The “Good” Student

A “good” student, according to common sense, is a student fitting the standards that the school and society frame. Behaviour is the most common aspect looked at when it comes to being a “good” student, which includes someone who can listen, answer questions, gets high grades, raises their hand, etc. Common sense blocks our ways of thinking causing teachers to look at students and define if they are “good” or “bad” because of the way they perform in class.

Students that are privileged by this definition are those who understand what the teacher expects, which can vary. Students that can sit in a desk for hours and listen when the teacher is talking. They are involved in class and the do not question what is being taught. Students that are also privileged by this definition include people that do not have disabilities and have a good home life. Growing up, I wanted to be that “good” student and it kind of sucked. Reading this article made me look back and realize how much I struggled and how it affected me. I conformed to what my teacher expected leaving little to no room for personal growth and learning.

Having the mindset towards a “good” student makes it difficult to see the needs of the other students. As we know, students learn in a variety of ways and when they do not meet expectations they can feel upset and angry with themselves, which can lead to all types of feelings like failure. When this happens, teachers are too busy praising the “good” students and ignore the needs of the “bad” students. This also creates an environment where students may not be able to express themselves or ask questions because they want to avoid embarrassment or being ridiculed. As a future educator, I will not categorize students as “good” or “bad”, but to recognize students’ needs in order for them to succeed.

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Arts-Based Education

Arts-based learning encourages expression though art, such as drama, dance, music, visual art, film, poetry writing, and literature. This was of teaching can be powerful because art taps into the affective side of humanity and evoke emotions. Additionally, learning has the capacity to engage learners personally, emotionally, and even spiritually. Furthermore, art-based learning can help students develop confidence and self-esteem, and build effective communication and interpersonal skills.

In the article, Arts-Based Educational Research Dissertations: Reviewing the Practices of New Scholars, by Anita Sinner, Carl Leggo, Rita Irwin, Peter Gouzouasis, and Kit Grauer, the authors review over thirty dissertations across practices and methods of inquiry. In addition, the authors identify three pillars of arts-based practice – literary, visual, and performative practices of Arts-based education. What peaked my interest in this article was the vast dissertations created over a decade at the Faculty of Education at the University of British Columbia. The authors review the methods and practices of new scholars which results in pushing boundaries of institutions in ways that were inconceivable in the past.

My critical review will include how arts-based education was like in the past and how more scholars are looking towards this method more often. I will use the article motioned above and include two other sources that include an optimistic and pessimistic opinion. Personally speaking, an arts-based education can benefit all, for example, instead of writing a reflection responding to an event, students can respond in different ways using art. Perhaps painting, a form of song, or dance, etc., instead of writing which some students might have trouble with. This allows students to creatively respond and respond with what makes them comfortable.

Curriculum Theory and Practice

The four models of curriculum are the following:

  1. Curriculum as a body of knowledge to be transmitted
  2. Curriculum as an attempt to achieve certain ends in students – product
  3. Curriculum as process
  4. Curriculum as praxis

Curriculum as a body of knowledge to be transmitted:
This model explains how curriculum relates with a syllabus. It includes the contents and subjects that outline upcoming events, such as assignments due and examinations, which is a helpful tool in organization. In addition, it outlines the way the topics will be studied in, allowing students to be prepared for future classes. With this method comes the importance of content, but that comes with a drawback. Smith (2000) states that “[those] who still equate curriculum with a syllabus are likely to limit their planning to a consideration of the content or the body of knowledge that they wish to transmit” (p.3). In that case, students may be limiting themselves from further understandings or considering ideas beyond what is listed in the contents of the syllabus.

Curriculum as an attempt to achieve certain ends in students – product:
This model looks at how outcomes are set, planned, applied, and the results evaluated.  On the bottom of page four we see the productive thinking set that consist of seven steps. This model has an organizing power that provides a clear understanding of the outcomes so that it can be evaluated. It may include pre-specified goals to benefit both teachers and learners. However, there are some issues with this approach like how some will feel like “they are told what they must learn and how they will do it” (Smith, 2000, p.4). This causes problems for both the learners and the programmes. In addition, sometimes things have to be broken down into smaller components in order to evaluate. With this, the smaller parts are taken into account rather than the whole when focusing on curriculum theory and practice. It is like having a to-do list and when all items are checked off, that is when they have finished the course, which does not show their progress.

Curriculum asprocess:
This model focuses on how curriculum is the interactions of teachers, students, and knowledge. It is focused on what happens in the classroom and how people prepare and evaluate. When teachers are in school they know how to think critically on the spot, know their role and what is expected of them, and a plan. This model is an active process that includes conversations between, and with, people in the class to spark thinking and action. It is an ongoing process of evaluating and what their outcomes are.

Curriculum as praxis:
This model is an expansion of the process model and actions is not informed, but also committed. It is an ongoing evaluation and process that does not focus on an individual, but as a whole. This allows great conversations between students and teachers which keeps it engaging.

Throughout my education, I find that it focused on curriculum as a body of knowledge in my elementary years. I usually found myself answering questions on sheets where the questions were already generated by whatever source the teacher got it from. No one really questioned why or how these sheets would benefit us besides new information. It did not really give people a way to discuss with one another. The sheets would usually have a key to the answers, so most of the questions were either right or wrong. This model did not work for those students who like to question things and who had opinions on certain topics. Whatever answer was on the sheet was the only answer and there was no room for discussion. Reflecting on this now, I think students need the time and opportunity to question what is being taught and to be able to converse about subjects in school. This would benefit students who have a hard time expanding on ideas and are able to hear other opinions.

Common Sense

In general, common sense is from the knowledge we already know and have become accustomed to. However, our common sense may not be the same as others in different parts of the world. In Kumashiro’s article, it explains that common sense is “what everyone should know” (p. XXIX), but that is not always the case. As we grow up, we learn manners such as listening when someone is speaking, no talking with food in your mouth, waiting your turn, saying “please and thank you”, etc., and we grow up accustomed to those teachings. When I see people doing the opposite, such as talking out of turn, I see that as a sign of disrespect. Maybe somewhere in the world speaking out of turn is like getting the answer and having to say it because they want to be first. In this case, my common sense would not apply. This then challenges my common sense because what is obvious to myself may not be the same to another. This is like when Kumashiro talks about teaching in Nepal and how they were not doing what they were “supposed” to, like how some of the children encouraged Kumashiro to his one of the misbehaving students. Our common sense blocks our sense of reality and when we see something done “incorrectly” we have the urge to fix it. Sometimes we need to learn new teaching methods and others need to learn from us. As explained in the article, we need to create an anti-oppressive education so that we do not undermine or marginalized the vast teaching methods. Sometimes we do not question the common sense and become glued to the society we are in obeying what we have learned in those environments. This challenges future educators to be better and understanding that there is no right way and how perspectives are a factor in how we see or do without thinking.

It is important to pay attention to our common sense in order to create an anti-oppressive education. There is not one way to teach, but many and in order to discover those methods more people need to pay attention to their common sense. When we pay attention to our common sense and become open to new methods, we expand our knowledge and are able to not conform to our own ideas. We need to be aware of who or how our common sense affects people because This gives us opportunities to collaborate or get know educators in areas where education is not funded and to know their ways of teaching children in those areas. We can learn from the oppressed to become more knowledgeable about their teaching methods and customs like what has worked in the past and what has not. Sometimes it will create challenges for whoever is involved because some people may see certain methods as doing harm, rather than good and they do not see that. There is always room to grow and learn new things, we just have to keep our common sense open to new things.