Neat Blog from a Corrections Educator

I was scoping out this blog and I thought I’d share it. Some neat stuff in there and a perspective o someone trying to teach inside of the prison system.



Dewey? Greene? West? Foucault? Freire?

Last Class we were introduced to and reminded of, not just one philosopher, but 5, and were asked which we identify with, and why. Unfortunately, class was just about over, and I wasn’t able to discuss my thoughts, so I thought this would be an appropriate time to do so.
The five options were John Dewey, Maxine Greene, Cornel West, Foucault, and Freire who all have a social criticism toward education.
I think of myself as an ‘artsy’ person, in terms of art including song, paint, poem, drawing, etc., but especially the song. With music I find that so many lines and boundaries can be crossed; race, disability (mental and physical), self-image and awareness, and so much more. Not only can the lyrics have a powerful message, but so can the actual instrumental parts, as well as the coming together of many people in order to create it. While in our age it is possible to record a song all yourself, often there still needs to be others involved, and its a beautiful process. I’ve also seen music in situations like music therapy for children who have autism, provide a voice for a girl who otherwise was non-verbal. I feel I identify strongly with the arts and therefore Maxine Greene appeals to me as she see’s art as a way to ‘wake us up’; something that is so present it is almost unbearable.
In saying this I also like Friere’s idea of teachers and students engaging in mutual service where the teacher is not dominating, and the students’ aren’t in competition with one another. Competition with my close friend in high school was my incentive and drive to do better and partially the reason for my success, so in some ways I think a healthy competition is good. However, I like the idea of a classroom where there is more harmony among students and teachers.
There are parts of John Dewey I also identify with; the process of meeting students where they are at, and guiding them toward a goal, is a process which has so much potential for students.
So there isn’t necessarily one which I strongly identify with, but a mix between a few. I’ve found through this course that my idea of education is very student centered, though this didn’t come as too much of a surprise.
What/ who did some of you find yourself identifying with? Do you find that your views now are a reflection of your past education?


In Response to Nathan’s post on Self-regulation as a Philosophy of Education

I actually heard about this from a friend of mine who works in the Christian School in Langley, B.C., which is only a short drive from Surrey where this idea of self-regulation has become such a hit. As a teacher with a classroom full of rowdy boys and social girls, she was interested in this idea. It sure has interested me too!
One thing I really like about this idea is this: “Self-regulation ultimately hands the job of taking charge of their learning and their behaviour back to the kids.” My philosophy of education is very student centered and this fits in with my idea of a thriving classroom. In my experience, when a person “owns” something, then it becomes more real and they are more dedicated to it. In this case, when the students “own” their self-regulation they are owning their academics and taking control over it, and I can only imagine the results being positive.
An issue I do see occurring, however, is that each child is likely to self-regulate differently. If a child were to just get up and take a run, this could disrupt not only their class, but the classes around them, which could be damaging to the others, but beneficial for them. Where does the line get drawn? It is much easier to accept the use of headphones (though with responsibility that they don’t wear them when the teacher is talking to them; that they use them with respect) than wanting to encourage students to get up and go for a run.
In saying this though, there were countless times in high school when my teachers would send myself or other friends of mine for a walk around the school until we were ready to come back in and focus. Or encouraged us to bring a healthy snack into class when we couldn’t pay attention otherwise (especially in that class right before lunch!) or when I shared my healthy parts of my lunch with a boy in a Grade 5 class I was a TA for, and just eating that orange instead of chips or candy changed his whole day around! So I’ve seen how important self-regulation is!
For myself in university, when I can no longer focus on studying I work out or go for a run, eat some fruit, and get back to it. I also am one of those who listen to music, but my music playlist is very selective as certain music is great for my work outs but would bring too much stimulation for studying. On a little side note actually, here is a very interesting article about the effects of music on the brain! Click here to read it.
If student’s don’t take advantage of it, and once they get used to the idea of it so as not to be distracted by others self-regulation, if the teacher and students are both committed to practicing self-regulation in the classroom, then yes, I think students for sure should be granted the freedom of it! School and education, in my opinion, is about them after all, and if if this is going to improve their learning, then definitely it should be implemented. 8 or so hours in a school day otherwise, is extremely long when students just can’t seem to focus.

Philosophy of Education in the News: Self-Regulation

I found this story of Self-Regulation in the news and I find it fascinating. Don’t miss the link at the top left-hand of the page that opens up the documentary.

The article identifies Self-Regulation as a mode of Educational Philosophy and I like it. Ultimately, I think it’s simply one more step towards student-centered learning and, my favourite, empowerment to children. I think there are some interesting notes found though the article, such as found in this quote:

“There has been a growing body of work showing that when a child’s brain is overloaded, the thinking part of the brain shuts off. The more ancient part of the brain lights up, and the child moves into the more instinctual mode of fight-or-flight.”

There is an expansion upon this point in the accompanying audio documentary and interview. One of the remarks is that a student looses the ability to actually hear and comprehend human voices as stress is increased. The answer they suggest is to not yell at a kid, but to deescalate them. Help the kid find out what calms them down, facilitate an opportunity in them to do so such that they can get refocused, them teach them how to identify when they are becoming stressed out and unfocused and then take the initiative to deescalate themselves. However, the great struggle is that each kid is unique, so they much be uniquely taught to each one.

Another valuable remark in the article about students taking advantage of ear plugs because they are way too distracted by noise and I find it really valuable. I think it’s interesting to go into the library and see how many people are listening to music while studying, and I experiment with it myself. However, I have found over the years that, consistently, I am much more productive if I’m not listening to anything and am instead wearing ear plugs. Everyone is different, and different people function better in different environments. However, I often find myself wanting to listen to music because I am bored and not engaged with the material much more than seeking out music as a means to make me focus.

I’m curious, as successful academics, what do you do to stay focused and self-regulate?

Do you agree that this level of freedom should be granted to students?

– Nathan

FYI, this whole No-Zeros Policy is just a sideshow left over from bogus Klien era funding restrictions implimented for Alberta Education

Today, we were talking in class about the whole No Zeros policy. It’s polarized a lot of people over a problem that is being very misrepresented. I am frustrated that so many people have jumped onto an issue, yet there’s been practically no discussion about how:

  1. If there are no zeros, then the lowest awarded mark simply becomes a zero
  2. This is really a money issue. A silly, stupid money issue.

Here is a quote describing how this whole issue of funding troubles came to be. Click it for original source.

“Superintendent Schmidt’s open letter yesterday simply stated that EPSB assesses students on the work they do complete. Edgar Schmidt has not explained that EPSB’s practices are very likely an attempt to deal with Alberta Education’s high school funding rules, implemented during the Klein era. The childish reasoning behind the rules originally argued that if students failed, then teachers were at fault, and schools should not receive any funding for a job poorly done. Subsequently, a compromise was arrived at whereby students who earned a mark of 25% but less than 50% would be funded if they attended 50% or more of their classes and have been assessed on at least 50% of the course work. As a consequence, teachers are faced with a professional and moral dilemma when ordered by their principals to not give marks of less than 25%, and to ensure that attendance is recorded as 50% or higher.”

Philosophically, this frustrates me because I think that this is one big silly mess that distracts us all from truer, more meaningful work related to education. As far as grading goes, I think it has practically nothing to do with education and learning, and a whole lot more to do with indoctrination and evaluation that serves the state and society. So, let s accept the incomplete system, make it as small and simple as possible, KEEP IT CONSISTANT, and put it to rest!

– Nathan

In response to Nathan’s article post about ‘No more tag in schools’

If you have not yet read the article Nathan posted, you can read it here.
This story just made me so sad! It makes sense to some extent for tag to be banned from the playgrounds, however, no touching at all is getting a little extreme I think. It is important for human beings to have physical contact. For many I think it helps to boost self-confidence and self-esteem. Even if it may not be seen as necessarily crucial to the child, taking it away and prohibiting a student to do something so natural, is something which saddens my heart.
I know this is not the final decision made on what to do, but I did want to make a comment on the original plan nonetheless. It may not appear crucial to learning or curriculum or education at all, but it does affect the learner and without a learner there would be none of the above, therefore what happens on the playground and outside of the classroom is also important.

– Angie

The 19 Greatest Gaming Scholars of All Time

I’m reposting this because I think it’s a good lead on understanding how to use Video Games more in the classroom (something I am obviously interested in). Check it out if you’ve any interest!

The 19 Greatest Gaming Scholars of All Time

There are a few interesting individuals in the list, the top of the list is a dude named Kurt Squire who helped create something crazy called the Education Arcade. I think there is a lot of potential cool in this! I am exploring it in relation to my Educational Philosophy because I’m blown away by some modern learning concepts which I feel might suggest that a part of teaching might be shifting towards the constructions of environments rather than a focus on teacher-centered relationships.

Also, The Radix Endeavour is a Massively Online Multiplayer Game about Math and Science. (What!?!) ALPHANUMERIC!! Check it out here:

– Nathan

My View of Plato

Now from the little that have seen and heard in our class I think Plato gets the short end of the stick when it comes to his philosophy of education. Now I know it is hard to look at his philosophy and not see the social implications of his time and the obvious negativity that slaves are needed for a utopian society. But if we can overlook that, I feel pretty strong about his ideals for education. Like the purpose of education should be, maybe not freedom of conventional opinion, a sound board that calls into question the essence of our society and why it is formed the way it is. Education instead of perpetuating the status quo should establish moral citizens that have a critical lens when viewing the world. That can produce positive change if the current way of doing things is not just and for the benefit of all. I also like Plato’s view on learning, the idea of discovery through dialogue, which is a pivotal foundation in the Education program at kings. This ideal promotes collaboration and a foundation of group work that I think will set up students nicely in the work force but also in family life as well.

And of course there is Plato’s view on knowledge, the idea that true in innate and leads to absolute truth. As a Christian I find this goes without saying, don’t get me wrong there is a lot of hard work that goes along with finding our knowledge. But when we define a virtue such as love or courage, can we define it without missing something, without seeing it in its entirety. I don’t think we can but yet we know in our heart what is love and courage, and what all the other virtues are. I believe this knowledge is invoked in us by being image bearers of God. I therefore view the acquiring of knowledge and the purpose of education as a vocation, a calling for each of us to partake in God’s plan here on Earth.

– Chris