March 23rd, 2020
When I think back to my mathematics classes prom K-12, I do not have very many positive memories. I have never really liked math to start with, and the way that I was taught math during school only made things worse. In earlier grades, I was a good math student and found it satisfying to get questions right. Although there is a negative feelings in today’s world about mad minutes because of the anxiety it causes students, these were my favourite part about math. I enjoyed the simple equations that only took a second or two to complete. As I got older, math started becoming a process involving multiple steps to find an answer. This is where I began to struggle. I think my downfall came partially from my lack of patience, but in higher levels of math, I did not understand the content because many of my teachers only taught one way of finding an answer. Math was always conveyed to me by using one method that worked for my teacher, and I had difficulty with some units because I didn’t think the same way that he/she did. After I finished high school, I also realized that when I was younger, I wasn’t absorbing many of the math problems, I was just memorizing them. It was easy to memorize single digit times tables and not have to stress by brain at all to think of an answer. I didn’t have my own way of finding the answer, I just knew what the answer was by looking at the two numbers. In a way, I think that my “oppression” came in later years because a lot of my math teachers did not find alternative ways to teach the subject, and therefore more students had difficulty liking math or doing well in it. A lot of the content was rushed when it was being taught, but if the pace slowed down a bit more I believe I would have found math more interesting.
Three ways in which Inuit Mathematics challenge Eurocentric ideas of Mathematics:
Poirier states that Inuit children use Inuktitut, which is their first language, from kindergarten until grade 2. From grade 3 to the end of high school, they are taught mathematics in either English or French, and as of 2005 they are also taught in their own language as well. This is a very interesting dynamic to add to any subject because it would make it that much harder learning something in an unfamiliar language.
Inuit mathematics differs from Eurocentric mathematics because Eurocentric math emphasizes the importance of graphing, and solving equations. Inuit math focuses on culture, the environment, and language.
3. Delivery of Content.
Many teaching methods in Inuit culture involve listening to elders and following their path, which is different from what I experienced as I learned from a Eurocentric viewpoint. Elders have a tremendous amount of respect in the Indigenous culture, and they gain a lot of their information from learning from ancestors.
My upbringing and schooling shaped a lot of my views of the world. I grew up and went to school from grades 6-10 in Warman, Saskatchewan. There was some diversity among the students and teachers, but for the most part the school was made up of white people. I was one of the very few black people in the whole town and luckily, it didn’t really affect me or make me uncomfortable. In grades 11 and 12, I was primarily in Calgary for school and I was among a more culturally diverse population. The school that I attended had many Black people like myself, as well as a variety of other races. Growing up with surroundings that were both culturally diverse and not culturally diverse during different points in my life has really worked out for the better for me as a person. I was always aware that I was considered a “visible minority” but I always have had great friends and family that did not make me feel different. As I continue to learn about the discrimination that people of colour and racial minorities have dealt with in the past, it gives me perspective of how fortunate I am to be in a time where there is increasing education about racial issues.
I found it very well put how Chimamanda Adichie described her “single story” as “showing a people as only one thing over and over again, and that is what they become” (9:21). One single story that comes to mind from my schooling was how boys were always considered better than girls at sports. For example, I went to school with some boys that were better than some girls at hockey, and some girls that were better than some boys at hockey as well. I think the “single story” can be used for things besides race, and this is just one of many examples of how a single story is not always true. There are multiple opinions out there but as for determining who’s truth matters, having an unbiased an open mindset is very important.
During my time attending Kindergarten to grade 12, I can recall a few examples of when I would have experienced citizenship. I went to school mostly in Warman, Saskatchewan and we had a program called the SRC. This program gave me some insight on what it meant to volunteer your time to help other students. Besides the SRC, students were expected to volunteer their time to score keep basketball games, be the flags people for football games, and help out with set up and take down for other sporting events. We also had to complete volunteer hours for our Wellness 10 class which was very open. I chose to spend my hours helping out a novice hockey team during practices a few times. These small acts of service did come with a feeling of satisfaction for me because I enjoy helping others out. Other than that, most of the memories that I have of forming my self- identity and awareness of what it meant to be a good citizen came from good parenting at home. I feel lucky that my family situation gave me the opportunity to learn from awesome role models, but unfortunately not every student has had or will have the same luxuries that I had.
There are three types of citizenship that are mentioned in What Kind of Citizen?: The Politics of Educating for Democracy by Joel Westheimer and Joseph Kahne. The first kind of citizen that they mention is the personally responsible citizen, who is described as a citizen “who acts responsibly in his/her community by, for example, picking up litter, giving blood, recycling, obeying laws, and staying out of debt” (p. 3). The second type of citizen is the participatory citizen, described as “those who actively participate in the civic affairs and the social life of the community at local, state, and national levels” (p. 4). The last type of citizen mentioned is the justice oriented citizen. This citizen uses “rhetoric and analysis that calls explicit attention to matters of injustice and to the importance of pursuing social justice” (p.4). Based off of these definitions, I would say my school was mostly participatory focused. Kids at our school were always persuaded to come to play sports, and if they didn’t come watch they were encouraged to come watch and support their peers.
February 25th, 2020
After examining the Treaty Education videos, articles and the email that inquired about ways to approach the education of Treaties in the classroom, it is quite clear that this is an area that is severely lacking in our school system. My response to the pre-intern student would go as follows:
First off, I would like to acknowledge you for taking the initiative to seek guidance. It is enlightening to see that our future generation of teachers is beginning to understand the importance of Treaty Education. As for my advice, I will begin by saying that forming your own identity as a teacher sometimes requires a willingness to stand out. It is unfortunate that your Coop teacher does not see the value of Treaty Education because there are no First Nation students in the class, but you could start by having a conversation with them to stress why you think it is relevant to the classroom. Some strong argument points include:
- Treaty Education is relevant to all Canadians no matter their culture, race, or background because it is a large part of our history. Every single Canadian is a descendant of a settler, or is a settler themselves. By acknowledging the ceremonies that took place on our land so that future generations like ourselves could be here, we are recognizing that there was a time where we had to work together in order to make the future attainable for all Canadians.
- As Canadians, we can learn a lot about our own culture through the ways of Indigenous cultures. Indigenous culture involves a community like mindset that makes everyone part of the same team. Every member is a contributing member to the society, and this can be used to teach Canadians about a desirable culture. Canadians can use this framework to help better themselves, whether they are of First Nation descent or not.
- Teaching students about Treaty Education is still a learning process for teachers as well. Some teachers are reluctant to speak about Treaty Education because they don’t think their knowledge is adequate. The important thing to remember is that even if Educators are not fully educated about this subject, bringing up conversations about Treaty Education can help teachers gain more knowledge. The key is to open up conversations so that the subject becomes more familiar and less uncomfortable.
- Treaty Education is also important when looking at race as a whole. By the time people become adults, the value of certain races is already engraved in their minds because of the stereotypes that society applies to these different racial categories. If we as teachers stress the importance of Indigenous ways of knowing and Treaty Education from the time students first enter the school system, it teaches them to accept other races. If we place a high value on inclusivity of all races, the students will have a higher chance of appreciating and respecting the diversity around them.
- Lastly, I believe that learning about the history of Canada in general is beneficial to give us a sense of the people that were first involved with the evolution of our country. Giving students some perspective of how First Nation peoples have had a large contribution to our land can open up more conversations about the journey to reconciliation. Many Canadians are unaware that they are colonizing First Nations people by refusing to have conversations about the need to repair their relationships. Colonialism is defined by Dwayne Donald as the “extended process of denying relationship” (On What Terms Can We Speak, 12:15). Canadians and First Nations people should be aiming to repair their relationship instead of denying it, so it is important to teach the next generation the value of this relationship so that the future is brighter.
I hope these points offer a strong argument in your push to increase the awareness of the value of Treaty Education.
Levin’s article “Curriculum Policy and the Politics of what Should Be Learned in Schools” discusses the process of how school curriculum is manufactured. The article suggests that the majority of the curriculum is decided on by government officials, with the aid of textbook companies, professors, teachers and other experts in the field of Education. When the curriculum is under review, these experts determine what changes should be made and what should stay the same. This a long process because it requires a lot of work to find a process that the majority of professionals agree upon. What I have gathered from reading this article is that students have no say in the way the curriculum is structured. This is problematic because I believe that although these so called “experts” do have a wealth of knowledge, many of them are decades removed from the school system. There are evolving ways of learning and teaching subjects that may not be used that could be beneficial, but the resistance to change is guarding the schooling process from reaching its full potential. I believe that children should have some say in what they are being taught, and I also believe that the general public should be able to give their ideas for the experts to consider.
Saskatchewan Treaty Education Document
After reading the treaty education document, it is good to see that Indigenous contributors to the article have created a document that can be used in aiding with the Saskatchewan curriculum. The article states that the contributors used Indigenous elders as main consultants. The article focuses on the importance of Treaty Education, which could play a factor in causing tension between the main contributors who construct the curriculum. Obviously the Indigenous people place a high value on understanding their way of learning, but unfortunately other curriculum experts may not share the same passion. This goes along with the Levin article because it shows yet again the resistance to change that is demonstrated through the curriculum. This shows how much value the school system places on educating students about a large part of Canada’s history. Indigenous culture has had a large impact on Canada as a whole, and Saskatchewan is one of the provinces that could benefit from discovering more of our Indigenous roots because we continue to have a large Indigenous population.
Learning From Place
A. Ways that reinhabitation and decolonization are discussed:
1. Connecting the elders to the youth in the community
2. A strong emphasis on the connection to the land, specifically the river. Nature has a large impact on youth’s spiritual, emotional, physical, social, and intellectual development.
3. Youth having their own voice in the community, and being able to express themselves
4. Creating audio documentaries about nature as a way to re-discover traditional methods of learning
5. Teaching of ways to see the world
6. Cree language and culture being integrated into the community
7. Elders that share their knowledge of experience and teach through their experience
B. How can these ideas be adapted for my own personal benefit?
My idea of my future classroom includes an active, talkative class that learns through experience and hands on work. I also want to incorporate nature as much as possible, because I think that learning in an outdoor setting gives students a sense of freedom because they aren’t sitting in a desk, in between four walls with a pen and paper. A different physical setting can be very beneficial to students just to get them to look at their surroundings, and think about things differently because of their surroundings. Being outdoors also has huge benefits because kids can move. I remember when I was in elementary school I always loved going on field trips and going outside for an hour or two because I felt more engaged, and I wasn’t just sitting and listening to the teacher talk. Making connections to the land is also something that I value as a person, but I never really gained an appreciation for how nice it is to have a sense for my surrounding until I experienced it for myself. The experience that sticks out for me happened in 2014. I was playing hockey in Calgary, and our team went on a four-day camping trip in the mountains without cellphone service. We did activities like starting our own campfires, relay races, and other team bonding activities. This trip really opened my eyes to how nice it was to just be in the moment without our phones, and to be able to come together as a team gave us a sense of family. The feeling of family reminds me a lot of the Indigenous culture that is talked about in this article, but also in other classes that I’ve taken. We were our own community for a few days, and we all came together when others needed help.
January 27th, 2020
Common sense within the school system tells us that the traditional “good” student is attentive, follows guidelines, meets outcomes, and completes assignments exactly how the teacher or the curriculum wants them to be completed. This leaves very little room for students to show their creativity because if their ideas don’t match up with the ideas of what and how good students are “supposed to learn,” then the ideas are viewed as unproductive. This is a problem because of the amount of diverse learning styles each individual in a typical classroom has, and the lack of adaptability to conform to these learning styles makes it even more difficult for students to understand class content.
The students that benefit from the idea of what students “should” be learning are the type of students that follow directions very well and can produce work that lines up well with the curriculum. The student’s that may struggle with this idea of common sense would have more ideas that are outside of the box, but not necessarily wrong. Depending on the teacher, however, the second type of student could benefit if their teacher’s idea of what is deemed as common sense followed a more open concept that allowed students to explore the best ways that they learn. As stated in Kumashiro’s “Against Common Sense: Preparing Teacher’s for Crisis: What it Means to Be a Student,” students sometimes respond better to teaching methods that are less structured, and allow more freedom.
Since it is so limiting, the common sense that is structured and precise in school systems makes it very difficult for us to come to the realization that there are boundaries that can be pushed to help students express themselves, all while achieving the same goal. What students should be learning is one thing, but how they are taught can make a world of a difference as far as getting the most out of each student in the class.
January 20th, 2020
For my critical summary assignment, I’ve decided to base my research off of the article “Seeking Race: Finding Racism” by Towani Duchscher. The topic of this article focuses on the author’s experience with racism within the curriculum, and shares some of the real life, racial experiences that she has went through during her time attending school. This article is very powerful to me because like myself, Duchscher comes from a Caucasian family, but is a person of colour. Her experiences are portrayed through poetry and journal like entries that come from specific periods in time in her life.
Duchscher explains how her racial identity does not dwell in the hidden curriculum, but instead, it is nullified. Race as a part of the “null curriculum” in simpler terms means ignored or not included. This is concerning for people of colour because of the lack of acknowledgement of diversity within the school system, and as Duchscher puts, it is “teaching students that black lives do not matter.” I feel that it is important to include students of all races and to continue to learn as much as possible about different cultures and backgrounds, so the fact that she believes the school system isn’t properly educating kids about equality raises some questions. One question that really stuck out for me from the very beginning of the article is when the author asks, “What will my children learn about race?” This quote has great significance to me because it makes me think about the future generations of kids going through school that are potentially not being educated about race and diversity.
My plan for this critical summary is to find two other articles that share the same aspect of lack of racial education, and enrich the topic of race in the curriculum through supporting evidence. My hope is to similarities in the two supporting articles, but with more depth than my original article by Towani Duchscher.
January 13th, 2020
The Tyler Rationale has set a standard for Education for decades, and the basis of this curriculum structure is still used in schools today. The structure can be best described as a system that implements organization across all subjects that is value neutral, and focuses on education experiences that are primarily concerned with the final evaluation. Personally, I can think of many instances that I experienced aspects of the Tyler Rationale without even knowing what that was. For example, having a set schedule on a day to day basis, covering specific subjects on specific days, and learning about these subjects in a specific order applied to my schooling experience. Another example of an educational experience of mine that applies to the Tyler Rationale is the outer curriculum that involves social skills and learning how to be around people. This “curriculum” isn’t written anywhere, but has its own structure as well. Learning how to behave appropriately among dozens of socially diverse people is a skill that isn’t directly taught by teachers, but having boundaries and learning important values like respect and accountability are vital for each stage in life. I can think of many times as a young student where my teachers made sure I was using proper manners, respecting my classmates and other teachers, and making sure that I was putting in the necessary work to get my assignments done.
The Tyler Rationale has aspects to it that are still put to use in schools today, but the limitations have great influence from the students themselves, and the teachers as well. It is largely the teacher’s responsibility to put their students in the best position possible to succeed, and not every student learns things the same way. This becomes problematic if the teacher becomes glued to the curriculum, and can’t make adjustments based off of the needs of their students. The curriculum has an excellent resource to make sure that students are meeting the necessary outcomes, but at times, slight adjustments to the way that material is being presented may be required in order for students to grasp the content.
January 6th, 2020
Kumashiro’s “The Problem of Common Sense” raises some interesting points about how Education is oppressing students by labeling certain practices as “common sense.” Aspects such as Monday to Friday school days from early in the morning to mid-afternoon, and classes that are taught in a closed space are examples of practices that are so routine and unquestioned that it becomes common sense. Schools have been generally the same for so long that creativity and open-mindedness to keep the students engaged is fading. The structure of a day in the life of a student typically has very little diversity as far as ways of learning. Students are so used to the same thing every day that it is becoming common sense for them because it is what school is traditionally supposed to look like. The lack of variety as far as different learning dynamics and setting can have an effect on subject material, making it seem dry. This leads to students memorizing the content rather than comprehending and absorbing the material and applying their knowledge.
It is important to pay attention to the “common sense” that students and teachers acquire so that as teachers, we can look at different ways to relay information, and so that the needs of all types of students are met. An example of changing traditional common sense would be to take a class outside, just for a change from the traditional classroom setting. Some students would appreciate the change in scenery, while other may not, but it is important to address the needs of all students, and creating a balance of variety and familiarity creates a more diverse group of students. Challenging traditional school structures also keeps students on their toes so they acquire multiple ways of looking at material. Knowing when to add variety into a structure is a skill in itself, and it is important to not change things too often to the point where it becomes excessive. However, finding the right balance between familiarity, variety, and challenge is key to getting the most out of students.