Social Studies

How does engagement with Social Studies contribute to the development of children’s understanding of the world?

Criteria:

  • Drawing on your understanding developed through the module, demonstrate a broad knowledge and a critical understanding of the importance of Social Studies education;
  • Demonstrate an understanding of how this theory might be translated into appropriate practice with examples of teaching and learning;
  • Provide clear evidence of critical analysis and ability to reach reasoned conclusions based upon an evaluation of a range literature, events and artefacts;
  • Professional reflection on one piece of evidence to be drawn from the Social Studies Portfolio. Reflection should be framed around your engagement in the process as a learner, and as a teacher.

Continue reading “Social Studies”

Tinder for Kids?

Technology is a part of our everyday life, I am using my laptop to write this, with my phone sitting beside me, in a café with a TV in front of me, with music playing from a computer into various speakers and surrounded by people using all sorts of tech. In todays society, not being surrounded by technology is nearly impossible, and not owning a piece of technology is unheard of. However, going back nearly 10 years ago, I didn’t have my first phone until I was 15 and a laptop until I was 16. In comparison to my younger brother (10 years difference), he received his first phone at 7 and had an iPad by the age of 9, an Xbox by 12 and at nearly 14 knows more about technology than I do!

I enjoy technology, and love learning how to use different pieces of technology for multiple uses. However, when scrolling through Facebook recently, I found a disturbing video a Mother had uploaded highlighting the danger of leaving your child to download apps on a phone/iPad, and the importance of monitoring children when playing new games. (video below).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MEBuAbJFMlw

This is why I’m writing this blog post, to highlight the danger of not only mobile phones for young children, but the apps you can download in the app store. With this in mind, I thought I would start with apps that can HIDE what is really on people’s phones, such as Vaulty, Audio Manager and Calculator%. These three apps sound innocent enough, and all look like a different, safe app until clicked on. Once clicked on, you enter a password and inside is all the hidden photos, texts and information that children may not want you to find. With Vaulty specifically, hiding the information is not enough, when you enter the password incorrectly it takes a photo of whoever tried to log on and saves it to the app so the owner of the phone knows who tried to access the information. These apps are the first in deceiving parents/guardians and can easily be overlooked if going through a child’s phone.

The next app is one that I can’t really comprehend myself. It is an app called Yellow (now known as Yubo when I checked). The apple store describes this app as a “new social to make friends and spend time with them”. It looks like Snapchat, and functions like Tinder. It is rated for 13 onwards, and is advertised as a new way to make friends. The idea of a ‘Kids Tinder’ blows my mind anyway, any if used properly while being monitored MAY be a good way to make new friends, however, at the bottom of the app description, Yubo says that there may be:

  • Infrequent/Mild Mature/Suggestive Themes
  • Infrequent/Mild Sexual Content and Nudity
  • Infrequent/Mild Alcohol, Tobacco, or Drug Use or References
  • Infrequent/Mild Profanity or Crude HumorSurely this app cannot be allowed for 13 and above! Along with this, anybody can join the app and sign up and it is very easy to lie about your age. You can use fake pictures, have video calls and even swipe left and right exactly like Tinder! This app is aimed at teenagers to make friends, but as mentioned previously, anybody can use this app. When I typed in Yubo into google, the first link (after the link to download the app) was one news story saying two families had gone missing because of the app, that the content of the app generally was sexual and that there wasn’t many, if any security regulations on the app. Yet, many parents don’t know what Yellow/Yubo is, what these secret apps are, what the worst apps are and what apps can be a danger to children. Instead of listing every single app that may or may not be a danger to children, there are ways in which you CAN monitor your child in the online world.

With all these horrible apps out there, there are many ways to keep your children safe, the NSPCC is a great place to start. With a Parents Guide to being Share Aware, a guide to Apps children use the most and a guide to the Yubo/Yellow app (along with many more guides for various apps).

In a world where technology is everywhere, the best we can do, as teachers, parents, guardians and responsible adults is to educate our children to be safe and responsible online to the best of our ability.

 

It is beyond doubt that all our knowledge begins with experience

Philosophy
Comes from the Greek. Philo – love. Sophia – knowledge/wisdom.
Education
Comes from the Latin of ‘educare’ – meaning to ‘bring up’ or to ‘bring forth’. 

There is no clear definition to Philosophy or Education. But if we look at where the words originated from, and what they literally mean, we can see that the Philosophy of Education could be interpreted as to mean the love and knowledge of bringing up children. As a teacher – this would make sense as the philosophy of education is the application of philosophy being applied to the current education system. It is important as a teacher to make sure there is substantial knowledge of the main issues that face our education system today, and to philosophise on these issues.

So, in Philosophy there are many different schools or viewpoints. The two main (or most known) are Empiricism and Rationalism. Empiricists believe knowledge is derived from experience, and believe that when you are born, you are born with a ‘blank slate’. This blank slate means knowledge, opinions and experience all come from the world around us after time. On the other hand, there is Rationalism – the belief that knowledge is beyond our experience(s), and everything cannot rely completely on our senses when there are things such as ‘God’ and shapes. Important empiricists include David Hume, John Locke and the father of empiricism, Sir Francis Bacon. Important rationalists include Rene Descartes, Immanuel Kant and the most influential rationalist of all time Baruch Spinoza.

After studying Philosophy, and looking into both these views, I have never came to a ‘clear’ conclusion as to what my beliefs are, and in relation to education and Philosophy – I was really stuck. So, I took a ‘what Philosophical School to you belong to’ quiz (as you do when you have no idea). Apparently, I am neither a Rationalist or Empiricist – I am a Humanist. So, I went on Humanists UK to have a read and see if their views are similar to my own, and of course, there is a ‘How Humanist are you’ quiz. Apparently, I am 100% Humanist (learn something new everyday, and I am unsure if Humanist is different from Atheism, which I also know is a religion and not a philosophical school…?!?!). So, after looking up Humanism, I have concluded that I have some of the main beliefs of Humanism – but don’t think I actually am a ‘Humanist’. Therefore, I am going back to the ‘nature/nurture’ debate (Rationalism/Empiricism).

Empiricism
Empiricism is the philosophy of knowledge by observation. It holds that the best way to gain knowledge is to see, hear, touch, or otherwise sense things directly.” An empiricist would argue that we can only learn from our past experiences, as stated earlier.  In the idea of a school setting, empiricists argue that we know 1+1=2 because people have seen it in action throughout their lives. As observing adults, we know that we learn through our senses such as maths and logic. Immanuel Kant tried to join these together and argued that empiricism and rationalism didn’t work on their own – our knowledge does come from observation, however, these observations and experiences were constrained by the inherent structures of thought itself (aka, the mind is wired only to make certain observation).

Rationalism
Rationalism is the philosophy that knowledge comes from logic and a certain kind of intuition – when we immediately know something to be true without deduction, such as “I am conscious.” Rationalists hold that the best way to arrive at certain knowledge is using the mind’s rational abilities.” As previously mentioned, rationalists argue that there is more to learning and knowledge than observation, and that knowledge is one of those “gut feeling” kind of ideologies. On the flip side of the “1+1+2”! debate, the rationalist argues that you don’t have to observe the world or have any sort of life experiences to understand that 1+1+2. You just understand the main concept.

Constructivist?!?!?
The middle ground of rationalism and empiricism is constructivism. “According to constructivists, we can observe the world around us and gain a lot of knowledge this way (that’s the empiricist part), but in order to understand or explain what we know, we have to fit into an existing structure. That is, we have to construct a rational set of ideas that can make sense of the empirical data (that’s the rationalist part). Constructivism is a popular idea among teachers, who find it helpful in structuring lessons: constructivist teaching involves presenting new information in a way designed to fit in with what the student already knows, so that they can gradually build up an understanding of the world for themselves.” From this information, I believe I am a constructivist. It tells me that we gain knowledge through observation (our senses), but in order to understand what we already know – we use our rational sets of ideas and merge the two to form the best ‘answer’.

“Do I dare set forth here the most important, the most useful rule of all education? It is not to save time, but to squander it.” Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Learning outside the classroom

Recently, I discovered through Sue Cowley (Teach Early Years Magazine), that 3/4 of children now spend less time outside than prison inmates do, and with 3/10 children in Scotland overweight or obese (5-14) – primary schools need to have more outdoor learning and children need to be better educated. 

There are many benefits from learning and playing outdoors – from exploring the environment to just being out in the sun, and playing with peers to learning through their senses – outdoor learning couldn’t be more important in 2018.

Outdoor learning helps children understand our environment more – which of course in a world where plastic is destroying our oceans and  littering is killing our animals it is essential that children understand the impact that their actions can have on the environment. The idea of teaching children the life cycle INSIDE a classroom seems insane when all you have to do is walk outside to see the real beauty. Teaching children through a powerpoint that ‘littering is bad’ or that ‘we must recycle’ doesn’t really have the same impact as taking the children outside and looking at the environment for themselves – and see the impact our actions can have. By taking children outside, they will respect our planet and hopefully install morals and habits that will last a lifetime.

Learning to respect and look after our environment, wildlife, plants and oceans is not the only benefit of taking children outside. There is some evidence to suggest that teachers have a better relationship with their students if their students participate in outdoor learning. Teachers had noted that they had improved relationships with students and had better personal development for themselves. Learning outdoors can help combat underachievement and as seen from the image, there are overall benefits to teachers and students. (if the image isn’t clear – then click on this link here and scroll to the bottom. https://www.educationcity.com/blog/benefits-teaching-lessons-outdoors

After reading (through all the websites which have been linked in this blog and Teach Early Years magazine) I have found many many benefits to teaching outdoors. A summary of them include:

  • Better behaviour
  • Higher attendance
  • Improved motor skills
  • Respect and engagement with environment
  • Free and unlimited resources
  • More active lifestyle
  • Become more independent
  • Engages students to learn
  • Creates and supports creative minds
  • Improves communication skills
  • Better personal development (teachers)
  • Better awareness of environment and surroundings.

I’m aware that this list could go on and on, but I thought I would end my blog post upon a reflective point I heard in a lecture recently. Would you teach differently if your classroom had no walls?

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
– Mark Twain

Sorry this blog post is so short! Thought I would try to get into the hang of blogging again!

Mathematical Concepts in Childrens Books

Big Bear, Little Brother by Carl Norac.

Big Bear, Little Brother is a children’s book aimed at children ages 3-5. At a first glance, it seems to be a beautiful story about a child who has lost his way and Big Bear looks after him until he finds his Dad. However, when reading the book again with fresh eyes – there are many mathematical concepts throughout this book.

Here is a list of words that I found throughout the book that can be linked to maths:

  • above
  • quickly
  • huge
  • behind
  • side by side
  • slowly
  • “to make sure the ice was thick enough” – this is a good one, evaluating the ice bridge and deciding if it is thick enough to cross, a lot of mathematics in this!
  • different
  • down
  • edge
  • much taller
  • copy
  • “mound of snow”
  • faster
  • same
  • twice
  • stopped
  • distance

This is 18 different words that can be explored and worked upon – however, every time I read the book I keep changing how many ‘math words’ there are! I started this blog with ten, I am now on eighteen! The story itself can also have mathematical concepts and activities can be planned.

For example, some activities that can be planned could include:

  1. Making footprints in the snow, and counting the number of footprints, exploring different sizes and shapes, and seeing if patterns or symmetry can be explored
  2. Compare and contrast all the different words and bring this into the classroom (for example Big (bear) and little (brother). What else is big and little? Faster, slower, quickly, stopped. Look at all these and see if we can compare and contrast.
  3. In the last few pages of the book – it is dark and windy and the headlights shine on Big Bear and Little Brother. Maybe having a cross curricular lesson that involves lights, shadows, size, symmetry etc.
  4. Simple tasks such as counting how many pages there are in the book, how many times a word is said in the book, how many footprints are on each page etc.

These are just some little examples that can be explored through this book – however, there are probably 100 more different ways to implement this book in the classroom and link it to other subjects. For example Minik (little brother) falls of the cliff at the start of the book, and big bear catches him – this could be linked to science and could look at speed and force (eg drop things from a height and measure how fast they fall). It could also be linked with maths and languages – how many footprints are there? Tres! (Three!).

I have only read this book a few times, and only studied it in depth about 30 minutes ago. But in that time, I have noticed how mathematical concepts are featured in this book, and how important it is that when we are reading childrens books there can be different mathematical concepts in all of them.