Teaching Learning as a Part of Learning

The second chapter, titled “Preparing Teachers for Crisis: A Sample Lesson,” addresses the fact that the way we perceive students’ learning may be incorrect. Kumashiro tells us of a student he had in preschool, and how he did not demonstrate learning in the traditionally accepted ways, but instead learned in his own way during unstructured periods. If the students were expected to colour, he would have a rough time. If they were not expected to colour, he would be colouring all the time and be giving it to the teacher later just to show off his work. When a student is supposedly giving us a hard time and learning in nontraditional ways, that student may be perceived as a bad learner, or even a bad kid. This happens far too often, which is very unfortunate because the teacher’s disposition towards his or her student can deeply affect the student’s self esteem and confidence in their own learning.

Another point made was that we cannot teach our students a “more correct way of thinking of the world,” because there is no one right way. There are as many ways as there are people in this world, and the education system tends to entirely forget that. Sometimes, it is intentionally forgotten. Having to acknowledge everyone’s cultural baggage and make room for it in one tiny classroom that hardly has enough room for the students alone can be a daunting task. That is why Kumashiro suggests that we incorporate the desire for learning, and even the resistances to learning as a part of what the students are learning. Push them to ask themselves, “Why am I struggling with learning this?” Let the students know that they can question the knowledge around them, and question from what background the knowledge is valued. That is to say, teach them to become critical thinkers of themselves and the world around them. Schools only push kids to learn certain things which discourages individual learning and exploration. We teach kids that graduating is the most important thing, and then we test them for their graduation only on what is traditionally taught by a euro-centric system, which for the most part, students don’t even know why they are learning what they are learning to begin with. We are essentially telling our students that our knowledge (what they are supposed to be learning in class from the teachers and textbooks, a euro-centric view) is the only knowledge that matters, because it is the only thing that will get you to graduate. How sad. This system that we have in place is undoubtedly killing the desire in children to learn, and it is oppressing many of our students.

Food for thought.

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