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5) What are some of the stories students tell that capture their experience with education in your content area? What kinds of stories are they telling?
Although the students we interviewed did not explicitly share their personal stories with education in social studies, some of them mentioned what they would like to learn in the classroom. The material to be added implies the existence of the concealed stories. According to Bell, concealed stories are stories “embody the teeming, unruly and contradictory stories that leak out from the margins” (Bell, 2010, pp. 43). In other words, the material that students wish to learn in the classroom belongs to the stories that are “forgotten” or “repressed in the existing education of social studies (Bell, 2010, pp.44). For instance, during our second interview, one of the students mentioned that although learning about ancient history was interesting, she would be more willing to learn about how these ancient civilizations could relate to her family roots. In addition to her answer, another male student in the interview group added that it would be more exciting for him to learn about the history of the Indian Caribbean islands because of his Puerto Rican identity. Their demand implies the irrelevance of the course material to the students. Students only get to learn ancient history from an established angle without “critical commentary” such as the concealed stories the student indicated in their interview. The absence of “critical commentary that would open up understanding through connecting historical knowledge to contemporary patterns in race relations” (Bell, 2010, pp.46). The lack of “critical commentary” not only eliminates students’ interest in the course material but also prevents them from attaining critical literacy in social studies.
6) What are some of the implications of students’ ideas/stories for teaching, learning, and assessment in your content areas?
What we found interesting from our interview is that there is a certain conflict between achieving ideal learning outcomes and becoming critically literate in the content area. For instance, when the students are asked to explain why they thought education was important, most of them said that education was necessary for them to pass the standardized tests, get into college, and have a successful career in the future. However, in the classroom for educators and rising educators, we emphasize how important it is to cater to each student based on their particular knowledge and skills (Educator Rising, 2016, pp. 13). Specifically, educators should create an encouraging learning environment where students’ personal stories could be heard. However, based on our observation, students do not recognize the significance of their own stories based on our observation. Most of the students at Manhattan East are students of color, and the history of their ethnicities are not included in the social studies textbooks. Although a few of them mentioned that it would be more interesting if the social studies class could include their history, most of the students were satisfied with what they were exposed to in class now. The problem shown in the case is that although it is not absolutely necessary for students to feel the need to learn about their own history, it is the educator’s responsibility to inform and offer opportunities for them to learn about their own history. For future teaching, while guiding the actual learning process, educators should also emphasize the correlation between being able to learn and narrate student’s own history and attaining critical literacy in the content area.