Scientific Epistemology, Feminist Perspectives, and Power

Longino’s reading this week helped me understand a couple of things. First of all, scientific epistemology is misgynistic in regards to involving women in more substantial ways in the sciences. Secondly, that the need to have power and authority over the scientifice community is a common goal for many. According to Longino, science perpetuates women’s cognitive and political empowerment, which makes me question: can we have knowledge without giving someone else the power? Women are often ignored in sciences, both in philosophy and practice, because of their “inferior” and passive cognition when it comes to science. Although I am a female and have chosen a field outside of the sciences, I admire all the women who take part in the sciences. I have provided a couple of videos from YouTube. These clips are from the popular TV show “The Big Bang Theory” and often includes a discussion over who has the power, who needs the power, and the use of intelligence to raise oneself up in the scientifice community.

These two clips are from the most recent episode of BBT. Sheldon, Leonard, and Howard are trying to get more women involved in the sciences. Out of annoyance and experience, Leonard gives Sheldon the power by asking him for a solution to the problem. Sheldon’s power is reinstated when his emotionless speech to the young girls after Leonard’s speech concludes with the girl’s erupting in applause. Subjectvity is apparent in these clips when Leonard comically breaks down after being asked how he got forced into science, and when Howard gets emotional when a girl compares him to a flight- attendant.

Sheldon obviously thinks he has the power over everyone in the room because he has the scientific capability and intelligence that is often incomparable. His ruthless and straight forward attitude is clearly standpoint theory– no one position is value-free knowledge that can be developed, but some positions are better than others. In this case, Sheldon’s position of intelligence in science proves that his position is better than others like Leonard, the students, and “anybody who told you you would someday make any significant contribution to physics”.

Sheldon’s intellectual fight with Leslie Winkle does two things: shows the importance of some scientific knowledge over other’s (or atleast the perception) and how science is very subjective (shown by Sheldon and Leslie’s emotional reaction to their specified subject areas).

What does this mean for my students and my teaching? First of all, we want our students to feel like they can achieve anything in the classroom. By getting rid of these biases we have towards our subjects (such as women are better in English, men are better in sciences) than maybe more of our students will become more involved in the classroom. Sheldon’s idea to speak to the middle ages group was brilliant because middle school begins the time where subject specific areas are being laid out ( or are going to be within a couple years). Maybe by getting rid of these stereotypes there will be more women in the sciences within the next couple years. As a teacher, these papers and my representations of the readings (videos) tell me that I cannot discriminate amongst the disciplines. Although I am not a science major, that does not mean I cannot learn anything from it. Therefore, it is becoming my goal to learn more about the sciences in order to aid my future students in their learning, and maybe incorporate these knowledges in History and English classes.

Teaching Science…

I will be the first one to admit I have prejudice against science. I often think of science as one big chunk, not delineating between biology, chemistry, and physics. Often you will hear me say “well those science people will do well on this one, they have those certain skills”. This mentality is something I will have to work on during my teaching career. I have this mentality because I was never good in science nor cared to learn much about it. I am not saying science is bad, because I actually admire the students who succeed in science for having a skill set so totally different than mine. Surprisingly, this week’s readings were not that difficult though.

One thing we talked about this week in relation to the Goodstein article was the trapped hierarchy of science that often leads to fraudulent research. The article outlines eleven hoops scientists often jump through in order to get to the top of the scientific hierarchy. The information I received from the article is that science has it’s own discourse that is often based on a true meritocracy– whoever works the hardest and comes up with the best ideas are usually the people who can climb these ladders of hierarchy to the top.

So here is how I am going to relate the article to my understanding of my students and how they learn. First of all, the sciences (biology, chemistry, physics, and all subunits) are disciplines that seem to offer very little room for movement. For example, if someone was to come to a conclusion based on their hypothesis, but no one else could replicate their data than that scientific research is often discredited or pulled back. It seems unlikely that our students, however smart they may be, will be able to come up with new laws of physics or gravity defying objects within our science 9 classrooms. We had a discussion in class about students replicating experiments and not being allowed to try new things in the classroom, which often leads to scientific concepts and foundations being lost. Although I think inquiry-based learning definitely has a place in creating scientific knowledge in the classroom, I feel students need to replicate experiments first in order to get comfortable with materials. For the students that struggle with science like me, experimenting on my own or coming up with my own project is very intimidating.

However, I can also see the other point of view. By allowing students to create their own knowledge, two things will occur. One, students will be learning through hands-on methods that often help them learn better (especially kinasthetic learners). The video by Bill Nye the Science Guy explains why students should figure it out for themselves: “you do not want to give them an answer”, and students are more likely to remember it.  Two, if students see a demonstration done a certain way, they might feel like they are failing or misunderstanding if the results do not come out the same. Therefore, they will alter the results so that it does work, without really understanding the concepts and foundations. So all in all, students are expected to create their own knowledge through hands-on learning in the scientific classroom. Teachers would have to do a lot of scaffolding, asking questions, and have a genuine knowledge of the subject area so students are not put in harms way when doing the research.

One thing I felt was always missing in my science classes was a change to read critically. I felt it was a very fact-based, transmission style discipline. The idea about using items in the kitchen or reading labels on cosmetics or spices is a really neat idea! On a side note, would students actually want to do hands-on stuff in a scientific classroom? What would the engagement level be off the start when trying to incorporate inquiry based learning in our classroom? It would be interesting to see the new Science curriculum in schools next year to see if level of engagement goes up.

Losing Imagination in Math…

Engaging imagination in math is sometimes difficult, but engaging imagination in all subjects can be difficult sometimes too. Math, however, is one of those subjects that is seen as objective and value free and many times teacher’s teaching methods follow the procedural way of teaching because that is all they know. Although I am a history teacher, I could someday be teaching math, biology, chemistry, etc., which are all subjects I feel uncomfortable with. However, I know I would be able to teach them if I really had to because I would learn with and from my students. This week’s article by Gill and Boote discussed the need for viewing culture– classroom and math– in teaching mathematics. The study observes the classroom of Ms. Bryans who has a reputation of being a great math teacher whose teaching strategy was believed to be more problem-solving than procedural. So what does this mean for me as a teacher?

First of all, the main idea I received from the article was that culture should not be an explanation of teaching practice; rather the teaching practice should explain the culture. As a teacher, it will be crucial for me to evalute the school’s culture, not so I can necessarily conform to their standards, but so I am aware of what is happening in the school and teach effectively. Secondly, engaging imagination in every subject is important to learning because many students find school boring, but also because students’ expect a certain method for learning math. Since I am not a math teacher, I am not sure how to engage imagination in the classroom. But during my field experiences I have seen integrated assignments between Social Studies, English, and Math that were very exciting and different (ex. students needed to create a story book set in a specific historical time period that related to some teaching of math at the Grade 5 level). So it is possible, to include imagination in math despite the long-held tradition of procedural teaching.

As for students, I feel they would learn a lot more when incorporating problem based mathematics into lessons over procedural. From the little I know of math, some things may need the procedural teaching method. However, problem-based math can occur in various different ways. Last semester I had the opportunity to witness a math class that was told to go out to the school and measure things, both with a ruler and with a non-metric object like their hands. It was great to see the students so excited to learn how to calculate measurement and translate these into fractions and divisions. Maybe it is because I am not a math teacher, but I think it would be relatively easy to try this in the mathematics classroom. To relate this article to my students in History and English, I can use place-based pedagogies to be equivalent to problem-based mathematics. Really, it is about engaging the students in different forms and not being afraid to leave the classroom in order to do some real-world learning. It’s about embracing that confusion that will initially occur and using imagination to aid our students learning.

Below are some examples I found of how some teachers have included imagination into their math lessons. Math poetry and stories are included here, but imagination in math can occur through problem-based learning as well!

Concrete Poem with Math

An algebra teacher named DrewTried to find the .

He found it between

1/4 and 14,

But couldn’t get closer. Can you?

After taking two mathematics classes in college,I have but one regret…

That I didn’t apply my knowledge

Because all of the mathematics I learned I will likely forget

Asking Questions in History

After reading Wineburg’s article on the difference between high school students and historians when reading history, I reflected on my experiences in high school and university. Although I do not classify myself as a historian, I have noticed a tremendous amount of growth in my ability to read historical texts over the past four years. I attribute this strength to reading a variety of primary and secondary sources instead of texts that offer little meaning and just recounts facts  (like most high school history textbooks do, as referred to in the Wineburg’s article.)

So what does this mean for my students and their production of knowledge? I strongly believe history should not be a study of the past through dates and events from a British point of view, and that is often what occurs in the high school classroom. When I teach History, I want my students to engage with the material and ask questions, and what I have found in the past is to supplement the textbook with other secondary and primary materials. However, I do know that the ability to do so could depend on the school you work at. For example, schools in rural areas may have a low budget for printing these sources. And where, outside of my university resources, would I be able to obtain these resources at a low cost for my students? How else can I get my students to increase their knowledge past a basic understanding of history? Instead of asking the students to regurgitate the information on tests, I want my students to ask questions such as why did this happen and why it effected change after the fact instead of what happened. Wineburg refers to the high school textbook and the “closing of a story” on page 79. These textbooks that rarely provide footnotes or endnotes offers our students little ability to look up sources that could be of use to questioning history as a fluid story.

As for teaching history, Wineburg explains how teachers need to take what they know and create represetnations of content that fosters new understandings among students who come with no motivation. This occurs through the transformation of knowledge, rather than the transmission of knowledge. Last semester I went to a Formative Assessment PD at the STF that showed different ways of learning and knowing within a history class. In particular, one teacher pushed his students to think critically by giving them the option to creatively demonstrate their understanding on a particular topic. One student created a diorama of WWI, which explained her knowledge through various representations that she explained on video. He had some of the best responses from the students he least expected. These readings reminded me that if we want our students to become more engaged in History and Social Studies, we need to change lesson plans and textbooks in order to effect how they learn, especially if we want students to construct knowledge themselves. Unfortunately, I think the decision to move Saskatchewan into standardized testing is going to eliminate these possibilities and continue to tell students that knowledge should be transmissive, not transformative.

Peltier and Aboriginal Englishes

Well Jacob him
he stay in dat school all dem years an when he come
home he was a man.
While he was gone
his Mommy and Daddy dey die so he gots nobody.
And on top of dat
nobody he knowed him cause he gots a new name.
My granmudder
he say dat ole man he have a hell of a time.
No body he can understand dat
unless he happen to him.

Dem peoples dat go away to dem schools
an come back you know dey really suffer.
No matter how many stories we tell
we’ll never be able to tell
what dem schools dey done to dah peoples
an all dere relations.

— Maria Campbell, excerpt from “Jacob”

I feel the excerpt from Campbell’s “Jacob” adequately describes the effect resedential schools had on the First Nations culture. Campbell’s poem and the discussion of residential schools relates to this week’s readings because of the assimilation of First Nations peoples into what the Europeans wanted. Unfortunately, many parts of the school system are still very Eurocentric, including what teachers teach. The articles we discussed this week discussed how curriculum and teaching practices do not include diverse voices, including the First Nations perspective. Seeing as we are living in First Nations homeland, this exclusion of their knowledge seems backwards. Over the past couple weeks, it is apparent that language is a proclamation of identity, of culture, and I would feel ashamed as a teacher if I did not include these perpectives

What does this mean for my teaching? The Saskatchewan government has implemented this idea of “We Are All Treaty People” which emphasizes the necessity of treaties while trying to show equality amongst all cultures. Incorporating First Nations knowledge into our curriculums is one step that Saskatchewan has done. The next step is for us, the teachers, to take this information a step further. For my teaching, it is important that I find writings from a perspective that is different from the general Eurocentric point of view. By including these different perspectives, I hope my students will gain critical thinking skills after leaving my History and English classrooms. I also want them to see value in learning from other cultures. I realize this will be a challenge, but it is one I am willing to take on and learn from.

However, after reading Peltier’s article I have come to the realization that some of the conventions we use are also dehabilitating to those students who have a different English than mine. For example, I often correct people on their grammar. I did not realize that doing so could cause some people to retract, and it could even be wrong to correct students based on my current knowledge. After all, I come from a different background, experience, and knowledge base than most of my students. So why do I have the right to change their ways of knowing? To change their culture and understanding? It’s a harsh and complex reality that I will have to figure out as I grow as a teacher. On the flip side, when students use terms that are outdated, incorrect, or derogatory, I will have no hesitations to correct them (for example, First Nations instead of Indian).

Before reading Peltier’s article, I was aware that standardized testing is often written in Standard English and biased in a Eurocentric perspective. As a future History teacher, I am always looking for and considering different scenarios about what I will be teaching. How I am going to approach gay rights in the classroom, or First Nations struggles post-confederation to present, or teaching about the Holocaust. Peltier’s reading this week stated that there is little opportunity for most culture’s to use their first language in a Canadian classroom, and I hope that as a teacher I can incorporate these languages in my classroom. One example of how I will aid learning of different cultures is to include poetry, short stories, or novels in English classes from Aboriginal perspectives (like Maria Campbell’s “Jacob”, which Campbell writes as if she is speaking it).  Learners create their knowledge through the use of language, so even by changing words from “Indian” to “First Nations”, or telling them what treaties are, students would become more attuned to the proper vocabulary to use when it comes to describing different cultures. Admittedly, I did not know the difference between First Nations and Aboriginals until recently. It is through the language that is practiced from day to day lives within the school that shapes their point of view on a certain subject. Although I would be a small part of their busy lives, I want my teaching to make a big impact on how they view their world. Therefore, having students challenge the common misconceptions about a culture and opening their minds in the classroom would aid their learning and understanding of worldviews.

Dialects, Literacy, and Race in the Classroom

There has been recent alterations to the books to not include the N-word when reading Huck Finn, particularly for high school students. What do you think of hiding the vernacular? Could this be an additional way to avoid talking of race in schools?

There has been recent alterations to the books to not include the N-word when reading Huck Finn, particularly for high school students. What do you think of hiding the vernacular? Could this be an additional way to avoid talking of race in schools?

(First of all, I apologize for the use of the “n”word in my examples. Using this week’s readings, I chose to refer to Huckleberry Finn as a way to represent how I understood the readings this week. I realize this is a sensitive subject and do not want to offend anyone reading my topic. However, I also feel that these types of controversies cannot be ignored. Secondly, in no way shape or form does the views represented in the quotes reflect my opinion.)

“Oh, yes, this is a wonderful govment, wonderful. Why, looky here. There was a free n– there from Ohio – a mulatter, most as white as a white man…And what do you think? They said he was a p’fessor in a college, and could talk all kinds of languages, and knowed everything. And that ain’t the wust. They said he could VOTE when he was at home. Well, that let me out. Thinks I, what is the country a-coming to? It was ‘lection day, and I was just about to go and vote myself if I warn’t too drunk to get there; but when they told me there was a State in this country where they’d let that n– vote, I drawed out. I says I’ll never vote agin. Them’s the very words I said; they all heard me; and the country may rot for all me – I’ll never vote agin as long as I live. “(6.11)– Pap

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was written by Mark Twain in late 1800s that brought to light racism and stereotypes of American civilization in the South. However, the most influential part of Mark Twain’s writing is his use of the vernacular through each character. This use of vernacular aids the understanding of the novel into depths that could not be achieved otherwise. Race, class, and sexuality all comes into question through the use of the vernacular, but most important to the readings this week is the discussion of race and class.

In Ladson-Billings article “Reading, Writing, and Race: Literacy Practices of Teachers in Diverse Classrooms”, the author explains how teachers working in a very political and racial world often avoid the talk of race when discussing low literacy rates in their school. By ignoring these dynamics in the school, the teachers (I feel) are giving up on their students and setting them up to fail. Our jobs as teachers is to understand our students and reflect on our experiences to ensure the success of all students. If this means a little bit more work for me, so be it. Race is so prevalent in our lives; therefore I do not understand the point of avoiding the topic within a school setting. Simply put, these children would have benefited from the recognition of race. According to the statistics produced in the article, the rate of literacy between White students and non-White students differs greatly, so it becomes apparent that the teacher’s current teaching strategies are only working for SOME students, and therefore should adjust their strategies in order to understand their learners and knowledge.

When reading Huckleberry Finn, immediately teachers should recognize that students might not be comfortable with some of the language used within the text. During an American literature class, we discussed the nature of using racial slurs within the text and whether or not these should be omitted when teaching this book in a high school. Let’s look at an example from the book given above. Pap is clearly racist and believes in White Supremacy when he feels he (a drunk, dead-beat father) is better than the freed slave who has made a name for himself. Consistently, Pap dehumanizes the African-American slaves, freed or not, by implying they belong on the bottom of the social order. Some questions arose in our class discussion of the racial slurs present were “could high school students handle it? Are they mature enough?” And this is where I relate The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to this week’s readings. Ladson-Billings refers to the humanization of literacy, and how slaves in America were not taught to read and write because it would humanize them in the minds of their masters, but it may also stir trouble in means of a rebellion. However, there has been recent talk of eliminating all racial slurs from the classic Mark Twain novel. As a book that is known for it’s use of language and vernacular to create the characters and add to the discussion of race and class, I believe the omission of such words would result in a misinterpretation of characters. Who judges what is appropriate for students to read? At what age are they “mature” enough to handle it? Is it an attempt to rewrite racism out of history? In my opinion, this omission of the vernacular and racial slurs is another way for the discussion of race to be halted in the school climate. By avoiding the talk about race, even when talking about the demographic of our students and comparing literacy rates, we are contributing to a the color-blind ideology and therefore causing a disservice to our students.

Standard English and Locality of Practice

I will be the first to admit that this week’s readings stumped me. How I seemed to have read and interpreted the articles did not really match with what others were saying in our class discussions. We did two readings this week: “Press 1 for English: Practice as a Generic Social Thing” and “Standard English: What it Isn’t”. So here is my attempt of making sense of it:

Although English is spoken all over the world, there are different dialects that can sometimes create tensions or different meanings within the English language. The article on Standard English (although I was originally frustrated because I wanted to know what Standard English was… than I read the title and realized what the article was about…) adequately labels S.E. as a dialect in a small paragraph, dedicating most of the article to what S.E. is not. I still have questions about S.E., mainly around the formal/informal theoretical independence theory. But the S.E. article helped me realize that language is socially constructed and depends upon the local language, which leads me into my analysis of both of the articles.

Immediately upon reading both articles, I think of the (now popular) “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” television show on TLC. During the summer episodes of “Cake Boss” the commercials for the new TLC program (the one shown below) is what aired every. single. commercial. break. The first time you listen to it, you are laughing at the uncanny ability to not be able to understand any words Honey Boo Boo or her family is saying, which is clearly contrasted to the voiceover. So it makes you sit in your seat and wait for the next commercial to air to see if you recognize any of the words being spoken. It is at that point that you realize you have been staring at the screen repeating “a dolla makes me holla Honey Boo Boo” or  “You Better Redneckognize!” and am dumbfounded that other English speaking people say these things. Yes, that ACTUALLY happened. So I pull in the context of Honey Boo Boo’s and compare it to my own: the language she and her family uses is their practice of language; it is there dialect. Now I am not making a generalization here about the language practices of where they are from, but it becomes evident as you watch the show that many of the people they surround themselves with speak in similar manner. She is also a  little girl, but the choice of words she uses is becoming quite popular as seen in Dish Nation YouTube video, even though they are poking fun at it.

So what does Honey Boo Boo have to do with the practice of language? Honey Boo Boo is perfect example of how language is socially constructed, and how quickly this language can spread through popular media. In the “Press 1 for English” article, the author compared taking money out of a bank from an older generation (going to the bank, talking to people, etc) to the newer generation that can do online banking or take money out of the ATM, removing all human contact. This example got me thinking about the power technology is playing in the development of language. We learn the language by literally practicing as we, for example, watch people text than attempt it ourselves. Although it is still a social act, our language is becoming more techonological than personal. Even though I do not see “redneckognize” deemed the reward of being a “real word”, I think it demonstrates to people the malleablity of language while technology demonstrates the adaptive measures. Could I be wrong? Or will we one day have an English technology dialect? After all, hasn’t current acronyms like LOL made it into the Webster’s English dictionary?

Mona Lisa Smile – Men, Experience, Society

In the twentieth century, film became a means for  people to look at the insights into stereotypes or analysis of discourse. Mona Lisa Smile is a compelling story about a progressive female art history teacher that inspired his students to become something more than their husband’s wives. The nature of knowledge comes from men, which is blatantly demonstrated in the students’ reading of the textbooks (where knowledge is considered correct and normal) and resistance to change (dangerous and progressive). When Katherine is asked in front of the council asking her about her paper she informs them that she has never been to Europe, which immediately stops the conversation. As it seems, experience is considered vital to education and the teaching of education.

Right away it becomes clear that knowledge is socially constructed through eloquence classes. In these classes, the women learn that sole responsibility of women are to take care of children and husband. The dominant discourse in the film is also shown through the control of parents, specifically Betty Warren’s mother. Betty’s mother informs her daughter on how to treat her husband, and later she is seen as forcing her daughter to stay in the marriage. Betty Warren is one of the most reluctant students to follow Katherine Watson, and the influence of community on education is evident when Betty publishes an article in the newspaper about Amanda giving contraception to students. Originally, Betty falls into the socially constructed belief that women need to be married to have any true achievements in life: “no woman chooses to have a life without a home”.

So who produced the knowledge? Men, experience, and society. This film does a good job of demonstrating how women were not encouraged to create knowledge; instead they were expected to spit back knowledge long enough for them to be married off. So I apply these three producers of knowledge into my own life. Men, for most part of history, have dominated in the academic field and has been the solitary voice of history. Only until the past thirty years have women, Aboriginal, and other minority voices been introduced into historical voices, journals, and academies. This has certain implication on our learners: these multiple voices allow for each student to relate to a certain part of the subject they are learning and allows for students to learn in a multiple of ways. I know as a woman, I look back at pride at the suffragettes and feminist movements. It allowed me and other students to open up in ways nobody could have imagined over 100 years ago.

Experience. Even our own college has realized how valuable experience is to fulfill our jobs. But in Katherine Watson’s case, she was looked down upon for teaching about art history yet never actuall experience the art in Europe itself. Despite her lack of experience with the actual pieces of art, she was still able to inspire her students to learn and create their own opinions. So not all experience is necessary, but in the case of our learners it depends upon the subject they are in. For example, someone who excels in science based courses would do well with experience with a microscope, or growing plants in a greenhouse, or even dissecting an animal. But in the case of history, it is impossible to go back in time and experience that history. The most we can do is show artefacts and evidence from the past to help recreate the scenerios in the students minds in order to experience and create their own knowledge.

Society. As teachers, we become aware of the effects society has on our students. How they view racism, genderism, sexual orientation, and class can be traced back to what students learn through social conventions that are supported by their parents. Society plays a big part in school life, yet it seems so disconnected from the school itself. Many times we hear students say “we will never need this in real life” or “I’m never going to use this again”. So what can we do as teachers to change their minds? How can we inspire our students in bring school into “real life” if schools do not bring “real life” into the classrooms? There is a reason why our students are so engaged when we make reference to the latest Twilight movie or to Halo 4. The students like to know that their teachers care about what is happening in their lives too, and from that understanding I think I help students create knowledge and think critically within their own lives. Scaffolding, application to personal lives, and keeping up to date with our learners will help them in the long run. (Current events happening in their community or country would be a great way to tie back to certain historical time periods. For example, Idle No More is a movement occurring within Canada right now. It would be great for students to learn about their problems right now and tracing it back to colonization. “Real life” and history at play!)

On another note, I found a clip that shows how men, experience (women have to experience in obtaining knowledge), and society shaped “How Women Should Act”. Although some of the YouTube comments refers to the video being meant for humorous purposes, I did not find it particularly funny. All the same, it relates to my discussion quite nicely.

Reflections on Semester One…

Ahh, the last post. Does anyone else feel accomplished when they can wipe something off of their immense white-board list?

So, first semester of Education is coming to a close, and now I am 7/10ths of the way done my university career. I wanted to dedicate my last post to talking about what I learned from the textbooks overall and how the textbooks have been critical in my school placement. First of all, Gallagher and Appleman’s textbooks have been the most influential textbooks I have ever read. I feel these are textbooks that will be falling apart in thirty years because of my constant rereading of them. Also, I hope to explore some other texts written by the same authors in order to offer new ideas of teaching that I know I am not familiar with. Appleman’s use of introducing different theories to students was so incredibly helpful, and hopefully next semester I can utilize this information when I am able to teach more in the classrooms. Gallagher’s text was insightful, and although I feel it was mostly written in metaphor I definitely understood his writing. In fact, it was Gallagher’s text that helped to me write in a first-person voice rather than a formal, academic one we are used to in Arts and Science. I will be using Gallagher and Appleman’s texts a lot in the future, and I know that others will be as well.

My experiences in the school have been crucial to my development as a teacher. At the beginning of the semester, I did feel a little scared to go into the classes because 1. I have never been inside a city school, and my only experience was with small town schools so I was nervous about that, 2. what if students/ teachers did not like me or did not want me there, and 3. what was I actually supposed to be doing. In all honesty, I could not have been placed in a better school or with better people. It helped my anxiety when other teacher-candidates were with me (in fact, there were six of us) and we all felt kind of the same way.  And it was even better when we were able to go back to our university classes and start sharing our experiences with everyone around us. The teachers as well were so welcoming that I did not ever feel the need to worry. But most of all, it was the students who reinforced my feelings as to why I was there. Why I wanted to be a teacher. I really connected with the Grade 12 classes, and this school year I got to teach these two groups of students twice. I was able to implement some of the activities from the Gallagher and Appleman texts when they were reading Life of Pi. They ask me questions about their assignments, or just as the bell is going they ask me questions about university and what the programs are like (after all, they are grade 12 students and they admit to being nervous). I think it is easier for me to connect with the grade 12’s over the grade 9’s I am placed with because the school is still so new to the grade 9’s. Although I only got to teach the grade 9’s this Tuesday and Wednesday, I feel like it will help them warm up to Ashley and I for the next semester. If I were in the old program, I would definitely not feel ready to dive right into my internship in the second year of the program. But only after my first semester of “observing”, I am ready for my internship, and cannot wait to help creating those lesson plans with my co-op teacher.

So all in all, the textbooks of this course and the application of being in the schools really helped me connect to the new program and our cohort. So, in light of being the last post, I hope everyone enjoys these two pictures:

Meme 2Education 1

Reading the World…

I am going to be brutally honest here. Gallagher’s Chapter on “Reading the World” was the most boring chapter I have read in his entire book.

With that being said, I will go on.

I understand the importance of what Gallagher was trying to get across. This chapter was showing readers how we can incorporate real life models into our classroom to encourage students to read deeper into their current situations. However, the idea of getting students to read through direct marketing in the classroom just does not work for me. My favorite part of the chapter was within the first couple pages because it showed the importance of words and word choice. Gallagher asked the reader to read through “Real-World Euphemisms”, than showed the actual word on the other side of the T-chart. For example, “custodial interference” actually means “kidnapping”, and “direct marketing” actually means “junk mail” (see what I did there? Read the paragraph again if you missed it!). The ability to understand how use of words can manipulate others into thinking something different is important. Let me give a real life example:

In my second year of university, we were reading Bronte’s Jane Eyre in an English canon class. After we finished the novel, a question was raised about whether or not we were shocked or surprised by the ending. Being the group of students who sat at the very front, of course we were asked our opinion first. So one of us at the table blinked at her and stated “well, it was shocking. I was surprised that she married him after all of that”. The professor looked at us confused “so which is it, shock or surprise that you feel?”. Honestly, we did not know how to respond. We always thought they meant the same thing. Needless to say, we got a lesson in word choice that day. But when you read through newspapers  or watch media that constantly interchanges the two, you never realize that surprise is good and shock is bad. It has never been brought up before in our classrooms.

So these deeper reading activities should be applied to real-life situations and not just literature that is assigned by the curriculum. If our goal is to prepare our students for the big, scary outside world, how can we do a better job of English teachers than really teaching them “how to read”? Gallagher used the example of political cartoons to get students to read deeper, but if they are anything like me half the time I do not understand them because I do not understand the situation. I am aware that myself and students should pay more attention to politics, but why not start them off with something like these popular memes that are popping up everywhere? They are a great way to read deeper into social situations that are happening (and also a great way of introducing satire into an English class).