Summary of Learning

In this video, you can follow me in my journey of learning throughout the course of ECS 210. The new understandings that I highlight throughout the video have impacted me as an educator and has influenced my teaching pedagogy. The video reflects my understanding of curriculum and how I will approach this new understanding, as well as, touch on some uncomfortable learning experiences I had along the way. I hope you enjoy and thank you for watching!

Reading Response 10: Curriculum as Numeracy

Throughout my schooling experiences in elementary and high school, I never thought about whether or not the teaching or learning encompassed aspects that were oppressive or discriminating. I, more or less, just went to class to learn and believed that my teachers were educating us in the best way possible. However, now that my learning and lenses have evolved, I now know and realize that my schooling experience regarding mathematics shared aspects that were oppressive and discriminating for some of the students around me. I remember my classes being fairly diverse with students of all ethnicities, cultures, and even abilities. After reading Little Bear’s article, Jagged Worldviews Colliding, I realize that my previous experiences were all centered around a Eurocentric perspective: a linear, singular, static, and objective approach to learning and teaching. In using this approach, it discriminated against other students who may not learn this way either due to their various abilities or how they grew up culturally. Instead, this learning aspect was focused and stuck on the traditional White way of learning rather than exploring the different ways in making education more inclusive such as through traditional storytelling of the Aboriginal peoples.

Poirier’s article, Teaching Mathematics and the Inuit Community, and Dr. Gale Russel’s lecture, both highlight how Inuit people learn and teach math in ways that challenge the common Eurocentric way. One way in which this is evident is through how they teach. Unlike Eurocentric teachings, where the students are seated in desks, write down all the answers to “show their work”, and raise their hand to share or speak, Inuit teachings focus on the importance of relationships, oral teaching, and connections to everyday life. As Dr. Gale Russell highlighted, the Inuit culture encompasses the idea that math is a subject where relationships and personal experiences should be upheld. These traditional mathematic teachings that focus on everyday life includes understanding a sense of space to orient where they are, using your own body as measurements for sewing, and many other examples. Another way in which Inuit mathematics challenge Eurocentric ideas is how the students will never be asked a question in which the teacher believes they won’t know the answer.  In my experience in school, teachers would always ask a question and essentially wait until students either guessed or came up with an answer. Finally, as previously mentioned before, Inuit mathematics focuses on relating everything back to everyday life. While out in the open, students are taught about shapes and how they can use an Inukshuk to transmit messages, shield them from the wind, and even create a hiding place when hunting. They also relate measuring tools, such as calendars, to the changing environment around them. I believe that incorporating these ways of teaching and learning math would be very beneficial to all students as it gives them a different perspective in learning as well as gives them a better chance to relating what they learned to their everyday life.

Reading Response 9: Curriculum as Literacy – Lenses and Single Stories

Looking back at my own schooling experience, I realize that it taught me to “read the world” with a Eurocentric view. As a privileged, white person I didn’t see the problem in this learning. However, now I realize and understand the impact this would have had on the students who were maybe not as privileged or who were not the dominant race. Many of the books I read in school were centred around the perspectives of “old, stale, white, men” as Katia would say. We also failed to learn about or even showcase different diversities such as culture, gender, abilities, etc. If we happened to view or learn things in different lenses, it was often for a short period of time or not at all. This type of learning silenced any other perspective of individuals who were deemed as “different” or “not dominant”; it also gave the students the idea that those of “minority” were unimportant and not worth learning about. Learning this way for many years has instilled many biases and lenses in which I view the world as well as may bring into the classroom. In order to work against these biases, as a future educator, I need to understand that the students that walk into my classroom may also have their own biases and perspectives on how they “read the world.” It will be a long, hard journey to remove these views, but as an educator I can try and make it possible through inclusive pedagogy.

After viewing Chimamanda’s Adichie’s TED talk, I realized that I was blind to the “single stories” around me. While in school, I did not notice these instances because I was privileged and did not know any better. However, as I am learning about the dangers of single stories now, I can understand why they are harmful to individuals and groups. One example that I can think of is assuming that ALL students in far way countries were very poor and uneducated. I believed this single story because throughout my schooling experience, we would always raise money for those who were “less fortunate” than us. I carried this picture in my mind that all in other countries were extremely poor and had no desks, no textbooks, no writing supplies, nothing, because of the information we were given for the fundraisers. Of course, this is not the case. However, the narrative that was given to me and the way it was presented made me think otherwise. The truth of white privilege was present and therefore, no other truth or perspective was important or shared. As Chimamanda stated, “the consequence of a single story is this: it robs people of dignity.” This becomes immensely true because if we as individuals immediately believe every single story we hear, the truth becomes lost, and people are seen as lesser than or unequal.

Reading Response 8: Citizenship in Schools

Looking back at my schooling experience, I can come to the conclusion that majority of the student body or individuals within the school community are Personally Responsible Citizens and Participatory Citizens.

 In regard to Personally Responsible Citizens, students within my school community were able to be successful in fulfilling multiple responsibilities such as completing homework on time, doing well on exams, actively participating in discussions, having regular attendance, etc. Within my schooling experience, it is evident that the students who practice being personally responsible are students who conform to Kumashiro’s idea of a “good student.” I also remember that both my elementary and high schools were fairly involved in the community. There would always be opportunities to give back to the community and volunteer on different projects. Some of these projects included having “competitions” to see which class could bring the most non-perishable food items for the Food Bank or which class could raise the most money for particular charities. In high school, we would also host events that raised money for different charities. Additionally, I feel that I was more of a Personally Responsible Citizen within my schooling experience because I tried to be involved as much as possible, but I always found myself doing the minimum and what I had time for, as I was never in charge of organizing these events. Overall, I feel that the majority of my fellow classmates and individuals within my schools were a good example of who Personally Responsible Citizens are due to fulfilling responsibilities, being compassionate and empathetic, as well as participating in community service.

Additionally, the Participatory Citizens of my schooling experiences were the students who were more involved with the organizing of community events. These students were mostly a part of the SRC or on committees that wanted be active within creating change in the community. I personally, was not able to get involved as much as I wanted, but I still tried to contribute as much as I could. I am very grateful for the students who took the time to be more active and create more opportunities for students like me to do good for the community.

In using this approach to curriculum, it made it possible to create individuals who want to create change within the community. However, I also believe that this approach tries to mold or conform students to become active members of society. In regard to my own schooling experience, I believe we were more shaped to become students who try to help as much as they can, but are not driven to create the change themselves.

Blog Post #7: Treaty Education Email Response

Thank you for reaching out. I can see how this circumstance could be challenging for you, but what a great opportunity you have to create change and influence new thinking. In this situation, I believe that reflecting on the purpose of Treaty Education in the classroom can serve as a helpful tool in creating ideas that will assist your approach of teaching Indigenous concepts and perspectives. It is crucial to remember that Treaty Education is extremely important in Canadian classrooms and, without a doubt,  throughout your teaching career you will have experiences that are challenging and may be quite similar to this situation, but how you can overcome these difficulties are all a part of the journey through reconciliation.

Everyone is on a different part of their journey to reconciliation; therefore, it is important to continue teaching these concepts to further student’s understanding and knowledge of the past and what can be done for the future. The dark past of Canada is undeniable, it happened. It is our jobs as educators to teach students of this past, whether Indigenous or non-Indigenous, because it will allow them to think about and understand why there is racism and other issues in society today. It can also be a vehicle to stop these problems and issues from reoccurring or becoming worse and therefore, may have the ability to create a future with better, positive relationships and less racism and hate in society.

Treaty Education is also important because as Canadians, we are all treaty people. What this means is that if you are Canadian, you are a part of its history. The treaty agreements were between two parties, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people; therefore, it Is important to recognize that everyone is a treaty person in Canada. By stating that we are all treaty people, acknowledges the agreements of the treaties and how they made it possible for us to be all together on the land unified as one. As Claire Krueger states in her presentation, she views Treaty Education as “Settler Education” because as treaty people, it is everyone’s duty to know Canadian history. I believe it is important to view Treaty Education as this because the treaties are forever and therefore, should be taught to everyone who is a treaty person. By teaching and learning about Treaty Education can help students, and even teachers, to recognize the bigger questions. The knowledge that is absorbed through these teachings can help to better understand the questions of “Who am I?”, “How did I get here?” and “How do I call this home?” Overall, Treaty Education serves as a purpose to unite all individuals, to move towards reconciliation, and to acknowledge and learn about the land we live on and share amongst each other.

I hope this email has helped answer some questions. I also highly suggest taking a look at Dwayne Donald’s “On What Terms Can We Speak?” and Claire Kreuger’s blog for some inspiration. Remember that overcoming the little “bumps in the road” are all part of the journey towards reconciliation!

Reading Response #6: Curriculum Policy and Politics

Part One Response:

According to the Levin article, school curricula is developed and implemented through public policies. It states that policies surround almost every aspect of school from what type of schooling is provided, how it is provided, and to whom it is provided to (Levin, 2008, p. 8). By using public policies to develop curricula, essentially benefits those who are closer to power or in power because they may have more of an influence than those without. The article also brings attention to the process in which decisions are made regarding curriculum. It states that curriculum decisions have formal processes that include “bringing together groups of experts and sector representatives to draft the elements of a new or revised curriculum” (Levin, 2008, p. 17). Within these processes, teachers of the subject can also be included in decision-making (Levin, 2008, p. 17). Overall, it is evident that curriculum development is a much bigger picture and process than some of us think.

This reading provided me with new information and perspectives with the development of curriculum. It made me think about how almost everything needs to be considered throughout its creation. Developers need to take into consideration who they are creating it for, as well as, are they including what the public wants it to. This obviously opened my eyes as to how difficult it can be to please everyone. It put into perspective that the public policies that are put in place, whether it be for curriculum or anything else, are there to make society a better place (Levin, 2008, p. 10). Of course, there will always be individuals to critique the curriculum (I, for one, have been one of those people) but after reading this article, new perspectives and new information have been brought forward that may acknowledge some different thought.

I believe the main thing that surprised me is the fact that individuals who are involved in student’s education, such as teachers and administrators, are often just asked for input regarding the curriculum and are not the direct decision makers. I think that teachers should have a larger role in decision making as they understand how their students learn, what classroom dynamics are like, and it is also their job to educate the future.

Part Two Response:

Within the Treaty Education document, I noticed connections that could be made to Levin’s article. For instance, throughout Levin’s article, he highlights the government and its policies roles in creating and developing a curriculum. In the Treaty Education document, it states that the “The Ministry of Education respects the federal government’s legal, constitutional, and fiscal obligations to First Nations peoples and its primary responsibility for Métis people” (Saskatchewan Ministry of Education, 2013, p. 3). In relation, it also states Treaty Education is important because it binds us to the promises that were made long ago and which is why the government is committing to the mandatory instruction of the history of the treaties within the curriculum (Saskatchewan Ministry of Education, 2013, p. 3). Thus, the connections between the two articles lie between the government and its policies and the development of any curriculum.

I believe that the tension that was a part of the development of the Treaty Curriculum was who would be teaching it. Many educators may not feel fully educated on the topic and therefore, could lack the knowledge and confidence to teach it. Another aspect of tension could have been regarding that generally, in school, individuals learn the westernized or European side of history. Therefore, there may have been tension regarding what perspectives would be taught and how.

Reading Response #5 – Learning from Place

There are many instances of reinhabitation and decolonization within the article, Learning from Place: A Return to Traditional Mushkegowuk Ways of Knowing by Jean-Paul Restoule, Sheila Gruner, and Edmund Metatawabin. One of the examples of decolonization shown within this piece is the “process of creating an audio documentary regarding relations to the river and engaging in trips along the river… [where] younger generations were re-introduced to traditional ways of knowing” (p. 70-71). In the process of creating these documentaries, the students/youth were able to talk with elders which not only strengthened their relationships with them, but also learned more about the traditions and cultural knowledge within their community. Overall, this project helped to create connections with the youth and Elders through teachings, stories and cultural knowledge. An example of reinhabitation within this article is that the “youth and Elders travelled together on the traditional waters and lands, exploring history, language, issues of governance, and land management” (p. 75). By doing this, it created a bond between members of this community as well as their land. It taught them how to live effectively in their home environment and showed the importance of the land for their own well-being.

As a future educator, I see the importance within acknowledging reinhabitation and decolonization, as well as the importance of place-based learning. One way I can incorporate this learning is providing my students with the opportunities to learn on and from the land. This type of learning can be integrated into all subjects and age groups. I can also ask an Elder to share their traditions, knowledge, and stories of their culture, to give students an opportunity to learn about another culture and a different perspective. This type of learning and teaching approach is extremely important and has the possibility to create a more inclusive classroom.

Reading Response #4 – What It Means to Be a “Good” Student

In Kumashiro’s text, the story of M showed me what it means to be a “good” student according to commonsense. He explained that M was a student who would not follow instructions, would not listen quietly, and would become restless when having to sit for long periods of time (Kumashiro, 21). In the eyes of Kumashiro, he believed that this student’s behaviour was a “sign that [he] was not being an effective teacher, … and therefore that [the student] was not learning and becoming the student that [he] desired” (Kumashiro, 20) or that society desired. After reading this article, I am able to conclude that a “good” student is an individual who listens attentively, does well on exams and assignments, and behaves in ways that deem appropriate for a school setting. Overall, a good student is an individual who can become someone who will do well in society and is able to conform to higher standards within an educational setting.

By learning about what a “good” student is according to commonsense, it is easy to say that those who are privileged are models of these students. Privileged meaning that individuals who are able to be successful in classrooms where educators practice traditional teaching that place “value on certain kinds of behaviours, knowledge, and skills” (Kumashiro, 22). Students who may learn differently and do not conform to the kinds of students that society tells them to be will more than likely be seen as a “bad” student who doesn’t listen and doesn’t care about their education.

The commonsense ideas of a “good” students makes it difficult for teachers disrupt this normative. Due to the pressure being put on educators to make citizens who will function well in society, they may feel uncomfortable with straying away from traditional education. Therefore, the individuals who may not learn in these ways will always be deemed as the “bad” students. This can create the never-ending cycle where the students who are more privileged will be more successful, and the students who are not as privileged will often be overlooked and less successful.

Blog Post #3: Critical Summary (Inclusion of LGBTQ in Curriculum)

Schools are meant to be a place where youth can go to learn and get the education that will help them become successful in the future. It is important that teachers and educators create a space where students not only feel like they belong, but also feel like they are supported and safe. For many students, this welcoming environment is a reality; however, there are still students that do not have this luxury, particularly the gender and sexuality diverse students. In the article, Teaching in the Cracks: Using Familiar Pedagogy to Advance LGBTQ-Inclusive Curriculum, by Michelle L. Page (2017) highlights the importance of including the LGBTQ community in the curriculum. Many gender- and sexually diverse students experience bullying or are treated like they are invisible almost every day. By not including them within the curriculum and classroom silences their struggles and even adds to problems by creating “’stigmatizing messages’ that these students are not valued” (Page, 2017, p. 678). In order to disrupt these experiences and help our LGBTQ students, Page has suggested some ideas that educators can use in order to help all students feel like they are included. One of the options she goes over in the article is to use queer young adult literature in the classroom. She states that using the resources of “queer literature includes LGBTQIA youths in the curriculum and shows them that they are not alone; the silence become thunderous” (Page, 2017, p. 678). The impact of one small gesture has the ability to change the atmosphere and allow gender and sexually diverse students feel more supported and comfortable while learning. 

Page suggests that if educators truly care about inclusion and fairness to all, then the books and information we use to meet the curriculum do matter (Page, 2017, p. 679). However, some teachers are intimidated by using such literature due to the potential backlash from the parents. However, those teachers who are allies of the LGBTQ community need to take a chance and stand up for what they believe in. By only using literature that showcases the majority of the student population, creates the potential for other students to feel like they are not of equal value. Page states that that in order to work toward equity for all students, educators need to “identify the cracks [within the curriculum] and then do what we can in that space” (Page, 2017, p. 679).

My next steps in exploring this topic will be using other articles that support the idea of inclusion of the LGBTQ community in the curriculum. I will further explain the benefits of inclusion as well as how educators can begin to include gender and sexually diverse students into their classroom and curriculum. 

Reading Response #2: Curriculum Theory and Practice

After learning and reading about the Tyler rationale and curriculum as a product method, I realized that this was extremely common within my own schooling. This approach is based on providing clear guidelines of the outcomes so that educators have appropriate methods to how they teach and assess their students. My experience throughout elementary and high school was closely related to this approach as it was based on repetition and meeting objectives. In order to accomplish these objectives, we would learn through set PowerPoints and notes. After learning the material, we were asked to show what we know through repetitions of assignments and quizzes/exams. By displaying everything learned onto the exams and assignments, I was given a grade that would tell me if I achieved what was expected of me. 

When looking at the Tyler rationale, it is evident that there are some limitations to using it within education and the classroom. One of these limitations is the fact that students are told exactly what they have to learn and how this will become possible. By having such strict outcomes and teaching methods, the students will not be given a voice. All students learn differently, and by using only one learning style, could result in students not benefitting from the teaching methods being used in class and therefore, will not meet the expected outcomes. Another limitation is the measurability of objectives. In order to measure, objects need to be broken down. This can cause a problem in education as the focus is shifted onto “the parts rather than the whole; on the trivial rather than the significant.” This is largely evident in schools today. The students are learning so they can pass or “check a box” relating to meeting the objectives. The actual purpose of learning is often missed, and students only seem to be memorizing answers so they can pass the course. 

Even though the Tyler rationale has disadvantages, there are some benefits. By using this method, everything becomes more structured. Teachers were more structured because they all had a pre-determined plan to what they will teach and how they will teach it. The clear guidelines and outcomes make it easy for students to understand what they need to do and learn in order to become successful. Additionally, it gives students the responsibility in knowing what they need to do in order to achieve their academic goals. The repetitiveness of this method can also be seen as a benefit as to some students. Learning and practicing something over and over again, can help to remember and understand what is being taught and also what is expected of them. I believe that the structure within the Tyler rationale is necessary for education, but students should still be able to have a say in how they are learning so they can not only be successful, but also enjoy what they are learning.