Thursday, June 27, 2013

Chapter 3 & 4: Please post your responses to your most favorite STUDY QUESTIONS in the chapters here.


  1. Ch. 3 In your educational practice, do you tend to use the reductionist approach or a more holistic approach to improve your practice? How could you overcome the limitations in each approach?

    “The concept of holism refers to the idea that all the properties of a given system in any field of study cannot be determined or explained by the sum of its component parts. Instead, the system as a whole determines how its parts behave.” A holistic way of thinking tries to encompass and integrate multiple layers of meaning and experience instead of defining human possibilities narrowly. I believe that in my educational practice I would use a more holistic approach to looking at my students as a whole and not as parts. Isn’t the goal of holistic approach to education to development every person’s intellectual, emotional, social, physical, artistic, creative and spiritual potentials? Compared to reductionist approach where it is a closed, one directional model. Reductionist break down complex reality into manageable pieces and start from an understanding of these pieces . I like to use a constructivist approach to teaching lessons as well and I feel that constructivism is a holistic approach to teaching. For example, constructivism begins with the whole first and expands into parts and the teacher is in pursuit of students questions and interests. which you are nurturing the emotional part of a student. I think both approaches have their good qualities and have their place in the classroom, however there is a dark side to constructivism and with that being said using a combination of both approaches would be beneficial.

  2. Ch. 4
    How could educators promote empathy development? What does it take to help students use their ability (mirror neurons) and meaningfully internalize other peoples experiences?
    I think educators could promote empathy development by encouraging students to become aware of others’ feelings and to see situations from alternate points of view. When educators create an atmosphere, a learning community amongst their students built around trust, I think it could also encompass empathy. Students will need to practice this skill just like anything else. What I mean by this is having scenarios that students act out. Students are given hypothetical scenarios that will force students to build empathy for a certain character or out themselves in another persons shoes The students that are acting will practice making the correct facial expression to fit the scenario. The students in the audience are using their mirror neurons to internalize that facial expression and to make their own meaning. For younger students I think it is very important to describe how others are feeling: "Bobby is sad because he lost his ball." This will help children become more aware of their feelings and the feelings of others.

  3. Chapter 3

    Could education become an area of human engineering based on the assumption of learning as information processing? What would you like “learning research” to look like as an educator.

    I think that analyzing education as if it is an area of human engineering assuming that learning is the same as information processing could be helpful in some ways and hurtful in others. Like a learning theory, there is no one way of viewing and analyzing education that will benefit all involved.

    Starting with the hurtful, in engineering and information processing, many things are held constant regardless of external factors, as in the example of a computer. In education, few things are held constant, such as location, student’s ability, student’s background, teacher’s ability, teacher’s background language, stress levels etc. As such, viewing the idea of learning of a child or an adult as if it were information processing in a computer could have helpful patterns, but would produce inconsistent results based on factors that change from learner to learner. This does not take into account the different learning styles of students and different disabilities or gifts that we as teachers learn about our students, and can apply in a positive and beneficial way.

    Ending with the helpful, viewing education this way could lead researchers to learn about general patters of students. While I don’t believe there is one finding that will help all learners, I do believe there are many findings that help many learners. As an educator, I would like learning research to be constantly evolving, as we as people are constantly changing and evolving, and would like individual educators in common areas to work together in discussing what does or does not work for them.

  4. Chap. 4 Study Question: If self could be best captured by the concept of “emptiness,” what is the best approach to help your students overcome their ego and see the changes that learning brings about within them positively?

    After reading this study question the first thought that popped in my head was the quote “The only constant is change”, by ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus. I think he philosophically was referring to the fact that once we learn something new everything changes, including our brain, mind, perspective, belief, assumption, and so on. And because there is no limit to learning new knowledge, therefore, the brain is constantly evolving and changing.

    Most students I’ve encountered embrace and welcome learning new information and the changing of perspective that it brings, but there have been a few who may think they know everything about a specific subject. These students were challenging because I needed to put aside my own ego of wanting to, but being unable to, teach them because all I was getting was resistance or the “know it all” attitude. And too be frank, my initial response was to want to prove them wrong. No, you don’t know it all. But a more positive approach would be to remind them of a time when they struggled with a new concept or they were first exposed to learning a concept. A few great examples might be riding a bike, skateboard, or surfing for the first time. I’d ask them to share their experience and most likely they had a few failures or challenges to overcome, but eventually due to their persistence they became quite skilled in it. Or possibly, learning to ride the bike, skateboard, or surf was easy for them. But once they saw their friend doing different kinds of “tricks” they wanted to learn how to also do those same “tricks”. I could then relate their bike riding experience to the task in school. Maybe multiplying numbers seems simple and therefore they feel like they are wizards in math and there isn’t anything else they need to know. But then I could show them the “challenging tricks”, like multiplying larger digit numbers, creating word problems or drawing visual models for that multiplication problem, or discovering more efficient ways to solve it. By reminding the student of a positive memory when learning caused a positive change, it would hopefully transfer those positive feelings towards being open to future new learning experiences.

  5. Chap. 3 Study Question: Among the students you know, think of a student who often forgets what you taught and struggles academically. What are the possible social and personal issues related to the struggles? What kind of help can you give as an educator?

    When I taught second grade I had a student who had many factors that negatively affected his learning experience at school. Each day he arrived late, usually with a Jack in the Box bag for breakfast, in dirty or ill-fitting clothes. His parents were in a tumultuous relationship where alcohol and drugs were involved to the point where his older sibling was removed from the home years prior. Obviously his home life wasn’t stable and sometimes unsafe. This very much affected his performance at school. Because his parents didn’t provide him with adequate nutrition or basic care he had difficulty with communicating, processing and retaining new concepts, and socializing with his peers. As his classroom teacher, I utilized all the resources available in my school site to assist him, including speech therapy, occupational therapy, social skills group during lunch, and special education services for writing, reading, and math. Communicating with his parents his strengths, challenges, and basic ways they could help him at home was really helpful. Explaining and showing his parents the philosophy “it takes a village to raise a child” alleviated a lot of their guilt about the causes of his weaknesses, and allowed the school and his parents to move forward in supporting him so he could be the most successful.

  6. Chapter 3 Study Question

    Among the students you know, think of a student who often forgets what you taught and struggles academically. What are the possible social and personal issues related to the struggles? What kind of help can you give as an educator?

    There was a boy in my practicum classroom last semester who I immediately thought of when I read this question. I usually sat next to him to keep him on task or offer additional help. Every day was a struggle to keep him on task, do his own work, or for to select the correct answers. When he did get the right answer, he would say something like, “I got the right answer before Jimmy!”. He had an IEP and was called out of class a couple of hours each day. He appeared totally embarrassed every time the Resource teacher came to get him. Also, any time he was called on or I worked with him one-on-one and we were working on a difficult task, he would ask to use the restroom, go to the nurse, or try to change the subject with random comments like, “I am going to my grandma’s house this weekend”.
    He appears to be aware of his difficulty with learning because he wants others to know when he did select the correct answer or if he doesn’t know, he tries to escape the task at hand by way of a restroom break or trying to change the subject. I suspect he is embarrassed and therefore so focused on that that he can’t retain most of the information presented in addition with his learning disability.
    As his teacher/tutor, I focused on what he did very well which in his case was art and fractions. I praised him every chance I got. One example was the students were working on making a diagram of the life cycle of a butterfly. They had to color, cut out, glue, label and organize each of the pieces. This particular student did an excellent job on the task so I used his as a model and made sure the class member knew it was his paper that was the excellent one. Another way I helped him was attempted to lower his affective filter every time we worked together. I focused on his work that I had graded on which he performed well. I didn’t show him just his “A” work but also his “B” and “C” work to show him he was close to understanding the information. I would have informal conversations with him before we started our session so he could tell me about his family, toys, etc.. I did this so when it was time to work, he could focus on work and not the personal information he was eager to share with me. Lastly, I told the other students in the room that this student was helping me with my college assignments. My purpose was to rid him of any embarrassment from others thinking that he was being tutored by yet another person.

  7. Chapter 4 Study Question

    How could educators promote empathy development? What does it take to help students use their ability (or mirror neurons) and meaningful internalize other people’s experiences?

    I saw a great example of how to promote empathy in students by my master teacher, Ms. Stein, last semester. She used every day conflict as a means to teach empathy and understanding in her students. It was a usual occurrence that the students would gather on the rug to have a class meeting about a conflict two+ students were having. One example being, the students were out for recess and the popular activity during recess is to play four square. It’s a game when four students pass a ball back and fourth and gather points. The students line up to play and one student in the class let another student cut in front of him which meant the 20 other kids in the line were cut in front of too. The playground attendant was notified and the student was not allowed to play four square for the rest of the week. He came back to the classroom totally in tears and the teacher was told by the playground attendant what happened during recess. The students came back from recess in a roar of what happened. It was at that moment Ms. Stein called a class meeting. She started it by asking, “Have you ever had someone cut in front of you in line? did that make you feel?”. Students shared their stories and the consensus was that it wrong and unfair to cut in line. Ms. Stein facilitated class meetings many times during the semester which addressed many topics of empathy. The students really seemed to view themselves in the “shoes” of others from these discussions. Using real life current events gave Ms. Stein the ability to explicitly teach empathy.

  8. Hi everyone! I’m sorry I’m posting my responses so late. I had some Internet connectivity issues last night.

    STUDY QUESTION: Among the students you know, think of a student who often forgets what you taught and struggles academically. What are the possible social and personal issues related to the struggles? What kind of help can you give as an educator?

    Although I have worked exclusively with adult ELLs, I believe that they experience just as many struggles as children. Last semester, I tutored an adult male student in an ESL speaking and listening course at Miramar College. He was from Vietnam and this was his first experience learning English in a formal setting. The course instructor told me that even though this was a beginner-level course, he had fallen behind his classmates. After I began working with him, I learned that he worked two jobs and was attempting to take a writing class in addition to the speaking and listening course. His busy schedule meant that he often did not have time to complete his homework assignments. Additionally, he worked at a Vietnamese grocery store and at a Vietnamese restaurant, and he did not speak English at these jobs. After I began speaking with this student, his struggles made a lot of sense to me! He was trying to adjust to life in a new country, work two jobs, and take two classes. Clearly, “the act of remembering and retrieving information” (Inoue, 2012, p. 49) was closely tied to the aspects of his life outside of the classroom.

    Because I plan on working with adult ELLs in the future, I am confident that many of my future students will share the same struggles as the student I tutored last semester. I think I need to maintain an open dialogue with my students, so that they can approach me and tell me about personal issues that may be impacting their learning. If I see students struggling, I hope to approach them in a non-confrontational manner and discuss obstacles to their learning. Of course, there are different solutions for different students. Last semester, my student was able to set aside two hours each week for one-on-one tutoring, and I saw his English drastically improve. I once worked with an Armenian student who loved to read. I suggested that she start reading children’s books in English, and this greatly helped her learning. She’s now reading short novels. As an educator, I think it’s my duty to approach my students and learn about their lives outside of school, so that I can help them in the classroom.

  9. Chapter 4
    STUDY QUESTION: How could you incorporate the concept of “emptiness of self” in your professional development? What serves as possible barriers and how could you overcome them?

    Learning about the concept of “emptiness of self” last semester in EDUC 513 has helped change the way I view my own education. While I have a strong to desire to learn and grow personally and professionally, I think my ego has been holding me back. Dr. Inoue (2012) said that emptiness of self “is hard to accept for some” (p. 69), and I fall into that category. However, I have been working to become more open to change because I think educators absolutely must be able to grow and develop. If students are expected to continuously grow and learn, teachers should do the same.

    In terms of professional development, I hope to never stop learning! I think it’s important to stay on top of new educational research and theories and incorporate these into a constantly involving practice. Additionally, my students will have individual and specific needs, so I will need to adapt to address these challenges. As a teacher, I hope to try to maintain an open mind. While it’s easy to use time as an excuse for not continuing to learn more, I plan to make an effort to schedule time to read about innovations in education and attend classes, conferences, and seminars that might improve my practice. I know it’s easy to become “stuck” in my practice and fail to see where improvements can be made. To combat this, I could ask a coworker to observe my classroom and provide notes, or I could even film a class session to determine how I can improve as a teacher. I also that think that small-scale Action Research projects in my classroom could help me continue to develop as a teacher. Because I know that I struggle with emptiness of self, I need to make an effort to overcome my personal obstacles, so that I can grow and better myself.

  10. Chapter 4
    How could educators promote empathy development? What does it take to help students use their ability (or mirror neurons) and meaningfully internalize other people’s experiences?

    This study question is my favorite in this chapter for two reasons. The first is because I taught second grade and noticed that some students could understand the feelings of others and some could not. The second reasons is because think having and learning empathy is important for students both in school and out of school, and educating more empathetic students can lead to a more empathetic future.

    In my research about internalizing other people’s experiences, I was reminded of Piaget’s Theory of the Stages of Cognitive Development. Children ages 2-7 are thought to be in the Pre-Operational Stage, and during this stage they are egocentric and unable to consider someone else viewpoint. These students also believe there is only one right way to do things – their way. The next stage, the Concrete Operational Stage includes children ages 7-11. It is in this stage that children begin to see that other people have different views. It is when the children begin to understand this, that they can begin to see that other views are not wrong, and often there are multiple ways to answer one question correctly. It is also during this stage that the students will be able to “put their feet in someone else’s shoes” and understand the feelings others may have, even if it does not involve the individual.

    In trying and teach students in my second grade classroom about empathy, I had to accept that some students were not at the developmental level to understand, as second graders are ages 7-8. With that, we did activities such as role-play, feelings sharing and conflict resolutions with key phrases to help students understand one another and work together constructively.

    Could you find any dialectic relationship between two or more factors that constitute your educational practice? What does it tell you about your teaching?

    During my time as an educator, I have come across many dialectic relationships in my educational practice. One dialectic relationship I have observed is when I put a lot of time into planning a lesson and preparing for a lesson, my students seem to respond better to the lesson/ understand the lesson better but it could also be the case that my students respond better to the lesson/understand the lesson better because of my planning and preparation for the lesson. Another dialectic relationship I have observed in my educational experience is that students do better academically if the students’ parents are involved in their education but it could also be the case that parents who are involved in their children’s education, have children who do better academically. This tells me that a lots of elements of education/ teaching feed off of each other.