Responsibilities and relationships to the greater community
In addition to understanding one’s relationship to a school, classroom, or student, educators also have a relationship with the community in which a school is situated. The purpose of education is to provide individuals with specific content knowledge, but it is also essential to the practice of freedom in a democracy. Schooling provides students with the exposure to various ways in which people make sense of the world and provides them with strategies for thinking critically. This is accomplished indirectly in that students are exposed to the ideas and thoughts of others and given the support to have a dialogue in a safe and productive way in school. Schooling also more directly imparts these skills through the use of multiple ways of knowing, providing students with different strategies to find answers and evaluate information. For example, I am struck by an experience I had with a student in math. While working through a problem, a student realized that the answer could be found using more than one method and became quite excited. This awareness, combined with more experience, could reinforce the developing self-awareness and meta-cognitive abilities of this student (6a).
Recently, I also came across an article which explicitly tied mathematics to concerns in the community and society. The writers, educators themselves, worked with students to investigate issues of social justice using mathematics and science. Again, this is another way in which education in the classroom can be put to use in practical and meaningful ways (6a,c,e).
Education also entails an awareness of the changing nature of education policy and the effect this has on a community and its schools. This includes a general awareness of the changing trends in education and policy, but also the specific impact these changes have on a practical level. For example, in the professional development meetings I attended during student teaching, we spoke about MEAP results, the shift from Grade Level Content Expectations to Common Core Standards, and the proposed budget cuts (6b,f). However, the relationship with the community can also consist of things such as participating in activities in the community, such as taking a class to a play or performance, or bringing community leaders to speak with the students (6c,d,e). For example, we had a guest lecturer come in for four session to speak with the students about resources in Michigan, industry, the relationship between community and business and other topics which rooted the students’ learning about markets and economics in the community in which they live (6c,d,e).