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Response to Sleeter's Students as Curriculum

jayah's picture

When reading Students as Curriculum, I thought, "ahhh, the problem with urban public schools." I went to urban public schools my whole life, and many aspects that Sleeter mentions is absent in them. For example, in the very beginning of the reading, Sleeter states, "There's a rich resource right in your own classroom... what are their perspectives about being taught, so as often as possible, you know having discussions, hearing their input.” I think that many teachers, who teach in urban public schools, from personal experience and observing in my placement, do not communicate enough with their students. They have these preconceived notions of urban students, and approach them with the banking model. Teachers “treat students as empty vessels into which knowledge is poured for retrieval,” but this is not teaching. Too often, students are not being taught to think critically. Instead, they are given information to remember.  In my placement, I do not see much critical thinking. When the students were learning about animals in the aquarium, the teacher would just tell them, “This is a fish and they live in water.” Although the students are in pre-k, I thought they should have been pushed a little more. The teacher could have asked, “How do you think they breathe? We humans breathe, so don’t fish need to breathe too?” Although the students may not have been able to answer the question, it would have gotten them to begin to think of critical questions, instead of simply transferring information.

What stood out to me most in Sleeter’s reading was that teachers needed to make students a part of the curriculum. I agree 100%! To do so, it is important that teachers not assume, and do learn about the environment of the classroom. One of my favorite high school teachers, who was very successful, did so. He gave students a range of assignments, from writing scripts and acting them out, to independent reading, essay writing, and movies. He saw that students responded better to more hands-on activities, so he made it his mission to change his teaching method to interactive learning, and not just bookwork and the transferring of knowledge. That can turn many students off to education, believing that college is not for them when in reality, college isn’t all bookwork, but mainly critical thinking. Teachers need to know that it is okay to ask students for their input, in fact it is a good thing. It will keep students engaged and they will learn since they are able to, in a way, help construct their education and how they are being taught.