Tag Archives: Democratic

EDU 6989: Session 1, National Standards vs Individualization

Session 1 National Standards vs Individualization

An issue causing debate with educational leaders is the idea of a national curriculum and standards for all students.  This would have every student learning the same material and assessed on the same standards.  Robert Hutchins (1953) argues that the purpose of education is to improve people and create intellectual and moral citizens.  If everyone had access to the same education with the same standards, there would be no disparity between groups and people would remain equal and free in society.  Theodore Sizer (1999) argues that people are inherently different and schools should embrace these differences.  This makes for more meaningful education and a place for students to perfect skills they are passionate about.

I can see the value of both Hutchins and Sizer in their thoughts of national standards and curriculum.  I would side more with Sizer’s arguments even though it would mean more work on the teacher’s part and creative solutions to assessing student’s growth.  If each student had their own rubric for grading it would be much more difficult to see where the class was achieving as a whole.  This system truly favors the child though and prepares them for doing their part in society.  “ . . . the insistent coaxing out of each child on his or her best terms of profoundly important intellectual habits and tools for enriching a democratic society . . . “ (Sizer, 1999, p 11)  Each student has strengths and something special to offer that creates balance in our world.  Kids need opportunities to discover their skills and examine how best they can influence their fellow citizens.

Reference

Sizer, T. R. (1999).  No Two are Quite Alike. Educational Leadership (57: 1) p. 7-11.

EDU 6526 Session 6: Problem Solving and Class Meetings

Students come to school with sets of values they may not be able to identify themselves but will show when they work with their peers.  Problem solving, cooperation, and collaboration are all developed in the classroom.  As they interact with one another, they discover the roles they will play with one another.  Utilizing role playing activities gives students a chance to practice social skills as well as discover what is important to their lives.  “It explores how values drive behavior and raises student consciousness about the role of values in their lives and those of others.  A direct effect is greater understanding about and empathy with differences in values as people interact.” (Calhoun, Weil, & Joyce, 2015, p. 258).   Students figure out how to cooperate with one another and overcome obstacles.  They begin to learn how to operate in a group and how best they can use their strengths.

In the kindergarten class I work in, we have a weekly “class meeting” where we sit down and discuss any issues that need to be addressed.  The teacher writes down student problems or concerns on a paper flip chart and discusses each one by one (see image below).  Students practice listening to one another and find ways to peacefully solve problems.  They are held accountable to the solutions and are referenced back to them if needed.  As the solutions come directly from the students, they carry more weight and have greater impact then the teacher simply telling them what they need to do.  Students work with one another in class meetings, examine what’s important to them, and learn lifelong social skills they will use in future grades.

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Reference

Calhoun, E., Weil, M., & Joyce, B. (2015). Models of Teaching. (9th ed.) Boston: Pearson.

EDU 6526 Session 5: Socially Constructed Knowledge

Classrooms are environments that model the larger world.  Learning how to work together, solve problems, and negotiate points of view are vital skills needed to be taught.  Students learn how to interact in a class setting and take with them skills to use in future professional and social relationships. These important skills are constructed socially as they learn through one another viewpoints and interactions.  Students figure out how to negotiate with each other which in turn helps each person negotiate their own world, making sense of their values within the larger society. “The abilities to continually reconstruct one’s value stance and to create compatible value systems are both essential to mature development.” (Calhoun, Weil, & Joyce, 2015, p. 249)  When they are finished in our classrooms, they will need to know how to problem solve with their peers.  Working with others effectively is a crucial life-long skill.

Mortimer Adler’s “Paidea Principles” outline what schools should focus on as their objectives.  http://www.paideia.org/about-paideia/philosophy/  “That the three callings for which schooling should prepare all Americans are, (a) to earn a decent livelihood, (b) to be a good citizen of the nation and the world, and (c) to make a good life for one’s self.”  (National Paideia Center, 2015).  In order to be good citizens and make a good life for one’s self, students need to know how to negotiate in the world.  They will face difficult obstacles and interactions that need social skills to solve.  Instilling positive, productive, and healthy democratic processes in classrooms will prepare students to be good citizens in the world.

Reference

Calhoun, E., Weil, M., & Joyce, B. (2015). Models of Teaching. (9th ed.) Boston: Pearson.

National Paideia Center. (2015) Paideia: Active Learning. Retrieved February 6, 2016, from http://www.paideia.org/about-paideia/philosophy/