ECS 210

Single Story

 

  • 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?

My schooling shaped how I “read the world” for I was surrounded by individual who were very similar to myself. I grew up going to a small country school with around 150 students in kindergarten through grade 9. I moved through the grades alongside the same 20 classmates and we grew to be very comfortable around each other. We all lived on the same side of town in very similar situations creating a somewhat sheltered bubble. After grade 9 we were required to attend the high school in Swift where our eyes were opened to further diversity. Although I enjoyed this new aspect of freedom at school, I struggled to come out of my shell enough to be included in a much larger crowd. Being shaped in a small community gave me confidence in a small group of people and caused be to hold back and shy aware in unfamiliar situations. I read the world as a scary univiting place. I know know this is not true and I am able to thrive in different communities.

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

Culture was not overly diverse in my own schooling and cultural aspects were not well represented. There was obvious difference and diversity, it was just never acknowledge. Now as I am aware of the importance of encouraging and representing diversity, I can see the lack of it in my own education.

 

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ECS 210

Mathematics – Indigenous Way of Knowing

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?

I always quite enjoyed math for I liked how it was either right or wrong and there was no grey area in between. It was the subject I excelled in the most for my brain seemed to work in a mathematical way. Looking back it was very textbook oriented and we rarely ventured out of the classroom to explore math in a variety of ways. My teachers followed a pattern of introducing a concept, giving a time to practice the new material and then we were tested on it. This continued until I graduated. In middle school and high school, I never really saw this as an issue, for it was simply just the way things were. Looking back this could be considered oppressive for it only allowed people such as myself who were able to learn in this way to succeed. As I am now looking at math from an elementary teacher’s point of view I can see the ways math is incorporated in our daily lives and the different ways we can go about exploring mathematical concepts. Every child is a math person and every student is able to succeed in math, depending on the way it is approached. I look forward to finding new ways of teaching math to allow every student to be successful.

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.

  1. Traditional Inuit teaching is based on observing an elder or listening to enigmas. These enigmas can be clues for problem solving in mathematics.
  2. The Inuit have a base-20 numeral system, which is different than Eurocentric base-10 numeral system.
  3. The first measuring tools were parts of the body. For example, the palm when making atigi(parkas).

In my first semester of university, I had the privilege of taking a mathematics class from an indigenous perspective. In this class we were able to look at mathematical problems from a few of these perspectives. Instead of focusing on base-10 we explored the concept of math in base-20. We also incorporated indigenous aspects into the questions, such as traditional patterns and drum beats. I am glad I was able to experience math from this perspective as it gave me an appreciation of math as a different way of knowing. I hope to further this knowledge and find new ways to incorporate it into my future classroom.

ECS 210

Citizen Education

What examples of citizenship education do you remember from your K-12 schooling?

The article What Kind of Citizen?, explains that the three conceptions of citizenship are personally responsible, participatory, and justice-oriented. Each type of citizen focuses on different responsibilities are areas of need. Examples of citizenship education that I experienced from K-12  involve politics aspects and opportunities to form opinions regarding different political situations. We had the opportunity to research former Prime Ministers to get an understand of how the system worked. We were then given the opportunity to act as class citizens, form our own political parties and vote for a class Prime Minister. Other examples of citizenship education are they ways we were taught to be honest and compassionate. Although these are not always things that can be taught, through interactions with others and examples of our teachers we learned the consequences of being dishonest and the importance of following rules and respecting others. Something I remember doing all throughout elementary and middle school was the opportunity to pick garbage up on around our school yard, throughout the surrounding community and in the ditches. This project promoted community service and allowed us to be citizens in our community. Later in high school I was also required to complete a number of volunteer hours throughout the community. As I enjoyed opportunities such as this, I appreciated being a part of the community in different ways.

What types of citizenship (e.g. which of the three types mentioned in the article) were the focus?

I would say that my citizenship education was focused primarily on becoming a personally responsible citizen and the ways we can have an influence in the community. As a student I was engaged in a number of community service projects and volunteer opportunities, all which help build my knowledge of citizenship. I would say my citizen education included aspects of justice-oriented and participatory citizens for some activities can link to more than one type of citizenship. For example, role playing political experiences can be linked to creating personally-responsible citizens, participatory, and  justice-oriented citizens. However, becoming a personally-responsible citizen is most evident in my education even though I feel they are all connected at some level.

Explore what this approach to the curriculum made (im)possible in regards to citizenship.

My experiences of citizen education from K-12 made it possible to understand the importance of voting and having the right to make political decisions. It also reinforced the importance of being involved in the community and the number of different ways it can be done. The approach to citizenship that makes everyone personally responsible for their involvement in the community gives everyone a sense of individual involvement. I value the opportunities in school that build citizenship for I am able to look back and see they ways I was able to grow from them. It made it possible to recognize areas of need and the ability to contribute in a number of ways.

 

ECS 210

Treaty Education

In my opinion, choosing to avoid teaching concepts surrounding treaty education is not a choice that should be made regarding each teacher’s personal opinion regarding the importance of the subject. This concept is directly in the curriculum, therefore it has been decided that it is a subject of importance and should be supported and reinforced in the classroom in every grade. The purpose of Teaching treaty Ed is to build a foundation of this knowledge at an early to allow each student to progress in their understanding and development of the topic. This also prevents misunderstanding and confusion about treaty education in the future. For example, if the topic is briefly thrown in throughout high school English and history, students may be confused about how to approach it for they have no prior knowledge. This can lead the topic to be overlooked for it has not been presented with a sense of importance and priority. In my opinion, I have become aware that the concept of treaty education required a great amount of respect. Our history includes some hard moments and things I have personally never have to suffer from or experience. The loss of treaty education can result in the loss of respect. In our defense, how are we able to have respect for something we have very little understanding of?

Every key concept in the core subjects, math, science, English, and history are thoroughly implemented for it has been decided that it is a vital aspect in our education. I agree that these are important concepts to have an understanding of, but my question would be what factors determine the importance and value of what is important enough to be included in the classroom. As I am someone who is new at using, sifting and critiquing the curriculum I can attest that it is long, complex and can imagine how difficult it can be to incorporate every goal listed into a short school year of 10 months. In my career as an educator I am constantly going to be face with the question of “what actually matters?” Is it more important to I cover fractions or vital part of our history? What takes priority? I feel as though I am never going to truly know and I will have to take a gamble at some points and learn from my mistakes, experiences, and the response from my students, However, regardless of all these factors my personal opinion and beliefs should have no effect on the content taught on my behalf. I don’t expect to get it right all the time, but I owe it to my students and the diversity among them to take an anti-bias approach.

To quote Mike in seminar, “to move past treaty’s is to fundamentally misunderstand.” My understanding of curriculum that “we are all treaty people” is that we all have a sense of belonging. Despite individual circumstances, all people have experienced hurt and loss. Being citizens of Canada means we belong. Treaty Education creates a sense of community which everyone in a part of. The connection between Treaties and communities are why I feel we are all treaty people in some sense.

ECS 210

Reinhabitation and Decolonization

  1. List some of the ways that you see reinhabitation and decolonization happening throughout the narrative.

In the reading, Learning from Place: A Return to Traditional Mushkegowuk Ways of Knowingdescribes reinhabitation and decolonization as two parts of the same process. This means, reinhabitation is made as we move towards decolonization. Throughout the narrative I can see reinhabitation and decolonization happening when they bring together elders and youth, giving them the opportunity to learn from one another about the meaning and the role of the land. This also allows for Indigenous identities and cultural practices to be passed on to another generation when the youth were given a chance to interview the elders. They asked questions about the land and the role of the people in the community. They were then able to travel together on traditional land and waters, to explore history, language and landmarks. Personally, I think this is such a rich experience for the students to have the opportunity gain a different way of knowing, and to allow the elders to share a part of their history. When we lose language and culture, we lose a whole new way of knowing and understanding.

  1. How might you adapt these ideas towards considering place in your own subject areas and teaching?

I might adapt this idea in my classroom by allowing the opportunity to study and discover through indigenous ways of knowing. I also hope to invite numerous elders into our classroom and take opportunities to go out and discover what they are being taught while being immersed in nature. I feel as though indigenous ideas are a major component of Canadas history. I want to give my students the chance to learn about Canada from an Indigenous perspective. However, like all beliefs, I would not include my opinion or force this knowledge on anyone. I would simply provide the information by including it in the curriculum and allow my students to discover it according to their curiosity.

ECS 210

Saskatchewan Curriculum

I think school curriculums are developed by a small similar group of highly educated individual and are adapted according to the majority of students needs, rather than individual circumstances. I think of curriculum as as list of expected outcomes and indicators that teachers expected to use as guidelines and students are expected to meet each year. It is lengthy, complicated and in some cases unrealistic.

The article Curriculum Policy and the Politics of What Should be Learned in Schools, defines curriculum as an official statement of what students are expected to know and be able to do. It is “developed by governments or other sanctioned authorities for standard use in schools across a state, province, or country” (Levin, 2007, p.7). Each teacher is expected to use curriculum as a guide to implement it in their classrooms.

This reading providing a political view about the development and implementation of curriculum. Prior to this, I looked at it from a practical point of view. The article explains that the government is responsible for everything in some sense (Levin, 2007, p.11). They are in the position to make decisions about a vast variety of issues, therefore education is not the main focus . Although politics is my least favourite subject to talk about, I agree that it is important to have a group of higher power in charge of making important decisions. However, I do not agree that the people making these decisions should have no experience in current classrooms and working with the education. A variety of teachers are brought together to draft certain aspects of the curriculum, except it would be difficult to gather a small group of educators that represent the profession equally. This system can make educators feel lost in a sea of others who feel as though they are not being heard.

I was surprised by the debate about including indigenous language, history, and literature. Through different experiences I have been exposed to aspects of indigenous culture and have grown to appreciate the different way of knowing. Therefore I am grateful for those experiences and desire to learn more. The debate of this inclusion led me think about the culture it places in non indigenous lives. I think it is an important topic to be acknowledged and considered, but not force. I believe if one culture is included and expanded upon, other cultures and religions should have equal opportunity. In some ways it seems as though christianity was removed from the public school system and was replaced with indigenous ways of knowing. Although there is more to this subject, my final thoughts would be regarding the question of when is it okay to teach culture and where is the line drawn?

 

ECS 210

“What it Means to be a Student”

It is indicated in the article, Preparing Teachers for Crisis: A Sample Lesson, that a “good” student according to commonsense is one who is able to properly follow instructions, able to stay on task, meets the expected outcomes and expectations, is punctual, able to sit and listen, and able to take turns (Kumashiro, p.19). This definition is very specific, which limits and discourages diversity. Quite often students struggle to fit the standards of this narrow definition, making them feel like they have failed as a student. Teachers also feel pressure from the school and the surrounding society to produce “good” students (Kumashiro, p.21). Students who fail to meet these expectations not only feel frustrated with themselves but also cause their teachers to feel frustrated with them. Teaching with these standard expectations is almost the same as setting your students up for failure.

The students who are privileged by this definition of the “good” student are those who fit the majority of the qualities listed previously. Students who appear to demonstrate proper punctuality, meet the expected outcomes, are good at listening, and so on. These students receive the most praise and attention from their teacher and sometimes more opportunities. They often receive the most awards and the scholarships because they fit the definition of the “good” student. Their way of learning and abilities as a students allow them to achieve success.

The definition of the “good” student makes it impossible to see different ways of showing understanding. It makes it impossible to understand other ways the multiple ways students are able to demonstrate their knowledge. These common sense ideas make it impossible to recognize that “challenging oppression requires addressing the broader social context in which we live in” (Kumashiro, pg. 28). The common practices of teaching in school is not was constitutes all learning. As we are finally starting to recognize diversity in learning, we are able to look past this stereotype enough to acknowledge that each student has the ability to learn, whether or not they are a “good” student or not. The stereotype fits such a limited number of people, that it almost should not even be referred to at all. Each student is an individual, therefore they should be assessed individually.