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Understanding students

FrigginSushi's picture

One aspect of the readings that I latched onto was the idea that we need to know our students to create a curriculum that blends their interests, experiences, and backgrounds in order to engage with them in learning. Understanding our view points is critical to creating a course that is successful in not just explaining a particular topic, but also in supporting active and aware individuals.

In “Un-standardized Curriculum”, Sleeter states, “…rather than starting curriculum with the textbook or the standards; she [Kathy] stared by identifying a rich theme that was significant to the lives of the children and their families in which subject matter content could be anchored.” (116). I can’t help but play the cynic, but I wonder how most teachers can do that.

There is the issue of not knowing your students from the beginning of the year as I, to my knowledge, know most schools change teachers every year or two years. Building a curriculum or even a lesson plan should revolve around the students’ background, but logistically, that’s hard to know right off the bat. And even later in the year, the teacher would have to make a very decided effort in knowing the students to find ways of catering to them in teaching.  As I don’t really know the logistics of some types of schools, I’m not sure how much flexibility the teacher has day by day as far as lesson plans.

 I also feel like this goes back to value of “basics”. Is there a point in teaching basics or standard knowledge? Still grappling with this, but I’m leaning towards yes. There are many flaws in what is “standard knowledge”, especially considering how it rejects other kinds of perspectives, but how can we be sure material like grammar, mathematics, etc. are being taught at the right pace if we don’t start with the basics at the beginning?