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.

Today’s Case
With all the books before him he opened the Our American History book first and saw the first chapter Columbus Discovers America. He noted the picture that was on page two. It showed a man who was supposed to be Christopher Columbus putting a Spanish flag on some beach with a couple of Native Americans looking on. The young man smiled when he saw the word Indians. Everyone knew that Christopher Columbus misnamed these early inhabitants when he mistakenly bumped into North America and thought he had made it to India or the any rate, the young teacher told himself that he would point this fact out to the 5th graders the next day. And while the word “Indian” was necessary to clear up, this did not bother him nearly as much as the word discovers. He thought again to himself “I must clear this up and at once!”
The next day he began the history lesson by having the 5th graders take out the Our American History books and told them all to look at the picture on page two. He noticed that the class was very obedient and immediately took the books out without further prompting. He thanked the 4th grade teacher to himself as these 5th graders followed directions and busied themselves opening their books and they appeared to be looking at the picture. The young teacher then asked “Does anyone see anything wrong with this picture?” he began. There were no replies so he tried again. “What about the word ‘Discover’?—Does anyone see anything wrong with that?” Still there was no answer. With that the young teacher directed a young boy in the front row to go and get a dictionary from the bookshelf at the back of the room. He instructed the boy to look up the word ‘discovery’ and read it to the whole class. “To be the first to find or learn of” the boy began and the teacher stopped him. “Read that again, please Mark—I want to be sure everyone heard that” the teacher said. Mark repeated again “To be the first to find ...” and the teacher stopped him once more. “Everyone look at the picture” and “Look at what it says—Columbus Discovers America.” Finally, after further coaxing a light bulb seemed to go on over a boy called Pharis. Pharis said “Hey—how can Columbus be discovering a place and there are already people sitting there?” The young teacher smiled—they got it. In fact, the class seemed very proud of themselves. They nodded to each other and some even laughed. But the laughter stopped when Navarro said:
“Now take out your pens and cross out in ink where it says Columbus Discovers America.” No one moved. They had followed the directions he had given earlier and taken out their books in short order but now the entire class was frozen like statues. “What’s wrong?” the young man asked. “Cross out the ‘Columbus Discovers America’ so that no one can see it”. No one moved but a shy looking girl did raise her hand. “Yes Cathy?” said Navarro. He said the girls name while glancing at the name cards a boy named Scott had suggested they all make so Navarro could learn their names. Scott’s idea was a good one and Navarro was happy he had taken the student’s suggestion.
“Teacher,” began Cathy. “The Sisters never ... never ever let us write in the books” and then everyone was nodding. “Especially in pen ... never in pen.”
The young Navarro was not quite sure what he should do. The 5th graders had told him of the school rules and this one had made sense. No writing in textbooks and of course never in pen. “Go ahead and do it this one time” the young man said and assuredly added, “I am sure that the Sisters would want us to make corrections if we find errors, and I will tell them that I said it was o.k.” And he continued “If you like I will come around and do the corrections myself.” Pharis said that he would do it himself and most of the others nodded and agreed to make the changes. The young teacher went ahead and did the crossing out for three girls who kept shaking their heads back and forth and mumbling “Never in pen.”
With all the Discovers now crossed out, Navarro went around and put his own initials right next to the scratch outs. He proclaimed that now for sure they would not get in trouble as the initials would show the Sisters that he had authorized the change. With this done he said, “We must do more than cross out. We need to put in something better.” He then wrote on the blackboard—“One of the First Europeans to Come to North America.”
The class dutifully copied the phrase in their books after he assured the three worry warts that he would be around and initial the additions they were making. As he went from desk to desk making the changes official with his initials NN, he thought about school rules. He had better find out about the sch ool rules.
Plenty of good critical thinking questions here beginning with—Should Navarro have broken the official school rule? More to think about on this question in two weeks.