Fall 2021 - EDUC 100W D400

Selected Questions and Issues in Education (3)

Class Number: 5276

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Th 11:30 AM – 2:20 PM
    RCB 7100, Burnaby



An introduction to a small but representative sample of basic questions and issues in education. Students will examine questions relating to: the concept or idea of education; learning and the learner; teaching and the teacher; and more generally, the broader contexts of education. This course also introduces students to different ways of exploring educational questions and issues from philosophical and critical analysis, to historical and cross-cultural studies, to empirical research. Cannot be taken for credit by students with credit for 300 and 400 level education courses. Writing/Breadth-Humanities.


Is there a connection between education and the desire to live a good and meaningful life? If so, what does that look like? And if not, should there be? What is education in the first place, and what does it mean to ‘learn,’ to ‘get’ an education, or to ‘be’ educated? What is schooling? Are schooling and education the same thing? What do education and schooling look like when seen from an evolutionary, a cross-cultural, a historical, and a current perspective? And, what does all this have to do with the goals, or aims, or ‘ends’ of living a life?

This course is aimed at anyone interested in the idea of education, whether you are seeking to become a teacher or not. You may simply wonder about education in our contemporary world, what it has been in other times and other places, or, frankly, you may be puzzled, or even frustrated, by your own educational experiences.

We will be applying three lenses to our study of education: an anthropological, an historical, and a personal one. Which is to say, we will be looking at:

  • what education has been in our evolution as humans on the planet (ie, what does our neurobiology suggest ‘learning’ is about, that ‘teaching’ should take note of);
  • what education is or has been in other cultures and other periods (ie, why are there, and why have there been, so many different orientations and approaches to teaching and learning on this planet?);
  • what is education, and what has it been, in the national context of Canada (ie, specifically, but not solely, what has education looked like both pre- and postcontact between Indigenous and Settler populations);
  • what has education looked like in your own life, what is an education to you, in light of your own experiences. This last aspect, your own experiences, and, importantly, your own questions, will figure significantly in our explorations.

As this is a “W” course (writing-intensive), it will also involve an opportunity to develop and hone your writing skills. There will be various activities and exercises to support this. The primary form of writing that we’ll focus on will be ‘reflective,’ or what we might call essais writing.

Course Themes/Topics (subject to modification as ideas or issues emerge, and in discussion with the class, in fact, you might say that our ‘curriculum’ in this course may well be more ‘emergent’ than ‘fixed’):

Human Evolution and Learning; Learning and Schooling across Time and Culture; What is Education ‘for’?; Education and Identity; Education, Learning, Schooling: “Docile Bodies” or “The Practice of Freedom;” The Indian Residential School System in Canada; Learning and Emotions: What’s ‘love’ got to do with it?; Technologies of Learning; What comes first, Teaching & Learning, or Learning & Teaching; On Psyche, Soul, & Education; Living, Learning, & Life.


The primary aim is for students to develop an informed and critical perspective on education that draws on contemporary, historical, and anthropological understandings, and to be able to apply that perspective to one’s own life, hopes, and aspirations.


  • Attendance and Participation in Class 10%
  • Commonplace Book/Writing Journal Activities 15%
  • Small Group Presentation 15%
  • End of Term Post-card/Poster Project 20%
  • Final Comprehensive Portfolio Project 40%


There is no final exam for this course.



There will be no texts to buy for this course, but there will be readings and other media, which we will access through the SFU Library system, or through various other opensources. In fact, a key theme of the course will be discussing the very idea of what a ‘text’ is, what reading is, and what dialogue is, in this multi-media, digital, and ‘connected’ world we are said to be living in, and what significance this has for learning, teaching, and education.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in fall 2021 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with approximately 70 to 80 per cent of classes in person/on campus, with safety plans in place.  Whether your course will be in-person or through remote methods will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

Enrolling in a course acknowledges that you are able to attend in whatever format is required.  You should not enroll in a course that is in-person if you are not able to return to campus, and should be aware that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the fall 2021 term.