Monday, August 27, 2012

Education Foundational Stance

This is a response I posted for the C&I 576 Contemporary Curriculum Theory and Design course I am taking. It's always good to go back and reflect on where you stand and what you stand for.

"Ornstein, Pajak, and Ornstein (2011) detail four educational philosophies: Perennialism, Essentialism, Progressivism, and Reconstructionism, which they refer to as the major educational philosophies that have influenced curriculum in America (p. 5). When I reflect on my ideals of teaching, my goals as a teacher, and my teaching methods I see that I clearly fall into the contemporary category and identify with aspects of both Progressivism and Reconstructionism.

Under the umbrella of Progressivism I employ ideas of promoting democratic ideals, that knowledge leads to growth and should be part of a life long process, that the teacher should act as a guide, or even a co-learner, and that the best learning is project based, inter-disciplinary, and relates to students’ lives (p. 6).  From Reconstructionism I strongly believe in the need to reconstruct society and that education should be part of that process (as opposed to a way to keep the status quo). Again, this is best done through projects that are relevant to the students and that support the ideas of equality of education (p. 6).

I like the idea of Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development between independent and guided problem solving (Gredler, 1997, pp. 256-7). In order to find out what students can do on their own and what they can do with guidance requires formative assessment to discover the range of skills that each class of students and each individual student’s range of skills. This involves the use of much more than simply tests to get to know students’ abilities, it requires questioning of prior knowledge, both within and outside of my content area, and getting to know the students as individuals.

To accomplish the educational ideals or goals listed above, and getting to know students and their backgrounds, is much like calls made by González, Moll and Amanti (2005) and by Bergmann and Sams (2012). The idea of getting to know the student strengths and weaknesses to help differentiate instruction and to become a better guide for my students is one reason that I am implementing the flipped classroom model championed by Bermann and Sams in my classes this year. For years I had already employed my Universal Reading Questions to find out what my students find interesting, what they did not understand or wanted to know more about and to challenge them to make connections. My goal is to maximize class time for projects, discussions, and assistance to provide more authentic learning for my students and to help them understand the contexts and connections the content in my classes (history) has to their lives, the outside world, and the future."

Bergmann, J., & Sams, A. (2012). Flip your classroom: Reach every student in every class Every day. Eugene, OR:ISTE

González , N., Moll, L. C., & Amanti, C. (2005). Funds of knowledge: Theorizing practices in households, communities, and classrooms. New York: Routledge.

Gredler, M. E. (1997). Learning and instruction: Theory into practice. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill.

Nieto, S., & McDonough, K. (2011). “Placing equity front and center” revisited. In A. F. Ball & C. A. Tyson (Eds.), Studying diversity in teacher education (pp. 329-337). New York: American Educational Research Association by Rowman & Littlefield.

Ornstein, A. C., Pajak, E. F., & Ornstein, S. B. (2010). Contemporary issues in
curriculum (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Pulley, P. (2012). Universal reading questions. Available from: