Education Corner 31

Let us resume our Education Corner (EC) with an apology. I apologize for straying from the original purpose of the column over the past several months. I no longer will tell the story about the beginning teacher Mr. Navarro Navarro. While such stories may be appropriate for teacher and pre-teacher training, the case study or story approach was not for a column as this. It was an error on my part to attempt Navarro for EC. And to be honest I was uncomfortable from the beginning. It was something new because I had run out of information that I thought would help the Readers and the Public-at-large. It was not working and I am sorry for wasting K-Press space and the Readers time. For any Readers who did like Navarro I will send them to anyone who writes EC individually. We have many “Navarro’s” on file.
When in August 2015 we began EC, it was to be an informational column for the public. It was meant to give you information about what the Pohnpei Department of Education was doing to make improvements for our children. Too it was meant to show the public, particularly parents and caregivers, ways to help teachers and principals help the students. We explained the purposes and importance of FSM Accreditation. We stressed the absolute need for every school-public or private to be accredited. We explained that every school must have a School Improvement Plan (SIP) showing just how every school will try to improve during the next year.

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Education Corner 30

The New Year allows EC to review a little and catch any new readers with the story of Mr. Navarro Navarro. A young 22 year old Navarro begins his teaching career in a Roman Catholic School about the time of FSM Independence. He is hired as a last minute replacement for the regular 5th grade teacher who had taken severely ill. Navarro has the minimum requirements, a Bachelor’s Degree from an accredited college but he has no teacher education. We learned he was an excellent student himself and is very confident in the curriculum he will teach-that is he knows what to teach. However with no teacher training he has never learned the methods and strategies teachers use to teach—or how to teach. The young man has only his own experiences as a student and using those good experiences and good teachers he jumps right in and begins teaching the morning after he was hired. Readers have been asked to join Navarro in his journey to become a teacher. Readers can be assured Navarro makes mistakes but he learns from them. EC has been writing little stories about Navarro and asking readers to think like students and think critically. We use critical thinking questions which just mean the student or reader should explain the answer.

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Education Corner 28

DEC 2016

Last edition we left you with a very interesting situation. The young Navarro had found the phrase “Columbus discovers America” in the textbook and he had his 5th graders change the words to “One of the First Europeans to Come to the New World”. He had his students make the changes in ink. Navarro was informed he was breaking a school rule about writing in the textbooks. The students told him they were never to write in the textbooks and “never in ink”. So we were left with the critical thinking question-should Navarro have broken the school rule? Explain.
When giving this case study question to pre-service teachers or in-service teachers the answer is almost always a No. They stress it is important to follow school rules and marking in ink is something students should not do. And furthermore they say it was not right for Navarro to insist they do so. Teachers should not break school rules after all teachers are models for student behaviors. But they also realize that saying “Columbus discovered America” was like saying “Magellan discovered Guam” or “Pedro Fernandes de Quiros discovered Pohnpei”. Micronesians correctly learn that Europeans did not discover Pacific Islands—their own ancestors-the Polynesians, Melanesians and Micronesians were the first to inhabit and therefore discovered our islands. The use of discover seems almost an insult. So the No to breaking rules becomes a No but with further explanations. It is always suggested that Navarro should have gone to Principal Francetta and explained the problem and asked permission or that Navarro could write a separate page for each of them to put in their books—as an insert. But to be sure once they think critically a simple Yes or No is not sufficient. Even if our case study took place in Trust Territory Times when U S History was taught teachers do not want to see anything as Guam was discovered Guam or de Quiros discovered Pohnpei in any Micronesian history books. Teachers should not break rules as young Navarro did but they should correct curriculum when they find examples as Columbus discovering America and calling the native peoples Indians. Remember Columbus thought he had reached the Indies. Today’s U S textbooks do not make these errors but they did during the Trust Territory Times when Navarro was just beginning his teaching career.

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Education Corner 29

Our beginning teacher Navarro Navarro began teaching just at the end of Trust Territory Times and found there was really no Micronesian History textbook for his 5th graders. His class had only U S history texts. We saw that Navarro told his 5th graders to cross out “Columbus discovers America” and replace it in ink with “One of the first Europeans to come to the New World”. Because writing in ink in textbooks was against the school rules our critical thinking questions centered around—should Navarro have done this? Most case study readers agree that saying Columbus was the discoverer of the “Americas” is really not too appropriate. We noted that we would never say something like Magellan discovered Guam. So when students or teachers say No--Navarro should not have had students change the text in ink---there is always a No... But! A Yes or No that must be explained is the critical thinking part of the case study. In this instance usually education students want the change but somehow they feel Navarro should have gone to the Mt. St. Mary’s Principal and received permission.

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Education Corner 27

06 DEC 2016

First we do apologize for missing the Kaselehlie Press last edition and our case studies about our beginning teacher Navarro Navarro.
We last had our young teacher Navarro reviewing the textbooks he was to use on his first day of teaching the 5th grade. He found a Teacher’s Edition for English and he was grateful for it. The Teacher’s Edition showed him some ways to teach English. This is where Navarro had no training. He reviewed the textbooks and was confident he knew the entire curriculum or what he would teach. But now he had decided that that was not enough. He needed to learn about how to teach the material. All of the critical thinking questions have been about this. Navarro has already decided that a teacher must know both the curriculum and the ways to teach or methods of teaching.
In the last case study Navarro reviewed the science he was to teach. It was about animal science and plant science. But Navarro decided he would also like to teach what he had learned in environmental science in college and from his own observations. He thought it was important to teach 5th graders about sustaining our environment but he found very little in the 5th grade science book. So he decided he would teach it anyway. So the critical thinking question is this. Should a teacher teach about subjects not found in the established outlines and curriculum? Readers should not be surprised that rarely is this a Yes or No. And then when we ask for explanations or reasons the critical thinking process begins.

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