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

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