Childhood, is it really a thing, how do we know?

One of the more interesting things of this topic is Valerie Walkerdine pointing out that childhood was never seen as separate from adulthood until compulsory schooling.  While I have heard that idea throughout history classes, I never gave it much thought and certainly not in terms of the implications of child development.  The study of child development is one of those things, that you know had to have a start some where, but I ,at least, have never given any deeper thought to the implications of it on children or what the understanding of how children did things was before the inception of Developmental Psychology.

Another aha moment was the mention by Marie Battiste, of a class that is offered at the University of Saskatchewan, similar to our ECS 110 Self and other class.  This stood out to me for two reasons.  One is that I have this idea in my head that because classes aren’t universally transferable between universities, the values of what is important to learn were also very different.  That made me happy to see that at least one other education program thinks that learning about our feelings towards others shapes our interactions.  Secondly, I was recently reminded of how much my thinking and attitudes had changed through my journey in ECS 110.  I remember thinking at the end of the semester, how that class should be mandatory in at least high school and that it should also be mandatory in every faculty at university.  After the issues that reminded me of my learning in ECS 110, I feel even more strongly this information should be mandatory.

The biggest revelation to me in this reading was in putting it all together.  Embracing different ways of knowing is ideal and something we most definitely should strive for.  However, I think that in order for this to be effective, we need a complete over haul of our education system.  Our current way of doing things especially assessment is not conducive to other ways of knowing.

As I read through Walkerdine’s article, and she said that development psychology is a “story”.  I immediately connected with what we are learning in ESCI 302.  We are learning that stories are a different way of knowing.  Now with this new lens or way of knowing, I am beginning to see that knowing about developmental theory is not something as I teacher, I should use a rule above all else, but as a tool to guide me.

After viewing the video of Sâkêj Henderson, I found very interesting that in his language there was no word for purpose.  I started thinking about it and the purpose of schooling and curriculum.  As part of our journey to being a teacher we are required in ECS 210 to examine the curriculum.  One of the things we talk about is the purpose of the curriculum.  Our curriculum is very product or end result oriented.  How do you show you did this rather than embracing the more abstract learning of how did this make you think and feel.  We can’t get away from the most basic purpose and that is we need to be literate in words, numbers and technology but why do a set out purpose for learning everything else.

My question is: How do we move away from one way of knowing and fully embrace different ways of knowing?

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Why citizenship? Who should teach it?

When I was growing up and going to school in the late 70’s and early 80’s citizenship formation was minimal in schools or at least my school.  Our citizenship was at the very basic level of a personally responsible citizen. We were taught to finish school, get a job to provide for yourself, obey the rules of the school and laws of society and being in a Catholic school, the golden rule was front and center, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.  These are very generic and vague ideas of citizenship.  In my school days, we often didn’t do fundraising for this cause or that cause. I am not sure if we didn’t do this because it wasn’t common then or if it was because we lived in a neighbourhood and school that received donations.  While the fundraising schools do now is needed, and a simple way to create awareness and empathy for causes I don’t think it is enough.

In light of Gerald Stanley trial, the verdict and the vile comments on social media, I think we need to change our idea of what it means to be a citizen, even as a personally responsible citizen.  Prior to my journey through education, I would have had a very different reaction to the events that have transpired.  Through ECS 110, my views and opinions in many issues have changed dramatically.  I won’t delude you into thinking that I agree with everything we learned, but the bigger idea is how I look at things in general.  I left ECS 110, thinking that everyone should be made to take that class, whether being a teacher or not.  After this week, I think that content needs to start in the schools.  I think education of the underlying causes of the way things are would go a long way in bridging this chasm we have in the world, between those we consider “normal and good” and those who are viewed as not.  I think a part of being a personally responsible citizen is being able to have these tough conversations, whether online or in person, is be able to listen, and make your point with out stooping to name calling, stereotypes, and all the other garbage that people feel free to spew from behind a screen.

As teachers, I think it is our responsibility to develop our skills in having these intense conversations, so that we can be good models for our students and give them the skills to handle issues, so that everyone can be heard. I think as teachers it is our responsibility because our students need good models, when so many things around them don’t know how to handle tough topics in a positive way. That being said, I honestly don’t know if I was in a middle years or high school how I could ever begin to convince my students that we need to work together.

 

Braiding our eco-literate ideas together.

A braid is three separate strands of similar material that is woven together and the crossing of two pieces makes a connection.  Two strands connect and then the third connects with one then the other forming a beautiful plait full of connections.  I chose Camryn and Ashley’s poems to be the two strands that complement my poem or strand.

One of the common themes that I see in all three poems, is the importance of being to be able to be outside to enjoy nature. Camryn, says it’s a place of enjoyment, and curiosity, Ashley thanks her co worker for noticing the fish in the creek, and from my poem, “hands in the dirt,” “playgrounds, exploring,” give us the clues that being able to enjoy nature is an important part of eco literacy. Ashley and I interweave our two strands together, with the importance of children in eco literacy with their natural curiosity.  Camryn’s statement about living in a healthy and safe environment complements and completes that section of the braid nicely.

Another theme among all three poems is the disappearance of animals and their habitats. Ashley is quite blunt about species dying where as Camryn comments that environment is important to every living thing and that animals are vital to human way of life, a much gentler approach.  I think my approach with the disappearing habits is somewhere between the bluntness of Ashley and subtly of Camryn.  Neither is approach is right or wrong it is simply a section of the braid that losing our animals and their habitats is a concern in eco literacy and one that we support.

I could go through and pick out and weave a very intricate braid of the many similarities between the three poems.  What is more difficult is to find the differences.  After careful thought, I think the biggest difference is in the actions to be taken.  In my poem, I suggest thinking on a bigger scale, with zero-waste events, like was attempted at the 2018 Super Bowl.  Where as Ashley and Camryn speak of the smaller scale recycling.  There is nothing wrong with the small-scale approach, but a big scale approach may be considered more often.

Another difference is that only in my poem is there recognition of the long-term effects of our actions beyond 20 years.  I refer to being aware of what we are doing in terms of our negative actions and how those may have longer lasting effects than we think, however the positive is also true.  Perhaps the little things we are doing now such as home recycling is going to have a bigger impact than we think. I do believe that we do need to keep educating ourselves and if we keep trying to add the little things they may add up to big things.

Robin Kimmerer (2013) in the chapter Maple Nation, talks about doing something and I think this story is the elastic that holds the braid together. She shares in this story of how people in the community complain about the way things are in the town. The leaders in the town, Kimmerer (2013) says often tell the complainers, to show up to a meeting”.  Meaning do something about it, make your voice heard.  In relation to our poems, it is great to share our feelings, but we need to do something, make our voices heard.  As teachers, perhaps the biggest thing we can do to make our voices heard is make our students eco literate. Get them outside, appreciate the outdoors, get their hand dirty so that they know the importance and beauty of what they could lose.

 

 

Wall Kimmerer, R. (2013). Maple Nation: A Citizenship Guide, in Braiding Sweetgrass:

IndigenousWisdom, Scientific Knowledge & the Teachings of Plants, pp. 167-174.    Minnesota, MN: Milkweed Editions.

Learn! Do! Teach!

Too Hot! Too Cold! Too Dry! Too Wet!

Disappearing animals

Disappearing Habitats

Disappearing playgrounds

Wait! Stop!

WE can fix this

Big Things

Long term 20, 30 50 year impacts of our actions

Be aware, Learn

Zero-waste big events

Think Big, do! Learn!

Small Things

Playgrounds, biking, exploring

Hands in the dirt

Giggles, wiggly worms

Food fresh from the ground, Yum!

Learn! Do! Teach!

Frog and crickets singing

Polar bears lounging

Habitats thriving

Big things small things

Be the stone that creates the ripple

Learn! Do! Teach!

Culture and Diversity

Culture and Diversity

This chapter was a bit of mixed learning, it had many ideas and information that again, I have previously learned, and am currently learning in other classes.  There, however. was some new ideas as well.

The first was resistance cultures and peer influences.  I found it very interesting that students in low socio-economic(ses) groups, may not do well because they don’t want to be seen by their peers as conforming to the dominant culture, or “selling out.”    I know that peers have a great influence but to see how it can impact someone’s future in such a big way just boggles my mind.

Tracking or streaming was another idea that I sort of knew about but never really thought to deeply about either in how it works or how it can be discriminatory.  I found it very interesting that low-ses student are put in lower classes, based on judgements rather than actual facts/testing.  I found the point/counterpoint argument very interesting as well.  It was interesting that it seemed that it was only the higher-tracked students who would suffer from eliminating tracking.  I agree with at the end of the argument that we should consider the students interests and goals and support them to achieve those goals rather than placing them where we think they will do well or what is best for them.  I also think that schools that support the low-ses students should be better funded.

Stereotype threat is a completely new concept for me.  I never really thought about the pressure of conforming to a stereotype either good or bad.  Conforming to a so called positive stereotype would be stressful but after reading about resistant cultures, conforming to a negative stereotype could be just as or even more stressful and conflicting.

I often find myself in my classes feeling a little more pressured to be more organized and on top of things, because I am a mature student.  It sometimes seems that others think, I have it more together because I am a mom and a student and older.  I put a lot of pressure on myself to conform to the perceived stereotype.

I wonder if the resistant culture is sometimes perpetuated also by parents either blatantly or inadvertently.

 

 

 

Who influences curriculum and is it the right people?

For our blog this week we were to write our thoughts about who creates curriculum before we read our readings.  Then we were to read the selection and share our thoughts on it, hence the before and after sections.

Before reading

I have always known that the government creates the curriculum, however I am very unclear of the process of developing the curriculum.  In a class I took in the winter of 2017, we had a representative from the Regina Catholic School Board (RCSB)come in and talk to us about new curriculum development. He indicated that teachers were instrumental in developing and writing curriculum.  I found myself wondering what teachers contributed. Is it lesson plans that meet the curriculum or is it curriculum outcomes and indicators or a combination.  What I did find interesting from RCSB rep was that they did confer extensively with Elders in the vetting of the new curriculum.

After reading:

After reading our selection for this topic, I found it very enlightening at just how many influences there are over curriculum. I am an optimist, in that I always hope that children’s’ best interests and education overrides all else, so I found it a little disconcerting to have it brought front and center that educational policy makers seem to be influenced by so many lobbyists and special interest groups and that may drive their decisions rather than what is best for the students.  I don’t mean to suggest that I didn’t know the influence of outside groups played a role, it is one of those things that just lurked under the surface of my knowledge and that I hoped wasn’t as influential as it was made out to be.

Research is also an influencing factor, however that is often very skewed and not truly unbiased.  Most research is conducted with a purpose to prove something, and that purpose is often dictated by those who are funding the research or want something to change.  Research is then conducted in a way to prove the purpose.  We often see our Canadian students compared to other countries and then we hear studies that prove this country or that is better in math or science than Canada.  Then everyone is up in arms and we must do something to compete.  What the studies or research fails to tell us is why other countries excel in academics over Canada.  They fail to consider cultural aspects of it.  When we try to implement similar strategies in Canada they often fail because our Canadian culture does not function in a way to support those strategies, or our research tells us that for a random example that our Canadian students begin to fall behind in Grade 5 in math.  So, to correct and keep our students from getting behind, we make the changes to the grade 5 curriculum, when the changes need to occur in Kindergarten or even before, so the changes are built on.  Research also doesn’t consider or minimizes the impact of resources that are allocated, in the different schools in an area or even across provinces. Research often shows that students in poorer schools do worse in academics, so the curriculum is adjusted to make them more successful, rather than addressing the underlying causes, such as funding to the schools, perhaps the teacher’s abilities, and the outside influences, poverty, family lives etc.

I don’t know what the real solution is, but my ideal would be for all the policy makers when it comes to education is to make decisions based on what is going to benefit all students rather than who threatens to not vote for them or fund their campaigns.  It would be nice if one day education policy would be free of politics.

 

Social Cognitive Theory-Bandura

This week there is some new learning, that I haven’t previously covered in other classes and that excites me.

One of the big things that came out of this chapter was in the lecture when Dr. Crooks asked us to think of something we learned recently and take a deeper look at how we learned that task.  I think by having us look at the steps in our learning it helps us to be more aware of the steps our students take in learning what we are teaching them.  It may also help us to find new tools or methods when our students struggle with material.

The difference between self-regulation and self-efficacy was also enlightening.  Even though they are different, self-efficacy is the belief in oneself and self-regulation is the ability to manage one’s feelings and find the motivation to get through the tough spot.  I do think that both go hand in hand.  I think the higher the self-efficacy one has the better they maybe to self-regulate.  I also believe that one can self-regulate with out a high self-efficacy but it’s a bit more challenging.

I also found the information we were given on Bandura interesting.  I think he is a very good example of self-regulation, in how he got himself through school in such a short time.

One of the big connections I made is that Bandura’s theory seems to combine both Vygotsky’s and Piaget’s theory very well.  Bandura recognizes that social, like Vygotsky, plays an important role in learning especially the modelling of a task or behaviour from someone more experienced. Bandura also recognizes that the motivation and level of development, like Piaget, plays a part in learning as well.  Children must have the cognitive development and motivation to learn a task, for the modelling/social to be effective.

The other connection, came from the lecture in that my methods of self-regulation/organization may not be effective for my students.  I must be prepared to help my students find what works for them, so they can be successful.  There isn’t only one way to self regulate or be organized.

Finally, I ended up with 2 questions instead of one this time around.

My first question is: Is there an optimum window for learning self-regulation?

Secondly: I was curious to know what the definition of success was in the marshmallow test follow up.

 

What is a good student?

This week’s prompt asked us to consider what is a good student according to the commonsense and what does this definition make impossible.  Before getting into that definition, it is interesting to note that in our readings for this week the good student definition has changed very little in 130 years.  The first reading from 1886 is more racist in its description of a good student and our second reading doesn’t seem to fit the racist bill but seems to be more gendered in the good student ideal.

A good student according to the first reading is a white, male and the ideal is for them to be Christ like.  The reading then goes on to speak of those of Asian descent and how their religion, language and science are not compatible with the ideal student.

The second reading while it doesn’t mention gendered pronouns specifically, from the description of the challenging students I, at least, am given the impression that these students are boys. In the description of M wielding a branch sword, I feel that if it was a girl it wouldn’t be such an issue, as well as the description of M as restless and had little interest in crafts etc. also the description of N’s challenging behaviour leads me to believe that N was also a boy.  I feel here too that there would be more leeway for a girl that was challenging, and it would be seen as less of a problem. These students don’t fit the bill of the “good student” because they don’t sit quietly, or quietly accept what the teacher feels is important for them to learn.  So, therefore a good student is one who sits quietly, participates willingly in whatever activity the teacher puts out, produces the exact answer the teacher wants and generally follows the ideals of the teacher and school.

The problem with this is that it doesn’t  allow children to be “good students” in their own way.  We saw that N is interested in reading and writing when N has a choice of what N is going to read or write about.  We also see that M participates calmly and with great interest when his time and project are not strictly structured.  We as teachers and even the education system as a whole need to redefine our thinking and allow students to produce work that interests them, to be good students in their own way. The current definition also does not take into account cultural differences. I believe that if our schools were more student interest centered, we would have less behaviour problems, and less classroom management issues and more engaged students meeting the learning standards.