Response #6 – Curriculum as Productive Learners

What does it mean to be a “good” student according to the commonsense?

According to the commonsense to be a good student means to be able to take in the prescribed knowledge and reproduce the right answer on assignments and exams. To be a good student means to accept only certain ways of knowing that are viewed as most important in traditional classrooms. The commonsense knowledge is aligned with what is seen as mattering most in mainstream schools and society. To be a good student means to follow such teachings the way tradition asks students to.

Which students are privileged by this definition of the good student? Which are oppressed and left out?

Students that are able to conform to the commonsense ways of learning and students that have previous knowledge that is parallel to what is taught in mainstream schools are privileged. Students who are unable to be the kind of student commonsense dictates they should be and students that have knowledge that conflicts with what is taught in schools are oppressed and disadvantaged.

What does Kumashiro mean when he talks about learning through crisis?

Kumashiro means that when learning about something you might face a moment when what you previously believed is disproven or questioned and you have a crisis in which you have to work through the new knowledge in conjunction with the old knowledge. Entering into crisis happens when we begin to question troubling knowledge.

How do you see yourself taking this up in your future classroom?

Because this is an area of education that I have already been trying to better understand and figure out ways of being a learner and ways of teaching that don’t just allow there to be one type of good student, I can see the ideas Kumashiro presents as being quite helpful. In my English classrooms I could see myself applying concepts that may be troubling and cause crisis’ in students that allow them to further their understanding in more than just the “single correct way”. I think having this discussion about what it means to be a good student could be important, because as a student I have at times felt as if what I really thought or wondered about didn’t matter because it wasn’t what I needed to work on to get a good grade. I think introducing opportunities to question what we know and what we’re learning would be important and useful in a classroom.

How does the idea of teaching in uncomfortable ways conflict with or support the ways of teaching that are made possible by the curriculum (as we discussed in lecture last week)?

I think it supports working through issues of oppression embedded in the education system and I think it conflicts with specialized knowledge, because it is questioning what we know and hold to be correct and good. I think that conflict is important, because it works to make as question what is uncomfortable.

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