Common Sense: A Common Problem In Anti-oppressive Education

The definition of common sense is, “[t]hat which is reasonable or sensible; that which appeals to or is in accord with instinctive understanding or sound judgement” (“Common Sense, n2.a”). In the reading “The Problem of Common Sense” by Kevin Kumashiro common sense is defined in relatively the same way. Unlike most people however, Kumashiro does not see common sense as an advantage when it comes to the education system. He wrote, “[c]ommon sense limits what is considered to be consistent with the purpose of schooling” (xxxv). He suggests that common sense creates a false sense of security within school systems that has led to an oppressive education system that is marginalizing many of its members. Paying attention to what is considered to be common sense in the education system is vitally important because of this.

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When it comes to fighting oppression within our school systems we need to largely leave what we consider to be common sense at the door. This is easier said than done however. As Kumashiro points out challenging commonsensical ideas is difficult for two reasons. The first being that “it is difficult to recognize those ideas that are prescriptive,” largely due to social pressure to conform, and secondly, “commonsensical ideas often give us some sense of comfort” (xxxv). Due to this difficulty it’s imperative that we consciously search out commonsensical ideas, or norms of schooling that contribute to oppression and marginalization of “others on the basis of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, religion, disabilities, language, age, and other social markers”(Kumashiro, xxxvii). Doing this can help eliminate a direct symptom of common sense within the education system being, “it has become normal for us to experience oppression without realizing we are doing so” (Kumashiro, xxxvii).
A particular example I can think of in my own personal education experience were oppression occurred was in my high school biology class. We were discussing the formation of life on earth billions of years ago. My teacher started the lecture with a dismissive comment about creationism, saying something along the lines of “I don’t care if you believe in creationism, we are going to be learning about life on earth via science” and added a dismissive wave of her hand. I didn’t think much of this comment, mostly because at the time I wasn’t even aware of what creationism was, until a close friend mentioned that she felt offended. The comment had oppressed her based on her religious beliefs. Me and many other students in the class never thought to question this teacher because we believed the creation of life on earth via scientific processes to be common sense. We had all fallen guilty to not questioning commonsensical ideas for the two reasons mentioned above, “it is difficult to recognize those ideas that are prescriptive”, largely due to social pressure to conform, and secondly, “commonsensical ideas often give us some sense of comfort” (Kumashiro, xxxv). I realize now that this is a perfect example of an area that contributes to oppression that a teacher needs to consciously search out and question to avoid.

Kevin Kumashiro opened my eyes to the dangers of common sense in the education system. His approach of questioning commonsensical ideas to avoid an oppressive educational experience is a strategy I never thought about as being effective, but now it’s definitely something I plan put into effect in my future career. We need to challenge common sense in order to challenge the oppression impermeated in schools and identifying these areas of common sense is the first step.

References

  • “Common Sense, n2.a” OED Online. Oxford University Press, 2019. Web. 7 January 2020.
  • Kumashiro, Kevin. “The Problem of Common Sense.” Teaching and learning toward social justice. Routledge: London, 2009. XXIX- XLI. online.

The Last Howrah

Welcome to my last blog post of EDTC 300, where ill be wrapping up my learning project. As you may remember from a previous post my goal was to learn a few songs from a designated playlist I made. I managed to learn one of my favourites; Sweet Home Alabama. Check out the video of me playing below.

Learning guitar was something I’ve always wanted to do but, something I never found the time for previous to this taking EDTC 300. As someone who had previously never thought of themselves as very musical I was nervous to start. With the help of some great online resources and the motivation form my class mates it turned out to be a lot of fun. Playing guitar is now a regular part of my life and something I plan on continuing to improve on.

Though my goal was to learn 3-4 of the songs from this playlist I’m still happy with learning only one. I was brand new to guitar at the beginning of the semester and underestimated the time it took to master a musical instrument. I was unaware of the basic skills I would have to learn first before catapulting myself into learning songs. With that said, with those skills now under my belt I will be able to progress a lot faster.

From this project I also learned the value of becoming a life long learner. Here is a great article on the importance of teachers committing to life long learning. I had gotten my self in a rut from my previous 3 years of post secondary education of only learning for my classes and not for my enjoyment. This lead to me being well versed in my science classes but, left me missing out on some important life lessons. I’ve decided to carry on taking on a new project every year to keep me out of this rut.

Favourite Resources

I used a lot of great online resources to in learning to play guitar. The magic of the  internet really does make it possible to learn almost anything. The following list shows the resources I used listed in order of my most to least favourite.

  1. Yousician: This app takes 1st place for it’s in time feedback and simple instructions
  2. Marty Music on YouTube: Marty deserves second place for his to the point, easy to follow instructional videos. He has tons of videos available for any skill or song you want to learn on guitar.
  3. Thomas Michaud on YouTube: Thomas Michaud is second to Marty music only because he doesn’t have as many videos available or as wide a variety of song genres to learn from.
  4. Guitar Chords Scales and More: This site has some great diagrams of chords. I always found it helpful to look at chord diagrams to see the exact placement my fingers needed to be in.
  5. Fender Play: This resource gets last place due to the fact that even though its a paid for app its missing a key feature; in time feedback. Though it does have some good instructional videos you can find most of the same information on the internet for free.

Greatest Inspirations

I had a lot of great inspiration in learning guitar. Some I had had previous to learning and were what made me want to pursue learning in the first place and others motivated me well I was learning.

  1. The school of Rock is my all time favourite movie and the my biggest inspiration to learn guitar. Who can resist Ned schneebly’s guitar solo in Rock Got No Reason.

2. Ian Munsick, an up and coming country singer has some mad guitar skills. he has an great ear for music and can make any song sound great on an acoustic guitar.

3. Ben Crosby or @confetticoordinates on Instagram is an awesome guitarist who posts a cover on his Instagram daily.

That’s a wrap folks! I hope you enjoyed following my learning journey this semester. if your looking to read up on some of my other classmates learning projects ill link a few down below. You never know what might inspire you to learn something new!

 

Communication: The key to Success

Over the past four months in EDTC 300 I’ve contributed to several platforms to build my personal learning network. In contributing to these platforms I’ve gained valuable connections and resources. I’ve also been able to share what I consider to be valuable resources and perspectives of my own to these platforms. I believe the key to both personal and career success is communication. Thus, I tried to contribute as often and as much as I could the platforms used in EDTC 300 via a course blog, twitter, and a slack community.

Course Blog

On my course blog I was able to receive as well as give feedback to my classmates. I followed as many of my classmates journeys through the course blog as I could. I commented words of motivation and encouragement on learning project posts, shared my perspectives on blog posts, and gave honest feedback if I saw an area that could be improved. I replied to comments left on my own blog as well, answering any questions they had or simply thanking them for their feedback. I also ensured to add pingbacks from my other classmates posts if I particularly liked their post, as well as share them to twitter to get more notoriety outside the EDTC 300 course blog. Check out the slide show below to see some examples of my contributions to the learning of others via my blog.

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Twitter

I was new to twitter at the beginning of the semester, but was quick to catch on. Twitter to me, was the most helpful platform in growing my professional learning project. I typically tweeted 3-5 times a day about topics on class content, education in general, or anything else I found interesting that I thought others could benefit from. I explored the use of different hashtags such as, our course hashtag #EDTC300, DigLN, DitchBook, EDChat and many others in hopes of reaching a lager networking platform. I also used the platform to ask questions, take polls, and gain new perspectives to course and some non-course related material . I was sure to contribute to these areas in others tweets as well whether they were classmates, or other professionals I followed.  I was able to share my own blog posts to twitter for those not in our course to see, and my other classmates as well. My favourite part about twitter was the twitter chats. I completed several throughout the semester and made valuable connections from them.Check out the slide show below to see some examples of my contributions to the learning of others via my twitter.

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Slack Community

I used slack often to ask and answer other classmates  course related questions. I also  shared relevant articles to the course that I didn’t feel targeted my twitter audience as much as the slack community. These were often scholarly articles on topics relating to the course. I also had private messages with people in the course such as Danica, where I shared some inspiration I found for her learning project. Check out the slide show below to see my contributions to the learning of others via the slack community.

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Thank you to everyone that participated in helping me grow my Professional learning network! I hope I was able to contribute something valuable to yours as well!

 

Learning E Minor

For this weeks EDTC 300 learning project post I’ll be doing a how to on the E Minor chord, or EM chord. This is a pretty beginner chord. It does not take a lot of complicated hand and finger twisting to perform.  Despite this it still took some time and a few different resources to perfect.

To start I looked up a picture of the finger placement I was to use. I’m a very visual learner so the more visual content I can get my hands on the better. The picture gave me a start to what I would be learning. I learned from this that only two fingers, my middle and ring fingers would be placed on the second and third string of the guitar along the second fret, Looking something like this:

E Minor

Phot courtesy: Takelessons.com

I also used a Thomas Michaud video on YouTube. Thomas Michaud is an excellent guitar player/teacher on YouTube who has great instructional content. His video “3 Ways to play EM (E Minor) on guitar” was very helpful to me. I used the first and simplest way to play the chord. His video was an excellent resource as he explained it thoroughly and left enough time to follow along with his movements.

Lastly I used my yousicain app to help me perform the chord. My yousican app did little to teach me the skill, but did help ensure me that I was playing it correctly. In it there was an practice chord option for each new chord presented. It shows the correct finger placement along the strings and when the chord is played the strings light up in green if the chord is correct and red if incorrect.

em

Photo Courtesy: Yousician

 

I put all the useful information I leaned from the above sources to make this E Minor how to video. I hope it helps! Let me know if you have any questions I can help you with down below.

If you prefer to read on how to do the skill or supplement your learning further follow these steps:

  1. Place your middle finger on the second thickest string, slightly above the second fret.
  2. Place your middle finger on the string directly below the first right along the second fret.
  3. Ensure all other fingers are of the strings to ensure a clean sound.
  4. Strum all six chords.
  5. play your favourite George Strait tune!

 

It’s All About Connection

I believe that the most important thing that students need to succeed is to feel they matter. Before all else, students need to feel safe. They need to feel respected. They need to feel valued. To do this, as a teacher, you have to be connected – to ask questions, to pay attention, to be present, to actively listen. To meet students where they are at, you need to develop a trust and a strong rapport. Education is about so much more than academics. It’s about empowering students to know themselves and believe in themselves. “You matter” and “I care” is the message I want every single one of my students to get and to feel from me. In an era that we are constantly connected by technology, I want personal connection to be my mission.

– Kennedy Glascock

 

A Coding Conquest!

This Week in my EDTC300 class we discussed coding! I previously had no experience with coding, or even knew what it was. For those of you like me “coding is basically the computer language used to develop apps, websites and software. To put it very simply, coding is what tells your computer what to do.” (Computer Science).

To explore the world of coding we were tasked with spending  some time on Code.org and participate in an Hour Of Code. Code.org is a great website that describes itself as “a non-profit dedicated to expanding participation in computer science by making it available in more schools, and increasing participation by women and underrepresented students of color.” (Code.org). It’s also really fun! The Hour of Code featured on the site is “a one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify “code”, to show that anybody can learn the basics, and to broaden participation in the field of computer science.” (Code.org).

I had previously thought coding was just reading and typing java script…BORING! Code.org made me realize that coding is so much more than that. Its using creativity and logic at the same time to create whatever you want. Check out my screencast below to see me code the Moana: Wayfinding With Code guided tutorial.

This was defiantly the most fun homework I’ve ever had! I’ve never been someone who’s enjoyed computer games but I defiantly spent a large amount of my day on the website. I also did an Hour of Code on the Code with Anna and Elsa guided tutorial. It was also really fun and a bit more challenging than the  Moana: Wayfinding With Code tutorial. Below are some screen shots of the different images I was able to create with code.

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During my coding experience I found that I actually had a tougher time with the more beginner levels than the higher level ones. It took me a while to adjust to the logical yet creative way of thinking needed to code, but once I caught on I was off! I can see how coding would be a great tool in the classroom to use in developing problem solving skills for students.

Coding In The Classroom

Speaking of the classroom I feel very strongly that all students should get an education in at least the basics of coding. In this day and age our digitally based society depends on coding. We need to ensure students have the skillset to not only participate in this world but help to create it. There is also a very large gender gap within the tech industry that can be corrected or at least helped by implementing coding opportunities in the classroom for all students. Linked here is a great article that I’ve previously tweeted about that highlights this problem  and how to solve it.  A lot of my fellow pre-service teachers feel the same way about the importance of coding in the classroom. Below is a twitter poll I recently tweeted regarding the topic.

twitter poll

Here’s a list of some other benefits of classroom coding:

  1. Establishes problem solving skills.
  2. Practices logical thinking.
  3. Promotes perseverance.
  4. Familiarizes students with technology, something they’ll be using for the rest of their lives!
  5. Prepares students for possible future employment opportunities.
  6. Helps creative development.
  7. Creates good analyzing skills.
  8. Its really fun!

If your looking to learn more about coding check out some of my other classmates posts! There all excellent reads and good beginner coding resources.