensure that all students develop those skills.

Bruner, J. (1977). The process of education (2nd edition). In J. Bruner, The process of education (2nd edition) (p. 7). Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Stern, J. (2018). Tools for Teaching Conceptual Understanding. Thousand Oaks: Corwin.

Curriculum Theory – Week 2 (by Jae)

  • Can you think about: (a) The ways in which you may have experience the Tyler rationale in your own schooling?

The Tyler rationale orders the procedure in a consequential way and indicates that one completes one task before moving on to complete the next task.  It seems that it implies one is not able to complete the second task without doing the first. I have had experience doing these sorts of tasks in school in various subjects.  Sometimes teachers would assign stories or novels to read and give chapter questions that the responses followed the sequence of the storyline. One could not move on to the next part until the questions were completed in order.

Math is another subject that was set up very sequential.  We learned math as determined by the teacher. We completed questions on a page and then moved on to the next page.  It was rare that we completed something that was “out of order”.

  • (b) What are the major limitations of the Tyler rationale/what does it make impossible?

The limitations to this approach would be that it is systematic and would have limitations to have students transfer their knowledge.  They may be able to learn something in one context but then it may be challenging to apply the learning to a new problem. Also, the planning is organized in one way which will make thinking outside the box more challenging.  This method implies behaviour can be measured accurately and objectively. The knowledge is almost in a “shopping list” that is acquired in an orderly fashion.

  • (c) What are some potential benefits/what is made possible? Be sure to refer to the assigned article in your post; you may also include information from lecture if you wish.

Benefits to this approach would be that it has considerable organizing power. A benefit may also be the systematic part of this approach as teachers could always follow this for planning. It is a challenge as a teacher to organize and plan their lessons, units, year plans and incorporate all the outcomes while sometimes looking cross curricularly.  This approach is one way to organize all that information. This approach focuses on behavioural objectives and that the results of behaviour can be evaluated. This is often a challenging task.

Common Sense

1. Kumashiro said that “common sense limits what is considered to be consistent with the purposes of schooling.”  He defines common sense  as using and doing what has traditionally been done in the past.  Common sense in schools of often trying not to engage students in their learning but preparing them for a high stakes assessment.  He learned from his experience in Nepal that students were used to only doing what was expected to do well on the final standardized tests.  

2. It is important to pay attention to common sense in school as changing the mindset and beliefs of students, teachers and parents is challenging.   It’s difficult for people to think beyond the traditional knowledge as what people know gives them a sense of comfort.  People have certain beliefs about teaching and learning and how to achieve the outcomes of school.  Doing something different from what they know is not easy.   Kumashiro said that “common sense does not often tell us that the status quo is quite oppressive”.  We need to pay attention to common sense to so we “challenge oppression”.