Pursuing Narratives

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I’m at the paper writing time of my school work. So things are full on, and it’s difficult to find time and desire to write about things. Especially school things.

For one of my assignments I have to choose a methodology that supports my research questions.  I’m mostly interested in the how we are regarding where we are.  Why do we act certain ways in different places, how does the interact with our idea of teacher identity and maybe what does that mean for learning?

I think pursuing narrative inquiry is the way to go for this type of work.  I really want to know who the teachers are, I want their story and I want their ideas.  I want to know how we are linked together, not just because we work together, but because our stories are connected. Stories are woven together, and nothing is isolated, so I hope that this path works out.

Why do we teach?


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Through the studying these past couple weeks, we’ve been looking at some of the reasons why we’re teaching. Most of us started with the idea for the students, or learners, but what are we explicitly try to teach them, or what are we teaching them for? What’s the curriculum really about?

One of my presentations is about Paulo Friere and the pedagogy of the oppressed. In order to teach for liberation we need to make sure that we are open to learning about ourselves and using dialogue to empower all learners.

When we really get down into our teaching, when do we oppress some of our learners, who do we silence, whose voices aren’t we listening to or appreciating?

It’s been a lot of reflecting these last couple of weeks, but interesting ideas.

Aikido Conflict Management

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This week as our exhibition unfolds we’ve been looking at what to do when people disagree.  Since we are in groups discovering our own process, there are bound to be disagreements, and we were wondering what are some of the more interesting ways to interact with each other when these types of situations arise.

When I was doing my master’s we looked at the idea of using aikido as a conflict management style. The hope in aikido is that the relationship matters. There should be a win-win resolution. When we are working with others, physical conflict might not happen but if we can apply the same principal of win-win to our verbal conflict we can hopefully work towards a better resolution.

Aikido also hopes for resistance and letting force flow through the situation. When we think of disagreements from this point of view, we can hopefully focus more on what the problem really is (not what is superficially being presented) and we can let the negative feelings or connotations flow past us.

If you’re interested in learning more, there’s lots online, or you can check out this article

Confused about where to start

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Doing my reading this week, and being interested in environmental education I often wonder about how to start developing a new curriculum or a new approach to teaching and learning.

This week we focused on Schwab’s The Practical: A language for curriculum (1970) and how we (still) may have a problem with a crucial part of school, the curriculum.  When we use one theory or approach to solve a problem we can miss out on other opportunities to see a problem from different perspectives. By thinking that one theory or curriculum can solve a very complex problem like education we may be missing out on subtle ideas that can be taken from many theories.

I guess what I’m wondering is what are the variety of ideas that we can draw from to integrate environmental education into our “everyday” curriculum? How do we (re)start the process of creating an environmental curriculum without a singular focus, while trying to teach multiple disciplines.

Value laden curriculum


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This week in class (both my doctorate and my grade six class) we have been looking at values and beliefs.  I feel like I explicitly teach the PYP values and explain my own personal values (not that my values, or the PYP values are the values to have, but rather it forms a part of who I am, so students should be aware of them).

Our school had an incredibly provoking speaker come in last week. Peter Daglish works in many different roles, but one of them is with the UN habitat organization that does work in Afghanistan.  He mostly talked about how he works with kids, and what kids can do to make a difference. Again it was very values oriented.

I’ve started to wonder, especially since I’m going to focus mostly on qualitative research, about how important it is to have values, and how we plan with people who have different values than we do.

The learners are headed into the exhibition this week. We as a class are digging deep into our values and beliefs so we can start to take some action. We think that if we know who we are and what we believe it’s easier for us to take action.

It’s going to be an exciting unit.

A bit messy

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This week I’ve been wondering how the local and global work together. I know it’s messy but in the PYP how can we balance the importance of a local focused curriculum in a world of global issues.

In the PYP the main focus is on the learner and developing learner agency. The goal is to develop agency through explicit teaching of the learner profile.  Through a concept based, inquiry driven program focused on learners, the International Baccalaureate aims to create compassionate, life-long learners who know when and how to take action with their learning (Barnard, 2016).  The International Baccalaureate and the PYP in particular is a value-laden curriculum focusing on the Learner Profile as a way to teach the core values of the PYP (International Baccalaureate Organization, 2009). By teaching an internationally value laden curriculum I think the PYP is trying to address Schwab’s commonplace of milieus. The PYP strives to be a school that regardless of size or location develops an “internationally minded person” (International Baccalaureate Organization, 2009, p 3). The International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) does not seem to see milieus as separate or distinct. However, they see the need to develop an international student who can move between places.

One of the IBO’s standard C 2.7 says that “The written curriculum promotes students’ awareness of individual, local, national and global issues” (International Baccalaureate Organization, 2014, p. 5).  The IBO wants students to see global connections as well as local issues.  Schwab (1973) discusses the idea of milieus resting in milieus but in this regard he was highlighting the different cultures and identities within the classroom not local, national, global issues. In the local, contextualised milieu teachers are supposed to be looking at the interactions between the students, the students and their home life and the students and their community.  While it is important that we think about global context, Schwab was highlighting the importance of learning within the community, knowing who the students were as people and community members, and the cultural climate of the learners. By expanding this to offer global issues or perspectives the PYP is trying to create a more connected world. However, they fail to address the importance of understanding the world the students live in and how they live. By looking at the student’s communities and families and what might pop up first we can start to link their knowledge to the larger world.

So how should we, or is it important to focus on the local classroom issues first, or do we start off by looking at what makes us all human and making connections with the world.  Any ideas?

Is content important?

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Reading Schwab (1973) for my curriculum class has made me think a little differently about how I approach the idea of content (and personal content mastery) in my teaching.

Being a part of the IB, and firmly believing in concepts, I’ve always kind of thought that having a mastery of content might not be that important.  I thought that good teachers can ask good questions to get people to deeper understandings, even if they don’t fully understand.

Since reading this article though, I think I may have missed some key points (hopefully because I have a solid knowledge of all the required understandings). If we as educators don’t really know the content how can we ask good questions or lead to a desired enduring understanding. Backwards design is a powerful planning tool, but if we don’t know what the end goal is (or we’re unable to do the end goal ourselves) how can we get students there?

Working in the outdoors has always been easy for me, and other people have told me they’ve felt uncomfortable outside, they always wanted to know what they could teach.  I was always slightly confused by this (I guess because I felt like I knew enough of the outdoor content) but they need to become masters in their understanding.

I guess I’m wondering if we need to be more focused on content for PD at times. Like make sure our teachers really and fully understand the content of our place so they feel more comfortable sharing what they know.  If we can really download some local knowledge about our place, we may be better able to teach about it.