QUESTIONS: Cultural Identity We develop our individual and cultural identity as we define ourselves in relation to our environments, in our relationships with others, and in our participation in groups. We explore alternatives, make choices, and decide what we believe in, based on the experiences we have and our interactions with others. Think about the factors that have influenced your own cultural identity development. How have these factors influenced your beliefs and values? Cultural identities are a complex weave of the cultural groups we are a part of and influences on our individual cultural identities are always changing. Levels of education, types of employment, current life roles, and personal interests can change in subtle or radical ways our view of the world. Have your beliefs and values changed over time? Why and how? An awareness and understanding of the role of culture in the classroom can play a significant role in a child’s development. Do you feel that your teachers positively acknowledged your unique cultural identity? Explain. Statements and questions are paraphrased from Understanding Culture from the National Institute for Urban School Improvement QUESTIONS: Learning Theory Dewey believed that children’s background and interests should form the basis for curricular planning and should be considered when teachers plan learning experiences. Does this describe your overall experience with elementary school? Middle and high school? College? Dewey believed that optimal learning and human development occur when people are confronted with REAL (authentic) problems to solve. Do you agree? Why or why not? Dewey thought that learning should be engaging and fun, but not without purpose (e.g. should have a learning objective). Think back to a time when you had FUN while LEARNING. What was it about that experience that made it fun and purposeful at the same time? Do remember the objective of the lesson? Did it have a positive and lasting impact? Why do you think it did OR why didn’t it? Dewey writes a lot about community building in schools and social groups. Have you ever felt that you were a member of a genuine community? A learning community? What characteristics did the group have? Montessori believed that children should be allowed to work independently for extended periods of time. Do you remember a time in your childhood when you felt independent? If so, describe the experience and how it made you feel. Montessori believed that students should be afforded clean, beautiful, and orderly environments. She also believed that children should have furniture and tools that were especially made for small hands and bodies. Now imagine that you are 5 years old and you just met Dr. Maria Montessori. What would you say to her? Montessori believed in careful observation of children in order to plan for instruction and curriculum. What would have Montessori observed about you as a child? Montessori believed that children learn best from multisensory experiences rather than paper/pencil worksheet types of tasks. When you think back to your preschool and elementary school years, how do you remember your teachers’ instructional methods? How did you feel about these methods, whatever they may have been? QUESTIONS: Social-Emotional Development (emphasis on Erikson and Maslow) Read the Favorable Outcome and Unfavorable Outcome columns. How do these outcomes fit with you? When you look at each ‘crisis’ what outcomes do you identify with most? Describe an incident in your own life that demonstrates a particular stage. For the purposes of this activity, YOU MAY IGNORE the ages that Erikson associates with each stage. Did you have a ‘favorable’ or ‘unfavorable’ outcome? When you get to stages that you have not been through yet, think of people whom you know well. What is it about their behavior that makes you think they are going through this stage? As you consider Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, what needs are being met for you? How does having an unmet need impact your motivation for learning? Describe a time in your life when you had unmet needs. How did this impact how you faced the world? How self-actualized are you at this point in your life? QUESTIONS: Moral Development Kohlberg believed that people progress in their moral reasoning through a series of stages (pre-conventional, conventional, post-conventional). What stage do you think you are in now? Why? Think of a time you might have been in a different stage. What behaviors did you demonstrate that leads you to believe that you were in this stage? Do you think you are in the post-conventional stage now? Why or why not? Carol Gilligan, a noted researcher and critic of Kohlberg, suggested that Kohlberg’s theories were biased against women, as only males were used in his studies. She feels that girls are more concerned with care, relationships, and connections with other people and that this affects how girls handle moral dilemmas. Do you think you (as a male or female) handle moral dilemmas differently than your gender opposites? QUESTIONS: Cognitive Development & Intelligences Piaget believed that children pass through the same, predictable stages when developing thinking skills and that children in the toddler & preschool stages lack the ability to think logically (i.e. in favor of magical thinking). Think back to your childhood. Do you recall a time when you didn’t think logically about something (e.g. belief in Santa Claus)? Talk about that period in your life. Do you think your parents, teachers, and other caregivers were knowledgeable of Piaget’s Cognitive Stage Theory? What would it look like if they were? Piaget talked about formal operations as the highest stage of abstract, deductive reasoning. Are there times when you feel these high levels of cognition are difficult for you? Are there certain topics in which you think very deeply? If so, why do you think that is? Vygotsky believed that talking (both out loud and with an ‘inner voice’) is necessary to clarify important concepts. That is, putting language to thought helps to deepen thought. Does quiet, reflective time which allows you to hear your ‘inner voice’ help you process your thoughts? Explain. Does talking about a given topic with peers help you process your thoughts? Which, if any, seems dominant for you? Vygotsky writes a lot about scaffolding instruction and learning within the zone of proximal development. Describe a time when you were trying to learn something and the content or ‘content catalyst’ (e.g. lecturer, text) was difficult or “above your head”. How did this make you feel? Describe a time when the content or ‘content catalyst’ was too easy or not challenging. How did this make you feel? Vygotsky believed that a child on the edge of learning a new concept can benefit from interaction with a ‘more knowledgeable’ peer and that social interaction plays a fundamental role in cognitive development. Is this true for you? Why or why not? How do you feel about being the ‘More Knowledgeable Other’ in a peer-learning situation? How, if at all, does it help you understand the content better? Gardner believed that people are not born with a given amount of intelligence, which serves as some sort of limit; instead, each person has potential across the intellectual spectrum (see below). What do you perceive to be your strongest areas of intelligence? Explain why. Do you think you would be different now in any way if your intelligences were validated by your parents, teachers, peers? Did any of your teachers help you nurture your intelligence profile? How so? Have you ever felt that your intelligences were not acknowledged? Explain.