Unit one: Critical Theory

I have been a teacher with Regina Public Schools for over 14 years and I can honestly say that every year, it becomes more and more obvious that schools are being used as agents for the maintenance of existing unjust power structures in society. I began to see this after my first Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction and also having been a Core leader in our school building.

Image taken from Creative Commons

The current state of our education system, the leadership in our school buildings  and Edtech education are easily woven together to sustain and to produce unjust inequalities in our schools today.  We are teaching students that in order to become successful they must be compliant in the classroom and in the school building. Our school buildings create factory model systems that are standing in the way of progressing EdTech leadership.

As Stephen and Kirsten discussed in this week’s unit, there is the asymmetry of power, a power that will always sustain itself, protect itself and of course reproduce itself.  As mentioned earlier, our education system is used as an agent of the powerful to continue to reproduce and maintain its power. Our own Saskatchewan government who continues to slash funding for our schools, is a power system that sustains, protects and reproduces. It uses its own teachers and students as agents of evil where change does not happen for the better for our students and their education.

As an educational leader, I have to admit that I am sometimes guilty as I have become a willing captive to this power system where I am not arguing against issues that are not always what is best for our learners. I am involved in the rat race where I am to agree with my division / our government and to follow and continue to feed the power that may be unjust for all learners. I am dancing with fellow leaders and my school division who are sometimes very comfortable with the asymmetries of power that is found within our neo-liberal government.


Image taken from Creative Commons

Mass media and Edtech has the negative potential to domesticate and robotize our teachers our students and their learning. It is becoming more and more obvious that teachers are encouraged to use varied software in the classroom that may be heavily marketed as educational software. I think about Google Classroom and how so many students and educators are using this program. How is it fair that many are forcing students to use these programs and are steering away from the pen and paper projects and how many projects are now becoming more digitized? Technically we are teaching students that if they punch in the correct numbers and letters,  that they are truly providing the right answers. Is this change truly fair for all learners? How do we truly know students have access to Google Classroom via phone and computer? With the new Edtech that is becoming more available for classroom, may it be also overwhelming for teachers to catch up to the digital age?

Every year I am noticing that the practical and applied arts are seen as the unimportant subjects in the high school setting and the classes are being cut…which is crazy. There is this hidden cognitive curriculum where we are constantly pushing for over 90% success rate in our school goals in writing, reading and math. We are teaching our kids to regurgitate the information.  We have to remember that school isn’t just about memorizing the ABC’S and counting from 1 to 3! 

 As John Taylor Gatto discussed in his You Tube video, our school systems are teaching the kiddos to be conformists where we are teaching them to be uncritical of what they are truly learning.

As and educational leader I am reminded that it is important to take critical leadership training. Being non critical in my own leadership is also being an agent of the existing powers. I know that myself and other teaching colleagues are hard working and doing what is best for our students and at times are being honest with our students and teaching then what they truly need to know not just by what we are told to teach. I can see more and more educators in my school building allowing our students to use their voices and to de-tangle from the relationships of power. Teaching our students to become more independent and to question things being taught. It’s not about having to write an exam at the end of the semester. More and more teachers in my school building are pushing away from the “normal final exam” and letting students choose a project for their final assessment. It’s not about having our students regurgitate what they learned for the past four months, it’s about celebrating what they learned by a final project of their choice.

As an education leader it’s not about being a conformist, it’s about being informed, not having tunnel vision, making sure that all learners are heard / supported and creating true positive relationships. This work will not happen over night. It is something that needs to be worked on daily and consistently. 

I am curious to know, how have other classmates in this course seen teachers in schools challenge these unjust powers in our society?