Parenting styles, peer culture and a positive spin on bad situations.

This week in ECS 200 we talked about self and social and moral development.  Last semester we covered most of this in detail in ECE 200 for the younger kids.  I find it difficult to find something new I have learned, so instead I am switching my thinking to what expanded my knowledge of what I have already learned.

The first idea that expanded was the authoritarian parenting style, is not always a negative style of parenting nor does it always produce negative outcomes for the children who are parented this way.  The text (p.73) suggests that cultural and socio-economic factors may lead to this having positive outcomes.  The text gives example of students of Asian descent or students in dangerous neighbourhoods having positive outcomes with this parenting style.

Through our discussion in lecture, I found it interesting that most everything can be treated with positivity.  I find this a little difficult, which may be because I have a narrow definition of positivity.  I find it hard to believe that you can put a positive spin on calling the parents of a repeat fighting offender, for example.  I do believe you can and should be pleasant and understanding when making that phone call.  I see those as different than being positive.  I see being positive as putting a good spin on the situation and I can’t see how you can do that with a repeat offender, with a serious offense.

My knowledge of peer culture expanded.  I know that peers exert a great amount of influence over each other.  I did not fully realize the extent of it. I found it so eye opening reading the Mean Girls scenario and the incident described on p. 76 of the text.  I knew kids could be mean, but I just didn’t think they would be that strict and rigid in their self-made codes/rules.

The two connections I made from this chapter have to do with parenting styles.

The first is that my parenting style does affect my teaching style a great deal.  I have noticed in my volunteering in the classroom, that I am firmly entrenched in the authoritative style, with the students and have seemingly endless patience with them. While with my own children I sometimes cross into the authoritarian parenting style and lack that endless patience.

Secondly, is that I really need to be aware that the authoritative style may not be received or responded to well by all my students.  I must be aware that it is not disrespect on their part, but it may be cultural or socio-economic and I may have to adjust accordingly.  I may have to be more firm and direct, but I can still be warm and caring.

My burning question from this chapter comes from the lecture discussion.

How do you put a positive spin on bad situations?  i.e. Repeated fighting.

Time to redefine the purpose of education. (blog #2)

In his article Social Efficiency Ideology, Michael Shiro (2013), talks about Ralph Tyler’s four basic questions that must be addressed when creating curriculum or education programs. Those questions are: What educational purpose should the school seek to attain, what educational experiences can be provided to attain those purposes, how can they be effectively organized and how can it be determined that the purpose are being met. (Shiro,2013) A purpose and guiding questions are never a bad thing when creating programs.

Tyler’s questions are a good way to start program planning, every good program or curriculum must have a defined purpose and an idea of how to attain that purpose.  We also need to know that we achieved our purpose of the program in some way.  I believe that when working with large organizations or systems it is essential to have a defined purpose or goal so that gaps and overlaps are kept to a minimum.  We see that in the current curriculum when certain topics are taught in certain grades.  I feel that to make sure the students are moving forward in their knowledge, in such a large organization as in an school or education system, it is a necessary evil so to speak.  We need to know that students are covering a variety of topics throughout their education and not studying the same thing every year because they happen to get teachers for several years in a row who like to teach, for example, the water cycle.  Those students then never discover the wide range of other science topics.

This system though, is problematic because it is very narrow focused on everyone having the same experience, to produce the same result.  Not all students respond to the same experiences in the same way.  What is exciting and interesting for some is dreadfully boring and frustrating for another.  When those who don’t fit the mould, and produce the expected results with the expected experience, that is when labelling happens. Such as, the student has learning difficulties, or has been acting up because of disinterest, so is now labelled as ADHD or has behaviour issues.  When the reality is the material and/or experience didn’t engage the student.

I come from the generation where this model was practiced very strictly.  We were taught the subjects as individual experiences, and there was no mixing of them.  Even as a middle years student I wondered why we didn’t practice our writing skills by writing about what we were learning in social studies or science or read books in English class that pertained to topics we were studying in other subjects.  Our classroom was rows, and desks, the teacher lectured and then we did questions and tests with one correct answer.  There was a very narrow band for creativity and individuality in this strict model.

I slowly see a shift away from the strictness in today’s classrooms.  When I am in a classroom, I see how much more freedom there is for the students.  The seating arrangements are often collaborative, talking and conferring is allowed.  I also see that student aren’t always required to produce one answer but if they can show their learning it is acceptable.  This new way of doing things is something I much prefer, over the way I was taught, but it still is not my ideal.  My ideal would be to have the students work at whatever interested them and produce a sample of their learning in whatever way they choose and works best for them.

I am not sure how or if we would ever be able to reach my ideal of strictly student led classrooms and evaluations but from where I come from we are moving in the right direction. To get to this point of student led education we first need to redefine our purpose and then our definition of evaluation of this purpose.  Learning can happen and be proven in so many ways.



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

Many sides of activism

On January 19th and 20th we were required to attend some sessions of the Apathy in Action conference put on by RPIRG at the University of Regina.  I was only able to attend Fridays’ sessions.  I found most of the sessions very informative in content and I learned a great deal about how different activism looks.

Each talk I listened to, went about their activism for their chosen cause in different ways.  Bernadette Wagner gave an author talk about her book about uranium and the impact the Saskatchewan uranium industry has had through out history.  She said her activism comes in the form of her writing and in her performances with the Sacred Web group.  Next Michelle Stewart and Prescott Demas representing Colonialism No More, shared their experiences with activism.  Their group pitched tents in spring and summer outside the Indigenous and Northern Affairs office, in response to a call to action from the youth Atawascape to bring attention and action to the conditions youth and children are facing on some of the reserves.  Michelle and Prescott also shared that their group also helps others set up demonstrations.  They also pointed out that you don’t have to be on the front lines to be active in a cause, there are many background jobs.  Finally,  Mia Bell spoke about Fat Feminism.  Her message to me was that another take on activism is to be aware of how we move about in spaces and the words we choose to use.  For example, she challenged those with thinner bodies to think about when they sat in the lecture theaters at the University of Regina (U of R) how would someone living in a fat body(her words), find those seating options.  She said and I agree that for larger people the lecture theaters, especially in the Classroom building are very discriminatory.  Larger people simply do not fit well and the little fold over desks simply aren’t an option for large people.  This affects class choices for many students at the U of R.  She then shared a few other examples to be aware of.   These examples also tie in very nicely with Robin Kimmerer’s ideas in her chapter Maple Nation. Where she tells us that a prominent teacher in town and Kimmerer’s own parents share the sentiment that you can’t complain about the way things are if you don’t do something, as the teacher in the story says “attend a damn meeting”. So where does my new found knowledge leave me. What am I going to do?

I do strongly believe in Kimmerer’s statement that you can’t complain if you don’t do something. However, I am a mom, a wife and full time mature university student.  Right now, those are my main priorities in that order and when I am done attending to those things, there is very little of me left to give.  In thinking about the various ways that activism looks like, I maybe able to do a couple of small things.  Like next time I see a camp and my boys ask what its about, rather than saying I don’t know, I could make the time to either stop or go back at another time and talk to the group with my boys.  Or I could write that letter to the president of the U of R like I thought about when I entered the lecture theater in the classroom building and found my body doesn’t fit so well and there is no other option for me or my other classmates in the same situation. They are just little things but for now, they will have to do.


Working myself out of my future profession (blog #3)

The greatest sign of a success for a teacher…is to be able to say, “The children are now working as if I did not exist.    Maria Montessori

I choose this quote of Maria Montessori because, to me, students should work their way to independence.  As a future teacher I believe it is my job not to impart random facts for the children/students to memorize but to teach my students how to learn anything they want to learn.

In the early years that includes learning to read, to write, to do math equations and now how to use technology.  These are necessary to learn and yes, to be able to function in the world as adults.

However, I also whole heartedly believe that when children are learning what interests them, those necessities take care of themselves, with some coaching or facilitating from the teacher.  When children are passionate and interested in the material, they don’t need a teacher standing over them telling them what they should be learning about the topic.  Often, they will take the topic they are interested in many different directions, directions the teacher does not have time to delve into or even thought of the connection.  I often, think of my oldest son during our homeschooling experience.  He was interested in airplanes so being the good mom and dutiful teacher I planned a unit on airplanes.  We did that unit, but my son was not content to finish when the planned unit was.  I let him continue with airplanes figuring it would fizzle out after a couple of weeks.  He was after all reading, writing, making charts.  What happened was that this unit took him the whole year.  He went down paths I never would have thought of.  We started with modern planes and he went to WW I & II aircraft and then into the battles, and countries involved.  When he tired of that, he studied birds and compared birds and airplanes.  He carried on with his schooling as if I didn’t exist, until he needed a little guidance.  He is 29 years old now and he can still tell you most of what he learned that year.  What I saw was that his reading levels improved dramatically, his ability to write and make notes increased, and even his math abilities increased.  It was, without a doubt in my mind, our most successfully homeschooling year.

As I move through the education classes and learn about the different theories and methods, I always come back to how can I let my students learn what they are passionate about, and still satisfy the quantitative need that schools and parents want.  I hope before I am done teaching, I do find away to let my students follow their passion so that they too can learn as if I didn’t exist.


Blog post #1- Theories of Piaget and Vygotsky

After studying Piaget and Vygotsky’s theories for most of last semester it was a bit tricky to come up with three things I learned.  It was through the lecture that some new learning happened.  The first thing was that our current Education system is based on Piaget’s theories of stages of learning. The grade levels in our system correspond, not exactly of course, to Piaget’s theory of what they are capable of at certain ages. For example, we don’t teach Algebra to most 6-year olds who are in grade one because they aren’t yet capable of the level of abstract thinking required to perform algebraic tasks. This brings me to my second learning from the chapter, we must be very careful as educators and parents not to be to rigid in our application for the stages and ages.  Children in any of Piaget’s stages maybe exactly where the stage expects or they maybe below or higher in their abilities.  The only new learning I had from this chapter was about neural pathways being pruned away at certain stages of development.

The first connection I made was to the neural pathway pruning.  I connected this to English as an Acquired Language learners(EAL).  It seems to connect, why young children seem to have an easier time of learning additional languages and for some adults and teens it is more difficult.  The language acquisition neural pathways in young children are still strong from learning their first language and have not been “pruned” away in the case of some adults.  The second connection I made was that Piaget and Vygotsky’s theories are often used together, such as in our classrooms.  Many classroom teachers incorporate Vygotsky’s social theories into their teaching and student learning through classroom arrangement and allowing children to collaborate on their work and projects together.

My question from this chapter is why is there not more updated research on both Piaget and Vygotsky’s theories or if there is why is the more current research being taught.


Indoor girl, finds connection to environment.

This blog post is a bit of a challenge for me to write. I very much related to Kimmerer’s students, and their explanation of why things layered they way they do. I don’t know more than the common terms for environmental species and really, I don’t care to. I am not an outside person in any way, shape or form.  I prefer to go from my climate controlled home, to my climate controlled vehicle, to my almost always climate controlled destination. Given that, you can imagine the difficulty I had coming up with a time I felt connected to the environment.  After some thinking, and beginning to believe that I would not come up with anything, I realized that my connection to the environment is water.

I very much love watching and listening to running water.  I enjoy looking at photos of pristine lakes, majestic waterfalls, and gently running streams.  I enjoy watching and listening to the rain, water running and slapping gently against the shore.

The one time my connection to the environment and water stands out is when I was fortunate enough to visit San Diego.  My husband and I spent a week there.  We had a long list of things we wanted to see and do.  The top of the list, an absolute must was to visit a beach and the Pacific Ocean.

We arrived at a, mostly. deserted beach only a couple of tourists and surfers to be found.  I was in awe of being at the ocean.  I just stood and watched and listened.  I felt instantly calm, and at peace, a wonderful feeling.  As I stood and watched, nothing else mattered, I heard no other sounds, but the roar of the waves.  The waves were very high, and came in fast.  My husband and I speculated that there must be a storm out in the ocean somewhere that was generating such waves.  Sitting at the shore we watched the surfers, making bets as to if they would get up and ride the wave.  When we tired we of watching the surfers we turned our attention to the waves themselves.  The power and force of the waves was so impressive.  It put into perspective, just how devastating and forceful waves can be.  However, the even with the realization of the destructiveness that water can bring there was something so mesmerizing about watching the shapes, and patterns the waves took.  The time just melted away from us, as we sat hypnotized by the roar and power of the water.  I have never had time slip away from me like that when I have been outside before.  I hope to someday go back and experience that calmness again. 20180114_185020

Common Sense; do we really need it?

Kumshiro describes “common sense” as something that everyone knows or takes for granted in a society/culture/community.  He goes on to describe how as a newcomer to Nepal, that he had to learn these things.  Things such as showering in a public place, learning that meals were only served twice a day in the shop, and how schooling was conducted, these activities were all common sense to the villagers but not to Kumshiro who had a different common sense.  It is simply what they do without any real thought as to doing them or why they do them. Common sense is something that has always been done without anyone really questioning why it is done.  Most of the time there is no questioning because it is something that isn’t even thought about.

We need to pay attention to the common sense because not all the common sense of a society is as simple as where and when people shower.  The common sense is often generated by those that have privilege and power in a society and whether purposefully or not oppresses those who do not hold the power and privilege in the society.  When we don’t question our common sense, we then assume everyone has or should have the same ideals as we do so we set out to change the common sense that isn’t like ours.  Kumshiro set out to help those in Nepal by bringing in the American methods of teaching, assuming the American methods were better.  When we stop, pay attention, we learn so much.  Paying attention to others common sense gives us a deeper insight into their lives, traditions, beliefs and values. We may learn about others and take some knowledge from them to improve our schools or ourselves.  When we pay attention to our own common sense we might be uncomfortable, because we just might see how our common sense is not the right way for everyone, including those that we interact with daily.  If we paid attention to our common sense, we would have to act to change it and change is uncomfortable.