Summary of Learning

In this video, Dani and I discuss our journey through ECS 210 in terms of the growth and new understandings we have gained along the way which, in turn, has impacted our teaching pedagogies. Throughout the video, we reflect on the evolution of our understanding of curriculum from the beginning of the semester to now, how we as future educators see ourselves approaching curriculum, as well as some of the uncomfortable learnings that we experienced throughout the semester regarding the ideas of common sense, biases, perspectives, and single stories.

Thanks for watching!

 

Blog Post #9- The Learning and Teaching of Mathematics

1. At the beginning of the reading, Leroy Little Bear (2000) states that colonialism “tries to maintain a singular social order by means of force and law, suppressing the diversity of human worldviews. … Typically, this proposition creates oppression and discrimination” (p. 77). Think back on your experiences of the teaching and learning of mathematics — were there aspects of it that were oppressive and/or discriminating for you or other students?

At the time of learning mathematics throughout elementary and high school, I did not find it particularly oppressive or discriminating, highlighting my lenses and worldviews throughout my time in elementary and high school. Now, as a university student in the Faculty of Education, there have been many instances thus far that have challenged my lenses and worldviews, in turn, making me begin to reconsider and alter my lenses and worldviews. As I look back on my experiences of the teaching and learning of mathematics with new lenses and worldviews, I have realized that there were aspects of mathematics that were oppressive and discriminating to students I went to school with. Seeing that mathematics can be taught and learned in many ways, and in my experience, was only taught in one way which revolved around a very Eurocentric approach, this can be seen as a way that mathematics is oppressive and discriminating to some students. In both elementary and high school, there was lots of diversity in the students that attended these schools which included race, gender, class, ability, etc. Seeing this diversity and the way in which subjects were taught, it is important to see the oppression and discrimination that students are facing through the way subjects are being taught and learned in schools. For example, in Leroy Little Bear’s article “Jagged Worldview Colliding,” it is highlighted that Aboriginal people learn different subjects, including mathematics, mainly through storytelling, dance, and other traditional aspects of their culture. Thus, seeing this example, the way that mathematics was taught and learned in my school experience shows to be oppressive and discriminating to those students who do not conform with the linear and singular value system of Eurocentric ideas of schooling.

 

2. After reading Poirier’s article: Teaching mathematics and the Inuit Community, identify at least three ways in which Inuit mathematics challenge Eurocentric ideas about the purposes of mathematics and the way we learn it.

After reading Poirier’s article titled “Teaching Mathematics and the Inuit Community,” there were many ways in which Inuit mathematics challenged Eurocentric ideas about the purposes of mathematics and how it is learned. One of the ways in which Inuit mathematics challenges Eurocentric ideas of mathematics was when Poirier highlighted that Inuit mathematics “is a social construction meaning that the learner’s culture and community will play an important role in learning” (Poirier, 2007, p. 56). In Eurocentric ways of learning mathematics, mathematics is not taught in a way that takes the learner’s cultures and the community into consideration; excluding wider worldviews. As mentioned earlier, different cultures have different ways to teach and learn subjects like mathematics, whether that be through oral stories or dances. In Eurocentric ways of learning mathematics, it can be seen that diversity within classrooms is not taken into consideration as these methods usually approach mathematics to be taught in one singular way without integrating the learner’s culture or community showing how Inuit mathematics challenges Eurocentric ideas. Another way that Inuit mathematics challenges Eurocentric ideas of mathematics is how Inuit teachers “do not ask a student a question for which they think that the student does not have the answer” (Poirier, 2007, p. 55). This challenges Eurocentric ideas of mathematics seeing that, in my experience in math classes as well as other classes, teachers would either ask a student a question individually in front of the entire class waiting for an answer or would ask the entire class a question and wait for a student to come up with an answer. Finally, Inuit mathematics challenges Eurocentric ideas of mathematics in the sense that “Inuit children learn to count in their language then would switch into either French or English in Grade 3… 75% of the time allowed for mathematics is spent teaching and learning in Inuktitut; the remaining 25% is in either French or English” (Poirier, 2007, p. 57).  In Eurocentric ways of learning mathematics, mathematics is mostly taught in the language in the given class; if a student is enrolled in an English math class, they will be taught math in English and if a student is enrolled in a French math class, they will be taught math in French. In seeing that Inuit mathematics is taught in a way that integrates other languages in, this challenges Eurocentric ways of teaching mathematics to begin to also integrate other languages and not just one language.

 

Resources:

Bear, L. L. (2000). Jagged worldviews colliding. In M. Batiste (Ed.), Reclaiming Indigenous voice and vision (pp. 77-85). UBC Press.

Poirier, L. (2007). Teaching mathematics and the Inuit community, Canadian Journal of Science, Mathematics and Technology Education, 7(1), p. 53-67.

Blog Post #8- Lenses & Single Stories

  1. How has your upbringing/schooling shaped how you “read the world?” What biases and lenses do you bring to the classroom? How might we unlearn / work against these biases?

All around us, there are stereotypes and biases which have the ability to alter our perspectives of the world. As a white, middle-class woman, both my upbringing and schooling have had a major impact on how I read the world as stereotypes, biases, and lenses have been presented to me both overtly and in a more hidden way. As someone who is white, middle-class female, most of the people who I was around in my childhood and those who provided me with my education throughout the elementary and high school also aligned with the majority as they were mostly white, middle class, as well as heterosexual. In seeing this, I was evidently instilled with many biases and lenses that have now become apart of how I view the world. As a future educator and current student, the way that I was brought up as well as my schooling experiences have created some biases and lenses that I bring the classroom. There are many ways in which those people who carry biases and lenses can unlearn/ work against them, but I do not believe there is a way to completely remove biases and lenses from one’s perspective. As both a current student and future educator, it is my responsibility to begin to unlearn and work against these biases and lenses so that I can bring fewer biases and lenses into the classroom. To do this, I must admit that I have biases and lenses and also bring them to light by understanding where they are coming from. Additionally, educators need to understand that the students who are entering their classrooms may have their own biases and lenses. Thus, it is important for educators to begin to formulate their pedagogy, perspectives, and lessons in ways that are respectful and inclusive to all students. 

 

2. Which “single stories” were present in your own schooling? Whose truth mattered?

Prior to viewing Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Ted Talk titled “The Danger of a Single Story,” I was not exposed to the term ‘single story.’ Through now understanding what the term ‘single story’ means, it dawned on me that there are many examples of single stories that I have experienced throughout my life. One example of a single story that was present in my own schooling experience was throughout my time in high school. Once each school year for the four years that I attended high school, the school chaplain would conduct a charity opportunity for us students for the Catholic international aid charity called Chalice. Chalice ultimately “focuses on child, family, and community development” where they have a sponsorship program which provides care for children and families affected by poverty in developing countries to restore their hope and dignity (Chalice, 2019). The chaplain would go on the intercom each morning for approximately one month presenting a child each day who is a part of Chalice’s sponsorship program to raise both awareness and money. When introducing these students, the chaplain painted the picture in my mind that those people in developing countries lack access to clean water, are affected greatly by poverty, are suffering from starvation as well as being affected by many diseases such as malaria or polio. While poverty is most definitely evident in areas of developing countries, this is not the case for the entirety of the country as not every person is suffering from the effects of poverty in these developing countries. Seeing this single story that I was presented in high school, I have learned that it is in my power to take action and do research to see which single stories I am presented are true and which ones are not.

Resources:

https://www.chalice.ca/about

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1g8EOKETIKKMlKDn9b78qxoQVH-K3R6QK/view

Blog Post #7- Curriculum Policy and Politics

Response to Levin’s article:

According to the Levin article, school curricula shows to be developed and implemented primarily by public policies. These public policies, as highlighted by Levin “govern just about every aspect of education- what schooling is provided, how, to whom, in what form, with what resources, and so on” (Levin, 8, 2007). Thus, schools and educators may or may not have a say in what is included and what is not included in the curriculum depending on the overall government systems and the policies in place. Levin goes on to highlight to readers the process of how curriculum policy decisions are made, which is solely dependent on the government system as highlighted earlier. The process of developing curriculum typically “involves bringing together groups of experts and sector representatives to draft the elements of a new or revised curriculum” where teachers and post-secondary experts help as well (Levin, 17, 2009). In addition, Levin explains that interest groups may be involved in developing curriculum (Levin, 16, 2007). 

Through reading Levin’s article, there was a lot of new information and perspectives presented to me regarding the development and implementation of the school curriculum. One major piece of information that was new to me was how school curricula are developed. Previously, I knew that curriculum is developed and implemented by public policies in place by the government, but did not realize that it involves bringing together groups of experts and sector representatives as well as interest groups. This article also made me realize the difficult job that the government has to please everyone in terms of curriculum, which is ultimately is not possible seeing “the presence of diverse and conflicting goals” making the government be pulled to different sides at the same time (Levin 10, 2007). Additionally, this article presented me with a whole new perspective regarding the government. As a person who has attended school majority of my life, I have certainly developed some critiques regarding the curriculum and have also questioned some of the actions that the government has made in general society, but have never truly taken the government’s perspective into consideration seeing that it is something that is not commonly discussed which Levin presents in this article.

From Levin’s article, one overarching thing that concerned me was the fact that people who are not directly associated with school systems have a major impact on what the curriculum entails. This article highlights how groups of experts, sector representatives as well as interest groups have a major role in the development and implementation of curriculum where those who are directly in contact with curriculum such as principles, teachers, and students, who have a much richer and deeper understanding of curriculum rarely if not ever get a voice in how curriculum decisions are made.

 

Response to Treaty Education document:

After reading pages 1-4 of the Treaty Education document, there are some connections that I made between Levin’s article and the implementation of Treaty Education in Saskatchewan. Within the Treaty Education document, it states that “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” (Government of Saskatchewan, 3, 2013). This relates to Levin’s article in the sense that the government ultimately is in control of developing and implementing the curriculum. Additionally, the Treaty Education document states that “A Curriculum Sub-committee of the Shared Standards and Capacity Building Council guided the development of the K-12 Continuum for Treaty Education. This was a comprehensive consultative process with the following partners: Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, First Nations University of Canada, Office of the Treaty Commissioner, Curriculum Sub-committee for the Shared Standards and Capacity Building Council, and the Ministry of Education” (Government of Saskatchewan, 3, 2013). This relates to Levin’s article seeing that curriculum throughout Levin’s article is said to be developed and implemented by groups of experts, sector representatives as well as interest groups which is also seen in the Treaty Education curriculum through the sub-committee that was created to develop the K-12 Treaty Education curriculum. 

Some tensions that I could see arising as the Treaty Education curriculum was developed are disagreements in regards to what perspectives and topics should be included in the curriculum and what aspects should not be included. Seeing that the development and implementation of curricula do not always take those peoples voices into consideration who are directly connected to school systems, tensions could also arise in regards to educators not feeling fully educated on the topic of Treaty Education and therefore may feel uncomfortable teaching it in their classroom, and in turn may see it as an optional aspect of curriculum to be taught or may just skip teaching it altogether.

 

Sources:

https://www.edonline.sk.ca/bbcswebdav/library/materials/english/docs/Treaty%20Education%20Outcomes%20%26%20Indicators%20-%20Feb%2021%202013.pdf

https://www.corwin.com/sites/default/files/upm-binaries/16905_Chapter_1.pdf

Blog Post #6- Treaty Education

Response Prompt:

“As part of my classes for my three week block I have picked up a Social Studies 30 course. This past week we have been discussing the concept of standard of living and looking at the different standards across Canada . I tried to introduce this concept from the perspective of the First Nations people of Canada and my class was very confused about the topic and in many cases made some racist remarks. I have tried to reintroduce the concept but they continue to treat it as a joke. The teachers at this school are very lax on the topic of Treaty Education as well as First Nations ways of knowing. I have asked my Coop for advice on Treaty Education and she told me that she does not see the purpose of teaching it at this school because there are no First Nations students. I was wondering if you would have any ideas of how to approach this topic with my class or if you would have any resources to recommend.”

Considerations:

  1. What is the purpose of teaching Treaty Ed (specifically) or First Nations, Metis, and Inuit (FNMI) Content and Perspectives (generally) where there are few or no First Nations, Metis, Inuit peoples?
  2. What does it mean for your understanding of curriculum that “We are all treaty people”?

 

Canada is a country full of diversity, where a variety of different cultures and races can be identified. As Canadians, the dark history of our country in terms of the horrible treatment of Indigenous people through events like Residential Schools and The 60’s Scoop is well known about in these times of reconciliation. In efforts to move forward, there are many vehicles in place to begin the long-term, generational journey toward reconciliation, one being Treaty Education. 

With this being said, Treaty Education is something that not everyone sees eye to eye about. This type of education is a concept that some teachers are not interested in teaching, do not feel compelled to teach, or do not feel educated enough to teach and is something that students today are not well educated on or do not take seriously which is clearly seen in the email that Mike received from an intern. Seeing that Canada is a diverse country, classrooms in Canada are also diverse in nature. Through having the possibility of teaching a classroom with only non-Aboriginal children, this does not mean that the teacher does not have to teach Treaty Education. Treaty Education is intended to be taught to both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians and does not solely rely on being taught if there is a large Indigenous population or not.

Treaty Education is an important vehicle for educators to use towards reconciliation creating relationships, and a more inclusive classroom and school environment. Claire Kreuger states that because of the small Indigenous student body in today’s schools, there is a need for more effort to be put into the cultural programming, teaching histories, and building relationships. Seeing that Treaty Education is apart of the Saskatchewan curriculum Claire Kreuger highlights that she additionally views it as Settler Education, meaning that it is everyone’s duty to understand and know about Canada’s history. The saying “we are all treaty people” is one major reason for the purpose of teaching Treaty Education to all cultures in Canada. As white settlers and non-Aboriginal people, Treaty Education highlights the importance of acknowledging the ceremonies within treaty that made it possible for us to be here and to recognize the possibility of creating relationships with one another through the land that was shared with us. In addition, this type of education allows students to ponder bigger questions and spark conversations, as seen in the conversation between Mike and Claire, including “Who am I?” “How did I get here?” and “How do I call this home?” Not only does Treaty Education educate students, it also educates parents through the knowledge that their children are acquiring at school and bringing light to at home. This is very important seeing that the students are absorbing the information provided at school, where they are passing it on to educate others who may not be as informed as they are. Ultimately, the purpose of Treaty Education is to be taught to all cultures in Canada, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal to expose students to Indigenous ways of knowing, to acknowledge the land that was shared between us, to create relationships, to move towards reconciliation, and to create an inclusive environment where Indigenous people are treated fairly and do not face barriers to their successes based on the colour of their skin.

 

Blog Post #5- Place-Based Learning

Respond to the following prompts: The article suggests that a “critical pedagogy of place” aims to: a) identify, recover, and create material spaces and places that teach us how to live well in our total environments (reinhabitation); and (b) identify and change ways of thinking that injure and exploit other people and places (decolonization) (p.74). List some of the ways that you see reinhabitation and decolonization happening throughout the narrative. How might you adapt these ideas / consider place in your own subject areas and teaching?

While reading Learning from Place: A Return to Traditional Mushkegowuk Ways of Knowing by Jean-Paul Restoule, Sheila Gruner, and Edmund Metatawabin, there were many instances that I saw reinhabitation and decolonization. When the authors mention that “over just two generations, one could observe the erosion of deeper meanings of connection to land and territory that are encoded in the Mushkegowuk language, its declining use among the adult and youth generations” (p. 71), it is evident how much colonization and exploitation has affected the intergenerational knowledge and language of the Mushkegowuk community, which can also be seen in many other Indigenous communities in Canada. Thus, there have been efforts in developing a greater understanding of Indigenous culture and traditions in youth today through reinhabitation and decolonization. As highlighted in the article, students, adults, and elders took part in a 10-day river trip where the students created an audio documentary about the relations of people to their traditional territory. Through the interviews that were conducted as a part of this documentary, youth were able to have conversations with elders and other members of the Kistachowan (Albany) River community. This allowed for youth to gain connections with elders in the community, where the youth were provided with cultural knowledge and traditions as well as a means of creating new intergenerational relationships with the community. Additionally, through this trip, the importance of the land and relationships with the land along with the stories and teachings were presented to the youth. This allowed youth to reconnect with the land and traditional ways of knowing, which in turn can allow for this knowledge to be passed on for generations to come. 

As a future educator, it is essential that I begin to formulate my pedagogical approaches. Thus, from reading this article and seeing the importance of place-based learning, place-based learning is something that I am going to try to incorporate into my subject areas and teaching. While keeping in mind the aspects of reinhabitation and decolonization that were present in the article, there are many ways in which I can adapt and consider place in my own teaching. One way that I foresee is through allowing students to better understand a wide variety of cultures and traditions through going on field trips or bringing in speakers (like an elder) where students will be presented with the traditions, stories, and perspectives of different cultures. Additionally, as a Phys Ed major, I could present my students with a variety of traditional games from different cultures. I could provide the history of these games and the culture they coincide with and after, allow the students to play these games so that they can have a better understanding of different cultures. Overall, place-based education is an approach that I see as very important and can have a lot of cross-curricular potentials where it can be used as a means of making a more inclusive environment in my future classrooms.

 

Blog Post #4- What It Means to Be a “Good” Student

What does it mean to be a “good” student according to the commonsense? 

While reading Kumashiro’s text, there were a number of instances through his stories that stood out to me regarding what it means to be a “good” student according to the commonsense. A key aspect of Kumashiro’s text was when he explained that he was feeling frustrated with students who “were unable or unwilling to be the kind of students that schools and society tell them to be” (Kumashiro, 21). Kumashiro, in turn, thought to himself about how he was feeling frustrated with these students because he “assumed that being a student required behaving and thinking in only certain ways, but also because [he] felt pressure from schools and society to produce this type of student” (Kumashiro, 21). Thus, according to commonsense and from these important parts in Kumashiro’s text, a “good” student appears to be those students who listen and retain information that is taught to them while in class, are able to apply the information that they learn in class to exams, get good grades on exams, behave in a manner that is expected by the teacher or school in general (being quiet when the teacher is talking, raising your hand to ask or answer a question, etc.), and ultimately conform to be the kind of students that society tells them to be.

Which students are privileged by this definition of the good student?

Seeing the definition of what it means to be a “good” student according to commonsense, it can also be seen that those students who meet the criteria of being a “good” student are privileged. Students who thrive in school environments whose pedagogical approaches are traditional and behave in ways that are expected by teachers and society as a student are those who are privileged. On the other hand, students who have difficulty learning in the traditional way where they may learn better through doing and experiencing or behave in ways that are “not normal” are those who are not privileged. These are the students who get labelled by not only teachers, but also their peers as a “bad student” based on what the commonsense describes a “good” student to be and the norms that are present in society surrounding how to act and behave in school and what it means to succeed as a student.

What is made impossible to see/understand/believe because of these commonsense ideas?

This commonsense idea of a “good” student as presented by Kumashiro is restrictive in a number of ways. To me, I think these commonsense ideas make it hard for teachers to alter and adapt their pedagogical approaches due to the pressures of society to produce a “good” student. Instead of adapting their approaches to accommodate to, for example, students who are hands-on learners and learn by doing, teachers adhere to the traditional approach to teaching so they are able to be in a “comfort zone” where they feel as though they are producing “good” students. Additionally, I think that these commonsense ideas make students get into the habit of only applying what they need to reach what is expected of them at school, where they do not go out of their way to learn more about the concepts at school that they are interested in or are having issues understanding. Instead, students put in the minimum amount of effort that they need to pass or get a good grade in the class and do not go the extra mile. 

Kumashiro, Kevin. “Preparing Teachers for Crisis: What It Means to Be a Student” Against Common Sense, Routledge, 2009, pp. 19–33.
(https://drive.google.com/file/d/1kkJc7k2AyKB-Usl3pujiMAeWpfzmpZRK/view)