What comes first?

This feels like me all week

I’ve been reading a lot and this is my favourite sentence recently “What if local knowledge – which in Geertz’s appropriately pleonastic locution, “presents locally to locals a local turn of mind (1983:12) – precedes the knowledge of space?” (Casey, 1996, p. 16).  I think it’s hilarious that someone who is very wordy talks about another person’s wordiness.  But more than that it got me really thinking of what comes first.  Space, or place?

And why does one come first? Can we know the general without knowing the specific? Do we need to know a bunch of things before we can go deep? Or do we need something that isn’t abstract first?  Casey argues (I think anyway) that we need to understand our place first, and place should be a priority.  I happen (right now) to agree.

So, what does this mean for teaching, does general happen before specific? Do we do the hands on thing first because we need that to know the general (again I think so)?  But when do we do this outside? When do we dig deep in to our place (especially in an international school)?

We’ve been doing open minds this week, getting out into our city and exploring what it means to be here.  We looked at China town and really started to wonder what objects might define us as a place.  What is happening around us? Who is here? Why are these things here?  The questions were great, and I think the students are feeling more connected  (they asked for my Sang Cancil stories anyway, so they hopefully are becoming more connected to where they are).

So even though we may want students to know specific content standards, or general concept ideas, how can we really make things meaningful? What comes first?

Casey, E. (1996). How to get from space to place in a fairly short stretch of time phenomenological prolegomena. In K. Basso, H. (Ed.), Sense of Place. U.S.A.: School of American Research.

Why do we teach?


 Some rights reserved by ecastro


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.

A bit messy

AttributionNoncommercial Some rights reserved by photoptimist

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?



 Some rights reserved by Ken Whytock

This week I’m starting my professional doctorate. Exciting times for sure. During our introduction to the process we discussed what it meant to be a teacher/researcher.

Many of us follow curriculum or try to implement pedagogy. But not many of is (myself included) actually look at what it is like to be a teacher/researcher. To be both at one time, to teach and practice working with the students, but also to try to do new things, document that practice and then share our findings.

This goes on a little bit from my last post about the importance of sharing. I’ve been thinking a lot about the process of learning, the how and reasons behind what we learn. When I think of the importance of sharing, or publishing, I wonder why (other than the perception of time) so few of us engage in this practice.

We have blogs, twitter and other forms of social media designed to make the practice of sharing our findings easier.  I wonder why we don’t all actively share what we are doing in our class. Why do we not think of ourselves as researchers?

My methods class and focus on curriculum is starting this week. I’ve done most of the readings, and it is sparking a renewed passion for learning. I consistently think of myself as a learner, but sadly as someone who mostly consumes. I’m excited to act more through this process and research intentionally and purposefully.

One of our guest lecturers talked about the decline in the perceived importance of academe in North America.  There is a distinction and at times a fear (?) of people who dedicate their lives to knowing and researching. I wonder where these thoughts come from, how were they (socially?) constructed and how we can move more people to actively research in their classrooms.

Absence of anything


Not really sure what this has to do with education, environmental, technological or otherwise, but it’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about.  I’ve used saved by the bell hooks before, I love how provoking some of the images and quotations can be.  

I guess what I’m really wondering is why it takes the presence of extreme anything to finally do something, or become aware. 
In the environment it’s climate change, how big does it have to be before people act.  With technology it’s falling behind as teachers, how much do we have to not understand before we realize that communication has changed and we’re a million years behind (like really who even blogs anymore). With people, I guess it’s everything.  Why do we need extremism, to realize the areas we’re being exploited?
Anyway, just wondering how can we be aware of situations without being or causing extremism.  

Consuming or Creating or Both

AttributionShare Alike Some rights reserved by barbourians

I was reading George Couros’ blog today about “work phone mentality“, while I always enjoy his blog posts, this one really got me thinking.

At my previous school, before we introduced iPads to the classroom we gave them to our teachers for six months.   The first two months were playing, and like Couros mentioned, not everyone played. Some people used it for personal communication, some looked into how they could use it with students, but I guess everyone who used it thought about how they could use it to enhance their teaching (which is great).  But I don’t think anyone used it to try to create something (myself included).

I don’t think we were solely consuming (or we were aware of solely consuming), rather I think so much of what we know as educators is to consume and adapt. Rarely are we asked to create change, or stimulate change (well in our students yes, but in the system? I don’t think so).

For the past two years as an EdTech coach, I’ve been asking teachers to create rather than consume with their learners.  And I fully support that idea today, but I think I’ve missed out on some of the benefits of consuming, or I’ve been using the word improperly or just leaving off the creating aspect from consuming.

Consuming, creating and the commons

AttributionShare Alike
 Some rights reserved by The Daring Librarian

While I often think of the potential of creative commons, I don’t always think of it as a tool for both creating and consuming (although now that I think of it, I can’t actually imagine it any other way).  Coming from a constructivist view point, I believe we build on from our previous knowledge, besides direct experience and then consumption (reading, watching, listening, interacting) to other people’s experience, I don’t know what other ways we can acquire knowledge.

As I head into my classes on digital citizenship, and crediting sources this week, I really want to highlight this opportunity to consume and create for our whole learning community.