Kumashiro Chapter One Response

So I know that I have already read the Kumashiro book, “Against Common Sense,” but to be honest, I don’t exactly remember a whole lot of what his initial messages were in his book and I had also read it in the beginning of the semester before I had gained my new knowledge and understandings. So, I thought it would be appropriate to do another reflection on this reading and see what new understandings or connections that I could come up with.

So, in this chapter, Kumashiro focuses on how 3 different images of “good teachers” that come out of teacher education programs being taught in the U.S., which are:

1. Teacher as Learned Practitioner – Coming out of the program, these teachers usually have a general understanding of three things: a) who young students are, how they develop, and how they learn, b) what they will teach and be able to demonstrate this, and c) how to actually teach.  These teachers are also more commonly being introduced to and made aware of oppression.

2. Teacher as Researcher – These teachers have the idea and belief that everyone should be life long learners.  They also know how to conduct research projects and reflect upon their teaching experiences.

3. Teacher as Professional – These teachers have a belief that teaching and fulfilling certification requirements are professional developments.  By thinking themselves as professionals, they also have a fairly set definition of what a “good teacher” actually is (which actually discourages looking forward and troubling knowledge and understandings).

Now, these not the only ways that teachers are viewed, but they are the most common.  Also to note is the fact that these views/images are not perfect. This is an understandable conclusion though, especially with living in a constantly changing and diverse society.  It is nearly impossible to keep up with the latest information or even to possibly cover the amount of information in the programs.

One thing that I noticed was a huge emphasis (and is basically what the book is about) is that a “good” teacher is aware of social justice and oppression issues occurring in his/her school (and also other schools).  At first, I thought that this doesn’t really have to be a factor for being a “good” teacher, thinking that a teacher who may be oblivious to oppression or social justice can still be a good teacher as long as his/his students are learning.  However, the more I thought about it, the more my opinion changed.  If students are being oppressed in schools and teachers are not trying to prevent it or unaware of it, this could affect students learning and ultimately the students themselves.  One thing that we continuously talk about (and I’ve repeated quite often in my blogs) is that students need to feel safe, welcome, and accepted in their classroom in order to help students maximize their learning.  So, if students are being oppressed, then there’s a good chance they aren’t learning to their full potential.  So, after that consideration, I now agree more with the authors push towards teachers become aware of oppression and social justice.

One thing that I was quite surprised that I didn’t do the first time I had read this chapter but thought of now, was how the education program at the University of Regina (the program that I am currently in) fits into these images.  In my opinion, I feel that the program here is aiming to create teachers that fit into a combination of both Teacher as Learned Practitioner and Teacher as Researcher.  Throughout my studies in this program, some of the more discussed topics were understanding our students, learning how to teach and different ways to teach, and oppression.  As well, they have also pushed the belief that everyone is a life long learner and that we need to reflect on our teaching and ourselves as teachers.  As for Teacher as Professional, the program has covered a very slight portion on this issue.  However, this program has not pushed the fact that teachers should be viewed as professionals and has really just left the topic open for individuals to deliberate among other different views of teachers.

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One thought on “Kumashiro Chapter One Response

  1. Ashley – I like the conclusion you reached about the need for a “good” teacher to teach social justice. I think it’s not just a matter of helping students to learn to their full potential – it’s also important because if we don’t teach anti-oppressively, we’re actually just recreating the same type of oppressive society for the next generation, which makes change impossible!
    I’m interested in your assessment that this program does not push the idea of professionalism. I think that perhaps professionalism is dealt with through the hidden curriculum, rather than the formal one – through things like strict attendance policies and frequent student review meetings. Do you think the program would be improved by implementing a more formal curriculum on professionalism? What might that make possible, or impossible?

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