What Does it Mean to be a Good Student? (Kumashiro)

Respond to the following prompts: What does it mean to be a “good” student according to the commonsense? Which students are privileged by this definition of the good student? What is made impossible to see/understand/believe because of these commonsense ideas?

According to the commonsense, a “good” student is the one that gains knowledge that is favoured by the teacher and the school, in a specific way as instructed by the teachers. No matter what the student’s knowledge was prior to starting school, the commonsense approach in education works to teach students in a way that only values certain knowledge and beliefs. “Good” students in terms of commonsense are limited in many aspects as they are the models desired by the teachers, schools, and the society.

Because students are limited to certain knowledge and ways of teaching, only those who conform are privileged by it: it is very often the students that come from the dominant culture or the ones that embody the status quo. When students are taught and treated with commonsensical ideas, they do not seek the need to feel uncomfortable and then disrupt the norms. As a result, students and teachers keep reinforcing the oppressive status quo. This creates an environment where only certain group of students are privileged and considered as “good” students. Learning through crisis plays an important role here because it is crucial to recognize and challenge the oppression that affects many students everyday.

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Critical Summary Proposal

The topic that I have chosen for this assignment is “Race and the curriculum.” Although it may not be obvious to everyone, current curriculum is centred around the privileged people which leaves certain group of people out. As Canada grows more diverse, it is essential to adjust the curriculum in a way that values and benefits every race. Educators need to respond to this change by challenging the problems of current curriculum.

The article that caught my eye was “Race, Diversity, and Curriculum in the Era of Globalization.” The authors focus on diversity and inclusion approaches in education in accordance with changes that occur in 21st-century. They define globalization as constant exposure to new identities as educators face difference and multiplicity. As globalization occurs, there are things to be done in schools to improve the curriculum and quality of teaching to promote diverse education system.

The next step for this assignment is to find articles on how teachers are implementing diverse and inclusive education in their classrooms. The outcome or effects of such curriculum will provide critical feedback on current situation and what educators can do to improve it. I am hoping to find recent articles since this topic, race and the curriculum, is progressing in our society rapidly.

Curriculum Theory and Practice (Smith)

1. Curriculum as a syllabus to be transmitted

This model focuses on the most effective way to deliver the knowledge to students. Its benefit is the familiarity to students when it comes to courses leading to exams. However, this model does not indicate the importance or order of the material to be studied as it is the traditional textbook approach. When educators choose to adapt this model, it is likely that they only focus on the content of knowledge.

2. Curriculum as product

This model is systematic and organized. One can clearly view the notion of outcome which makes organizing the content and method easy. Students can be evaluated based on their results or the products. On the other side, the restricted organization approach of this model limits students and educators in their learning/teaching experience. Students are told exactly what they are supposed to do which limits the opportunity for classroom interactions. As a result, both the students and the educators may not realize the importance of learning that is the result of interactions.

3. Curriculum as process

This model views curriculum as the classroom interaction rather than a physical thing. This model does not provide a series of materials or syllabus to be taught; it is an attempt or experiment in classrooms. Students have a clear voice in this environment because the focus is on learning, not teaching, due to the emphasis on interactions. However, there is a limit to variation of this approach as many students and their parents prioritize performance on exams as success of the course.

4. Curriculum as praxis

This model is based on the process model but further focuses on emancipation. The curriculum is developed through the interaction of action and reflection as students and educators go through a process of negotiation and recognition of problems. During this process, students face the problems of their existence and will face their own oppression.

In my experience, curriculum as a syllabus to be transmitted was the most prominent one. For many classes that I had in high school, the teachers made sure that we were on track with the curriculum because we had to learn everything as planned in each semester. This model helped us prepare for exams but did not allow much creativity and classroom interactions.  

The Problem of Common Sense (Kumashiro)

Respond to the following writing prompt in two to three paragraphs: How does Kumashiro define ‘commonsense?’ Why is it so important to pay attention to the ‘commonsense’?

People do certain things everyday as part of their daily routines. People also take certain ideas and values for granted. They do not think hard about why and how they are doing those actions or have certain beliefs. The same thing applies for the education system as addressed by Kumashiro. Students and educators repeat the same practice defined as “traditional” to them and they will continue to do it without questioning. For example, it is normal for students in the United States that they go to school from September to June because that is just the way it is. Commonsense is the practices and perspectives that people take for granted but is limited to and only benefits the privileged people.

As Kumashiro states, the commonsense found in the educational system of United States causes oppression. Because commonsense makes privileged people think that they are just practicing what has always been done, they do not realize the need to challenge the oppression. It has been so normal for students and educators to think that ideas other than what they are familiar with are uncomfortable, unnecessary, and inappropriate. In order to reform the current system of education, people must be willing to accept the feeling of discomfort. Anti-oppressive education is challenging and its work is never done; therefore, educators must examine and realize the necessity of anti-oppressive education by paying attention to the “commonsense”.