My name is Tristan Dashney and I am currently in my first year of the Education Program at the University of Regina. I grew up in the small, rural town of Kyle Saskatchewan. After spending my whole life in the same school, watching many different teachers coming and going, I realized that I myself wanted to become a teacher.
In the introduction to his book, “Against Common Sense: Teaching and Learning Toward Social Justice”, author Kevin Kumashiro gives an anecdote about his experience teaching in Nepal. His experience taught him about the contrasting ideas of common sense that he and the people of Nepal had. Living and teaching in Nepal taught Kumashiro that what he thought was common sense, was really just his own american ideals and that the people of Nepal lived and functioned in a way that was very different to his own. With regards to teaching, Kumashiro goes on to describe the common sense view of education in the United States as following a simple but strict guideline. There are a set number of classes, set class times, set class years, and generally pre-determined classes or teaching materials. Things in the United States are done in a certain way, and Kumashiro claims that they are not necessarily better than in other parts of the world. He also goes on to talk about how implementing those American ways of common sense teaching can be oppressive and imperialistic towards the other countries.
Kumashiro talks about how oppressive these common sense ideas of teaching can be to other countries, but also in the United States itself. It is important to notice and understand common sense, because it helps identify problems within our current school systems. Looking at and thinking critically about what we consider common sense in our schools helps to determine what may be some outdated ways of doing things. Picking about our ideas of what should or shouldn’t be in a classroom right now, or even how a classroom functions, can help to inspire change not only within our schools but also within ourselves as teachers.
Here is my CBSL learning story video, hope you enjoy!
3 things I learned:
- The academic definition of “profession” which looks at a profession as having a lot of knowledge in a certain area that was obtained over a long period of time, being a well respected and essential service, and being mostly independent of other jobs. I thought this was interesting because when applied to the teaching career, a case can be made both for and against teaching being a profession. Obviously as a future educator, I believe that it most certainly is a profession. However with the growing use of online education and the easy access of information, some may see teachers as becoming “obsolete”.
- I learned that there is quite the heated debate about whether or not teaching counts as a legitimate profession. While I personally think it should be considered a profession, there is a strong case against it. I think regardless of if it fits the definition or not, teaching should be as respected as things like doctors or scientists. (Teachers should also be paid more)
- The story of Krista Yerkes, the beginner teacher, was a very interesting one. It seemed like she had a lot of difficulty adjusting to her role as a teacher. To me, the story seemed to be a “what not to do” tale of sorts. Although i found it very interesting to see the experience of a fellow new teacher and it gave me an idea of what struggles to expect.
2 Connections I made:
- The debate over whether or not teaching counts as a profession really got me thinking. I believe that overall, it doesn’t really matter if something is officially a profession or not. The label doesn’t impact a teacher’s performance or their teaching style. While the title of profession may come with greater respect for teachers from the public, it doesn’t determine the importance of teaching. Perhaps if more people truly saw and understood the benefits to education, teachers would receive greater respect and be more revered.
- I also connected to Krista’s story. Like i said earlier, her story and her reactions to teaching seemed like a what not to do, and she seemed to be having a very rough go. While i have very limited experience working in classrooms, from what experience i do have i would say that teaching is not nearly as terrifying an experience as she describes. She also seems to make extreme choices such as fighting with and moving away from her college roommates. In my opinion, while teachers need to present themselves in a professional and respectable manner, I also think there is a certain amount of “chill”, for lack of a better word, that teachers need to have. As with any job, if someone takes everything too seriously it becomes no fun and they begin to have problems with their job. I liked when Krista helped connect to a student with behavioral problems by connecting with that student and being more relaxed around them. Connections like these help students want to come to class and want to learn, and showing that as a teacher you care about your students is very important.
1 question I still have:
- Would viewing teaching as a profession change the way that teachers present themselves to the public and to their students, and if so would this change have a positive or negative impact on the students’ learning?
This week’s assigned video had a certain interest for me, because of the fact that it was partially made by Gord Downie of The Tragically Hip. I went into watching The Secret Path with no background knowledge of what it was going to be about, aside from Gord Downie’s involvement in it. Once i started watching, i was immediately hooked by the unique art and music that accompanied the touching story.
3 things i learned:
- While I already had a general understanding of what residential schools were like, I learned more about the awful conditions from the video. The personal account made it more real in a way, rather than just hearing about it from textbooks and articles.
- I learned about the many artists like Gord who are using their art to raise awareness about these issues for the public. The panel in the last half of the video really stressed how important it is to go to other indigenous artists and see how their art is impacted by the legacy of residential schools and how they are trying to shed light and gather interest in that dark part of Canadian history.
- Finally I learned more about how the indigenous people can forgive the tragedies of the past. I liked when the panel talked about how sometimes its okay to be angry about what happened, and how that is a healthy emotion to be feeling. I feel like much too often people talk about the forgiveness and idea of moving forward that needs to happen. However they don’t talk about what indigenous people may be feeling and how they can handle those feelings
2 connections I made:
- The Secret Path video itself connected to my own past learning of residential schools. I’ve been taught about residential schools all throughout high school, but like I said earlier, there’s something about seeing it as a personal story that makes it more real and more impactful than hearing it from a history book.
- Another connection I made was with the survey that the TRC did about canadians who had not learned about residential schools. The number of Canadians who said they had not learned about residential schools during their life was something like 60% (i couldn’t find the part in the video to confirm this) and this once again connected to my own schooling. During high school I had always thought this was something that happened long ago and everyone had to learn about it. However, after seeing this video and talking to other people such as my parents, it has become clear that only in recent history have we even begun to teach our children about the dark history of our country, and while a lot of progress has been made, there is still a long way to go to fully educate the future generations.
1 question I still have:
- As future educators, how can we better teach our students about the history of Indigenous people and residential schools in a impactful and meaningful way?
After a few more visits to my CBSL placement, I have had more time to learn and understand what goes on in a funeral home. In my first CBSL blog, I talked about how the staff manages to keep a lighthearted tone and energy, despite the weight of the job they do. I initially believed they acted like this simply to make the job a little more bearable. However, the more time i spent with them, the more i realized that they genuinely enjoy the work that they do and they love to help people through some of the most difficult times of their lives.
While I’ve only had three or four more volunteer experiences since my initial post, I’ve got to see more of what goes on in the funeral home. Apart from the work they do in the funeral home, Speers occasionally volunteers with different events around the city. I got to help them be a part of the Silent Hearts fundraiser walk. Silent Hearts is a group for families who have had their child pass away at birth or shortly thereafter. It was an amazing experience to help out with such a meaningful event, and it was wonderful to see all of the extra work that the people at Speers funeral home put into the event, when they have absolutely no obligation to do so.
Overall, I’ve had an excellent experience at Speers. They are a group of wonderful people, and they do some incredible work there. It takes a certain kind of person to help people through some of the most difficult times every single day. They have inspired me to try and help my students during their times of need and to try and make their lives just a little better.
This is one of the older readings that I never got around to doing until now, so here is my blog for the readings on the theories of human development.
3 things I learned:
- The different kinds of human development being physical, personal, social, and cognitive development. While this may be one of the smaller ideas from the chapter, I found it very interesting to see how these different kinds of development can interact with and affect each other.
- The differences between Piaget ad Vygotsky’s theories of development. While Vygotsky believes that social interactions are extremely important parts of human development, Piaget believes that people learn by interacting with the world around them. I found both of these theories very interesting, however I would argue that they are both correct to at least some degree, and they are both instrumental in understanding human development.
- The importance of active learning and assisted learning. Active learning being the idea that students must do something with the information they are learning, both physically and mentally. Assisted learning is all about helping students ease into the learning material, and helping them use that material before letting them do more and more on their own.
2 connections I made:
- In regards to assisted learning, I think of it like the training wheels on a bike. When a child is first learning to ride a bike, often they have training wheels to help they get the basics of riding before letting them go on their own. Teachers are similar to those training wheels, in that they should assist students to understand the material when introducing new concepts before letting them handle it on their own. I think this is a much better way to teach, rather than just dumping a bunch of new information on the students and them letting them try and figure it all out on their own, which was a problem I had during most of my high school math classes. However, with a larger class size this may not always work well, as helping each student may slow the progress of the class as a whole.
- The next connection I made was in regard to active learning. Part of the active learning idea is that when students communicate with each other, they may use their knowledge in new ways, or they may completely change their way of thinking. This is why I think that group work is so important for students. If students never work with others, they won’t be exposed to all sorts of new ideas and ways of thinking. The more different opinions a person is exposed to, whether they agree or not, the more that person can grow and adapt their own beliefs and ideas.
1 question I still have:
- How can teachers use these theories and understandings of human development to better teach their students, especially in later high school classes when the students have already done a lot of development?
Today I had my very first day volunteering at the Speers Funeral Home here in Regina. I was met with a staff of exceptionally friendly people who were very welcoming.
3 things I learned:
- Working in a funeral home is not nearly as depressing as one would expect. The staff like I said were extremely kind and fun to be around. The staff like to keep a more serious face when in the public eye, however behind closed doors they like to have a fun atmosphere. They joke around and tease each other (while still being respectful to the families that come to them of course) in order to keep things lighthearted. I asked one of the funeral directors about it, and he told me that with all of the things they see on a daily basis, they have to talk about it and have fun or else it would be a much more difficult job and staff wouldn’t stay around as long as some of them have.
- There are many different jobs and parts that go into planning a funeral and putting everything together. While the family may only meet with one specific funeral director, they are supported by several other staff members. The whole staff was frequently bouncing from one job to another, helping to make sure everything is done and all the funerals and cremations run as smoothly as possible. I got to see a whole range of jobs from secretarial work, to obituary writing, to headstone designing. Everybody lends a hand where they can whether or not they are a official funeral director.
- Funerals are very expensive. I have never really looked into the cost of funerals but boy oh boy, all the different services quickly add up. A nice casket will cost around $6000 to $9000. And then there are all sorts of fees for transporting the deceased, funeral planning, cremation services, purchasing a plot of land and so on. I also learned that this cost is to be covered by the deceased family member, and not their family members. Also if the deceased does not have the money for a funeral, the family can apply to have the Sask. Social Services cover the main cost of the funeral including things like a nice casket and the funeral home fees.
2 connections I made:
- The way that the staff worked together and supported each other reminded me of how a school works. From what I’ve seen in schools, the teachers are constantly helping each other out with little things here and there, while also managing their own classroom. Just like at the funeral home, everyone helps out where they can to make sure everything runs smoothly.
- While the job may be difficult at times (or all the time), having a staff that creates a warm and lighthearted working environment can make all the difference. Teachers will need to help some students work through some very difficult problems in their lives, and the job can start to weigh down on the teachers. It is important for teachers to have fun with their jobs and talk to each other about the stresses of it all, in order to take some of the weight off and make everything more bearable.
1 question I still have:
- Are the techniques used by funeral directors to console grieving families transferable in anyway to help a student going through a particularly difficult time in their life?
I learned several things in this weeks readings that i had no prior knowledge of, and some things i learned more about from the readings. One of the topics that caught my interest were the “requirements” for a good role model. I learned that to be an effective role model, you can’t just be cool, you have to be confident in your self and in your abilities. A learner will be more receptive to the role model, if the model’s self-efficacy is higher. This also relates to me, because my role model through out life has been Bruce Willis in Die Hard, although throughout the movie he isn’t overly confident in his abilities however I have easily taken to his ways of making plans up as he goes. Another thing I learned was the difference between Intrinsic and Extrinsic motivation, and how they are both important to motivating students. The part detailing Extrinsic motivation really connected to me, because i often find myself motivated to do something simply because i have to. I find it interesting that both Intrinsic and Extrinsic motivations play off each other and the combination of both help motivate students more than just one or the other. The final thing I learned was how the three different types of reciprocal influences, (Personal, Environmental, and Behavioural) work together to shape someones behaviour. Behaviour is a very complex system, and if a student has “behavioural problems” these influences show that there is not just one individual cause. There are many things that influence how a student behaves and and work within a classroom. I think this further promotes the importance of one on one time between students and teachers, so that if a student is having problems the teacher can get to know the student and better understand that students needs within the classroom.
Finally, the question i still have after this weeks readings relates to the makings of a role model for students. As a teacher it will be important for me to have my students look up to me, so I am wondering if there are more factors than just having self-confidence to being a good role model for the students.