Week Four, Belated. Sometimes the best intentions are delayed due to unforeseen things- basically just too much stuff going on at once, and some things slip through the cracks of our lives. Unfortunately, this time I completely spaced blogging until it was well past the due date, and I blew it. In any event, I do have things rattling around in my head about last weeks readings that I guess I need to just get out on to some form of media (paper?). Credit or no, it will do me some good to sort through these things by getting them down this way.
So, busy week of readings, with many concepts that could be seen as discouraging if not digested in the right way. For that matter, much of what we’ve been discussing in our program thus far could be interpreted that way, but I’m glad that we’re looking at the realities of the world rather than some pretty picture of a flowery field full of smiling kids from a Benetton commercial and a smiling, happy teacher without a care in the world. You know, no school boards needing to make cuts because of a lack of funding because of lack of public support. (That always amazes me, to see a school levy failing. How can people allow that?).
So back to the topic at hand. Ayres raises the point that “Outstanding teaching is built on a base of knowledge about students” (p.73). This is what I’ve been hitting on in all of my assignments up to here, and will more than likely continue to bring up- you need to find ways to connect to the kids that are in your class in order to provide them with the best possible education that you can provide. That connection, that simple thing that lets them know that you think that they mean something to you, that you care about them, that they are IMPORTANT to you, is so powerful.
Bringing cultures into a classroom is a great way to recognize each child’s individual background, but there are some areas where I think you might need to exercise a little caution. When enlisting help from parents, perhaps by sending a letter home, or by talking to them via telephone if they are not available in person, or even by a face to face meeting if they have no phone, one needs to be sensitive to each child’s individual situation. Though everyone has a place where their family comes from, some children do not know their history- such as adopted kids. Imagine how it would make them feel if they were already sensitive to a situation like that and then to have it magnified by an insensitive teacher who really didn’t mean any harm, but caused it inadvertently.
The biggest article of the week obviously was the one by Margret Buchmann. This article challenged us in many ways, the first way was that it questioned the role of one’s personal role and interpretation of the material presented while being taught. Does one’s influence and bias need to be infused into the data being disseminated to the children who are no doubt going to be influence in some form by your biases?
This article was especially troubling to me when illustrating the point about the science teaching practices in the classrooms. In some classrooms, science was taught so that kids would be able to discover and question the processes inherent to the principles of science: the crux of the field. In other classrooms, other educators who did not fully understand or perhaps were not fully comfortable with the concepts being presented would not allow the children to explore their ideas, thereby quelling their innate spirit of curiosity and perhaps doing permanent damage in the child’s mind when associating these practices with science- leaving a bad taste in their mouth so to speak- about science altogether. The sheer difference in time spent teaching the different subjects, especially math, was really troubling. Why would it be acceptable for one teacher’s comfort level with a subject to dictate the amount of education that a child receives in that subject? The point is, is that is it not.
The article challenges us to step out of our comfort zone, and to become a better educator we must do this. Though I did not enjoy math, I still know that I need to understand and emulate someone who loves it while in front of kids. Kids are not as blind as people think, they notice just about everything. My kids sure do. If I show that I do not like math, they will in turn pick up on that, and I can’t allow my influence to have that impact. I have to learn to love math. Just deal with it.