Agency Reconsidered

The papers this week, again like previous weeks, touched upon bridging theory to practice in the classroom. Referring to Ares’s (2008) paper, tackled the question of what does student-centered learning look like in the classroom, not just in theory.

Ares’s explanation of the networking classrooms that seeks to draw on students’ knowledges and expertise. Through collaborating with their peers, students were developing their strategies and solutions to the problems encountered in class. My one concern or question for this study was the idea of keeping a balance between structure and agency. On the one hand, students were allowed to co-create meanings on the other hand, the resources and circumstances came directly from the teacher, in what I feel in a more top-down fashion. I do believe we need to provide the tools for agency for students (either facilitating it in the classroom or drawing from the cultural tools they already practice), but there is always to some degree a need for structure. In this case, I am willing to argue that it inhibited the learning in the classroom.  Also, I enjoyed reading about Area’s argument about including Art in the STEM acronym. I think this is a worthy debate to have because it challenges us all to consider how scientific art can be. In addition, it challenges our notions of what we consider science to be. If we were to include art in STEM, how will that change (or not change) or ideas of science? Also, will it impact on positivist notions of science if Art was added to STEM?

Structure can indeed promote, but and of course as we discussed in class, inhibit agency. This claim was taken up by Rainio (2009) in the context of how is constructed gender in the classroom. As a side note, Raino 2009 did tie in to the empirical readings I have done in my Youth and Civic Engagement course. The literature covered in this course so far demonstrates that when underrepresented youth are exposed to racial/ethnic discrimination they are more likely to engage in social movement and youth organizing behaviors than their majority counterparts.

The topic of Raino could be compared and contrasted to Iris Morison Young paper How to Throw Like a Girl. Going back to Rainio, learning from observation of gender roles (for instance) is often an implicit (or latent) type of learning that is not always observable (2009).

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