The “Acceptable” is Unattainable

What does it mean to be a “good” student according to the commonsense?

The common sense understanding of a “good” student is someone who listens and follows instructions and rules. This student is organized, respectful and falls easily into the routines and expectations of schools and teachers. They most likely test well, answer questions in class, and get good grades.

Which students are privileged by this definition of the good student?

Learners that are privileged by this definition of a “good” student are those who are most likely fully intellectually able, have a “type A” personality and are able to sit still for long periods of time. Additionally, these students often have a good home life (ie. good financial standing, two parents at home, lots of love/attention, all needs are being met, etc). Furthermore, they are more likely to be agreeable with what is being taught and also, what is not being taught (nothing in school goes against their own beliefs/understandings).

What is made impossible to see/understand/believe because of these commonsense ideas?

Through this lens, it becomes impossible to see “bad” students’ difficulties at home, learning difficulties, and the oppression they suffer. Moreover, it is impossible to notice the strengths of these “bad” students. Therefore, the teacher and class are missing out on the students’ perspective; their ideas, opinions, and beliefs. Furthermore, these common sense understandings make it impossible to understand or believe that there may not be a “bad” kid at all. There may not even be a “bad” teacher or “bad” classroom. Most likely, it is a “bad” school system and even further, a “bad” society that writes these narratives that are being implemented in our schools, our classrooms, and our minds. Similar to Kumashiro’s story about “M” in the reading, the traditional classroom is not every student’s ideal setting to learn and that does not make a child inherently bad. Furthermore, like Kumashiro’s student, N, a student that gives an answer that does not align with the teacher’s answer is not inherently wrong.

 

What’s Popping in Pop Culture Pedagogies

 What I’ve Discovered

After searching “Jennifer A. Sandin” in the “quick-find” of the library webpage, I came across an article written by her and Julie Garlen Maudlin titled “Pop Culture Pedagogies: Process and Praxis.” This article caught my interest because a lot of what we come to know and understand as the “commonsense” we discussed in class is transmitted through popular culture. Maudlin and Sadlin define popular culture in various ways and state that “through our engagements with popular culture, we learn what the world is, how to see the world, and how to experience and act within the world.” In other words, popular culture shapes our understanding of how we identify ourselves and others. Maudlin and Sandlin touch on three different ways that pop-culture teaches its audience: through “the transmission of norms,” through the connection between viewer and culture, and through “encounters with radical otherness.” Beyond this, they focus on individual ways to approach pop-culture pedagogy such as exploring repeated representations of teachers and students in media, analyzing personal beliefs about societal “norms,” and “engaging students in (not just with) popular culture.”

   Next, I decided to focus my two supporting articles on ways that pop-culture is being actively integrated into the curriculum. First, I came across a book titled Hip-Hop Poetry and The Classics written by Alan Sitomer and Michael Cirelli that focuses on the overlap between classical poetry and hip-hop lyrics. Additionally, Teaching With Disney, a collection of essays edited by Julie C. Garden and Jennifer A. Sandlin, touches on how Disney teaches gender, race, consumption, and identity. 

Next Steps

   With the information I gather from these three works, I plan to define popular culture and its role inside and outside the classroom. Furthermore, I will deepen my understanding of this topic by discussing pedagogical approaches to pop-culture and the various ways in which they are being adopted and adapted by teachers in the field. 

Week 2: Curriculum Theory and Practice

The four models of curriculum described in the article are:

  1. “1. Curriculum as a body of knowledge to be transmitted.
  2. Curriculum as an attempt to achieve certain ends in students – product.
  3. Curriculum as process.
  4. Curriculum as praxis” (Smith, 2000).

One of the main benefits of defining “curriculum as a syllabus to be transmitted” is that education is focused on the content of the subject to prepare students for an examination on the course material. However, this is also a drawback as it does not specify the importance of the topics or the order in which they should be studied. As mentioned in the article, this model allows educators to “limit their planning to a consideration of the content or the body of knowledge that they wish to transmit.”

The next model of curriculum, “curriculum as a product,” focuses on objectives and outcomes. The goal of this curriculum is for students to obtain the knowledge that is considered by society to be needed. This could be considered beneficial as it aims to prepare students for life outside of school as contributing members of society. On the other hand, a significant drawback to this model is that learners have little to no control over their education. Additionally, assessment is based on outcomes. As stated in the article, “[i]t implies that behaviour can be objectively, mechanistically measured.” This creates a check-list approach to measuring success that allows students and teachers to overlook the learning that occurs outside of the written objectives.

The third model of curriculum, “curriculum as process,” emphasizes integration between teacher, students and knowledge. This is a beneficial aspect because it encourages students to participate in active learning by engaging through conversation with their peers and teacher. It also allows for continual evaluation which is important because every classroom is unique. Most importantly, students have an active role in their education as they work with their teacher to develop content and means. As stated by Smith, “[the students] have a clear voice in the way that the sessions evolve.” Instead of focusing on teaching, curriculum as a process highlights learning in the classroom. However, a drawback to this model is the high-degree of variety in content from classroom to classroom.

Lastly, the “curriculum as praxis” model focuses on the freedom of education. As stated in the article, it “pays careful attention to collective understandings and practices and to structural questions.” One of its main benefits is its focus on action and reflection, and the emphasis on human emancipation.

The most common model of curriculum in my own schooling experience was “curriculum as product.” This model allowed me to succeed in school by following and achieving a list of objectives and outcomes. However, it allowed little room for uniqueness or variety in student work. Personally, it solidified the link between grades and success in my schooling experience. I believe this to be a negative thing because if I missed an outcome, I viewed that as failing to learn a concept. However, as mentioned in the article, the knowledge I had gained during the process, that was not listed as an outcome, may have gone unnoticed by the teacher and myself.

 

Week 1: The Problem of Common Sense

The Problem of Common Sense

How does Kumashiro define ‘commonsense?’ Why is it so important to pay attention to the ‘commonsense’?

Kumashiro defines ‘commonsense’ as the knowledge obtained by an individual from simply living in and learning from their society. Simply, it is one’s worldview that is shaped by experiences. It is the way an individual or group of individuals routinely live day-to-day. Additionally, it includes personal and social values, traditions, and perspectives. Often, an individual’s commonsense will mirror that of the society they live in because of societal pressure to conform to the “norm.”

It is important to pay attention to ‘commonsense’ because ‘commonsense’ is what allows us to think, act, and teach based on societal norms that are often oppressive and favour a certain group of individuals. We must be aware of our own ‘commonsense’ as well as others’ so that we are able to recognize when we may be using our ‘commonsense’ in ways that hurt or hinder our students.