Course:EDCP562/Chapter 10

From UBC Wiki

Chapter 10 Students’ Experience of School Curriculum --The everyday circumstances of granting and withholding assent to learn Key Items • Social ecology is a philosophy developed by Murray Bookchin in the 1960s. It holds that present ecological problems are rooted in deep-seated social problems. These have resulted in an uncritical acceptance of an overly competitive grow-or-die philosophy. It suggests that this cannot be resisted by individual action such as ethical consumerism but must be addressed by more nuanced ethical thinking and collective activity grounded in radical democratic ideals. The complexity of relationships between people and with nature is emphasized, along with the importance of establishing social structures that take account of this. Authors • Frederick Erickson is George F. Kneller Professor of Anthropology of Education at the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, University of California, Los Angeles. His teaching and research interests are organization and conduct of face to face interaction, sociolinguistic discourse analysis, ethnographic research methods, study of social interaction as a learning environment, anthropology of education. • Rishi Bagrodia was a seventh grader and a member of the graduating class of 2006, University Elementary School, UCLA. • Alison Cook-Sather, professor of Education and Coordinator of Bryn Mawr'. She works with a wide range of learners and teachers, including Bryn Mawr and Haverford students and alumni preparing to teach at the secondary level, high school teachers and students who participate in that preparation, and college faculty and students interested in exploring pedagogical issues. • Manuel Espinoza is Assistant Professor of Education and Human Development at the University of Colorado, Denver. His research interests in the anthropology of education and sociolinguistics were fostered by both the experience of working with high school aged migrant students and the presence of senior scholars at UCLA.

Instruction (Pages 198-201)

    What is it like for a student to be in a school learning environment or in a classroom? Three major types of substantive focus in this new literature which are identified by Thiessen are:

• How students participate in and make sense of life in classrooms and schools • How students are and how they develop in classrooms and schools • How students are actively involved in shaping their own learning opportunities and in the improvement of life in schools In Shultz and Cook-Sather’s book, the students come from middle schools and high schools in urban, suburban and rural communities in the United States. The students focus primarily on relationships rather than on physical and curricular aspects of school: • Students want more human and humane interactions in school • Students want to be able to “be their whole selves in school” • Students want school to be engaging

Section One: Sketching Broad Contours (Pages 201-208) 1. The learning Task as experienced: Aspects of the real time conduct of social interaction as a learning environment

      Whenever a student is engaged in a learning task in a classroom, there are four aspects of organization in operation simultaneously. 

• the subject matter content, • the social situation of engagement by the student with others in the scene • the sensory medial by which both the structure of subject matter and social relations with others are perceived • the semiotic means by which meanings of various sorts are being communicated within the scene.

       Observers tend drastically to underestimate the complexity of what at first glance appears to be a simple academic task. For a beginner in a learning task, when you do not already know how to do it, the task can be daunting indeed. For example, there is an arithmetic worksheet of the kind used in many first grade classroom. The following matters must be address by the student stepwise in successive moments of real time…When the student reaches the 11 numeral, she needs to posses a qualitatively differing kind of knowledge from that which was necessary to complete the previous two sums correctly. Perhaps in that moment the student is not sure what to do next. Here is where the newly encountered difficulty in what can be called the subject matter task structure bears on what can be called the social participation task structure. At this moment of encountering a “bump” in difficulty, can the student get help? If so, from whom? Only the teacher? Or other student?  The example illustrates how particular subject matter content and the particular ecology of social relations are mutually constitutive at each successive moment in which the student engages the academic task. Changing either a feature of subject matter (as in the difficulty bump encountered in the third problem on the page) or a feature of social relations (various ways one can get help and the moment by moment changes in whether one needs such help) transforms the nature of the overall academic task, changes which make for differing circumstances of student experiences in engaging  the academic task.

2. The whole classroom as an arena for student experience:

   Classrooms are communities of practice in which there is a high proportion of novices in relation to expert. Classrooms are also crowd places and students are members of a crowd, learning how to be in the crowd.

3. The social ecology of face threat, trust, and assent to learn:

   In her study of high school mathematics learning, Boaler highlights the relation between coming to understand and do mathematics and becoming a particular kind of person. A student discusses how the pedagogy of her mathematics class positioned her as a receiver of information, a position which she found unappealing:
 Interview Excerpt

K: I am just not interested in, just, you give me a formula, I am supposed to memorize the answer, apply it and that’s it. Int: Does math have to be like that? B: I have just kind of learned it that way. I don’t know if there’s any other way. K: At the point I am right now, that’s all I know. Kristina was not interested in mathematics because she learned it as a process of memorizing and applying rather than as thinking and problem solving.

Section Two: Student Experience and heard in student voices. (Pages 208-213)

 In a doctoral thesis, Joi Spencer(2006) studied a set of students enrolled in mathematics classes in middle schools in South Central Los Angeles. There are schools attended by students from low income families.

J: Sometimes I am quiet. Sometimes I don’t like doing the work. Sometimes I do it; sometimes I don’t. JS: So if I was going to ask a teacher “ What kind of student is …, what would they say to me?” J: Bad JS: How’s math class going for you this year? J: Failing JS: what’s your favourite subject? J: P.E. because my teacher doesn’t yell at me. JS: When I come into your class a lot of times I notice the kids are upset. Is that just because I am there or is that normally how it is? J: It’s always like that. JS: Why do you like that. J: Like he( the teacher) doesn’t really care. He just gives us the work. He just tells us how to do it and make us do it. JS: For you specifically, what would it take, what would have to happen, for you to become a good student in math class? J: Get a better teacher; a better teacher and a quieter classroom. Me, doing my work. JS: You said you don’t always pay attention, right? J: Mhm hmm JS: Why? J: Sometimes it’s boring. Sometimes boring and sometimes like when my friends are here, I don’t do my work sometimes. When they are not here, I do my work. JS: you say some of the things to get you to change would be a better teacher. How would that teacher be different? J: He doesn’t shout a lot and call our parents for a simple problem. JS: You want a teacher who lets you do whatever you want to do? J: No, he makes us do our work… but when we are finished, he lets us go to the bathroom and stuff. Section Three: Retrospect and Prospect (Pages 213-215)

        The Corinne A. Seeds University Elementary School (UES) is located on the campus of the University of California, Los Angeles. Students are admitted to the school through a lottery system that produces a distribution of ethnicity, race, and language background that approximates that of the state of California as a whole, and also a wide range of family income backgrounds. The school population includes children who are no simply easiest to teach, for example, some students enter the school having only spoken Spanish at home. A sixth-grade graduate in 2006 said about his school experience at UES.

Conclusions (Pages 215-216) • Current research suggests is that when schools are run conventionally—default conditions of provision of instruction as batch procession—schooling as subjectively experienced appears to become increasingly toxic for some students over successive years in school, while remaining manageably toxic for other students and relatively positive for a few of them. Yet even among high achievers the picture is not entirely rosy. In schools that are run according to batch processing, many highly achieving students report anxiety, boredom, and a sense of unfairness. • By middle school ad high school age, the circumstances that students mention as being of primary importance to them appear to lie in social relationship—with their teachers and with fellow students. • We still know too little about the varieties of school experience among students.