Critical Pedagogy of Place

The article, “Learning from Place: A Return to Traditional Mushkegowuk Ways of Knowing” introduces a “critical pedagogy of place” that allows readers to see examples of reinhabitation where we identify, recover, and create material space and places that teach us how to live well in our total environments and decolonization where we identify and change ways of thinking that injure and exploit other people places in action. Reinhabitation and decolonization are found in there examples from the article above :

  • introducing traditional and cultural ways to youths
  • teaching ways to reconnect to the land
  • renaming different places/ significant spots in the traditional language

In efforts to incorporate these ideas, Indigenous ways of knowing, into my teaching area, Chemistry, would take unique approaches as Chemistry is a very systematic subject. Also, like in Chemistry First Nations have usages for elements that are different than normally taught. Touching on ways First Nations use molecules such as water or rocks and how they impact their lives is a way to add in Indigenous culture to Chemistry. As well, incorporating a full lesson taught by an elder on how they utilize the land in their everyday lives and for survival also with the medicine wheel and different elements they use for healing could be another approach in incorporating Indigenous ways of knowing.

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What Does it Mean to be a Good Student?

 

     Growing up in a small town meant going to a school where you knew everyone and saw everyone, inducing your teachers, past school hours whether that would be uptown or out at town socials.  Being a good student was very important in this context as word traveled around quickly.  Being labeled as a bad student could mean not getting the job you applied for, not being trustworthy enough, or not being able to fit into the social circle you wanted to.

     A commonsense snapshot of what it means to be a “good” student is someone good at listening to instructions, is quiet until spoken on or raises their hand when they have comments. A “good” student does not have outbursts, can replicate what they have learned in the from that has been asked, and does not ask critical questions about teaching or what they have learned. Lastly, a “good” student is happy and radiates good energies. 

“Bad” students or students who are disobedient do not privilege by this definition of being a “good” student.  However, students we receive good marks or who are good learners will privilege by this definition. This definition does not take into consideration that there are students who have other learning abilities or “unique learning styles” stated in Kumashiro’s, Against Common Sense: Chapter Two.  It also makes it impossible to see that sometimes a student may be “bad” but they are still trying to learn like M in Kumashiros books as well as some students may seem like they aren’t paying attention or learning anything when they are like N because of these commonsense ideas.

It is very important as future educators to be aware of this commonsense good or bad students so we can apply this knowledge when we are put into the workforce and be aware of our students and surroundings.

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Curriculum Studies: Sexual Identity and the Curriculum

The curriculum is much more than a guideline set out by the government to ensure success from all students. The curriculum does not take into counter different disabilities, white privilege, culture, race, or sexual identity.  An article that spiked interest in me is Its Not in the Curriculum.  While reading this article I was able to relate to a few scenarios the author was writing about as I had a very homophobic teacher growing up. This article touches on sexual identity and ways to incorporate the learning of sexual identities and inclusion of LGBTQ studies in an adult language classroom.

Its Not in the Curriculum explains the limitations of many things regarding sexual identities such as  limited studies of the strategies used to incorporate cultural identities and limited research related to the incorporation of sexual identities. The main goal for the incorporating of LGBTQ studies is to try and disrupt the heteronormativity in classrooms (specifically adult language classrooms in this article) to make all students feel free to question and affirm their sexual identity.  Educators must take action to find ways to help support students who are “coming out”, quit responding to homophobic comments in class and instead educate about the harm these comments can do as well as stop teaching about sexual issues they have no expertise in.  Taking these small steps can help for the inclusion of LGBTQ studies and instead of being afraid to have conversations around the topic open up discussions.

Sexual identity has been an ongoing discussion for many years in ways such as do we speak of it or do we hide it. Why are we still “shaming” talk about sexual identity in schools when it is in prevalence everywhere we look? To continue this topic I will find two other texts on the topic of sexual identity and the curriculum to compare and create a critical summary.

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Curriculum Theory and Practice

      The curriculum is a guideline set in place by the government to ensure “success” for all students.  However, the curriculum is more complex than that. There are four modules described in the article Curriculum Theory and PracticeThese modules are curriculum as a body of knowledge to be transmitted, curriculum as an attempt to achieve certain ends in students – product, curriculum as a process, and curriculum as praxis. The main benefit of the curriculum as a body of knowledge to be transmitted is that there is a syllabus or a table set out to help educators plan and stay on target ensuring they are teaching what needs to be taught. A drawback of this is that it does not relate the importance of the topic and does not go into depth limiting them. One benefit of the curriculum as an attempt to achieve certain ends in students – product is that there is a clear outcome or product set in place that allows for educators to work backward and create a system in which they can reach the end goal. However, there are many downfalls to this module and one is that students may not have much of a voice when it comes to learning and they are told how to learn and what they will learn. Other downfalls of this have to do with not being able to see what educators do in a classroom along with anticipated results that can make the teacher and student overlook learning. This module is more physical/ hands-on.  Some good things about curriculum as a process are that with this module educators enter a setting with a purpose set out for their lesson and can follow a proposal and go deeper into it. It does not have to be followed closely but can be tested then changed for each classroom as every classroom is different. This also allows educators to make judgments before, during and after ensuring everything is going in the right direction. There are lots of interaction with students and teachers allowing students to have a bigger voice. A drawback of this is that students may not get a deeper knowledge they want. This module can also work smoothly if the teacher is doing it correctly. If the educator is not up to cultivating wisdom and mean-making in the classroom then teachers can become focused on the outcome and not the steps to the outcome not knowing if students have a grasp of the material. A benefit to the curriculum as praxis is that it is not a set of plans that must be followed, like process, but can be tweaked to fit the environment. It allows for group work and ideas to be shared that can allow for a deep understanding. A problem with the curriculum as praxis is that it is an informal type of education.  The curriculum is not the same for everyone and educators may use it differently.

     Growing up the most prominent modules my teachers used were a mixture of the  curriculum as praxis and curriculum as a process as well as a curriculum as a body of knowledge to be transmitted.  Using bits of these modules allowed teachers to stay on track by using a syllabus and also to ensure we are learning the most important concepts as well as getting a deeper understanding of them by allowing us to exchange our ideas with each other.  However, this made it impossible for some students to learn and achieve good marks in exams because assignments were done in groups and usually a person or two would not do any work. Groups would hand in the end product not allowing the teacher to see the process of how we got to it and take for granted that if we were able to get to the end goal we understood and knew how to do such when many of us didn’t. These modules were greatly used in my classrooms.

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The Problem of Common Sense

     After reading Kumshiro’s introduction based on common sense It expanded my prior knowledge about the meaning of common sense.  I thought common sense was a judgment commonly known by everyone and if you were unaware of it you would be looked down upon.  Kumashiro defines common sense as a set of social norms and practices that individuals should know as second nature. Further on into the reading the author adds on to the definition of common sense by stating how not everyone has the same common sense. Kumshiro also talks about the relation of culture to common sense and how that can change between the two.

     It is important to pay attention to common sense, especially when it comes to the education system because every school may have a different common sense. If we get too caught up in common sense that we believe in it can jeopardize students learning.  Paying attention to things such as culture, race, or even where your school is located can change the common sense you are used to. For example, Kumshiro was accustomed to the common sense of the United States of America and its education system. When Kumshiro went to teach in Nepal the way you discipline students when they are out of line was not common sense.  In Nepal, it is common sense to physically discipline your students whereas it is unacceptable to do that in America. Reading this introduction showed me different aspects and ways to look at common sense that will be able to help me as an educator.

 

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