Chapter Seven: Teachers, Students, and Teaching
- Working first individually and then in groups, develop a description of the way in which you learn best (e.g., episodically vs. in intensive stretches; one subject at a time vs. several things at once, visually, kinesthetically, and so on). Compare your own style with that of others in your class. Are they similar? To what extent did your schooling accommodate these characteristics? To what extent does the university do so? How might institutions do a better job of adapting to individuals’ learning styles?
- Conduct an examination of a school as a physical setting. How would you describe it? Is it comfortable? Friendly? Cold? Is the scale appropriate for young people? What kinds of signs, posters, or displays are there? What spaces do students use, and under what conditions? What spaces do teachers use, and under what conditions?
- Study the organization of classroom groups in a class in the school where you are observing or student teaching. Do all groups do the same things? What differences can you observe in the kinds of activities given to different groups? What effect might differences in group activity have on students? You may want to ask some students how they understand the grouping process.
- Hold a classroom debate on tracking in secondary schools: “Be it resolved that all high-school students should have the same basic program of studies.”
- Study the assessment practices in the school where you are assigned. What evaluative information is communicated to students? To parents? How often? How do teachers arrive at their judgments about students?
- Find a current curriculum guide for your province for a subject you are likely to teach. Which topics are given the most attention? Given the least attention? Missing entirely? How do you account for the guide’s balance of topics? What assumptions about the subject, about teaching and learning, or about knowledge are evident? Are there any assumptions with which you disagree? Why?
- Write a brief paper on the hidden curriculum as it operates in a particular classroom. What messages other than those in the formal curriculum are being given to students? How?
- Interview a teacher about the process of teaching. What is the teacher thinking about while teaching? How aware is the teacher of the decisions he or she is making, and the reasons for them?
- Interview a few students in any grade. Ask them what aspects of school they find interesting, and why. Which subjects or activities do they like the least, and why? What implications can you draw from their comments about teaching and learning?
- What is the policy of the school to which you are assigned on failure or retention in grade? How many students take more than the required number of years to complete their school program?
- Interview some teachers and students in regard to testing practices in their school and province. What impact do school tests and provincial exams have on the way teachers teach or on the way students approach learning?