Over the course we have discussed many articles and have studied William Pinar’s (2019) What is Curriculum Theory. Pinar has shared with me the question of “What knowledge is of most worth?” (p. 21). The material covered within our course has challenged the question of what knowledge is of most worth. With this question in mind, I reflect on the key ideas that Pinar and others share in our course, especially around economics, politics, and citizenship.
One of the book’s central themes is how education is becoming structured like a business. I reflect on the amount of money that school divisions spend on software to improve student data. Through standardized assessments, corporations are profiting off education and privileging often western worldviews. The data movement that we are witnessing in education limits the students and demeaning to the educators forced to administer them. The standardized programs that school divisions pay thousands of dollars for begin to stifle student creativity and critical thinking; it begins to question educators’ worth. Often data can be harvested by students inputting data into a computer without a teacher’s support. Not to mention, the technology limits the attention of other vital needs of the classroom (dare I say, class size).
Pinar challenges the content and the politics of the curriculum of education. Pinar focuses on the idea and importance of autobiography and self-reflection for educators for fundamental change to occur. As Pinar states, “Inflected by race, gender, and class, submerged in the historical moment and the politics of the day, we teachers keep studying so we may understand and exceed each of these” (p. 41). The course’s teachings focused on learning about the other’s experiences and our responsibility to listen, self-reflect, and teach about the other. As I reflect on Pinar’s curriculum question, “What knowledge is most worth?” (p. 21) I cannot think about the recent social studies curriculum announcement from Alberta. In an opinion article by the Edmonton Journal written by numerous social studies education professors across the country, The K-6 curriculum draft highlights the lack of recognition to Indigenous worldviews in the story of Canada. When Canada’s colonial history is discussed, it is discussed in terms of the past and how it has no bearing on the present or the future. These teaching will continue to perpetuate those labelled as other, and the legacy of colonialism will continue to thrive.
Much of the course focuses on educating our students to be good citizens, specifically focuses around the Civic Organizing Framework goals of active citizenship and Tupper’s (2011) Treaty Education for Ethically Engaged Citizenship and other articles more broadly. Although we did not study Joel Westheimer’s work on citizenship, I like his citizenship model. Westheimer proposes three types of citizenship, personally responsible citizens, participatory citizens, and justice-orientated citizens.
I would hope that education aims to create thoughtful democratic citizens who, at the bare minimum, exhibit characteristics in the category of personally responsible citizens. However, for fundamental change to occur, we need to give students the knowledge, the tools, and the skills to be critical thinkers. We need to move towards teaching our students to become a justice-orientated citizen as being a personally responsible citizen, or a participatory citizen allows us to be complicit, or as Tuck and Yang (2012) describe as settler moves to innocence. This highlights the importance of empowering students to think critically, challenge ideas, and our job as educators to model to students to reflect on themselves, their histories, and their stories.