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Kerrie Craske- Teacher & Learner

"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." -Nelson Mandela

Month

January 2014

Kumashiro Reflection: Teacher Images in Teacher Education Programs

Kumashiro describes three teacher images in teacher education programs across the United States, and explores the ways that the programs don’t allow us to challenge oppression within them.

When relating these programs to my own experiences of learning to become a teacher, Teacher as Researcher applied to me the most. This program suggests that as teachers we can never fully be taught everything we need to know, as we are ongoing, lifelong learners.

Kumashiro argues, “Teachers should not be merely acquiring more knowledge about who is in the classroom, what they have yet to learn, and what works for them” (Kumashiro, p.12). That instead, we should address the ways our teaching and research repeats oppressive practices by stepping out of our comfort zones. He states that anti-oppressive methods “aim to explore how different implications and uses are made possible by studying what is there in different ways” (p. 12).

Although the Teaching as Researcher best describes my learning experience, I agree with Kumashiro’s arguments in Teaching as Professional. He talks about how teaching in anti-oppressive ways can contradict our identities as teachers. “As a result, teachers may question whether they are really teaching, students may question their authority as teachers…” (p. 15). As future professionals, we need to move beyond questioning our teaching methods and what others think, and trust that we are doing the right thing.

{Kumashiro, K. (2009). Against Common Sense: Teaching and Learning Toward Social Justice. New York, NY; Routledge.}

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My Views on “A History of Education” Painter (1886)

This book discusses the many different aspects of education, its importance and how it differentiates among cultures. In relation to race, this book displays that people are defined based upon what race they are in all respects, such as laws, education, religion, class and behaviour.

In China, the children at schools held high respect for teachers and parents, and there was strict discipline if they did not follow rules. In India, the education provided to students varied, depending on the caste system the individual is in. The caste system was the main influence on Indian education.

This book portrays why the history of education is valuable to us. If teachers are taught to think in racial terms today, then stereotypes begin to form among different cultures. Teachers will begin to individualize students, making assumptions about them before truly getting to know them.

The effects of teachers thinking this way can be problematic. Students may begin to notice the different ways that they are being treated, and those being judged because of their race or religion may begin to feel devalued or unwelcomed in school. However, by making teachers aware of the different cultures around us, they begin to understand why stereotypes are placed upon students and can then learn to treat them with equity.

Kumashiro and “Common Sense”

In the book Against Common Sense: Teaching and Learning Toward Social Justice, the author Kevin Kumashiro wants teachers to look beyond ‘common sense’ and take action to make changes in teaching and educating students. He defines common sense as particular things that everyone should know or understand. In relation to education, the standardized curriculum can become part of our common sense as teachers, and inhibits us  from expanding our knowledge outside of our comfort zones to teach more effectively by introducing new practices and experiences for students.

It is important to pay attention to common sense because it can determine how we teach as educators. The common sense of each individual, school or culture varies greatly, and as teachers it can be difficult to adapt to this diversity. Some people believe that we should stick to the ‘common sense’ in schools that we know, as we have traditionally done for numerous years. People argue that if we go beyond the ‘common sense’ we will become confused and ignored. Kumashiro, however, speaks his message of going against common sense. “Common sense often makes it easy to continue teaching and learning in ways that allow the oppressions already in play to continue to play out unchallenged in our schools and society” (Kumashiro, 2009, XXXVI). Instead of allowing common sense to shape our curriculum that we teach, we should instead challenge it for the better of ourselves as teachers and for our students.

{   Kumashiro, K. (2009). Against Common Sense: Teaching and Learning Toward Social Justice. New York, NY; Routledge.  }

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