Social Efficiency Ideology

Curriculum development from a traditionalist perspective is widely used across schools in Canada and other countries. Can you think about: (a) The ways in which you may have experienced the Tyler rationale in your own schooling? (b) What are the major limitations of the Tyler rationale/what does it make impossible? (c) What are some potential benefits/what is made possible?

The Tyler Rationale expands on Franklin Bobbitt’s Social Efficiency ideology, by creating “four basic questions every educator must answer when creating curriculum or instructional programs”. The four questions center around:

  1. What educational goal are you trying to meet?
  2. What methods or techniques will you use to achieve or meet these goals?
  3. How will you organize these techniques?
  4. How do we evaluate whether we have met these goals?

A major component to the Social Efficiency ideology is that the development of educational goals, the techniques used and the evaluation methods all focus on changes in human behaviour.  Tyler states that “education is the process of changing the behavior of people” and therefore curriculum centres around skills and activities that can be performed and observed.

My experience in school with the Tyler rationale varied from teacher to teacher, and depending on the subject. Some teachers, both in elementary and high school were highly focused on achieving certain educational goals and less focused on discovery learning. Additionally, some subjects tend to follow the Tyler rationale more closely as they are repetition based. For example, in my math classes we would do “speed quizzes” where the goal was to answer as many basic operation math problems as possible. This covers two of the key elements of the Tyler rationale: efficiency and learning through practice. Another example, is in elementary language arts classes where we developed our printing and cursive writing skills. We would fill pages with each letter until we “mastered” it and then combining the letters together. Both of these examples are skills that I have continued to build upon throughout my education. This reinforces Schiro’s statement, that “learners acquire complex behaviors gradually by slowly building up ever more complex repertoires of behavior out of simpler ones”. They were also done to “prepare the individual to lead a meaningful adult life in society”. Basic math and writing are fundamental skills that are used often throughout our life. In other subjects, such as Physics, Biology and Chemistry there was more opportunity to discover in the classroom through learning experiences. However, I was still evaluated in a traditional manner through assignments and tests. Neither method is better than the other, they each have their place.

There are numerous limitations of the Tyler rationale. First is, how it views children as a means to an end. It does not see children as individuals, rather it sees the adult as being the ultimate goal. As said by Schiro, Social Efficiency educators concern is, “always the future learning of the child rather than the present growing of the child”. Being so focused on the “end” results causes the individual needs of the child to be overlooked. It fails to recognize that even though a child may not have achieved the “goal”, some growth will still have occurred. It needs to be viewed less as a fail and more as an incomplete. Additionally, the Tyler’s rationale creates a society that lacks the ability to think freely, but rather are able to regurgitate facts and “tow the company line”. Tyler’s rationale focuses on efficiency, and with that comes little discovery/inquiry learning as this takes more time. This discovery/inquiry learning is crucial in developing a deeper understanding of the material and how it can be applied in “real life”. Creating citizens who lack this ability are often unable to apply the skills they have learned to benefit and improve society, which is a major objective in the Tyler rationale.

There are also numerous benefits to the Tyler rationale. One in particular resonated with me, as I can clearly see the merit in it. I believe at the foundation level (i.e. learning to read, write, and do basic math) using the techniques in the Tyler rationale is important. Starting with a simple task, building on it once you have mastered that task, learning through practice, and repetition aid in providing us this foundation. Like a house, if you lack a foundation the building/system will collapse on itself.

There is a time and a place where Social Efficiency education has merit. However, like anything, better results are achieved when other ideologies are used in conjunction with each other. As the needs and wants of society change, educators must continue to expand how we approach teaching and learning.

Social Efficiency Ideology by Michael Schiro

 

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The Problem of Common Sense

How does Kumashiro define ‘commonsense?’ Why is it so important to pay attention to the ‘commonsense’?

Kumashiro defines ‘common sense’ as the norm that goes unquestioned by society. It is what we learn throughout our life and continue to inadvertently reinforce in our society due to a lack of questioning. For example, as Kumashiro said, “We do not often ask for instance, why schools open from September through June,or why the materials students learn are divided into disciplines, or why students are grouped by age”. This really struck me as interesting, as I have always been someone who asks maybe too many questions. I was the student harassing my teachers and parents with questions such as, “Well, why does the Pythagorean theorem work?” or “Why do we have school 10 months of the year?” or “Why can’t we have a sit down meal at prom?”. Most often I’d get the responses, “Someone smarter than you and I figured it out”, “Just because” or “This is the way it’s always been done”. Sadly, so many of us lose our inquisitive spirit and become accepting of this ‘common sense’. We must begin to question the world around us, and why things are done a certain way, rather than just subscribe to it.

I think its important to pay attention to the ‘common sense’ because by following blindly we continue to “privilege only certain perspectives, practices, values, and groups of people”. By failing to branch out from the ‘common sense’ we unintentionally marginalize others based on factors such as race, gender, socioeconomic standing, and many others. In reality, there is no one, true ‘common sense’. Our ‘common sense’ is shaped by our background and everyone’s idea of ‘common sense’ will be different because of this. We need to recognize this, or else it will continue to reinforce oppression in our schools and society. It is our role as future teachers to create a sense of belonging for every student that enters our classroom. We need to reflect on our own idea of ‘common sense’ and be willing to accept that it may not be the “right way”.

Week 12- Constructions of School Leaders

This week we discussed the qualities and traits effective principals possess. As well, we looked at how the role of principals have changed throughout the years.

3 Things I Learned

The first thing I learned was that principals are a critical component in building a positive, successful school environment. The relationships built between the school community and the principal is key in creating an effective learning environment. It is important to note that the school community extends beyond the students and teachers, but includes the broader community such as the parents, community members, etc.

There are certain characteristics that are necessary in an effective principal. First and foremost a principal must have excellent leadership skills. Being a good leader encompasses a wide variety of additional skills. A good leader takes ownership for the successes and failures of the group. A good leader is decisive and capable of making the “hard” decisions. And lastly, a good leader does not micromanage his employees/coworkers/peers, but trusts in their abilities. Without a good leader chaos can occur, as everyone is working as individuals and not focused on a singular goal.

Lastly, I learned that the role of a principal is highly complex. Some duties they have are: establishing the mission and values of the school, providing instructional leadership, and administrative tasks such as budgeting and resource allocation. Students see a principal as an authority figure and are unsure what the principals job entails. Teachers however, know that they can use their principal as a trustworthy source who can provide guidance.

2 Connections I Made

My experience with principals is on opposite ends of the spectrum. My middle school principal integrated himself into not only the school, but also the classroom and community. He made every effort to connect with both the teachers and the students. He was welcoming to the parents, making them feel comfortable to “pop in” and speak to him. This all created a positive atmosphere in the school. In contrast, my high school principal did not possess any of these qualities. He often stayed in his office, knew very few students names, and appeared to be primarily focused on the administrative tasks rather than building relationships.

Seeing these two examples makes me understand how important it is for the principal to set the “tone” for the school. This creates teachers, students and parents who are willing to work hard and make the school successful.

1 Question I Have  

Due to the changing face of our school communities, is the role of the principal going to change? With schools becoming larger, resources becoming limited, and an increasingly diverse population, I feel the principal will be further stretched. They will have to come up with innovative ways to adapt to these changes. This will require forward thinking, creative individuals.

Week 10- Constructions of Teacher Identity

3 Things I Learned
The first and most important thing I learned this week was the formulation of our identity. There are numerous factors that make up our identity. The contributing factors are often thought of in simple labels such as race, religion and occupation. However, your identity is so much more than that. Past mistakes, lessons learned and dreams you have for yourself, all contribute to a greater and broader sense of who we. Our identity is complex and multidimensional. This week stressed the importance of examining who we are, how people see us, and how we view ourselves. This is important because having a better understanding of who we are will help guide us in the choices we make.

This week we discussed the word discourse. This is a word I have heard but never truly understood. Discourse can be defined as, “…a body of thinking and writing that uses shared language for talking about a topic, shared concepts for understanding it and shared methods for examining it”. We all belong to several different discourse communities within our society, which frame how we think, understand and act. Discourse is a major contributor in forming who we are and building our identity. In simple terms, discourse can be described as a normal, or what is expected of an individual based on the society they live in.
The above point leads in to the final thing I learned. The Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation has standards and codes that teachers must follow. They clearly outline what the STF believes the role of a teacher is, what they should do, and what makes a good teacher. This helps shape us into the teachers we are going to become.
2 Connections I Made
In the reading, “Teacher Identity” by Krista Yerkes, she discussed the difficulty she had transitioning from the role of student to teacher. This is something I believe many individuals, including myself, can understand, regardless of their career path. Spending 20+ years as a student it is difficult to imagine myself in a different role. Going from being taught, to now teaching others, is a challenging evolution. I have asked myself similar questions to the ones Yerkes asked herself. How does one act like a teacher? What qualities do teachers possess? As said in the article, “teaching is a discourse all in its own”. When entering into a new discourse it can be difficult to find our way and feel like we belong. As I move through my studies I think it is important to realize that formulating our teacher identity will take time. Creating relationships with other pre-service teachers and mentors will aid in this transition. Others can offer a lot of advice and knowledge, allowing us to grow into the teachers we are meant to be.

During lecture we discussed the concept of ambiguity. The teaching profession is filled with ambiguity. You cannot predict everything that will happen within the classroom. You can only plan so much, therefore you have to be flexible and open to change. As someone who likes structure, order, and plans, this is something I will struggle with as a teacher. I have to realize that as a future teacher new challenges will “hit” me each day, and I have to be able to adapt when dealing with them. Embracing the uncertainty can lead to transformative change in our lives.
1 Question I Have
Through lecture and seminars there has been the recurring idea that teachers carry their identity with them at all times throughout their life. I feel this is a huge responsibility to place on a person. At what point are we allowed to shed our teaching identity? I feel that being a teacher is just one aspect of who we are. It’s the combination of our other qualities that make me us who we are. For example, if a parent sees a teacher at a social event enjoying a few drinks, that should not change the parent’s opinion about that person as a teacher. Their actions in the classroom should determine how they feel about them as teacher.

Week 9- The Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation

This week we explored the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation website and the numerous benefits and opportunities they provide to teachers, both within the classroom and outside.

3 Things I Learned

The first major thing I learned was that the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation offers many international opportunities for their teachers. Some current opportunities available are Project Overseas and a Professional Development Program in India. Project Overseas is a volunteer experience seeking primary and secondary teachers who are interested in teaching in countries throughout Africa and the Caribbean. The Professional Development Program in India is an opportunity for teachers to develop a Professional Development Program for the primary teachers of India. These opportunities allow teachers to learn about other cultures, explore new places, all while developing your teaching skills.

The second major thing I learned was that the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation provides multiple professional resources for their teachers. A great example of this is the Stewart Resources Centre. This is an online library that carries a collection of over 28,000 books and audio visual resources, 125 print and e-journals and newspapers, and a selection of teacher-prepared units. As a future educator this is a great resource to develop deeper subject knowledge. Teachers must be lifelong learners and the Stewart Resources Centre provides teachers with this opportunity while also making it easily accessible.

Finally, I learned that the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation offers various mental health supports to their teachers, such as confidential counseling services and certified psychologists to talk to. It is critical that we improve the mental health of our teachers.  This in turn will benefit the students in the classroom. Statistics from 2015 show that 67% of teachers state that their job had adversely impacted their mental health. It is encouraging to know that the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation is concerned with this high number and want the best for the teachers in our province.

2 Connections I Made

Nobody goes into teaching for the money. It is a well held belief that teachers are grossly underpaid. Although this may be true, it is important to note that this does not mean we will be poor and “suffering”. When looking at the salary grid for teachers, after ten years of teaching and receiving further education and credits, teachers can make approximately $100,000. This is a great salary! Of course, there could be improvements to the salary teachers are receiving but the current amount being paid is not one that we should scoff at. According to Statistics Canada, in 2015 the median income for an individual was $33, 920, and the median total income for families was $70,336. Seeing these figures, it is difficult to consider teachers underpaid. It is more likely, that they are undervalued.

The second connection I had, also had to do with the Step and Class part of the salary grid. I am completing both my Bachelor of Education-Secondary Science and my Bachelor of Science-Biology. I have heard from countless individuals that you should not complete your second degree until you get a permanent full time position within a school, as they do not want to pay more money than they have to. It was comforting to hear that although that is sometimes the case, most schools would rather have the best teachers possible for their students. If you are bringing “something to the table” that other candidates are not, you will have greater success. Money is not the only factor.

1 Question I Have

After the discussion I was curious about some of the other benefits. One in particular that will eventually apply to me concerns maternity/paternity leave.  According to Saskatchewan Employment Standards, a birth parent is entitled to 18 weeks of maternity leave and 34 weeks parental leave. The question I have is, what affect this will have on determining the “number of years teaching” as it will apply to the salary grid? Will I be penalized for taking the year off to care for my child or will the year away still be recorded as a “teaching year”? The answer to this will affect where a teacher finds themselves on the salary grid.

Week 8- Social identity and school systems: Hidden Curriculum and Reproduction Theory

3 Things I Learned

One major thing I learned this week was the idea of hidden curriculum. Hidden curriculum can be defined as the, “unwritten, unofficial, and often unintended lessons, values, and perspectives that students learn in school”. This is separate from the formal curriculum that educators are expected to teach their students. Hidden curriculum ends up “molding” our students’ minds concerning issues such as gender, social class, stereotypes, politics, etc.

Another concept I had not been introduced to prior to lecture was Reproduction Theory. Reproduction theory criticizes the idea that schools create equal opportunities for all students but rather transmit inequality from generation to generation. The work of Jean Anyon, a researcher in education, closely relates to this theory. She suggests that there is a hidden curriculum in the way teachers teach that generates and enforces social class status. Through a study she found that at “working class” schools, the teachers emphasize the importance of the procedure of doing school work, without explaining why the work is being assigned, its significance or how it connects to other assignments. In the “middle-class” schools, teachers provide work tasks with little creativity and critical thinking, but instead emphasize on students getting the “right answer” so that they are able to “succeed” in life. In the “affluent-professional” schools, creativity and independent work are encouraged. Teachers control the class through constant negotiation, where they try to get the students to foresee the consequences of their actions and to make decisions accordingly. Finally, in “elite” schools, work is focused on developing analytical intellectual power. Teachers offered a great deal of freedom when controlling the class, trying to make students understand that they “are the only driver of your car”. The power teachers have is astounding. It is clear that teachers are reinforcing inequality by educating students to their current social class rather than raising them up.

2 Connections I Made

A connection I have made related to our school systems and hidden curriculum was discussed on the radio station, 980 CJME while I was driving home tonight. They made the point that our education system needs to educate not indoctrinate. Indoctrination can be defined as, “to teach a person or group to accept a set of beliefs uncritically”. This can even be seen within the university, where for example certain political beliefs are often pushed. For the most part, adult students within the university have the ability to see through this type of influence, but may still feel the pressure to agree with a professor’s point of view for good grades. Children generally see this type of influence as factual. They will believe anything they hear as long as the information is coming from a reliable source, such as their teacher, making them especially susceptible to propaganda. As future educators we should not force our hidden curriculum and ideologies upon our students. Rather, we should teach all topics in a detached fashion while incorporating various perspectives. This critical investigation of both sides of a topic allows students to come to a conclusion of what THEY believe not what YOU believe.

When thinking about the research of Jean Anyon, I began to consider if my teachers in elementary and high school followed suit to what her research provided. With my dad in the military, I went to several different schools across Canada. All the schools I went to were located in small towns and cities with the majority of the students families belonging to the working class or middle class. It was interesting to note that the majority of my teachers taught much like the teachers at the middle class schools in Jean Anyon’s research. Creativity and independent thinking were not pushed. There was a greater focus on learning, storing and “puking” out the information we had been taught simply for exams. My teachers were more concerned with a percentage on a test, rather than getting us to truly retain and appreciate what we are learning. There were of course exceptions to this, as I had a few teachers that encouraged independent thinking, creative activities and allowed greater freedom in the learning process.

1 Question I Have

We are often told “you can achieve whatever you set your mind to”, and I am someone who fully believes this. However, it is interesting to note the power teachers have on their student’s lives. Teaching techniques and expectations within social classes can reinforce, restrict or expand students’ hopes and dreams. So are we really able to “achieve whatever we set our mind to”, or are we restricted by how we are educated? How can we, as future educators, set our students free to become all they can be?

 

 

Week 7- Constructions of School Systems

This week was centered on the constructions of school systems and how they have changed throughout the years. Looking at the past allows us to see how it has shaped the present, and how it will affect the future.

3 Things I Learned

One thing I learned was the four philosophies of education. It was interesting to note that the first two; perennialism and essentialism, view the teacher as the expert, whereas progressivism and social reconstructionism see them as a facilitator in the classroom. Current practices are “leaning” towards the teacher being a facilitator.

Another thing I found interesting in the reading was the establishment of a specialized teachers’ association, the Saskatoon Female Teachers Association, who focused on improving the conditions for female teachers in Saskatoon. In a profession that is now largely composed of women, the lesser status they were given in the early 1900’s is more reflective of their status in society rather than the workplace. It is through the efforts of these early associations that teacher’s today have a more equalized status.

Lastly, the fact that “In 2011, only 60% of countries had achieved gender parity in enrollment at the primary level and 38% at the secondary level” shocked me. The idea that in this decade there are so many people, in particular girls, who are unable to attend school, does not seem plausible. Based on my personal definition of universal education, everyone should have access to an education without constraints; I would hope that these numbers fall substantially by the next decade.

2 Connections I Made

Going into the field of education you often hear that there are no jobs. Many recently graduated teachers are having trouble finding permanent positions and are working primarily as substitute teachers. I think it is important to recognize that with any career there will always be fluctuations between the demand and the supply. For example, there was a surplus of teachers in the1930’s, a shortage that developed in the 1950’s and resulted in teachers being recruited from overseas in the 1960’s. Seeing this ebb and flow brings me confidence that with time, there will once again be a greater need for teachers.

After learning more about the four education philosophies I examined both what philosophy I believe in as well as what one I believe I was educated under. Early in my education, most of my teachers would have fallen into either the perennialism or essentialism philosophy. As I entered Middle and High school, it was apparent that teachers where adopting the last two philosophies. I think this is reflective of changes in the education they were being taught, in conjunction with the age of the students they were teaching. In the primary years, it is important to learn basic skills such as reading, spelling, grammar and math. Once these skills have been developed, there is more flexibility for a teacher to act as a facilitator and let their students discover alternate methods to achieve the same end result. As someone who wants to be a secondary school biology teacher, the fact that I feel I “tend towards” an essentialism philosophy may require me to adapt my teaching style. Although science is strongly fact based, most of our greatest scientific achievements have come from someone willing to think “outside of the box” and surrounding him or herself with “like-minded” people.

1 Question I Have

It is evident that a lot of change has happened in the history of education in Saskatchewan. However even with all of these changes, knowing that there are still children who are not receiving an education is disheartening. I think it is important to ask, what are the steps we can take to ensure there is universal education for all?