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.

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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

Early years and Language

I haven’t wrote a blog in a while, so I thought I would get back into writing regularly by starting with something small.
Currently, we have been studying talk with children, and how it is so important when we are teaching. I had never thought about talk in any great depth before, and even from the handful of inputs we have had already, I feel like I have learned so much!

Background
In the early stages, we know that children start to read and write. I always thought this started in Primary 1, and as teachers we were responsible for exposing them to books and to letters/words/etc. However, what I have found out is that this can start right from pre-birth. Children can hear what is going on around them in the womb, and they actually develop an accent AND a familiarity with those around them before they are even born. Children can hear Mummy, Daddy, brothers and sisters talking and from this the child hears these voices all the time. From birth, they are exposed to language constantly, and this can be in many different variations: signs, books, drains, art, videos and television are just to name a few (out of 35, 36 if you include art), and not only are they seeing this, they are engaging with it. Children are constantly learning, and they are discovering the beautiful world of language.

Which witch is which?
Language with early years is not learned through a workbook or being forced to read. Language is learned best through play. Children, if they are exposed to rich, supportive literacy play will be swimming in vocabulary and they will become immersed in language. One of the things I have learned from these lectures is that children are keen to learn, and that we shouldn’t discourage or dishearten them when they read a word wrong, we should praise them and support them for making the attempt in the first place. The English language, after all, is the hardest language on the planet. We have their, there and they’re, which and witch, dear and dear, and the list goes on. If that wasn’t complicated enough we also have words which are spelled the same, but depending on the sentence are read completely differently. For example, “I need to read this book” and “I have just read a book”. For children, it is understandable that this can make no sense, and when we knock them for attempting to read, we chip away at their confidence with language. There are plenty more complications with the English language, and the Wug Test is the perfect example.

The Wug Test is a perfect example. If we have one sheep, we call it a sheep, if we have two, we say we have two sheep. If we have one cow, we call it a cow, if we have two, we say we have two cows. If we have one fish, we call it a fish, if we have two, we say we have two fish (which, according to google can vary as well!) The Wug test shows the complications in the English language, and how this can be many different answers; Wug, Wugs, Wuges, or Wugilions (I know it’s silly, but so is the English language). So when we tell children they have it wrong, it discourages them. Instead, praise the attempt and tell them that it should be that answer, but in this case it’s not.  A supportive adult shares the child’s wonder and reassures the child that they are ‘nearly’ right so as to develop a positive risk taking attitude towards reading. All attempts need that support and positive feedback.

Teaching and me
We know that children learn from play, they learn from any environmental prints, books, hearing stories, and being challenged. When I am on my next placement, I hope to make sure that the children I teach have a rich, stimulating and fun environment to learn in, and that the remain curious and engage in their learning.

 

 

I am an atheist

img_1226I am a person who disbelieves or lacks belief in the existence of God or gods. I never got brought up this way, I have always been told to have an open mind and that I should never say never. I have many reasons for disbelieving in a God or gods, and until I started University I thought religion was pointless and a waste of time. A few of my reasons very briefly would be something along the lines of:

  1. Where is the evidence for God
  2. I don’t like the argument of design (the argument that says the world is so beautiful ONLY God could have created it)
  3. Since the entire universe and all of creating can be explained by evolution and scientific cosmology, we don’t need the existence of another entity titled God.

However, this post wasn’t about why I don’t believe in God or about how stubborn I was when it came to the argument about God. This post was to say that just having a better RME (religious and moral education) knowledge has let me open my eyes and become obsessed wbhnf52251ith now trying to learn about as many different religions as possible.

My RME knowledge before University was that I watched Avatar in RME in High School, I learned something about the 5 Ks in Sikhism and that Jesus was the reason for Christmas and Easter. Now, since beginning my University journey I have learned that all of these religions are so beautiful and interesting.  They have stories to tell, they are the reason people push forward in life and even if something bad is happening – their religion gives them hope. Now, for me, that is extremely important. Hope is what the world needs in a world filled with hate and abuse and Trump. Hope is a feeling of expectation and desire for a particular thing to happen, it is a feeling of trust and can make people in the darkest of places feel better because they have something to believe in.

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Taking away the fear of just teaching in general, I felt reasonably confident in all other areas of the curriculum in terms of how I felt about the subject. However, only a few subjects (P.E and the expressive arts being the others) made me worry about becoming a teacher and being able to teach without hating what I was teaching. I didn’t want to learn about other religions and I had no interest in learning. However, since I have researched on my own about certain religions (Hindu being my ‘religion of the moment’) I have learned a great deal – and not just about what others believe in but about other important areas. Such as our values, our family, our home, how we feel, how we are to others, kindness and again, hope. When I thought of RME before I though about boring lessons, now I look with new eyes and I am excited to go on placement and teach about the Holi festival, about why Hindus celebrate this and how it is important. I’m excited to incorporate art into this, I am actually looking forward to being out of my comfort zone teaching children about Religion, and with this I have opened my eyes to the Expressive Arts (however, I am still working on how positive I actually feel about this) and to other religions also.

To the people who know me really well. They know how I feel about religion. They know that my views are so strong against the belief in a God etc. However, since looking into not even a handful of religions my mind has been opened. It turns out RME is completely me. It is about kindness(which, by the way – Random Acts of Kindness Day is on Friday 17th Feb), it is about love, trust, respect, believing and hope.