Thursday, October 22, 2009

My Education in Education

A number of people have asked me what I am studying here in Toronto and when I give them the 4 word answer they stare at me rather blankly and I know I've failed to convey what it is I'm doing here. So, here's the full-meal deal of what I'm doing for those who are interested or have time to waste and so my wife can read this and know what I'm doing as well! Ha. As well, I find the more I have to explain what I am doing, the more I refine exactly what it is I'm doing!

I am enrolled in the Ontario Institute for the Study of Education (OISE) in the department of Sociology and Equity Studies in Education (SESE). Within this I am enrolled in the Comparative, International, and Development Education (CIDE) program which is a collaborative program involving all the departments in OISE.

I am taking 3 classes this semester and completely neglecting any thought on a thesis - though in all reality the research projects I am working on in these classes are part and parcel of where I want to head with that.

Foucault and Research in Education and Culture: Discourse, Power and the Subject
This course examines the writings and theories of Foucault with an eye to how they can be used to challenge current thinking in educational research and practice. Foucault was a French thinker who looked at how we view history, how discourses are created and used, and how institutions (such as schools) have been created by these discourses. For my research paper in this class I am looking at how indigenous oral traditions have been devalued by the dominant discourses of rationality and logic and how we can re-center them for use in a critical pedagogy.

Indigenous Knowledge and Decolonization: Pedagogical Implications
This course looks indigenous and marginalized forms of knowing and how we might use them for educational and global change. The idea is to look at how we validate certain forms of knowing and to challenge how, not only have we devalued forms of indigenous knowledge, but also appropriated and commodified certain values or techniques as our own. The purpose then of using indigenous knowledges is for decolonization on a variety of levels. For this research paper I am still somewhat undecided (which is not a good thing!) and am considering looking at how we might use indigenous knowing as a methodology rather than merely as a topic of study.

Spirituality and Schooling: Pedagogical Implications
This is in the same series of special topics on pedagogy as the last class and looks at how we might inegrate spirituality into the classroom and research. It looks as spirituality as a vital part of the individual's lived experiences and looks to ways that we can include that in the classroom in hopes to create an environment that engages the learner in a more holistic way. For this paper I am going to look at how in Western cultures we have created this idea or discourse of spirituality in response to the hegemony of organized religion but in the process we have individualized the concept and forgotten the collaborative/communal nature of spirituality, and in doing so limited the power of transformation.

This hopefully gives you a loose idea what in the world I'm doing here. I am working with indigenous knowledge forms and all that entails to see how we can integrate them into school systems as to reflect the lived experiences of the students, the connect their experience to the schooling process.

That said, all this is bound to change to some extent as a I wrestle it down to a thesis question and then try and grapple with the thousand aspects that need considering.

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