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PME 811 Final Statement

For: Dr. Theodore Christou

Course: PME 811

This statement will provide an overview of my effort over the duration of this course. It will also
highlight aspects of my thinking and how it has changed or become more refined by reflecting
on the course readings and engaging in discussions.
In education, you always hear people say, dont reinvent the wheel. I think one aspect of this
course that has struck me was in trying to define terms at the beginning of the course. Rarely
have I felt such cognitive dissonance in my career in education. In going back to re-read a
number of my peers postings to write this statement, its evident to me that my thinking about
those definitions has changed. I can understand how innovation and creativity relate in a way
that I hadnt previously considered.
Another aspect of the course that helped me to grow as a learner was reading Chomskys
article about challenging power and participating in discussions related to that article. The most
salient point of the article, for me, is that individuals who have access to knowledge which
contradicts the status quo should feel an obligation to not be silent. In the same way,
discussions about the educational process, both teaching and learning, should not exist in a
vacuum. For me personally, this year in my teaching career has been extremely difficult and
keeping that lesson in mind lately has been important. I think pointing out a lack of
understanding in curriculum or needs of students is something I have taken to heart.
Although it didnt sound particularly interesting at the time, I surprised myself by reading about
education in Lower Canada in the mid 1800s. Id never really given much thought to how
education evolved in Quebec even though my life seems to have been affected by it. The
circumstances described in the article later played a part in my parents moving to Ontario from
Quebec because they had difficulty with the system there. Although it was a useful article to
read from that standpoint, it also forced me to think about how problems can be distilled,
sometimes incorrectly, into too simplistic a viewpoint. I, for one, had dismissed educational
problems in Quebec as being religious problems. In reflecting on this point, it has also further
forced me to rethink my tenure as a teacher at the Toronto Catholic District School Board. Id
like to go back and study how separate schools came into existence in Ontario because I think
the same circumstances, and problems, seem to be emerging in North America with respect to
charter schools. The same problems also exist worldwide with international schools that
determine their own curriculum without the benefit of a governing body.

Another assignment thread in the course that caught my attention was a discussion that peers
of mine had about mindfulness. Ive reflected on the idea of mindfulness in several different
respects. One approach to mindfulness, from my particular standpoint, has involved trying to
be a more thoughtful, reflective teacher. A reflective practitioner should have more success
and grow more over time than one who is acting strictly from day to day with no thought or
concern about a starting or ending point. Ive tried to make sense of what is happening at my
school from a standpoint of curriculum and student learning, and have used my colleagues as
sounding board to ensure that what I believe is pedagogically sound. Also, for my students, the
clarity of focus that mindfulness engenders is something that I wish to ensure is present in my
language classes. Quiet reading or contemplation at the beginning of a class helps students to
improve their focus on learning for the remainder of their time each day in my class.
Also, thinking about what constitutes citizenship and how we ought to be teaching children
about what it means to be Canadian resonated with me. I often meet people working
internationally who believe that the students they teach are international because they study
a Western curriculum. The link between international curriculum and internationalism is
tenuous at best. In the same manner that you can explicitly teach people to be Canadian,
thinking about citizenship has helped me to see global citizenship in a more tangible way.
Global citizenship, I believe, should be the hallmark of any education, especially international
education. Much is made of our students being global citizens, but the actual application of
those ideals rarely show up in a real, concrete way.
The most surprising thing about this course, though, is how much I liked the reading. I hadnt
expected to enjoy reading the philosophy articles so much. Ive developed a new appreciation
for how important educational philosophy is to education. I never really saw myself as any kind
of thinker. Problems solving was, and mostly still is, a practical day to day exercise with
everyday choices about how and why I would do things at school. Its really difficult to separate
the things you do from the things you think but I think taking this course has helped me both to
separate the two and also see them as part of one unit, as well, if that makes any sense.
Lastly, Ive also learned that I need to be more aware of what I am, or should be, reading for
professional growth. Ive struggled mightily with some of the material, but it has made me a
stronger person for it. Ive developed more confidence in my ability to be thoughtful and
reflective. Its been an excellent group of people to work with, and their collective participation
has helped my progress immensely.