As I grew up I learned a lot of conflicting ideas towards my race from two different perspectives. I grew up learning in what seemed like two completely different worlds. On one side I was learning from my life on reserve and another side I was learning from my life in school – off reserve. I went to school in a small town that was situated near three reserves. The towns perspectives on First Nations people was either good or bad and usually what I saw was bad. In an area where there was a lot of tension about race I felt that the school tried their best to stay away from that type of learning. I had learned pretty much nothing about another race in school. In my schooling I learned that anything that is discomforting to learn or talk about is best untouched. I learnt in a very western and Eurocentric view and it had made me see the world in a “white” lens. We had often learned from a white perspective. In schools I learned that the only history or race worth learning about was that of the majority. When any other race was tossed into the equation it was never positive or in good light. I had found that within schools minorities or people of color are never represented and when they are it’s negative. What I learnt of different races including my own was that they were never seen in a good and fair lens. I would often go home and relay what I had learnt in school and my dad, with years of inflicted racism weighted on his shoulders, would always tell me “it’s because you’re Indian”. It wasn’t something that you should tell your daughter but it caused me to think about these two completely different worlds in which I lived and the two different perspectives that I was trying to see from. I would learn about the great explorer Christopher Columbus in schools and go home and learn about the sacred war chiefs that fought endlessly for their land while on the brink of starvation. I had constantly been torn between two lenses and had finally been taken over of that of the white.
We are filled with stereotypes from a young age and half the time we don’t even notice it. It’s not just race that we learn about through our upbringing/schooling that enforce these stereotypes it’s also binaries. I’ve learnt about what is acceptable and normal within society and what isn’t acceptable or normal. I learnt that through my teachers and society as a whole I had inherited their lenses. I found myself trying to be what they wanted me to be. I began trying my best to be someone else, someone who didn’t fit First Nation stereotypes. I tried my best to be a good student, sat quietly and did my work. I would learn that only certain content and information was worth learning and the rest of the material that was discomforting was not to be talked about. Prior to this class I would have been bringing a bias towards what looks like a good student and what does not. Prior to university I would have been bringing a bias toward my own race because of what I was taught growing up. It pains me to say this but I was never proud of who I was until I started attending University. It had taken me a long time to accept who I was and where I came from. I had realized that these stereotypes have stories behind them – stories about colonization, systematic racism, oppression, and white privilege.
Ultimately I’m growing and I’m changing. I would like to think that I don’t have bias lenses anymore but I know that that can’t be completely true. I’m not sure what biases I have until I find myself thinking in a way that is unfair. I can’t tell myself to not look through bias lenses, I can only promise myself that I will recognize when I do and when I do I will correct myself. I understand that our journeys are never fully filled with knowledge and with that I know that I will constantly be learning. I think that for myself to not see through my lenses that I unknowingly have because they have been embedded in my upbringing and education is going to take time. Individuals want to say that they’re not racist just like I want to say that I’m not bias but is that completely true? I think I would be lying to myself if I said yes. I can only promise that I will constantly be willing to correct myself as I grow. I will constantly be learning different perspectives so that I don’t have a narrow lens. I will work so that my lenses are always fair. I will always leave room for discomforting learning in my classroom because I know that I’m teaching what needs to be taught. I will thrive to achieve for my students to feel the way I never felt growing up. Proud of who they are and where they come from.
Week 9: Curriculum as Numeracy
I enjoyed high school mathematics. I did well with the way I was taught mathematics in high school but I had friends that had difficulties. The teacher would do a couple example questions on the board with the class and give out the assignment and let us do it quietly, and individually. The content was very black and white. You were either right or wrong, there was almost always only one way of doing the questions and that was the teacher’s way. I think some of the aspects in the way I was taught did oppress and discriminate against some students. Eurocentric mathematics doesn’t take into consideration the different perspectives on doing things within mathematics and that could be quite oppressive towards students who didn’t previously learn in or come from a eurocentric perspective.
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 mathematics and the way we learn it.
Mathematics is a cultural product that takes many different forms so when teaching mathematics in a Eurocentric perspective then it will be challenging for other cultures to attempt to learn through this lens. Similarly, in the reading the Inuit students who are trying to learn in a foreign perspective one that was not culturally designed for them would be extremely challenging. The Inuit have a base-20 numeral system, words that are chosen to represent numbers might have an impact on the students’ comprehension of different numbers. Given that Inuit come from oral tradition, they rely heavily on their language. Eurocentric ideas of mathematics don’t consider the structure of the Inuit language – Inuktitut. The way that they convey various concepts in English is through nature and experiences so these words in their language are extremely different from the English concepts we use in mathematics. The expression used within the Inuit culture then makes it extremely challenging to understand mathematics in a narrow and precise perspective like the Eurocentric ideas of mathematics.
Week 8: Curriculum as Citizen
What examples of citizenship education do you remember from your K-12 schooling? What types of citizenship (e.g. which of the three types mentioned in the article) were the focus? Explore what this approach to the curriculum made (im)possible in regards to citizenship.
The examples of citizenship that I remember in my K-12 schooling was the personally responsible citizen. Teachers had often instilled in students that it was important to treat others the way you would like to be treated and be considerate. We are taught to have good manners and are expected to act as a good person. I had often seen this way of teaching in elementary then once I got into middle years and high school we began taking part in community clean ups and bottle drives. We are then told in high school to obey laws and manage our finances once we get a job, which would then fall under the “staying out of debt” (pp. 5).
The personally responsible citizen reminds me of a factory – in a way that students are taken through this factory that instills what is important within society and what makes you a good citizen. This idea of doing your part in society by paying your taxes, obeying the laws, staying out of debt is kind of problematic for those individuals who don’t do these things because there are barriers or circumstances that make doing these things difficult. I like the ideas of treating others with kindness, being respectful and considerate but there are some things within being a personally responsible citizen that I don’t fully agree with. It focuses so much on contributing to society it doesn’t consider other individuals lived experiences that prevent them from doing certain things that make them a personally responsible citizen.
Week 7: Treaty Education
A student intern’s experience on Treaty Education in their field placement:
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.
As a young student I had always thought of the treaties as a negative event within history. While growing up I heard stories from my parents, nohkom and mosom that the treaties were agreements to share the land, which in return created a collective relationship between the two parties. However, these stories didn’t coincide to what I eventually understood about the treaties. My surroundings didn’t show me this collective relationship instead I witnessed the divide of two groups of people. I recall being very confused about it all, the stories I heard and then the treatment that First Nations received. I had come to think that the treaties were filled with misconceptions and these misconceptions led to the fate of First Nations peoples and the circumstances in which they lived. I had begun to only pay attention to the negative outcomes and not the good.
I found that the lack of learning about Treaties within my classroom made me feel negatively about the treaties because I didn’t understand them. I didn’t understand what they meant to First Nations people other than the collection of $5 and rations every year. So that was what the treaties became to me, one day out of the year where I went to my communities pow-wow grounds to pick up my $5 and rations. At one point, I recall my friends and I waiting years to collect the $5 so that when it built up it was actually worth something. I wasn’t educated on the treaties while in school, in fact I don’t recall ever learning about the treaties in a school setting until I was in my first year of university. So when I read the story of the intern’s experience of Treaty Education within their school I wasn’t surprised.
I think the lack of education on treaties creates perspectives that show us that this part within our history is not important. Similarly, the lack of knowledge toward the treaties had created negative perspective for me because even though my family told me about the treaties, the absence of it within my schools showed me that it wasn’t important for the other party. I think the purpose of treaty education is to gain an understanding of our history and what it contributes to the present and future. Treaty education is important to teach children so that we can create a better relationship between all our relations, one that exceeds the rocky relationship that was in our past. The purpose of teaching Treaty Education to everyone regardless of race is so that we could understand each other, so that we could give recognition to First Nations people and the land and move forward in creating a relationship with First Nations people and the land. The lack of education on Treaties in schools showed me that Aboriginal history was insignificant. The view that we are all treaty people helps students gain a perspective in understanding that we are all in this together. Prior to starting university I didn’t think of everyone as being treaty. I thought that just status band members were treaty but that view created this divide in my mind between Aboriginal people and others. To begin understanding that we are all treaty people creates a space with open views so that there is no longer a divide, so that there is a collective understanding that could move towards reconciliation for all relations.
Week 6: Learning From Place
In the reading “Learning from Place: A Return to Traditional Mushkegowuk Ways of Knowing” I saw the notion of reinhabitation and decolonization in a form of not only rejecting and transforming the dominant ideas but to also recover and renew traditional patterns such as mentoring and intergenerational relationships (Restoule et al pp. 74). They developed a project about cultural and economic perspectives of the Kistachowan River. The project was an audio documentary that unveiled stories and experiences form youth and elders. The stories encouraged intergenerational relationships and the transfer of knowledge from elders to youth. During the project, skill building workshops were organized and research training was offered. By caring out this project they created learning experiences, cultural awareness, and cultural knowledge of the Albany River that was shared and established intergenerational relationships. In addition, they organized an excursion into the river, offering a cultural insight of the traditional territory.
I think it is important to understand the stories and cultural sacredness of your surroundings and the place that you teach. We must consider this notion of place being more than just your physical surroundings but a place that holds values, connections and cultural significance towards others, then to be able to share these connections as a classroom. It’s important for students to gain an understanding of place and share this in common as one group. It is also important to consider place and intergenerational relationships as aiding in each other. For example, the reading demonstrates the achievement of establishing intergenerational relationships by promoting the participation of youth, adults and elders in learning from place and what it additionally created by reaching certain goals and giving back to the community in various different ways.
Week 5: Curriculum Policy
Before reading: how do you think school curriculum is developed?
After reading: how are school curricula developed and implemented? What new information does this reading provide about the development and implementation of school curriculum?
I think that curriculum is developed by societal values and what might work toward student learning. I think that school administration, not so much teachers but possibly principles and those on the school board get together and discuss what it is that works and does not work. I imagine during this process, they would agree on things that should be taught and maybe even rate those things of the most important to the least important. I would like to think that teachers do have some input, maybe they’re given a sheet at the end of every year to fill out that rates the curriculum content, what they think worked for them and their students and what did not.
As a student, I didn’t think about how curriculum is developed and what measures were taken to decide those things. So now that I’m faced with this question I’m having a hard time trying to come up with ideas of what the processes are in developing curriculum. I question now whether the participants had tried to research and understand what they thought had worked and what did not or if the fact that it didn’t work was taken into consideration. I wonder if it consists of just modifying the old curriculum to align with the new technology or to add the historical events that have taken place since after the first curriculum was made. I remember in high school we would come back from the summer break and find out “Oh, we don’t teach that anymore. Students no longer need to know that or students no longer need to do it that way.” So I thought as a student “right on!” instead of “okay, but why?” It makes me question why this content was taken out. What is it that determines curriculum? How is it developed?
After having read the assigned reading I learned that my understanding of how curriculum was developed is much more complex. I learned that curriculum is developed with regard to subject and content. The debate on what subject gets more attention and what content is included in that subject is discussed by participants at different levels of education governance, dependant on different parts of the country. In most cases the final decision “rests with national or subnational governments” (Levin 2008). It is also subject to political influences, individual influences, but individuals at the frontline of education – teachers, principals, and administrators are almost always involved in the curriculum process. The final decisions in subject and content in shaping curriculum is then mainly influenced by “ideology, personal values, issues in the public domain, and interests” (Levin pp. 24). The circumstances surrounding curriculum development didn’t initially surprise me, some of these processes seem logical but it doesn’t take into consideration other perspectives. What concerns me is the political and individual influences in developing curriculum because the decisions that are made by individual values and ideologies are not always what is best for children, in some cases these individual decisions could be detrimental to the learning experiences of children.
What does it mean to be a “good” student according to the commonsense? Which students are privileged by this definition of the good student? What is made impossible to see/understand/believe because of these commonsense ideas?
To be a good student meant you sat quietly and still, you listened to instructions, followed specific tasks, and behaved in a “civil” manner. Some students have difficulties in following these rules and directions within the classroom. These challenges they experience could ultimately affect their abilities to finish tasks like assignments, tests and educational exercises within the classroom, affecting their academics entirely. What we believe to be a good student is toxic to students that are not in conjunction with this socially constructed idea of what it means to be a “good” student.
Students who don’t experience difficulties in the classroom or at home would likely benefit from this idea of a good student. I think that many students with different behaviors that might not allow them to sit still or learn in the ways that the institution wants them to would not live up to the standards that society has for a good student. Students that don’t do well under these terms are very disadvantaged by this idea of a “good” student. The expectations that society has for being a good student sets a number of students up for failure, they look at their behavior and the treatment they receive due to this behavior and label themselves as being a bad student. Similar to what M had felt in Kumashiro’s work on his experiences while working as an instructor at a summer day school program.
The views we hold as to what makes a good student won’t let us see that these “bad” students are trying regardless of their behavior. We may not be giving them the right tools or atmosphere for them to fully be able to use their skills in a way they see fit. In return, schools and society makes it harder for them to succeed and then contributes to the oppression they experience elsewhere or later in life. However, we don’t see that our views are contributing to the oppression they experience we just see this as the result of their behavior.
Week 3: Educational Theorist Quote
I have been taught throughout most of my later school years through a very traditionalist approach. It worked for me. I struggled in different ways but I had no other choice but to overcome that. I was lucky because there are a lot of children that can’t get past this way of teaching. I have had a lot of great teachers that have taught me this way but that doesn’t mean that their terrible teachers. The curriculum was made by well off educational theorists and it makes sense that we would accept their knowledge as legitimate without question because that was what we do in society. These circumstances have been reoccurring for a very long time with slight changes but it’s entirety always revolved around the process and the product of education. The curriculum is constantly changing and I like to think for the better but when will it ever be neutral? I keep thinking about what Katia and Mike stated in lecture “the curriculum is never neutral” this has been stuck with me because what are we as educators if we can’t create a space for all groups of children to freely learn and transform in?
The quote that I found that spoke to me as a teacher was from Henry Giroux. It goes, “critical pedagogy becomes a project that stresses the need for teachers and students to actively transform knowledge rather than simply consume it.” Education has always been in my experiences something to consume and remember. It was something that you must study and memorize so that you could do well on the assessments that are given. It has shown me that the knowledge that is given to me is important and that we must all have this knowledge. I have learned many useful things in my studies and at times use what I’ve learnt but why must it be static. To me learning is something that is always occurring, it is dynamic, it is altering and transforming and it must be neutral. It is constant knowledge that is being adding because we always have room for culturally diverse knowledge that is not worse nor better than our own. Education is to be able to think beyond textbooks and tests, it is constantly asking ‘why?’ As teachers I think it is our job to always leave room for discussion and other knowledge that may not be considered ‘legitimate’ within our curriculum, so that our students’ education is never stagnant or partial.