Critical Pedagogy of Place

The Mushkegowuk Cree have found a unique and special way of growing the faith and development of their community and the livelihood of their people.  It is so different from the way that western ideology has expressed how and what to value in life, and it definitely shows in terms of the education that most of us have been taught. 

They have been able to show forms of reinhabitation by involving the youth and all generations in different activities and community excursions as a way to develop awareness.  This also helps in terms of cultural development and understanding.  As each generation grows and adapts to the western world that is fairly unavoidable, they find it extremely important to share with and help the youth.  The elders and community leaders have developed a program that helps the youth learn and experience the values of their ancestors and the importance of the land.  paquataskamik is significant because it refers to the historical relationship to land which encompasses a much larger area than the reserve or family camps  .The relationship that the Mushkegowuk Cree have with the land and the river is absolutely crucial in their lives.  They believe that by sharing the importance of the land and their peoples relationship to the land, they will be able to develop an understanding and respect that can be utilized in all areas of life.  They also talk a great deal about the importance of the river.  The river is the main connection between their people.  Their people believe that by appreciating the river and all that is has done for the people, they will understand the importance of relationships and bond between them. 

I believe it is crucial to be able to take the product of what you teach as an educator and allow it to have meaning inside and outside of the classroom.  All of their lessons and stories allow for each student to grow as a human being which is very unique.  I hope that I will be able to use this because I am majoring in health and i believe that it can be used as a great tool to express the importance of treating yourself and others with the respect they deserve.  I may not be able to have the spiritual connection to the earth and the world as they do, but that does not mean I can not learn or bring in people who have that greater understanding.  Being open minded and developing relationships with people in and out of the community will give me the ability to become a well rounded and meaningful educator

Curriculum Politics

I believe that the development of curriculum is solely based on the level of satisfaction of the majority.  People who have power are ultimately the ones that get to voice their opinion and have a say as to what children of today get to learn.  I imagine the process of changing curriculum is extremely difficult and creating progressive ideologies and teaching outside the box is quite frowned upon.  The government most likely has its way of controlling the outcomes and development of curriculum, as their goal would be satisfying the people who have equal or higher social standing.  To create a curriculum with respect to all races, genders, classes, etc., they would no longer be appealing to the people of power and influence, which would most likely result in a lack of support.  Since the governments job is to stay in power as long as possible, this would be hard to progress.

After reading the article, one of the most shocking things I found about the politics and policies of curriculum is knowing how many different groups of people are involved in the process.  Not only the different groups are significant, but the different levels of government, local groups, and community influencers that have a say in it as well.  I never thought about the community as a contributor, but now thinking about the importance of what a province or city feels they need in workers and employment, it makes sense.  I am not shocked by the intense involvement of the government, but it does worry me that their main concern is the approval of the people in power.  This no longer shows the focus of developing the student but ensuring the vote.  The focus should be on the people who are receiving the education because they are going to be the future leaders of the world.

Good Student

When reading the assigned readings for this week, I was able to attach a bunch of different lessons that I have been learning in my education courses over the past two weeks.  I have been learning about focusing on our position in a student’s life, and what our role should be for that student.  This poses many different issues because not all students can be affected the same way by the type of teacher you want to be.  In the chapter it essentially explains that students should be a blank canvas.  This would allow teachers to mold and add to them however they please.  They need to have the ability to sit quiet, engage nicely with students, and have the focus to attain all information that is being shared with them, and take that information in the context that the teacher wants them to.  No student comes with a blank slate to work with.  They all have a past and an understanding of the world that may differ from what is expected of them.

The kids that usually get to fit into the mold of what is a good student are the children that are part of the majority.  This favours children in a way that already instills the hierarchy of power at a young age by expressing favouritism and success for children who fit in that mold.  This allows us as learning educators to find the subtle flaws in how we relate and understand the students we one day will be involved with.  We need to have the understanding that all kids have their own way of learning, and that we as educators should not punish them for that.  Is it our responsibility to help them either learn in their best way or help them find ways to develop in other ways of learning to give them the best opportunity possible.

Classroom Control

” Schools serve the same social functions as prisons and mental institutions- to define, classify, control, and regulate people.”  -Michel Foucault

I found this quote when I was looking up different theorists and I found it to be extremely blunt, invasive, and quite intriguing.  Even though this quote may not point you in the right direction as to how you should change things in the education world, but it points you away from what you do not want to be as an educator.  When I started thinking about this quote, it made me reflect on my own experience in education.  It reminded me of all the times that I failed, or the times where I did not agree with what I was being taught.  Sometimes it makes me think that the best way some teachers could push progress on us was by making sure we knew about our failures as a student.  The idea that fear of not being normal may have been enough to just push us through the system. 

Teacher’s have one of the hardest jobs out there.  They are responsible for teaching certain curriculum and material that is given to them from above and can find the ways to teach that information in the most efficient and diverse ways depending on how each student learns.  And it is the student’s job to understand and develop the skills that each lesson has to offer.  The interaction that happens in the middle is the most important part of it all.  Teachers and students need to have the ability to grow relationships, trust, and understanding of one another to grow and develop as individuals.

The Tyler Rationale

I grew up with the idea that success in the classroom meant you received a better mark on the test than your friend next to you.  It was simple to measure success when it came in the form of a percentage.  The development of a student’s confidence in the classroom was usually dependant on the marks that they received on those important tests, and that would lead them down very different paths.  I remember sitting in my grade five or six class, watching our teacher stress about the importance of the standardized test as she preached and paced across the room.  Among the pressure she put on us to remember specific answers and equations, was a true lack of understanding. I did not know why we were learning about each of those topics, but I knew they were important for the standardized test we were going to be taking part of.  I believe that young students need to understand the reason as to why they are learning the subjects and topics that are being covered because it gives them reason to pay attention and focus.

There are many limitations to the Tyler Rationale.  One of them would be the focus on the objectives, compared to the focus on the student.  When the focus is based on the substance of the topic, there is a lack of experience between the teacher and student, which usually results in the student losing their opinion and voice in the process.  Another limitation is the focus on measurable outcomes.  Once a teacher has stopped focusing on the experience of the student and the development of the student as a whole and creates an enviroment that allows all actions and results to be measured, they will have lost the connection to the classroom.  This will affect students’ abilities to feel like they can speak freely or share opinions without being graded or judged.  This method ultimately makes it impossible for students to be graded and acknowledged for their own personal growth throughout the class because they are constantly being compared to the expectations of the outcomes.

The potential benefits of the Tyler Rationale are that it is a good tool for teachers to see the end goal and have a direction in which they can focus the class.  This allows them to be able to organize and develop plans that have direction, but they should not fear the unexplored area around the various topics, that allow the students to feel like they can explore ideas of their own.  I believe that is important for students because it can develop their ability to pursue ideas and information on their own, compared to being forced towards one direction of learning.  I believe that there are good aspects of the Tyler Rationale that should be taken into consideration when preparing the class objectives and goals, but the teacher needs to remain the voice and leader of the classroom, that allows their children to grow and develop in their own way.

Common Sense

Kumashiro describes common sense in a way that most people would not understand until they get the opportunity to read his point of view.  Every person has their own opinion of what common sense is, and it usually only applies to that one person’s beliefs.  We live in a world that is structured and explained to us, only by the morals and beliefs of those who are in power and have the status to create our common sense. He uses examples comparing our way of living compared to those of other countries.  It is our belief, people of the North American lifestyle, to believe that whatever we are doing here is correct and common sense. 

As a white, heterosexual male born into a middle-class family, everything that I have learned and been exposed to in life has been created for people exactly like me.  I have not been exposed to oppression or been treated incorrectly solely on the person I am.  It is very important for me to challenge what I have been taught as common sense because my views have been shaped by the people in power who have had the same privileges that I have had.  This chapter has brought attention to the unseen oppression that many people live with everyday and are taught to accept.  Kids at a young age are pushed through a system with a goal of molding them into a “contributing citizen” in a world that has already set the boundaries and limits to what they are capable of.  As an aspiring educator, it should be my goal to challenge those limits and allow children to develop without having the pressure to be anyone else but themselves.