ECS 210: Educational Philosophy Quote

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”

  • Aristotle

 

As a blossoming English and Social Studies teacher I often find myself confronted with knowledge that is contrary to my worldview. However, I find this kind of information the most useful into creating me into a more well rounded educator. By experiencing different views and trying to understand why others would hold that view, it flexes my empathetic muscles that I would not have to otherwise. These exercises I often find myself in will no doubt help in my abilities to relate to students, who’s viewpoints I may be in conflict with.

This quote by Aristotle has many implications for how a teacher must instruct his class. As many totalitarian teachers we have experienced through high school hold the viewpoint of “everything I say is fact,” this quote lets us remain humble. The knowledge we pass onto students may be what we think is right, but as educators we must be able to remain outside of our fixed opinions. Aristotle’s quote essentially makes it possible for us to accept that what we say is not set in stone, rather it is what we are attempting to teach. It also encourages us to promote critical thinking within the classroom, which I think is extra important in an English class.

There is not much that this quote makes “impossible” in relation to teaching. I guess if you do think that everything you say is the “right” answer, then it will make it impossible for you to be a teacher.

This quote relates to both the student and teacher in profound ways. As stated above, it humbles the teacher, but on the flip side I also think it should motivate students. The world is how they perceive it, and that is A-OKAY. They need not agree with everything I say, but I would encourage them to think critically about what I am TRYING to say. While this quote exercises the empathetic skills of the teacher, I would argue that it likewise exercises the empathetic skills of the student. Some students have this ability naturally within themselves, but for others it is a skill that must be taught. With this quote in mind, the mental stretching would come naturally.

Aristotle’s quote mainly relates to my educational philosophy because I would say that I do not agree with everything this program has been teaching us. However, I do try to think deeply about what the program is TRYING to teach us. Likewise, as stated above, I would not expect my student to agree with everything I say. If they did, they would simply become another brick in the wall. That is not the point of education. The point of education in relation to my educational philosophy, is to create students who can think for themselves and accept what knowledge they think lines up with their worldviews. I understand that this can have negative consequences, but that is the beauty of living in a free society. The notion of freedom has the inherent possibility of people making bad decisions. And that is alright with me. If I did not have the choice to make bad decisions, then it would cheapen all the good decisions I have made.

  • Garrett J. Bates
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ECS 210: The Tyler Rationale

The Tyler rationale touches most upon many concepts that help in the formation of curriculum, however it is hard to notice the ways that it touches you when you are going through school. Looking back upon my schooling, I would say that most of my classes used the Tyler rationale, but not in ways that would be noticeable unless you had prior knowledge of the Tyler rationale. Of course the main feature noticed is how centralized and focused lessons are in high school. When I was in grade 11 math, we were taught how to solve specific equations, then given examples of those equations to solve. As the Tyler rationale focuses on efficiency, this would make the most sense in how to teach. For classes such as English and other courses that require a discussion, it isn’t used as much.

This leads me into the limitations of the Tyler rationale. It leaves little room for discussion outside of subject matter. You learn something, then put it to use in an efficient manner. While this is a good process for learning new techniques, it isn’t helpful to the student who wants to know information that is outside actually learning the technique. Another limitation is how narrow the margin is for knowledge to be learned. Say in a social studies class you are learning about why countries are shaped the way they are. However, you want to know about why the world map is drawn the way it is. It is all well to ask this question, but according to the Tyler rationale, you should instead use the most efficient means to teach and only focus on the countries. By being “efficient,” you are essentially limiting the conversation and are using narrow-minded approach to only teaching what the curriculum says is necessary to learn.

On the other hand, there are major benefits to the Tyler rationale as well. Firstly, the Tyler rationale heavily emphasizes structure, which is important for the learner. Without structure, it leaves a wider margin for error for the student. Without structure, a class can devolve into simple discussion with no learning going on at all. By following the Tyler rationale, you can be sure that the student is learning their outcomes in an efficient way. Secondly, the Tyler rationale promotes the idea of learning through experience. I think this is a great benefit, as something cannot really be learned unless it is acted upon. Sure it can be understood, but it is not learned. You would not know how to shoot a puck if you were only taught what the stick and puck individually are. You must also learn the technique through the doing of the action. I believe this also ties into the concept of the formal curriculum vs the learned curriculum. While you want to teach how to shoot a puck, at the end of the day the curriculum is only words on paper. You can only really learn it if you actually do it. Therefore presenting the value of learning through experience.

While I do think that there are limitations to the Tyler rationale, I think the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. Thanks for reading.

  • Garrett J. Bates

ECS 210: Why is common sense important?

Hello and welcome to my first blog post for ECS 210. I hope you enjoy my thoughts on the readings and take away a little more than what you came with.

This week the ECS 210 students were asked to read an article by a person named Kumashiro, which was titled: “Against Common Sense: Teaching and Learning Toward Social Justice.” Here Kumashiro asks the reader to contemplate what “common sense” really means. Is it simply something that any “regular” person would know? Or is it far more complicated than that? Kumashiro argues that “common sense” is not as basic as it seems, rather, “common sense” comes from cultural beliefs that are so ingrained that they are perceived as “common sense.”

This is an interesting take on the matter that is not often, or really ever, brought up in scholarly circles. This is due to the fact that most scholarly circles consist of people with similar cultural backgrounds. Without having different cultural viewpoints to contradict what is considered “common sense,” the entire conversation is non-existent. Why would one question their own “common sense” if there is no one on the outside to question it? Kumashiro begs all these types of questions and brings up many convincing reasons for why it is important for educators to question themselves.

The most convincing argument that made me think hard about what I consider “common sense,” is actually one I had learned long ago. Kumashiro asks why the school year is from September to June and not any other arrangement. Thanks to my interest in Japan, I had actually learned that the Japanese school year goes from April – March. Their summer vacation is only 1 month long, instead of two, and they barely get any time in between school years – only about 10 days or so. I questioned why our school system was set up the way it is, when the Japanese school year is so different. I still have not reached a conclusion on that question, but I do think that it stirs up the same type of thought process that Kumashiro desires.

Along with that argument, Kumashiro asks the reader to consider many things they would consider normal and then provides examples of how it is different in Nepali culture. This essentially spells it out to the reader as why it is important to question “common sense,” and that is because common sense is wholly dictated by ones own cultural upbringing. Therefore the argument Kumashiro is trying to make is that when we question our own sense of “common sense” we inadvertently become fairer educators. This is because it forces us to consider what other cultures would consider normal, which ends up expelling the ingrained Eurocentrism that is present in all people who were raised in North America.

Another great point Kumashiro had was that “common sense” tells us what we SHOULD be doing and not what we COULD be doing. At it’s very core, “common sense” is a very limiting point of view that teaches people how things ought to be done. It forces people into a narrow lifestyle that has no wiggle room for ulterior ideas. Teachers who are swayed by their own notion of “common sense” fall danger to repeating mistakes over and over again, simply because they will not question their own set of beliefs. I think this is the most important lesson to take away from the article.

 

AS A SIDE NOTE:

While the article did a great job of explaining why it is important to question your own “common sense,” it did a bad job at explaining what oppressive teaching looks like. Kumashiro says over and over in the article how the school system allows oppressive teaching. However, not once in the entire article does Kumashiro point to what oppressive teaching looks like. There is not one example to firmly point at and say: “that is what oppressive teaching looks like. Do not do this!” Basically the second half of the article after leaving the very well thought out argument against “common sense,” simply devolves into Kumashiro repeating the same thing over and over.

I completely agree that oppressive teaching has no place inside the classroom, but unless I can see a concrete example of what it looks like, there is nothing I can do to combat it. How does one expect you to fight an enemy without knowing what it looks like?

 

Thank you for taking the time to read my response, and I look forward to the next article to critique.

  • Garrett J. Bates