Monthly Archives: November 2013

Part Three

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Knowledge is the accumulation of different thoughts, perspectives, opinions, readings, discoveries. Knowledge is everything, just as curriculum is, and it can be found anywhere, from being outside with your parent(s), to talking and interacting with friends, meeting new people, discovering and questioning facts and realities. Knowledge can be a form of power, but it can also be used to better the individuals around you through the sharing of stories, or previous experiences, through recipes, or teaching in the classroom. As stated, some of the knowledge can be constructed through discussions, and interactions between learners, and instructors. In this class, we did a variety of different things incorporating technology, speakers and presenters, and different readings which were to develop and push our knowledge further. One is simply never done learning.

            In this class, we were told to use the blogs as one form of learning and sharing knowledge. I did not particularly like the blogs, and for my learning, I did not find it engaging, or beneficial. With that being said, there are always going to be people in the class who really like doing the activity, while others will detest the activity. As a becoming educator, I think this is an important lesson to learn. I feel that the online writing spaces were extremely impersonal. Either everyone agreed with what was being taught, or they were willing to play along with what was being said in terms of the content. In other words, people did not engage with their learnings. If I were to implement this in the classroom, I would choose a topic that was somewhat controversial but still was safe to discuss. In other words, I would choose something that might not have an answer to, and I would definitely not take their answers for marks, that way, it would be a more open and safe place to share ideas. I also was not particulariy partial to the blogs, or writing things in an online space especially when there was an association with a role in my future.

            Outside of the classroom and technology used, I participated in many different activities to aid in the construction of content and different knowledge with other individuals – including the students in the faculty of education at large. Being an active member of the Education Students’ Society (ESS), and further a V.P in Professional Affairs and STF, I along with some of the participating individuals worked collaboratively together to put on different events for students in regards to students professional development, and STF related manners. Some of the events put on this year included one on technology, one on ableism, and disability in the classroom, and LGBTQ.

            Along with putting on different events, this also included advertisement. Each time there was an event going on, I would always participate in classroom talks and spreading around the word to help encourage professional development and further their knowledge and understanding of different topics not necessarily covered in class, or to further reinforce what has been covered in classes. I also volunteered at the 100mYears of Loss Exhibit that came to the University a few months back. Contributive learning means not only sharing what I know, but sharing opportunities, sharing resources, in order to ensure that everybody gets the same, and equitable, experiences in education.

            Another thing that I had participated in was the Semi-Annual STF Council Conference in Saskatoon. This was a unique experience only to a select few members of the ESS, who were allowed to participate actively in the discussion around policy, school development, education, standardized testing, curriculum, and so much more. We were representing the students of the University of Regina, and more importantly, we were representing the pre-service teachers. In representing the needs of University undergraduate students, I was sure to discuss the need for more social justice, and anti-oppressive education strategies and supports being built within the curriculum rather than being add-ons.

It was a very interesting experience, full of political viewpoints, which brought back new knowledge as to the profession students will be getting into after graduating. This knowledge was a great conversation with different students, and further, it enhanced their knowledge as learners in regards specifically towards the class based on curriculum. It was interesting to talk to teachers out in the profession right now and obtain different opinions as to what our education system, and further, the curriculum, as lacking in terms of success, and meeting the student’s needs.

            During the weekdays, approximately once a month, I would sit in on a council filled with education faculty, representing the student body – the Faculty of Education Advisory Circle. The meetings would discuss various changes and improvements we could make to the program itself. More importantly, the meetings were used to incorporate more social justice and treaty education within the education system and classes. We discussed how we could make classes better, and more beneficial for the students becoming teachers, and what could be taken out of the classes offered now that might hinder the students learning.

            Proceeding our ECS courses and classes, a group of individuals and I met in the Education Lounge and we had conversations surrounding the content, information, experiences, feelings, opinions, and new knowledge about and regarding the content within the class and what was presented. We also talked about upcoming assignments. These discussions furthered all of our knowledge and it deepened our understanding of who we are as people, professionals, and what knowledge, curriculum, and the ramifications of teaching. This worked better for me in terms of personal communication rather than the online impersonal statements. I found that talking face-to-face with people was more interactive, and more educational for us, rather than reading the ‘final-draft’ speech someone had. Learning was a result of communication, and part of the process, rather than a product published for the approval of others. In other words, we bounced ideas off of each other, and shared perspectives, that we would not have gotten if we read just what was online.

            So what does this all mean for the future? I feel that when you contribute to someone else’s learning, not only does the individual, or individuals, learn, but you do as well. I feel that using online resources would be good for the classroom, but only in certain cases, and with specific outcomes. I feel that if I were to use an online source for educational purposes, I would create something similar to what we saw in the classroom the other day called todaysmeet, or if I were to use blogging, or twitter, I would not put a mark on what they have to say. I think it is important that you meet your entire student’s needs, and using different methods to teach a concept, or meet an outcome, would definitely benefit all students. I think when you contribute to others learning, it is definitely effective. Students, including myself, learn best in the moment, and it is those specific moments and interactions that create who we are, what we know, and what we will come to understand.

What is Curriculum – Re-Written

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The questions “What is Curriculum” becomes more and more complicated as the class develops. As noted, many of us have different opinions on what curriculum is and how we can define it. Looking at curriculum from an outsiders perspective, I would say that curriculum would be generally referred to the content chosen to be taught – the official curriculum mandated by the government. I think that curriculum has many different aspects. First, we have the curriculum that is set out by the government that everyone knows about and what parents are expecting us to teach. The second is the taught curriculum – what we as teachers decide to teach both explicitly and implicitly through our actions, words, and previous beliefs. Our choices in what we teach come from our knowledge, our experiences, and our feelings towards the subjects being taught, form our students in what they learn. There is the learned curriculum where students learn many different unspoken lessons within the environment of the classroom and school. The learned curriculum is much more inclusive, they can learn about respect, or lack of respect, when to ask questions, or how to learn/study. Finally, there is the tested curriculum – they curriculum most are familiar with through past experience.

I do feel that curriculum should be geared towards the students and what they should learn or take out of the lessons and information provided. I feel that we should encourage our students to explore and question their knowledge, and hopefully they will learn how to be a socially responsible person with a wide range of different knowledge not constrained by the formal documents set out by the government.

Rather than teaching to the test, we should focus on teaching for social justice. The curriculum should include different ideas, practices, activities. As teachers, we need to consider who our students are. In many cases, teachers tend to avoid teaching something they might not know or understand as well, and avoid topics that can call their own identity into question. If we teach towards social justice, these discomforting issues will be brought into attention. Although it may feel uncomfortable, and at times awkward, I think it is important for students to understand the world they live in and how they can help improve the current situations they will be facing, if not facing them already.