Biases

  1. How has your upbringing/schooling shaped how you you “read the world?” What biases and lenses do you bring to the classroom? How might we unlearn / work against these biases?
  2. Which “single stories” were present in your own schooling? Whose truth mattered?

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.

Treaty Education

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.

  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”?

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 only the negative outcomes within the Treaties.

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.

Learning From Place

Learning From Place

  1. List some of the ways that you see reinhabitation and decolonization happening throughout the narrative.
  2. How might you adapt these ideas towards considering place in your own subject areas and teaching.

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 from 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.

Curriculum

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 the act of retaining different perspectives of knowledge that is constantly being learned 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.

Kumashiro’s Common Sense

The Problem of Common Sense

Kumashiro defines “commonsense” as traditionally learned behaviors or concepts in society that are often not questioned due to the social pressure to conform. It is seen as normal and the correct way to do things and when we are met with “abnormality” that doesn’t abide by the social norms it is labeled deviant or incorrect. This common sense has birthed the normative narratives and the status quo we so often witness in our everyday lives, yet don’t reject or notice its presence. It gives society a feeling of familiarity and normalcy. Yet it doesn’t take into account the different types of cultures that are present among society all over that are just as effective or important as the mainstream culture. There is the reoccurring action within people to gain control and power over those that are different, thinking that we’re only helping, as Kumashiro experiences in Nepal.

It is important to pay attention to “common sense” because it is often biased towards those who did not contribute to creating these structures of commonsense. It doesn’t take into account other races and reinforces mainstream cultures onto another group without consent. It enforces oppression towards marginalized people and normalizes oppressive disciplines within many institutions.