Exploring Telok Ayer

https://commons.wikimedia.org

My new job involves me working outside and looking more out our community. This week we are in Telok Ayer. A friend set up the program and he has made it very easy to build upon. When we spend time looking at Telok Ayer, I am trying to starting developing a sense of place.

One important aspect of developing a sense of place according to Raffan (1993) is getting to know the names of places (although I’m not an elder, I do know some of the stories). We talked about how based on the names of places we can see how Singapore has changed. Although our physical geography can change based on our interactions with our place, our place names often stay the same. By knowing our places and their names we can start building deeper connections to our community.

After discovering more about place names, we looked into the places around our community and the people who lived there. It’s been two days, and four classes, but a very interesting experience so far.

Raffan, J. (1993). The Experience of Place: Exploring Land as Teacher. ERIC Online, 16(1), 39-45

How does diversity work at school?

What diversity are we hardwired to see?

I had a really interesting talk with my dissertation supervisor yesterday. We were talking (when we weren’t talking about my paper) about this idea of diversity in school. Her argument was that diversity in our local context is usually seen by teachers as academic readiness. So if you asked a local teacher about diversity in class, they would talk about how prepared a student was to take a new test, how academically ready they were and how they taught through differentiation.

They got me thinking about a couple of things. The first was an article I read recently. “What can diversity possibly mean when school curriculum is unabashedly standardized and managed as official knowledge? What becomes of diversity when schools isolate – by law and often by lock, key and sometimes barbed wire – teachers and learners from the wider community of which school are only a small and homogenous part? ” (Gruenewald 2010, p.142). Can we really only talk about diversity when we create a world where there is only one answer, one community, one solid identity.

This connected, through Gruenewald, how important sense of place is, and also how important diversity is in creating a sense of place. Place can create a shared identity, especially when looking at this through a human perspective. However, millions of living things take part in the development of most places. We need these things, they help form and shape where and who we are.

So I guess what I’m wondering is how do you see diversity in your school? Are you wondering about academic readiness, economic diversity, cultural diversity, religious diversity, social diversity, what other things do you see? And how do you teach for or to those different groups.

Gruenewald, D. A. (2010). Place Based Education: Grounding Culturally Responsive Teaching in Geographical Diversity In D. A. Gruenwald, Smith, G.A. (Ed.), Place Based Education in The Global Age: Local Diversity. New York, New York: Routledge.

Three questions we can ask our kids

One of the books I’m reading

One of the books I’m reading right now, by someone I really look up to in my field of study, is Place Based Education in the Global Age: Local Diversity.

Three big questions popped out of David’s work and he said (I also agree) that we can ask these three questions of any student. What is happening here? What happened here? What should happen here?

Our current unit of study is on leadership, and what it means to be a leader, I’ve been hitting them pretty hard with the environment, but I think tomorrow I will take some to one of the hawker centres that burned down last year. It is currently up and running again and serving the community. So I think I can start asking them these questions and maybe we can connect what should happen to action we can take as students to make our community a better place, I wonder what other actions they can come up with?

Gruenewald, D. A. (2010). Place Based Education: Grounding Culturally Responsive Teaching in Geographical Diversity In D. A. Gruenewald, Smith, G.A. (Ed.), Place Based Education in The Global Age: Local Diversity. New York, New York: Routledge.

Where do we find joy in our work?

I was struck by this quotation earlier this week, “Nothing in the world can make up for the loss of joy in one’s work” (Weil 1952, p.81)

This quotation, I think, is talking about how just the system of working has taken away our intrinsic opportunity to take joy from what we do. We are compensated in other ways. These ways may bring some sort of joy, but Weil seems to be arguing that not many of us (and this was in the fifties) takes joy from the actual work we do.

As a teacher, I might have to disagree. I love my work, well most of it, there are some significant aspects of my job that don’t “spark joy”. However the main thought is the same when attending meetings, or going through PD. I often wonder, where is the joy in what we do, how often are we satisfied with the idea that we did the best we could?

I know that teaching is hard, and almost every day we fail someone or something in some small way. We can’t be perfect at this, but we can work towards mastery, and I hope we can find joy in our work. For me, I love the daily interactions I have with the students, I love learning more about them and what they know. I am so proud when I watch them move from understanding to understanding and start to link ideas together and make connections to their world. I often find joy every day, and I hope the people around me do as well.

So then I started thinking about this from a different perspective. Do the kids find joy in their work every day? Are they proud with just doing something the best they can or are they also looking for some extrinsic reward? Do the grades really matter to them, or is the feedback good enough? I know sometimes my students appear to be less than joyous throughout the day, so how do we work on that? What do we do?

I’m not sure I have answers, like most of my wonderings, just wondering if anyone has any thoughts? What actions they take? Do we all find joy in what we do?

Mapping and a sense of place

http://Attribution Some rights reserved by jmettraux

I was reading this article on how mapping can help us better understand how people relate to space the other day. I’m trying hard to look for more quantitative methodologies when I’m doing my review. Right now I’m taking a quantitative class, and it really pushes me, so I want to see how people approach this idea of sense of place from a quantitative perspective.

I’m not sure the research really pushed my thinking further, but it was good to have more evidence that supported where I was going and what I was thinking.

Most interestingly, perhaps, is this idea that the closer people are to the environment, the less likely they perceive the government as willing or capable of helping.

One of the lines that really resonated with me from this reading was “ Where the attitude variables were concerned, on average, respondents tended not to trust the water authority or technology to solve stormwater pollution; felt that paying additional sums of money to fix the problem was more unfair than fair; and were pro-environmentally disposed.” (Jorgensen & Stedman, 2011) 

This idea really reminded me of Edward Abbey and the Monkey Wrench Gang. It seems like the more you believe in the Earth and the systems that work within it, the less likely we see hope coming from people being able to organise support or care for the Earth.

Maybe it was just a one off thing, but really got me thinking this week.

Jorgensen, B. S., & Stedman, R. C. (2011). Measuring the spatial component of sense of place: a methodology for research on the spatial dynamics of psychological experiences of places. Environment & Planning B: Planning & Design38(5), 795–81

Using New Media for place development

For my new media course, I still want to explore this idea of place and place making. I recently found this article, “A gateway to the global city: Mobile place-making practices by expats”

The major themes that seems to be prevalent in the literature like places matter, but people might matter more seem to prevail in this article. One of the things that really struck me while reading this was how we can almost be part of a place. When studying expats (like my interest in international teachers) I focused on people staying in the expat community not really having a sense of place. This article suggests they have a sense of place, although it may be slightly different.

Many of the expats in this article desired to have a more international experience, so while living in a place is important, knowing the people in that place wasn’t as important. They can be a part of the international community living in Paris, not really know any Parisians, and still (maybe) have a developed senes of place.

It will be interesting to see how these ideas progress and change along with my thinking. While it may not be the most engaging article for my research, I never thought about how participation in an online community, can bring me closer to understanding the international scene in a city, which will help me develop a sense of place (even if it’s not the “genus loci” sense of place).

Polson, E. (2015). A gateway to the global city: Mobile place-making practices by expats. new media & society, 17(4), 629-645.

New Media?


 Some rights reserved by See-ming Lee (SML)

One of my courses this year is on New Media and the impact it has on education.

These are always interesting things to think about, but right now I’m in a class where many of the people who are working are in a school that has different views and ideas than our school has. Our underlying philosophy of education is somewhat different which means, we have different access to how they can use media.

One of the things that has always struck me as a digital literacy coach (although I’m not one anymore) is the idea that people really need to shift their thinking before they really dig deep into new media. We can’t really get into what Web 2.0 is if we don’t know how to act in a participatory way. If our whole world is top down, why does 2.0 matter?

Other people are concerned with the types of tools, and the idea of screen time. While I get that I can be wrong (and mostly likely am wrong about this and many things) I really believe, from my experience, that tools come after frameworks and thought shifts. If we don’t know how to build, why do we need a tool?

Anyway, some of the conversations are interesting, the course is structured in a way which allows students to feel the experience of participation (which was very uncomfortable for some). She believes, from what I gather, that we can shift thought through experiences. I agree, for the most part, but we need to reframe the conversation I think. The experiences have to be more focused on collaboration of anything, rather than just a digital tool.

My thoughts will likely change, but these are my wonderings for now.