Now that I am getting more comfortable with the use of blogs (still haven’t tackled twitter yet), I feel it’s important to note where I’m coming from in terms of educational pedagogy. For the most part, I have just been lurking around while trying to make sense of it all. Throughout this process, there have been some overriding questions that I have been trying to answer: namely, what is the point of this course (ECI831)? Now I don’t mean to sound rude when I say this. I have just had a hard time making connections so far. In terms of technology, there seems to be an underlying assumption that we all agree that technology use is the best way to go. In terms of blog posts, there are some very different themes that have been emerging. Sometimes I have difficulty finding common threads among the myriad of blogss that I read. So instead of waiting for Alec to tell me, I made some decisions on my own. First of all, I have decided that I am going to decide on the direction of this course all by myself. Secondly, I’m going to share it with you (via blog posts). But before I can do this, I need to let you know where I’m coming from.
From an educational standpoint, ever since I completed my internship in a Metis town in northern Saskatchewan, I have had many questions about social justice and education equity. I have also wondered if traditional teaching methods just create an ‘institution’ of learning, rather than a positive learning environment. Just because students are quiet and sitting in rows, does it really mean that they are learning something? I actually did this in my class once. I sat at my desk and looked around at my quiet, studious kids ‘engaged’ in drill and practice. I noticed that they looked bored to tears and were very quietly passing notes to each other. Not exactly the engagement I was looking for.
Then I started my Master’s. I have taken four classes outside of this course so far. Each has used varied approaches and showed a variety of perspectives. I’m going to include a brief synopsis of some of the classes I have taken, as well as include some relevant resources that will help guide you in my personal journey. (Don’t worry, there is a point to all this – I’m just setting the stage). As well, I can use some gratuitous links, videos, and tags in their descriptions.
My first class was EC&I 808 with Dr. Ken Montgomery. In this class, we explored pedagogies of difference and the impact of colonialism on our education system. This class gave me a better understanding of how racism and colonial power are perpetuated today. Our first readings were about humility and the importance of bringing humility into the education profession. See: Hole, S. (1998). Teacher as Rain Dancer. Harvard Educational Review, 68, 413 – 421. The synopsis can be found here. It also gave me a great starting point to begin to address this in my classroom. I’m sure that anybody who has taught social studies in Saskatchewan has bravely tried to tackle treaties. Perhaps you were better at it than me, but in my experience this unit has just provided students with an outlet for their racism. After this class, I decided that I really needed to focus on social justice in my classroom. It needed to be ingrained in every aspect of the curriculum.
Then I took EC&I 830 with Dr. Jo Szostak. This course was a seminar critiquing technology use in schools. In this course, I was introduced to Mike Wesch and his Vision of Students Today.
I really like this video because it starts with the reality of youth today and ends with issues of globalization and justice. This video made me rethink my content delivery.
This class also made me question my use of technology and student achievement. I discovered that there is very little research surrounding technology use and improved student outcomes (if you’re looking for a thesis idea…). It also gave me a better understanding of the value of wikis and Web 2.0, particularly how their ideals and ideas can be transferred into a classroom. As well, we explored George Siemens and his theory of connectivism. I’m still not entirely sure if connectivism can be an entire educational theory (like constructivism, for example); but it was interesting to see comparisons of different learning theories. No one ever talks about the disadvantages of constructivism. If you’re interested in his blog, it can be found here. After this class, I decided that I really needed to focus on technology in my classroom. It needed to be ingrained into every aspect of the curriculum.
My most recent class was EC&I 804 with Dr. Janice Huber. This class showed how narrative can be used to develop and understand curriculum. In this class, I learned the power of discovering people’s stories. Through the sharing of others, I was able to share my own story. I think that this class tied very closely with Dr. Schwier’s concept of community. We can’t really create community unless we understand the stories of others. Otherwise it’s just a surface community of repeated rhetoric. It’s like the 6:00 newscast that shows how everyone pitches in when someone is in need. It doesn’t tell the story of others who have not been helped because their need does not fit in with the status quo. After this class, I decided that I really needed to focus on narrative in my classroom. It needed to be ingrained into every aspect of the curriculum.
So what does this all mean? Outside of the fact that I obviously like to jump on the bandwagon. It’s time to start putting this together in my practice. That’s the point, isn’t it? I need to take all of this knowledge and ideas and somehow implement it, effectively not ‘bandwagony’, in my classroom. Which leads me to ‘Where I’m Going…’ Stay tuned as I try to sort this all out. Feel free to contribute to the sorting. It would be greatly appreciated.