Projects & Teaching



January 9-April 5 2006: 9-12, TLKennedy

Course Director: Dr. Celia Haig-Brown, Professor Office: Ross S867
Phone: 416-736-2100 x88786 Fax: 416-736-5913

Please call or e-mail for an appointment whenever needed or desired. Meetings after class at TLK may be the most convenient for you.

Faculty description: This interdisciplinary course explores the interrelationships among theories of knowledge, theories of learning, conceptions of curriculum, and approaches to pedagogy in the context of a broad inquiry into the aims and purposes of schooling. Emphasis is placed on the analysis and critique of fundamental commitments and underlying assumptions of various approaches to education.

Purpose of the course:

Through texts, discussions, class activities and lectures:

*To examine critically the relation of curriculum and pedagogy to models of education

*To examine critically what models of education have meant and might mean to teachers and students in Canadian classrooms and schools;

*To place people in all their complexities of languages and cultures central to the study of models of education;

*To peel back layers of assumed historical, colonial, social and political contexts in the review of various models of education;

*To prepare a clear personal statement of your philosophy of education

*To continue to use decolonizing autobiographies as one way to address the issues above (for those who find this useful).

By “critical,” I mean a philosophy that is aware of the limits of knowing. (Gayatri Spivak. 1993. Outside in the teaching machine. 25).

Topics to be addressed include but are not limited to:

Orientations to curriculum

Cultural capital and its relation to education

Place of critical pedagogy in Ontario schools

Social justice and models of education

And others....

This class is offered by a materialist feminist with a commitment to decolonizing. Racist, sexist, homophobic and other discriminatory language and practices too often evident in everyday educational contexts will be addressed in class.

Required texts:

1. Patricia H. Hinchey. 2004. Finding Freedom in the Classroom: A Practical Introduction to Critical Theory. New York: Peter Lang.

2. Linda Pease-Alvarez and Sandra Schecter. 2005. Learning, Teaching and Commmunity: Contributions of Situated and Participatory Approaches to Educational Innovation. Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum.

3. Reading kit: collection of articles and book chapters (See attached list of references.)


1. In class group presentation   20%

2. Reflective paper on group work as a model of education   20%

3. Triple entry journals (each week)   20%

4. Final paper: My philosophy of education   40%

Assignments explained:

1) In class group presentation: You will be divided into seven groups of six. Presentations will begin on January 30 and continue through April 3. You are to pick one model of education from the following list and investigate it thoroughly using existing literature, the internet, your experiences and specific schools where possible. Using a creative approach, group members will present to the class an overview of the model followed by a critical analysis of the pros and cons of the chosen model. Be prepared to respond to questions and comments from the class.

Subject-based schools (e.g. science, fine arts, etc.)
Religion-based schools (e.g. Jewish, Catholic, Muslim, etc.)
Philosophically-based schools (e.g. feminist, Montessori, Waldorf, etc.)
All boys schools
All girls schools
Identity-based schools (e.g. First Nations, Afrocentric, GLBTQ, etc.)
Schools for students living with disabilities (e.g. deaf, blind, mentally challenged, etc.)
Schools for “at-risk” youth

2) Reflective paper on group work as a model of education:

Group work is, and should be, a frequently used approach in I/S classrooms. It is however not without its problems. Prepare a 750 word (3 page) focused analysis of the experience of working in groups for the models assignment above. Consider the implications of and refinements for using this approach in your own teaching. Paper is due one week after your presentation.

3) Triple entry journals (2 copies): You know the routine.

Each week, you are to prepare two copies of a response journal based on your readings. The purpose of these journals is to ensure a careful reading of the assigned text, Hinchey’s Finding Freedom in the Classroom and to prepare you for an informed discussion with a partner. There are three parts to the journal.

a) Prepare a five or six sentence summary of the reading. Do not evaluate, simply report what the author is saying.

b) Select one aspect of the reading that speaks to you and that will serve to focus the discussion with a partner.

c) Choosing a new partner each week (preferably someone you have not worked with previously), articulate a persisting question arising out of the first two steps. Write this question on the copy of the journal to be submitted.

Submit one copy immediately after the discussion and keep the other for reference during further in-class review. Journals will not be accepted after the end of class each week.

4) My Philosophy of Education:

Drawing on the work we have done in Models and Foundations of Education, your practicum experiences (and your other courses), prepare a clear and concise statement of your philosophy of education. Imagine that you will be presenting this paper to the School Board interviewing committee to which you are applying for your first job. Comment specifically on curricular and pedagogical dimensions related to your chosen learning theories. Cite appropriate literature. Your paper should be no more than 6 pages or 1500 words. Due date is one week after the last day of class and will not be changed so budget your time wisely.

5) Attendance and participation (see TEJ).

The university requires full attendance for the duration of the course. If you experience difficulty in this regard, please contact me. You are expected to contribute to class and group discussions without dominating either. More than one unexcused absence or talking too much may result in a lowering of your grade.

Marks docked for more than one unexcused absence or partial attendance.

Please be sure to sign in each day. A sheet will be circulated for your signature.

January 9, 2006: Introducing Models

The effectiveness of experiential learning lies in its directness. What is learned emerges directly and inductively from the experience. Unlike conventional learning based on lecturing, reading and recitation, the experiential model doesn’t rely on indirect or vicarious learning.
Sawyer & Green. 1984. The NESA Activities Handbook for Native and Multicultural Classrooms. Vancouver: Tillacum Library, p. 5-6.

Introduction of the course and review of the syllabus.
Activity: The Failure of John Fred

January 16, 2006: Curriculum Perspectives: Situated and Participatory Approaches

Within a situated participatory perspective, the complex ecologies in which individuals live and learn continually define and shape the cultural practices that constitute the activity of everyday life and learning.
Pease-Alvarez and Schecter, p. xv


Eliot Eisner. Five Orientations to Curriculum. In The Educational Imagination, pps.

Pease-Alvarez and Schecter, Preface.

Activity: 10 groups of 5. Examples from block.

Video: Beating the Streets

January 23, 2006: Who Cares?

When we refuse to contemplate contrasting ideas seriously, when we insist that current debates are about right and wrong rather than competing views and definitions of education, we cultivate the kind of cultural bigotry that has led to war throughout history.
Hinchey, p. 5.

…we take a third position—that No Child Left Behind provides us with an unprecedented opportunity to engage in critical dialogue about the consequences of policies and practices for all children in ways too rare before the legislation.

...writing fieldnotes is a process of “analysis-in-description.” Indeed, all descriptions are selective, purposed, angled, voiced, because they are authored.
Robert Emerson, Rachel Fretz, Linda Shaw (1995:105-6)
Willett and Rosenberger, p. 192


• Hinchey, Chapter 1: …Why Theory?and Critical Theory in Particular?Matters
• Pease-Alvarez and Schecter: Chapter 10: Willett and Rosenberger

Video: Ridley: A Secret Garden.

January 30, 2006: Unpacking “The Way It Is”

Do we carry on past routines habitually and thoughtlessly, rather than manipulatively? If the results are the same, are we then blameless for bad outcomes simply because we can say “But I never meant for that to happen?…Teachers would do well to ask themselves whether this outcome matches their own intentions in working with students, and which of their practices effectively silence the students. Hinchey, p. 31/32

Literacy is a communicative practice operative and variable in various communities (deCastell, 2000) and spread across the curriculum. Henry, p. 72

• Hinchey, Chapter 2: …Constructed Consciousness and Hegemony
• Alvarez and Schecter: Chapter 4: Annette Henry

Group Presentation

Video: Inequities in the Classroom

February 6, 2006: Rethinking What We Know

Simply put (too simply put, but we have to start somewhere), positivists conceptualize knowledge as a thing—essentially, as verifiable information born of scientific observation….For the constructivist, it the meaning assigned to the facts, rather than the facts themselves, that matters when we talk about knowledge, about knowing something.
Hinchey, pps. 39 and 45.

Differing and sometimes polarizing positions on homework have continued to characterize the public and scholarly debate.
Pease-Alvarez, Angellilo and Chavajay, p. 133


• Hinchey, Chapter 3: …Positivist and Constructivist Epistemology

• Alvarez and Schecter: Chapter 7: Alvarez, Angellilo, and Chavajay

Group Presentation

February 27, 2006: Te Kotahitanga.

The present study identified that while all of these factors could well influence the achievement of Mäori students, most of them were subsumed by the quality of the face-to-face, in-class relationships and interactions between the teachers and Mäori students as major influences on Mäori students' educational achievement.
Ministry of Education, Aotearoa/New Zealand, 2005

Google the name Te Kotahitanga and go to the Research Report.
Readings: (at least. Feel free to read the whole report.)
• Chapter 3 Narratives of Experience: Influences on Maori Students’ Educational Achievement
• Chapter 4: Effective Teaching Profile
• Chapter 7 Conclusion and Implications.

Activity: Jig Saw.

March 6, 2006 “Object Lessons: Critical Visions in Educational Technology.”

March 20, 2006 Rethinking Authority

[C]ritical theory suggests that while some people earn their positions by virtue of what they do, others acquire their positions by virtue of what they have. That is, they are equipped with cultural capital (a term taken from the work of French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu), a resource that nets them privileged positions, regardless of how much intelligence or ambition they may have—or lack. Hinchey, p. 82

…contrary to the prevalent view that marginalized students often lack the experience, aspirations, and social and cultural capital needed to pursue postsecondary education, they can, with the support of their parents and community, develop the incentive, knowledge, determination, and commitment that make possible high educational and occupational goals.
James, p. 218


• Hinchey, Chapter 5: … Cultural Capital

• Pease-Alvarez and Schecter: Chapter 11: Carl James

Group Presentation

March 27, 2006 Rethinking Agendas

My own experience provides the most telling example I can imagine to demonstrate the many problems that exist with standardized testing, one of the most common and most powerful sorting strategies schools use to monitor the educational race and divide students into groups of winners and losers.
Hinchey, p. 103

Theorists argue that critical literacy, especially when preformed by marginalized peoples, carries an array of promises and hopes for personal and political change.
Pendleton-Jimenez, p. 236

• Hinchey, Chapter 6: …Social Reproduction and Resistance
• Pease-Alvarez and Schecter: Chap. 12 K.Pendleton Jimenez

On-line responses to readings: Read and respond to two others.

April 3, 2006 Refocusing

Critical consciousness is the mental habit of asking ourselves what assumptions are guiding our actions; why we believe what we believe; who gains and who loses from the assumptions we endorse; whether things might ever be otherwise, and possibly better; and how we might effect change if we think it desirable.
Hinchey, p. 123

If teachers are to retain hope for themselves as agents of change, and hope for the children they serve, they need to gain an understanding of both the limits and potential of their agency and to develop a practical theory of social change…
Henze, p. 258

• Hinchey, Chapter 7: Critical
• Pease-Alvarez and Schecter: Chapter 13; Rosemary C. Henze

Group Presentation

April 5, 2006 So, After Theory, What?

It’s critical to remember that doing nothing is doing something. Doing nothing promotes the status quo by allowing it to continue to exist without challenge. Accepting the responsibility to formulate your own praxis is the alternative.
Hinchey, p. 151

• Hinchey, Chapter 8: …Praxis and Empowerment

Celia Haig-Brown ~ Last updated: 02-Apr-2007