Curriculum as Public Policy

Before Reading: I think school curricula is developed:

  • By and for the dominant members of society
  • By the provincial government 
  • By teachers and educators 

After Reading:

School curricula is developed by the government and some subject experts. Usually, the person in control (government) exhibits the dominant culture. But what about everyone else? There are many different perspectives that should be considered when developing the school curriculum, one being the teachers themselves. Before this article I assumed that teachers had a small bit of say in what they taught… After reading this article, I found out that is not the case. Because of this problem, the curriculum creators do not know what it is like to teach students and the time it takes to go through materials. When attempting to create a new curriculum it regularly motives problems amongst the teachers. The teacher might not be as skilled in said subject, therefor enhancing the difficulties of teaching it, and they may rush and try to fit it all in. The complete process and the people who make curriculum surprises me due to the fact no one is a teacher, so they do not recognize how tough it is to teach the curriculum and they do not really comprehend if/how it works.


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Jean Piaget Quote

The quote i chose to touch on is a quote by Jean Piaget: “The goal of education is not to increase the amount of knowledge but to create the possibilities for a child to invent and discover, to create men who are capable of doing new things.” To me, this quote is something every future educator should take into consideration. Jean Piaget is going against the system by saying “the goal of education is not to increase the amount of knowledge.” In every school, you constantly see teachers teaching, testing, then moving on. Piaget knows that this particular way of going about things is problematic. I completely agree when he says that “The goal of education is to create the possibility for a child to invent and discover.” It is important that every teacher lives up to this statement in order for their students to thrive in your classroom. As teachers, we need to hold ourselves responsible for what our students are learning and taking away from schooling. In order to do that we must create endless possibilities for our students to invent and discover. If all teachers functioned in a way that allowed our children ‘invent and discover,’ students may have an overall better time in the classroom.

This relates to my understandings of curriculum because I firmly believe that school puts too much emphasis on cramming our brains with knowledge, we often forget that every child has a different way of learning. By creating new and exciting possibilities for our students to discover, more students would be engaged and perhaps learn more since they are interested.

How do I read the world?

When I think back to my younger days of wanting to be a teacher, ( have for a while) I never remember being as excited about the diversity that will come along with it as I am now. I now realize that this was because I went to an almost all white elementary school and was not exposed to the beauty that multicultural brings. After attending an incredibly diverse high school and university, I straightaway strive for inclusion in my classroom. The first and hardest step in working against biases is recognizing our biases. I think that often people, including myself, are unaware of how we are viewing the world with biases or from a single story perspective. Working against biases begins with being self-reflective. I also think that listening to understand, as opposed to listening to respond, other people’s perspectives while blocking out any preconceived notions we may have.

A single story that was represented all throughout my education was that the ‘misfits’ are the less likely to succeed. The school missed the idea that you cannot measure someone’s potential based on their current circumstances. It is the matter of challenging that one sided thought.

Numeracy

Looking back at high school math classes, I remember mathematics being mostly focused on Eurocentric views. The only kind of discrimination I experienced during math was the word problems. All were all from a Eurocentric viewpoint (Around holidays, word problems would be based around Christian holidays). We were mostly focused on our culture dominant holidays, rather than holidays such as Ramadan and Hanukah, Eve, etc. I know that this made my peers who were not from the dominant white culture, feel undesirable. As a future educator, I am going to ensure I incorporate different holidays from all the countries that are in my own classroom.

This article challenged my own views… I learned:

  1. Math is not universal: The applications, the formulas, the language, the base, the way it is taught differs. Math is not universal.
  2. The terms used for mathematics is different: there are new meanings for words like cube and straight line. Just because it doesn’t directly translate to what we know and deem “the right way” does not mean that the Inuit term is wrong.
  3. Math is not always used for the same purpose: We know 1+1+2 because we’ve been told that again and again until it sticks. The Inuit, however, have deeper meanings and applications for their mathematics that make a lot more sense.

Curriculum as Citizenship

In elementary school I was introduced to the idea of citizenship in a very broad, legal context. We went through definitions of citizenship, politics and more. In grade nine, I remember taking a social class where our teacher spoke of doing a lesson that expected us students to study for a pretend Canadian citizenship test to understand what those who attempt to gain Canadian citizenship may go through.

In my educational experience, I think that we were focused most on the “personally responsible citizen” however it was not ] stated that the work we were expected to do was related to this type of citizen, rather we believed we were just doing community work. For example, in my gym classes we were required to volunteer within our community for ten hours in order to gain insight and respect. Volunteer work is an excellent example of a personally-responsible citizen, helping the community.

Rehabilitation and Colonization

As a country we need to recognize that Indigenous people have been on the land long before European settlers decided to claim it as their own. Before Britain got status over Canada, the French and Indigenous people were getting along well, however after the Seven Years War— when Britain claimed title over the lands of (now) Canada, everything changed. Britain no longer cared about the Indigenous people who were living on the lands. This is where our history takes a horrible turn and where colonialism starts. The Indigenous people have been going through generations of heartache due to colonialism. Now, we need to get Canada back to a place where everyone can be themselves, in unity. In order for decolonization, we need truths to be heard and we need education for ALL citizens.

  1. List some of the ways that you see rehabilitation and decolonization happening throughout the narrative… Unfortunately, I rarely see interactive teaching experiences like the one exhibited throughout the assigned reading. I have taken 4 Indigenous classes and every single one of them was in a lecture setting, which seems to me quite westernized. The lecture to me, seemed to work against the Indigenous peoples way of knowing. When I attended the class, it was important for me to try and go to the offered outings that the class sprung upon us (round dance, powwow, etc) to get the full experience.
  2. How might you adapt these ideas towards considering place in your own subject areas and teaching? Though incorporating these ideas into my classroom may be hard for just myself, it opens many doors for potential conversations I could have. Whether it be with an Elder, or simply with someone of a large knowledge of challenging western views with Indigenous views.

Curriculum as citizenship

In school, they focused on making us the personally responsible citizen. The main way this was executed was through mandatory volunteering, or making Valentines/ Christmas/ Easter cards for our neighborhood and sending them out. We never learned much about being a ‘good citizen’ other than going through the definitions of citizenship, politics and more ( with the thought of immigrants gaining Canadian citizenship in mind). Other than that, it was mainly trying to influence us to do good within our community. This particular approach is beneficial and very needed. I believe it is used throughout schooling systems because it is a small first step towards community impact. Though this is wonderful, there also needs to be more integration and influencing of participatory citizens during schooling.