ECS 210: The “Good” Student

According to commonsense, the “good” student is one who quietly does their work, never raises a fuss and will strictly adhere to the rules. Although hilariously enough, I think that this is a “good” student, it’s just that it is not the only way to define a “good” student. In fact, the definition of a “good” student should be left entirely up to the individual teacher. They are going to decide what they like in a student and what they do not like. For example, I like when students can joke around with me and appreciate my sarcasm. I like when students are sarcastic to me, as it reveals we are in this together. If we can joke together, then surely we can get along.

The students privileged by this model are the ones who will strictly adhere to the rules. They will not question the teacher and simply go along with whatever the teacher says. These are the book-worm and introverted type students. I think that the privilege comes from the fact that they more easily conform to the rigid standards set by our society. Any student who does not fit the narrow personality that the school wants you to exhibit, will be discriminated against.

By viewing the “good” student in this light, it becomes impossible for teachers to realize that students can be “good” in a number of ways.

This question is kind of loaded though, I mean, shouldn’t a teacher be able to see a “good” student however they like? If a teacher thinks that this commonsense idea of a “good” student, is a “good” student, what’s the problem? Isn’t it wrong to tell someone how to feel about a certain topic? This question is putting us onto a narrow path where there really is only one right answer: for our responses to criticize this viewpoint. What if you agree with the viewpoint? Would that be considered a wrong answer? I believe this ties into a bigger problem, that being that this program is attempting to make us feel a certain way. As adults, should we not be able to feel however we want about certain topics? Of course it’s wrong to discriminate against ANYONE, but an individual’s personal thoughts are nobodies business but their own.

  • Garrett J. Bates
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ECS 210: Autonomous and Ideological Curriculum

Before I start the answer, I just want to say that I don’t think every single piece of literature has an agenda. Some stories are simply stories for the sake of being stories. I actually believe it’s pessimistic to think that people are always trying to say something with their work. Sometimes, a piece of work is not trying to give off any message other than the fact that the creator wants you to feel a certain emotion (horror, joy, disgust, etc). The reason I bring this up is because this seems to be what the article is suggesting.

I’m taking a look at the ELA A10 curriculum and I can say that it is mostly leaning ideologically. The people who wrote the curriculum want it’s readers to have a certain ideological viewpoint. This is not necessarily wrong, I just disagree with the practice in itself. I think books and literature should be perceived entirely how the reader wants to. I know in my writing I don’t necessarily need the reader to agree with what I’m trying to say. In fact I think it’s actually more worthwhile for people to disagree with me, because at least that way a genuinely interesting conversation is created.

I tend to lean towards the autonomous view of literacy presented in the articles. I think that when I read things, I don’t even care what the ideological standing of the author is. I want to judge a piece of literature solely on the content it’s given me and the emotions it evokes inside of me.

The article by Brian Street says “It is in this sense that literacy is seen having such effects autonomously, irrespective of the social conditions and cultural interpretations” I don’t think an author needs to worry about the “social conditions” and “cultural interpretations” of the reader. A writer should be writing a piece of literature mainly for himself/herself.

This actually ties together to an even bigger thought that I have had stirring in my mind, and that is that we care too much about offending people. It’s literally stifling people’s creativity if they have to worry about anyone they could possibly offend. Furthermore, I don’t think we should protect children from offensive material. When they leave school, they’re going to be offended by something, and if we don’t teach them how to deal with it in a reasonable manner, we’re just creating a society of people who can’t accept people with other viewpoints.

That isn’t to say that we should show them blatantly offensive things, but I think students should be exposed to a certain level of what could be considered “offensive material.”

For an example I’ll take “To Kill a Mockingbird”

Schools are banning that book because of offensive language, however, by banning the books it’s giving the offensive language the power that the people so desperately not want it to have. This has the complete opposite effect of what is intended, and nobody seems to realize that.

If something is offensive, just say “wow that wasn’t cool.” and move on. Dwelling on it only gives it power over you.

  • Garrett J. Bates

ECS 210: How curricula is developed (after reading)

School curricula is heavily influenced by government politics, or as this article attempts to argue, is completely controlled by politics. A wide range of varying influences come together to create curriculum based on public policy. However, based on the public policy, the curriculum is shaped to teach students specific sets of values. These values are generally the values of politicians that were elected into office, and as the article states, if they did a poor job of implementing their voter bases values, they’d be kicked out of office. This allows the government to essentially decide what the curriculum stresses and does not stress, therefore allowing them to dictate how students are raised.

I had figured that curriculum would be buried in some level of bureaucracy, therefore it comes as no surprise that it is completely controlled by bureaucracy. I never stopped to consider that politics is essentially what guides curriculum though. I feel like teachers should have a lot more of a say in the matter than what the article made it seem like they do. After all, they are the people educated in how to teach education, wouldn’t they have the best professional opinions on the matter?

Most concerning to me in this article is when they stated “Curriculum documents
and policies may also endorse or support, explicitly or not, particular teaching and learning practices.” (p. 14) This scares me because what if I disagree with the particular teaching practices that the curriculum endorses? Am I forced to suck up and take it? Well, I imagine I am actually. And swallowing a pill like that disturbs me.

  • Garrett J. Bates

ECS 210: How curricula is developed (before reading)

This is a blog post that I get to cheat a little bit on. In my ELNG 300 course, my professor talks all the time about how she was on the board to renew the English curriculum for Saskatchewan in 2009 I believe.

She basically said that a bunch of teachers get together in a boardroom and are literally asked: “what do you think should be on the English curriculum for high school students?”

The teachers get out a pen and paper, then just write what they think is essential. Then they debate back and forth what is important to learn, what kind of books should be mandatory, if Shakespeare has finally lost its relevance, etc…

She also mentioned that they brought in students from time to time, to simply ask what THEY thought should be on the curriculum. I feel as though this is both a good and bad thing, as high school students don’t have the grand image in their mind. They normally only think about the immediate future instead of what the implications for their actions might be.

Beyond that information I have absolutely no idea. I imagine that the people who develop curriculum have a broad idea of what sort of outcomes they want to achieve. Or what sort of texts they want students to be able to read by the time they graduate. I do, however, imagine that what teachers in Saskatchewan want on the curriculum would differ highly from what teachers in Nova Scotia would want. Therefore I’m led to believe that texts with cultural significance would be on the curriculum.

I imagine once it is narrowed down to a few ideas here and there, the teachers debate vigorously for what they want. No one will leave happy, but as long as they can leave mutually mad, something is probably accomplished.

The nitty-gritty details of what goes on during curricula formation is completely unknown to me sadly. Hoping my next blog post will be more enlightened!

  • Garrett J. Bates