self identify as ‘human’

Image

In our ECS seminar today, we participated in an activity regarding racism and the stereotypical way that we subconsciously put people into boxes based on their skin colour, eye shape, hair texture, etc. I highly recommend you try it for yourself here.

After sorting the pictures, you have a chance to click on each individual and learn how they self identify. As I was clicking through these pictures, one of the write ups really took me aback. It said: “Self identifies as: Human.” How eloquent and beautiful.

Just think how different our society would be if we stopped judging people and replaced the judgement with the notion that we are all equal in the sense that we are human.

Black        lower class      transgender       lesbian        nerd           loser

human         human             human          human       human        human

Just think about that next time you catch yourself labelling someone. I am human. You are human. Every single person who has ever lived and will ever live on our planet was or is human. We are all the same. So why must we focus on our differences?

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race, history, and change

Reading just a few sentences of F. V. N. Painter’s History of Education (1886) tells you that things were very different at that time. Here were a few things that sounded off alarm bells in my head:

  • the use of “manhood” instead of “adulthood”
  • “the end of education is complete human development”
  • “education is not creative”
  • “Asia is the birthplace of the human race”
  • great problems will receive their solution in Europe and North America
  • uncivilized peoples’ education is too primitive to even be of note in this book
  • other countries’ approaches to education are viewed as “very defective” and inferior to those of the Western world

Seeing these statements in a book that is over 100 years old isn’t surprising, but it definitely makes me wonder how ludicrous everything we base our world views on today will sound in a century or two. It actually reminded me a lot of this picture:Image

The term ‘race’ in the book is confusing and incorrect. Painter uses ‘race’ to refer to the human race as a whole, but also specific ethnicities/nationalities (ex. “the Mongolian race”). First of all, the term ‘race’ is completely removed from being scientifically correct. There are NO human races, just one species who happen to have differing physical characteristics as a result of adaptations to the climate in the part of the world in which they live. Granted, I’m not sure Painter was aware of this, as he lived in the era of race being used as a way to legitimize slavery (because certain ‘races’ were superior to others and could, therefore, claim them as property, not actual human beings).

When I learned that this particular textbook was used in teacher education programs, it made me realize why it takes so long to change our ways of thinking in regards to social justice issues, such as race. Our society puts so much trust in teachers to portray the correct information to students, and if teachers are taught falsified ideas, these ideas will become perpetuated in an entire generation of society. Personally, I find it quite admirable that our society has made such strides towards equality when these things were being taught in schools for so long.

Educators teach who they are and what they believe in, and I find this to be a wonderful, yet very scary, thought. How does society continue to trust that their teachers are fostering ideas of equality in their students? How can those in charge of recruiting new teachers ensure that they are hiring someone who can portray these important notions? And if the teachers fail to do this, how can the damage be undone?

-KKF

challenging common sense

This post will be discussing Kevin K. Kumashiro’s book, Against Common Sense (Revised Edition).

against common senseKumashiro defines common sense as things everyone should know. These things are implicitly taught and learned from experience and exposure to a certain culture, society, institution, family, etc. Hidden curriculum (the things we learn in school that aren’t taught through specific subject area content, ex. raising your hand, lining up to leave the room, etc.) is a form of common sense.

The knowledge of common sense is important to educators because it can be restrictive and oppressive. It is based in tradition, doesn’t allow for new ideas, alternative perspectives or variety. Common sense can also privilege some, while marginalizing others. Common sense prevents people from questioning norms – why would we need to question something that “just makes sense”? We have always done something a certain way, and that way is always regarded as correct, so we have no need to think of other ways in which it could be done. For example, students sit in desks while the teacher stands at the front of the room, and this is seen as a traditional classroom set up which no one challenges.

Creating teachers that challenge common sense is a huge goal of the Faculty of Education. The school system I grew up in prompted students to know the answers to questions, but future teachers are encouraged to ask questions which they often don’t know the answer to, or may not be able to answer at all. I think this semester will involve a lot of asking, “Why do we do things this way?” and “Why do we think like this?” To be a successfully reflective teacher, you must constantly be asking yourself why your classroom and lessons are set up the way they are, and consider ways in which they could be altered in order to be more universally accessible.

desk

This reading has opened up my eyes to the possibility of having a desk-less classroom (as common sense tells us that a classroom must have desks in it). What do you think are the pros and cons to desks vs. a different seating set up, such as tables, or floor cushions? Let me know what YOU think!

-KKF

P.S. Here is a link to the full Kumashiro text.

year 1 done & summer goals

I CANNOT believe that I am finished my first year of university! It was a whirlwind year of learning new things, meeting new people and having great new experiences! I am definitely excited to go back in the fall and continue to work towards my degree (and I am also very excited because my roommate got accepted into the Education program after a ton of hard work!), but I am also happy to have a break for a few months!

Although I have summer holidays (although here in Saskatchewan it doesn’t even feel like spring yet, as the ground is still mostly white from the snow!), I want to keep my teacher mind sharp so have a few goals for myself just to keep fresh with the education world.

1. Read all of the Indigenous Education articles that my classmates in ECS 110 read and my professor posted a list of.

2. Keep reading my Instructor magazines that I get and post and reflections or ideas that spring up from them.

3. Tutor my “summer student” for the third summer in a row! Note to self: Go talk to his homeroom teacher for possible materials and suggestions of what to focus on!

4. Use Twitter and Pinterest as ways to stay connected and get great new ideas.

5. Update my portfolio.

I have always been an avid goal setter and I think that summer holidays are a great time to re-evaluate your goals! I will let you know how I do on accomplishing these (and don’t worry, I still hope to post frequently during the summer!).

Wishing university students a great four month break and teachers, elementary and high school students a happy summer holiday once it comes!

real beauty

I don’t know if anyone has seen the new Dove campaign ad going around about ‘real beauty sketches’ but when I first saw it, I really liked it! I thought it was so true that women are their own worst enemies and see themselves as less beautiful than others do.

Here’s the video:

While I really liked most of the messages in this video, one of my Facebook friends just posted a link to a tumblr page that had another idea. I encourage you to check it out. I think this person may be a teacher because this is some great critical thinking! It links to so many topics that my ECS classes have touched on and that’s why it really connected with me and made me go “whoa…”

http://jazzylittledrops.tumblr.com/post/48118645174/why-doves-real-beauty-sketches-video-makes-me

What are your thoughts on Dove’s video?

final ecs 110 class

I just got back from my final ECS 110 class, and, I have to say, I am really sad! That class has taught me SO SO SO much! Part of the reason I found this class such a surprise was that everyone I had ever talked to said that ECS 110 was very dry and boring compared to the fun field experience aspect of ECS 100. However, my professor was such an amazingly inspiring lady that I feel like I learned 3 times as much in her class – not that I didn’t enjoy ECS 100, I just feel like this class was the first time that I really stepped back and looked at myself as a future teacher in a critical way. 

There are now only 3 more classes between me and… final writing. But after that, I am home free for the summer and have to say that, while I absolutely loved my first year of university, I am really excited to head out of the big city and back into my small town with no stop lights (which my roommate found shocking – haha). 

I am thiiiiiiis close to being 1/4 done my degree (CRAZY!) and while I feel like I have learned and grown a huge amount, I also feel like I have a long way to go (I used to think that 4 more years of school seemed like a long time, but now I am amazed that they can squeeze the basics of being a teacher into only 4 years!) I am already so excited to see what comes next! 🙂

give me 5’s

It’s amazing how many little activity ideas I come up with when I’m in the shower. Is this anyone else’s place for thinking? Anyways, this is what my shampoo rinse routine gave me today:

Learning to count to 100 by 1’s, 2’s, 5’s and 10’s is an important math skill that is worked on early in elementary school. I thought up a fun way to help kids learn their ‘counting by 5’s’ and it is called Give Me 5’s!

The common expression “give me 5” refers to a high five, and I thought this would be a fun activity to incorporate into a math lesson on counting.

I picture this activity with a big hundreds chart at the front of the room and maybe even some smaller ones for the students. Basically, the gist of it is giving a high five every time you say a multiple of five. It would go like this:

5 *high five* 10 *high five* 15 *high five* 20 *high five* and so on and so forth.

You could mix this up in a lot of ways. After you have explained the activity to the students, you could practice with them sitting in their desks facing you. They will all count out loud with you and give an air high five to you as you say the multiples. After they get the hang of it, you can get them to go into partners or small groups and do different combinations. For example:

1. Count to ___ using your right hand/left hand only.

2. Count to ___ using both hands.

3. Count to ___ using alternating hands.

4. Count to ___ using your feet!

5. Make up your own body part to count with.

6. Clap your own hands once and then your partner’s for each alternating multiple of 5.

7. Stamp your feet, jump, spin, etc, for each multiple!

(There are so many variations you could use with this activity. It’s always nice when you can get kids moving during math!)

You could also mix it up by having slips of paper they could draw that had differing values they had to count to (15, 40, 75, etc.) so they weren’t counting all way to 100 every time. This also helps them find different multiples.

Another more advanced idea (that is a bit of a bridge into multiplication) is having one partner count up by fives and the other count how many high fives it took to get to a certain multiple. For 20, one partner would could 5, 10, 15, 20 and the other would count 1, 2, 3, 4 high fives to get to 20! You could get them to draw different numbers and record how many high fives it took them to get to that number each time.

Have fun and high five for having fun in math class! 🙂