Curriculum as Citizenship

What examples of citizenship education do you remember from your K-12 schooling? What types of citizenship (e.g. which of the three types mentioned in the article) were the focus?

Throughout my schooling, I remember that the Korean flag was always hung up in the classroom and we sang the national anthem every morning. Also, until grade 2, we stated the Pledge of Allegiance every morning. This has engrained nationalism into students’ heads. From Grade 5, students became able to vote and run for the school election, which taught us that we were citizens of the school, while allowing students to learn how to involve in the society, as well as exercise the rights.

Also, each and every one of student was assigned a duty, like sweeping the stairs and hallway, managing the blackboard, etc. During the middle school years, volunteer work was mandatory; students were required to visit a shelter for people with disability on Saturday after school every twice a week. Donation or charity events were often occurred and students were highly encouraged to participate or contribute to it.

Now that I look back, my schooling tried to focus on all of the three types of citizenship in various ways.

Personally-responsible citizenship: This type of indicates citizens who fulfill their social and civic responsibilities, such as pay taxes, vote, etc. This is the most common vision of citizenship promoted in schools through community service projects and volunteerism. As such, most of experiences I gained through my schooling are related to this.

Participatory citizen: Citizens in this category would feature knowledge of strategies and skills for public engagement and action and play an active role in community organizations. I don’t recall experiences in this category during K-12, but I have seen many of my friends participating rallies in various purposes, such as protest against the increased tuition fee.

Justice-oriented citizen: This category of citizens would question the root causes of social problems and put efforts to make a difference in the society, as well as work towards equity. I don’t think I was able to be in this category yet. However, I think that pursuing the journey of becoming a teacher is training me by providing diverse notions that challenge the status quo, and will allow me to become a justice-oriented citizen one day.

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Week 6: Diverse Perspectives on Development and Learning

3 things I learned

  1. Reconceptualist and 3 broad focuses

I learned that there are dominance discourses in early childhood education (or the education in general), and reconceptualists question and challenge those dominance discourses, by “recognizing that privileging any particular set of beliefs and forms of knowledge can create power for certain groups of people and oppress and disqualify others” (Cannella, Swadener & Che, 2007, p. 693). They understand the idea of ‘othering’ people, while “revealing circumstances in which power and privilege are created for some groups of people … for hope and possibility as [they] move toward a newly evolving, liberating ‘third space’, an early childhood dreamscape of social justice and equity” (Cannela, Swadener & Che, 2007, p. 693 & 696). With this idea, reconceptualists suggest three broad focuses:

  • Challenging grand narratives
  • Recognizing and embracing diversity
  • Acknowledging social and historical context (power and privilege)

I think that it is important to understand reconceptualists’ viewpoint in order to recognize who are ‘othered’ in the discourses occurred in education, as it helps move forward to achieve inclusivity and equity within the education system.

2. Grand narratives

This is a term developed by Jean-Francois Lyotard, indicating a theory “include[s] everything from Western views of logic, to the Evangelical Christian discourse of salvation, to economic interpretations of human functioning whether Marxist of capitalist, to the imposition of Piagetian structuralism on all human cognition” (Cannella, Swadener & Che, 2007, p. 693). Reconceptualists challenge this idea in a variety of fields and from diverse perspectives, and Michel Foucault and Jacques Lyotard would be great examples of “deconstruction of such dominant grand narratives” (Cannella, Swadener & Che, 2007, p. 693). We talked about what would be the examples of a grand narrative that shapes educational practice in the class, and discussed that grand narratives describe the universal child and normalize some ways of being, growing and learning, and I wonder how this narrative has impacted on the construction of curriculum?

 

3. Cannella’s Assumptions in Education Discourse

Cannella has suggested five assumptions in educational discourse:

  • A belief in the existence of notions of change, thinking, learning and mind
  • Focus on the necessity of education
  • A movement towards logic and advancement
  • Particular knowledge as more important, more sophisticated, more legitimate; and
  • The inferiority of particular people within education

My friend and I discussed about these assumptions, and we said that there are certain subjects that seemed to be valued more than others, such as Math is deemed more important course than arts, etc. I was also thinking that when considering grand narratives that entails Eurocentric views, it is often seen that Western ways of knowing is more visible in the education discourse than Indigenous ways of knowing does. Along with this thought, I would like to put a quote from the article, ‘Nourishing the Learning Spirit’: “Today, Indigenous peoples around the world continue to feel the tensions created by a Eurocentric educational system that has taught them not to trust Indigenous knowledge, but to rely on science and technology for tools for their future, although those same sciences and technologies have increasingly created the fragile environmental base that requires us to rethink how we interact with the earth and with each other” (Battiste, 2017, p. 16).

 

2 Connections:

In the class, we talked about what would be the description of being a good student. This reminded me of a discussion I had in last month through ECS 210 lecture. At that time, what came in my mind first was: being diligent, punctual, and obedient. Then I realized that I was very influenced by traditional ways of teaching and classroom, the idea of ‘common sense.’ I think that this disallows students to engage in diversity, various ways of learning, and grow creativity, critical thinking, as well as other essential skills in learning process, and succeeding their lives in the future.

 

With the readings and discussions in the class, I got to think about Indigenous peoples and their ways of knowing in the curriculum. Although SK curriculum does have treaty education, and we are being taught to braid it into the classrooms, I still think that Indigenous ways of knowing is being faded and it made me very frustrated and sad, because this reminds me of my country’s history; Korea was once colonized by Japan, and they tried assimilation policy with various ways, to kill the spirits of Korean. Although there are still some issues going on in regards to the dominium problem of Dokdo island, Comfort Women, and distorted history in Japanese history textbook, etc. – we became a completely independent nation with fully preserved exotic culture, language, and heritage. I hope to see a true mean of reconciliation being achieved with the hope of revitalization of Indigenous language, knowledge and culture, like Koreans did. I believe that there are many ways that we can contribute to it, however as educators, the best way for us to do is “to continue to address racism and Eurocentrism … to offer what Elder Albert Marshall called Two Eyed Seeing: that is to normalize Indigenous knowledge in the curriculum so that both Indigenous and conventional perspectives and knowledges will be available – not just for Aboriginal peoples, who would be enriched by that effort, but for all peoples” (Battiste, 2017, p. 17).

 

Questions to think:

How the Grand Narratives have impacted on today’s curriculum? How can we make a difference in curriculum to achieve diverse narratives?

What would be the possible ways for teachers to pursue revitalization of Indigenous culture in the classroom? How can we apply?

 


References

Battste, M. (2017). Nourishing the Learning Spirit: Living Our Way to New Thinking. In Education Canada. 50(1). Retrieved from: https://urcourses.uregina.ca/pluginfile.php/1288354/mod_resource/content/2/EdCan-2010-v50-n1-Battiste.pdf

Cannella, G. S., Swadener, B. B. & Che, Y. (2007). Reconceptualists. In Early Childhood Education: An International Encyclopedia. Retrieved from: https://urcourses.uregina.ca/pluginfile.php/1288512/mod_resource/content/1/reconceptualists.pdf

Hey Curriculum, Do You Hear Me?

Before you do the reading ask yourself the following question: how do you think that school curricula are developed?

I think that curriculum is developed according to what children should learn, like fundamental things in terms of both academic and non-academic. Now, who gets to decide what is important and fundamental to learn? Several different viewpoints can be included here, but the majors would be higher government officials, such as the ministry of education, teachers who have in-depth experience in teaching, students and parents.

 

After doing the reading, 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?

As Levin (2007) explains, the process of curriculum development involves with a group of experts, including government officials, teachers, principals, senior administrators and elected local authorities. The group is organized by the ministry of education. The current curriculum is reviewed and suggestions are made and agreed upon in regards to what could be changed for the new curriculum. Then, a draft might be made first, and a final version of the curriculum is created by adapting few more suggestions and making changes. As this process is complexed and crucial to next generation and the society as a whole, it could take even several years to finalize.

 

I did not realize that post-secondary staff would have impact on the process of formalizing curriculum. I learned that as the University decides what the requirements are for the admission, high school gets influenced accordingly as they would have to assist the students to meet those requirements, hence the University can exercise influence on the curriculum. Also, in Korea, we have certain high schools that offer different courses to take as majored areas, based on the school’s values and etc. – for example, my city had certain schools specialized in fine arts, tourism, business, and so on – but I did not think about this as the school contributing to the curriculum. But now that I understand the relationships between the universities, high schools, and curriculum, it makes sense because not every university has same requirement, therefore not every school should offer the exact same courses. If it was, I think, it would have hindered the growth of students’ possibilities and limited them to certain career paths for their future and individual interests.

 

What surprised, concerned and frustrated me was how the student’s viewpoint is taken in a trivial part (or is there even a spot for student’s perspective in curriculum?) and deemed unimportantly, although they are the ones who get the hugest impact and have to deal with it anyway. At the same time, it was also disappointing to learn how much politics is involved in the curriculum. Levin (2008) argues that “elected government are subject to pressures and constraints based on voter preferences, election timing, and the view of key interest groups” (p. 9). The pressure of the public on government officials who make decisions on education policies could influence the curriculum in positive or negative ways. As such, after all, the government would do what makes them more popular and give them more power, because “for politicians, what people believe to be true is much more important than what may actually be true” (Levin, 2008, p. 13).

 


Reference

Levin, B. (2008). Curriculum policy and the politics of what should be learned in schools. In F. Connelly, M. He & J. Phillion (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of curriculum and instruction (pp. 7 – 24). Los Angeles, CA: Sage. Available on-line from: http://www.corwin.com/upm-data/16905_Chapter_1.pdf.

Week 5: Culture and Diversity

3 things I learned:

  1. Five Dimensions of Multicultural Education

As a visible minority who is studying Education at a Canadian university, I was thrilled to learn about multiculturalism because it is one of my teaching philosophy, as well as a goal to adopt it into my future classroom. I used to think that understanding the diversity while encouraging students to recognize and embrace it would be the primary way of achieving multicultural education. However, I have learned more specific ways to achieve:

  • Content Integration
  • Helping students understand how knowledge is influenced by beliefs
  • Using teaching methods that reach all students
  • Creating social structures in schools that support learning and development for all students
  • Prejudice Reduction

With this understanding, I think I got a step closer to make my future classroom as a place of embracing diversity.

 

  1. Gender Schema Theory

I learned a new term: Gender schema, “organized cognitive structures that include gender-related information that influences how children think and behave” (Woolfolk, Winne & Perry, 2015, p. 210). This schema can have a huge impact on a child, as “according to gender schema theory, children and adolescents use gender as an organizing theme to classify and understand their perceptions about the world” (Woolfolk, Winne & Perry, 2015, p. 210). As such, I think that my role as an educator will be very critical in assisting children to build appropriate gender schemas while unlearning gender bias/stereotypes.

 

  1. Socioeconomic status (SES) and Achievement

I learned that socioeconomic status and academic achievement are moderately correlated: Students with high SES tend to show higher scores on tests than the students with low-SES. Low-SES students may suffer from inadequate health care, lowered expectations of teachers, low self-esteem, learned helplessness, etc. Also, it is said that the longer the child is in poverty, the stronger the impact is on achievement.

 

2 Connections I made:

  1. I was told that the males are more likely than females to experiment with same sex partners as adolescents. As a person who graduated from a girls’ high school, this was very interesting to me as I have not met a male adolescent who expressed this issue. Though, regardless of gender, I think that we as educators, would have to be mindful and open to diverse sexuality that can be occurring in the classroom. For example, when talking about their relationships or family structure, it is recommended to use the word ‘partner’ instead of mom, dad, girlfriend, or boyfriend, in order to avoid certain circumstances where stereotypes can be caused, as well as protecting students’ self-esteem.

 

  1. In the class, we talked about giving students food if they have not eaten in the morning or do not have lunch with them, and this is where I made another connection. When I was little, my family experienced a significant financial crisis, so until grade 3, I was a student with low SES. I remember that my school had provided lunch and milk with free of charge for me, as I was in low SES. (In most cases, Korean students do not bring lunch to school, because either the schools have Food Services, or a partnership company comes to serve food. Students are responsible for the lunch fee, but it is very affordable.) It was a nice gesture of school and government, but I was shamed because of the fact that I was a student who gets supported due to my family’s economic circumstance, and worried about what if my friends find out that I am low SES. Now my family is stable and I don’t have to worry about these things anymore, I was a bit sad in the class because it made me think back to those days. Then, this made me wonder, how should we approach students with low SES to provide support systems while protecting their self-esteem?

 

Questions:

How can we achieve inclusive classroom where all diversities are accepted?

How should we approach students with low SES to provide support systems while protecting their self-esteem?

 


Reference

Woolfolk, Winne & Perry. (2016). Chapter 6: Culture and Diversity. In Educational Psychology. (6th Ed.) (P. 210). Toronto, ON: Pearson.

Are You A “Good” Student?

What does it mean to be a “good” student according to the common sense? Which students are privileged by this definition of the good student? What is made impossible to see/understand/believe because of these common sense ideas?

 

If I were to define what it means to be a ‘good’ student according to the ‘common sense’, I would say that a student who is diligent, obeys what the teacher says, repeats and practices what he/she was told in the class. Hence, the student is able to learn what he/she is ‘supposed’ to learn according to the curriculum that suggests a clear guideline of “what books students need to read, how many and what types of essays they need to write, what vocabulary words they need to memorize, and the for final exam, what themes from the books they needed to understand and be able to develop in short essays (Kumashiro, 2004, pg. 19).” This indicates that the idea of common sense here does not allow students to have an opportunity to express their thoughts in class, while keeping them from experiencing a diverse spectrum of creativity, imagination, as well as critical thinking. In this circumstance, it is likely that the process of learning is not up to the students to decide. Rather, it tends to be a process of embedding the knowledge, which I personally think is a less efficient way of learning comparing to those of learning process that encompasses the process of experience or exploration of knowledge.

 

I believe that the students who are familiar with the standardized classroom. In other words, those who are used to the traditional education system would be seen as ‘good’ students, as they are more likely to get better grades on the standardized exams or assessments, which will result in being successful in the classroom. Role of the teacher here, would be offering teacher-oriented lectures, traditional tasks, assignments, and exams that are considered as a ‘suitable’ or ‘appropriate way’ to evaluate the students. Eventually, the classroom would become more like a ‘factory model’, as mentioned by Katia in the second week’s lecture. With less difference in thoughts and more uniformity among students, the teacher is put at ease and the traditional system can remain the same, as the ‘common sense’ does not have to change.

 

As I described briefly above, the idea of being a ‘good’ student when it comes to the ‘common sense’ makes it impossible for students to have their own thoughts as they would be trained to think in the same way as what they were told in the classroom. This, again, eliminates an individual’s opportunity to develop critical thinking, creativity, imagination, as well as ability to work collaboratively, as they would experience insufficient opportunities to work together with peers. Further, it would be hard for these students to become open-minded humans that recognize the beauty of diversity among people and within the society, because this standardized and traditional way of schooling does not enable them to learn about it.

 


Reference

Kumashiro, K. (2004). Chapter 2: Preparing Teachers for Crisis: What It Means to Be a Student. In Against Common Sense. (p. 19). Retrieved from: http://lib.myilibrary.com/Open.aspx?id=10708&loc=17

Week 4: Social Cognitive Views of Learning and Motivation

3 things I learned:

  1. Self-regulation

Self-regulation is one of the goals for teachers to assist our students so that they can foster better, because this has a lot to do with learning process. This concept includes being able to use knowledge, motivation, and volition, which would result in positive outcomes and ultimately, being successful in one’s life. I believe that this can be achieved not only through schooling, but also at home, and any other social circumstances that a child faces throughout his/her life.

 

  1. Types of motivations

I learned the terms of ‘intrinsic motivation’ and ‘extrinsic motivation’. Among these two, extrinsic motivation was particularly interesting to me because this is where the environment influence is being a part of. An example of this would be the use of rewards, prizes, consequences or punishments, which all are commonly used in school, as well as at home. Also, I think that not only children are being motivated by these factors, so are adults. Because the work people do in the real world is often regulated by both intrinsic and extrinsic world.

I know that some people value intrinsic motivation over extrinsic motivation, because it would be more rewarding and offer a deeper sense of achievement than the extrinsic does. Certainly, there would be pros and cons on both sides. However, I wonder if intrinsic motivation has to be more preferred than extrinsic motivation when it comes to teaching?

 

  1. Children begin the process of learning with observation

I believe that this is one of the most important elements in terms of social cognitive theory because it includes learning from modelling as well as thoughts, beliefs, expectations, and judgments. In other words, humans start learning by observing from the moment we are born while developing the various senses, then enhance their learning processes throughout lives, which means that social cognitive theory explains adaptation, learning and motivation. It is a fundamental method of learning that can be found in all areas.

 

2 connections I made:

The connection I made is regarding self-efficacy. As mentioned in the lecture, there are multiple influences on this concept and its development, including family, teachers, peers, any other contacts that a child may experience in his/her life. I remember when I was younger, I experienced developing self-efficacy by influences from family and teacher: I was a very shy and quite child and had a low self-confidence, which had led to a low self-efficacy especially if a task needed to be accomplished in public. Then, my mother encouraged me to join in school music band to in a hope of developing self-confidence, which, needless to say, I absolutely hated at first because I did not believe that I could play an instrument in public while collaborating with others. I thought I would be terrible and cause a trouble to the team. However, both my mother and the teacher believed in me and gave encouragement, and I became able to play the marimba quite pretty well, and our band ended up winning a prize at a local contest. With this experience, I developed self-efficacy in terms of music, which got me to major in music later, when I was in my first college in Korea. As such, I believe that our job as educators is very crucial not only in academic context, but also in children’s journey of developing themselves.

 

Another connection I made has to do with social cognitive theory. As mentioned above, observation plays a significant role in this field. This fact got me to think about the importance of teacher in the classroom because students not only learn what we teach, but also learn from observing their teachers. Also, I think that this would have more influence on younger children, and as I am hoping to work with young children in the future, this makes me more passionate about becoming a better teacher who can bring positive impact on my future students.

 

1 Question to think:

I kind of threw it around the discussion about the different types of motivation, so I will rewrite again: Should intrinsic motivation be more encouraged than extrinsic motivation when it comes to learning? If yes, how should we better foster?

 


Reference

Woolfolk, Winne & Perry. (2016). Chapter 11: Social Cognitive View of Learning and Motivation. In Educational Psychology. (6th Ed.). (pp. 367-397). Toronto, ON: Pearson.