Writing my paper about who walks with me on my journey of becoming an educator was very beneficial as the process caused me to deeply reflect on my understanding of who I am as a teacher. John Dewey, Maxine Greene and Nel Noddings were the theorists whom I found my teaching philosophy most corresponded with. These guides helped me reflect on what is curriculum and how have individuals such as these helped develop and shape the practices and techniques that I will use in the classroom one day. The open minded, inclusive environment that I want to create in my future classrooms was a highlight of my paper as I strongly believe that the environment sets a stage for the learning that will occur. A productive and positive environment is the basis of any classroom success. I know that the environment of a learning experience can occur within the walls of a classroom, but many times it occurs out in the world.
These curriculum theorists have helped me realize that curriculum can be interpreted many different ways, by teachers, and student, but the environment that it is taught in and the attitude towards the curriculum causes the learned curriculum to be different in different classrooms. By this, I am referring to the nature of the teacher and how they teach. As an educator, if I create or foster an environment that welcomes diversity and encourages risks, then my students are more likely to expand their learning beyond outcomes and indicators. This is obviously contrasted with curriculum taught in a classroom that is based on right and wrong answers as well as summative assessments. The curriculum is affected by the way I approach it and present it as a teacher. These theorists challenge me to think about how I will teach in the classroom and in what ways can I alter my teaching to give my students the best possible outcome of learned curriculum.
At this point in the semester, I see myself as a teacher who is constantly reflecting on the way that I present myself and material in the classroom. I also see myself as someone who wants to promote diversity and acceptance as well as creativity. I want to create experiences for my students and help them remember what they are learning by having memorable moments that will stick with them. I want to share with my students my love of life and help each and every one of them find happiness in this world. I look forward to seeing how my thoughts of myself as an educator change in the upcoming days, weeks and years.
I enjoyed the experience of exploring and reflecting on the Witness Blanket exhibit. This national monument is a spectacular beauty to look at and comb through. I was struck by the different artifacts that were displayed and how intriguing it is that each of these items has a special story to someone. Looking at items such as the skate and door struck me hard as I didn’t realize how such everyday items could hold such meaning for different people. To me, this shows the lasting impact that the residential schools have had on people from all over Canada.
One item that really resonates with me is the braid of hair. When I first looked at this artifact I got shivers because that was once attached to someone’s head. I was over that fact quickly, but I kept wondering if the person this hair belonged to is still alive or if they have passed away. If they are still alive, I wonder if they were the ones who donated this artifact or if it was found by someone else. This braid made me reflect on what it would be like to be taken from your home and sent to a school where you had to completely change who you are and what you believe in. This idea horrifies me and due to that fear, I try to out myself in the shoes of those who attended in order to be educated, so a tragedy like this does not happen again. This braid also makes me think about my own hair. I have been growing my hair out for years, only due to preference, but nonetheless I would be horrified if someone one day cut my hair against my will because I did not fit into the image that they wanted portrayed in society or at an institution. Referring to institutions brings up thoughts about why this was viewed as necessary for hair to be cut off. I realize that at this point in time, the societal norms at this time was that these boys and girls needed to dress and look a certain way.
The braid further makes me reflect on the way that the residential schools were set up. The curriculum of these schools were very strict and authoritarian. They were based on the idea that ‘Indian’ lifestyles should be removed and all First Nations people should assimilate into white settler ideologies and ways of life because it was viewed as ‘civilized’. As a future teacher, I want to be able to convey to my students that there is no ‘civilized’ way to live as the work civilized is extremely situation based. If you see someone who does not act like you, you may view them as uncivilized compared to your views where they might view you in the same manner. In relations of curriculum as place, the residential schools were a place of direct and strict learning that only followed one worldview. In modern schools we try to incorporate everyone’s worldview as we do not want to constrict students to one world view. To me, this is important because there is no perfect worldview and so we should foster and encourage a variety of worldviews to evolve. As I continue on the journey to becoming an educator, I hope to have more experiences such as the Witness Blanket that open my eyes to a wide range of social issues and history that needs to be addressed taught to future generations.
In my Education Core Studies 210 class, we were asked to look at what curriculum means to use. From my past experiences and schooling I have developed the understanding that curriculum is a framework for instruction that can be taken and embraced by every teacher in their own way. Curriculum is a guideline to help teachers lesson and unit developments. Curriculum is changed and developed to follow along societal ideals of what youth and adolescence should be taught in order to have a basis for success in life.
As a future teacher, I will be actively engaging with curriculum through my daily plans and lessons. This framework is a guide for me so that I can guide the learning of my students. Sometimes the instruction will be direct and material will be transferred from me, the teacher, to the student. Other times children will learn and acquire new knowledge through activities and guided experiences by myself. There may also be times where children are learning both inside and outside of the school. As a teacher, it is my job to take the curricula and create a design for children’s learning. I learnt this week that the different ways children interact with curricula changes based on what works best for that lesson. One concern I have as a future teacher is that I may not know what method or type of interaction with the material is best for that lesson. I feel that this may be something that I will have to experiment and explore during my early teaching; however, I worry about it.
The interactions that I had with curriculum as a child has impacted my view on curriculum today. In elementary school, I was not very aware of curriculum and the impacts that it had on me. When I reached high school I was introduced to the idea of curriculum and outcomes as they became a part of assignments and daily activities in the classroom. Many teachers started to post the intended outcomes at the top of assignments so students would understand what the point of the task was. In many ways this felt weird as a high school student because I was not very focused on what the reasoning behind the assignment was, but more concerned about how quickly and efficiently could I complete it. Now that I am in university, I value having that experience in high school of exposure to direct curriculum. These experiences help me reflect on the reasoning behind informing students the meaning or goal of that task so it does not seem pointless. In many ways, using curriculum in this overt way helped eliminate the reoccurring question, “Why Are We Doing This?”
As I continue down the path to become an educator, I know that my view of curriculum will grow and change. I look forward to reflecting on my thoughts and understanding of curriculum a year or 15 years from now and how different it is from this current understanding of mine, listed in the above reflection.