Raising Contributing Citizens

The three types of citizenship mentioned in the article are:

1) the personally responsible citizen

2) the participatory citizen

3) justice oriented citizen

I have been fortunate to be involved in all three types of citizenship development in my K-12 schooling. A Personally Responsible citizen is one who, “acts responsibly for his/her community” (Westheimer, 2004, p. 3). Throughout my school years we would participate in occasional community litter clean ups.  A recycling program was in place in my school and we were taught to respect and obey the rules and laws of both the school and society.  During the holiday season, my school participated in an annual food drive where I, and many of my peers, would deliver food hampers to individuals and families in our community. In addition, I was part of the local dance school and Girl Guide program while growing up.  In these organizations, we spent numerous hours helping in the community and performing at the nursing home and senior centers.

I was also involved in a number of Participatory Citizen activities throughout my school years.  In Grade 11 I enrolled in Law 30 in which we studied and learned about many political and justice issues through lecture, videos and numerous guest speaker presentations.  I began my involvement in student government in Grade 5 and have been an active participant ever since.  This extensive involvement has allowed me to help address issues in the school and community.  In addition, I have learned how to run a meeting, problem solve, negotiate, compromise and developed many other skills.  In addition, I ventured out of the regular school setting and travelled throughout Saskatchewan and to Ottawa, on four separate occasions, to participate in a variety of forums where I learned about local and national political issues.

The Justice Oriented Citizen learning goes hand in hand with the Forums in which I participated.  A large part of these Forums was to explore an issue of interest and collaborate and share ideas with other participants on how we could make a change in our home community, province and even globally.

After reading about the three types of citizenship learning, I realize that I may be one of the few fortunate people who have experienced all three so fully during my K-12 school career.  However, many of my experiences took place outside of the regular school classroom activities. It makes me wonder if the curriculum does not address all three types of citizenship equally. This seems to be the case as the assigned reading states that, “personal responsibility receives the most attention” (Westheimer, 2004, p. 5).  Upon reflection, I do believe this to be true as it would have been the only citizenship I would have been exposed to if I had not chosen to take Law or participate in the extra-curricular forum travel opportunities.  I am a person who naturally enjoys volunteering, being involved in student led governments, travel, meeting people and learning about a wide array of issues. The opportunities to experience and to contribute to the development of a Personally Responsible citizen are quite accessible in any rural or urban setting and easily fit into a variety of learning outcomes in the curriculum. Whereas, the opportunities contributing to the development of a Participatory citizen and Justice Oriented citizen are not as easy to make available.  However, these can also be provided with some imagination and creativity and should be made a higher  priority in the curriculum in order for students to fully become contributing members of society.

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All About Curriculum

Before reading the article I was under the understanding that school curriculum was developed by the Ministry of Education who chose professionals from all over the Education field (Teachers, Administrators, University Professors, etc.) to develop the curriculum in their area of study/strength.

After doing the reading- I answered the questions provided.

How is citizenship education a curricular problem?

It is felt by many people that because schools play such an important role in the lives of students, that it is education’s role and responsibility to develop and graduate “good” citizens.  Graduates with not only an understanding of their country’s governance, but also citizens who are productive and law abiding members of society.  Where should these teachings be included?  Social Science courses or throughout all curricula.

How are school curricula developed and implemented?

The government is involved with the Education sector usually having someone designated for this role.  Other areas of government that may be involved are an elected minister, local school authorities, school councils or governing bodies involving parents and others. This is dependent upon the National Government and to what degree these people have in curriculum politics. Schools also have some influence even if it is only through their choice as to which course and programs they offer. The main groups involved in curriculum reviews are teachers, principals, senior administrators and elected local authorities (if they exist). Subject matter experts from schools and universities typically play a central role in the curriculum formation, review process and potential public debates. Post-secondary institutions can also influence curriculum but this influence can be restrained by tertiary institutions. Curriculum can also be influenced by other policies (ie. student assessment).

What new information/perspectives does this reading provide about the development and implementation of school curriculum?

  • Parties involved in developing the curriculum may not always see eye-to-eye making the process lengthy and complicated.
  • Researchers can provide proven facts but this does not mean the end result will be a correct policy choice if it is not what people believe, want or will accept.

Is there anything that surprises you or maybe that concerns you?

I did not realize the amount of “politics” surrounding curriculum decisions and development.  This is concerning to me as Education and the updating of curriculum may take a backseat to other issues that are felt to be more pressing or decisions may be made in haste with limited or incorrect information.  In addition, government decisions are driven by voters and therefore decisions may be made in order to get reelected that are not in the best interests of students and their education.

The Right “Fit”

According to the commonsense, a “good” student is one who sits quietly, listens to instructions and follows them in a timely manner.  The “good” student completes the task(s) in the prescribed manner within the timeline given.  Students who are privileged by this definition are those who are capable of listening to, understanding and following instructions exactly as instructed.  They are the Type A personality students!  Unfortunately, the commonsense mindset makes teachers believe that every child should behave in this manner, thus making it difficult to understand when they behave differently.  Those students who cannot, or do not adhere in the way considered appropriate to the commonsense definition, are then considered a problem.

Just because a student does not “fit” into the commonsense idea of a “good” student does not mean that they are “bad.”  It is important for teachers to reflect upon the way they structure their class and lessons to ensure that they are engaging all types of students to promote an optimal learning environment for all.  Even the slightest change can make a significant positive impact on a student’s learning and behavior.  For example, implementing a variety of instruction techniques, or allowing students a choice of projects, allows a greater chance of success for all students.  Taking the time to observe and to listen to your students is crucial, not only for their individual success, but also for your effectiveness as a teacher.

Dr. Howard Gardner’s theory of Multiple Intelligences outlines eight different potential pathways to learning.  He suggests several ways to present material to facilitate learning for those who have difficulty following the more traditional approach.  Often, these students are not considered to be “good” students and will be much more successful if material is presented in a way that uses a different Multiple Intelligence. Howard’s theory encourages teachers to use a wide variety of techniques that include music, cooperative learning, art activities, role plays, multi-media, field trips, etc.  This variety of instruction and opportunities for students allow for learning that better suits each individual student’s needs.

Education Is A Weapon

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

Nelson Mandela

This quote is saying that changes in the world happen because of Education. Education is a powerful tool or “weapon” that makes positive change possible.  It is Education and knowledge that provide the necessary resources for people to question negative societal norms and act against them in order to make a difference in such areas as gender inequality, poverty, sustaining the environment and preventing illness/diseases.

Although the quote does not directly refer to teachers or students, education occurs when “a teacher” passes along knowledge to “a student”.  Teachers and/or students can take many forms and often exist outside of traditional school walls.  For example, grandparents teach younger generations, peers can teach peers, etc.  In my opinion, teaching is the transference of knowledge from one person to another and is often reciprocal.  Without education, the world would not progress.

Within the traditional school setting, curriculum is regularly reevaluated and changing to reflect the changes in society.  The following quote, taken from this week’s reading, relates not only to curriculum, but also to Mandela’s quote.  Within the reading it was written that, “The idea of curriculum is hardly new – but the way we understand and theorize it has altered over the years – and there remains considerable dispute as to meaning” (Smith, 2000, p. 1). The way we educate our students is based upon the teacher’s interpretation of the curriculum. Therefore, how curriculum is interpreted and delivered may differ from teacher to teacher.  However, it does act as an important baseline to ensure that the students have the opportunity to meet the required outcomes of their grade level. Therefore, teachers, curriculum and schools play a key role in equipping students with the learning, ambition and goals to become positive contributors and change makers in society.

 

Curriculum theory and practice. (2013, April 18). Retrieved from

http://infed.org/mobi/curriculum-theory-and-practice/

Ralph Tyler’s Curriculum Model

Ralph Tyler’s curriculum model is quite simple consisting of only four steps:

  1. Determine the objectives.
  2. Identify educational experiences related to purpose
  3. Organize the experiences
  4. Evaluate the objectives.

The ways in which I may have experienced the Tyler rationale in my own schooling are:

  • To evoke the kind of behavior/learning required to meet the set objectives, we would learn background knowledge followed by a hands-on activity, listen to a guest speaker or go on a field trip. (Tyler’s Step 2 and 3)
  • In an effort to expand our knowledge, many of my teachers utilized what we already knew in an effort to help teach new concepts, etc. (Tyler’s Step 2 and 3)
  • Both formative and summative evaluation was used to ensure understanding of the set objectives.

Some major limitations of the Tyler rationale/what does it make impossible are:

  • The teacher is the manager of what is taught with little or no students input.
  • Teachers are not to question the curriculum. Responsible for ensuring that they are teaching to the objectives and evaluating that they have been met.
  • Teachers do not have any input in process of designing the curriculum.
  • The idea of management (teaching) is to ensure that learning is efficient and the students’ behaviors change in a short amount of time. Reduces the opportunity of branching out or exploring other topics.
  • The article states, “Teaching is evaluated in terms of both student achievement and the efficiency with which the teacher produces student achievement rather than in terms of how humane, creative, enlightening, or insightful it is” (Schiro, 2013, p. 94). Always having to worry about the end result often makes it impossible for teachers to try a variety of teaching methods or to teach how and what they, and their students, are truly passionate about.

Some potential benefits/what is made possible are:

  • Programed curriculum consists of a “sequenced set of learning experiences, each representing a behavior to be learned” (Schiro, 2013, p. 61). This ensures that ideally each student learns the necessary objectives/ behaviors at the correct time meeting the requirements to move onto other learnings/move up a grade.
  • Not all students have the same needs or will benefit from the same prescribed objectives.

The chart that was shown in lecture puts Tyler’s model into perspective and how each step relies upon the previous step being completed. Therefore, putting into perspective how our Education system is similar today as it was in the 1900’s. Learning this information made me reflect on the question, is the Education system moving forward or backwards?

 

Schiro, M. (2013). Curriculum theory: Conflicting visions and enduring concerns (2nd ed.)

SAGE.

 

 

 

Be Aware of Common Sense

In this article, Kumashiro talks about his experience teaching in Nepal. He says that the teachers and students in Nepal have a clear idea of what teaching and learning means to them. Kumashiro’s common sense that is comprised of his beliefs/methods and perspectives about teaching and learning often did not make sense to the Nepal teachers and students, as it was very different than theirs.

Kumashiro believes that common sense is defined as, things we have come to know and have been taught through our culture, experiences in life, beliefs, values, etc. According to Kumashiro, it is important to be aware of the beliefs one personally holds, and to challenge ourselves to be open to the new experiences/beliefs that our students and colleagues hold.

Kumashiro states that we must “look beyond” what and how we teach. However, this does not mean we reject every approach or create a new approach for everything. However, we should keep questioning our approaches and examine how the things we teach are affecting our learners.  In turn, we then should strive to make positive changes to create an anti-oppressive classroom and ensure that the methods being used meet the outcomes in the curriculum (Kumashiro, p. xxxix-xl).

As a future teacher, I need to continually remind myself of my personal, unconscious beliefs/common sense and that challenging these beliefs will contribute to my growth as a teacher as well as provide richer learning opportunities for my students.