Summary of Learning

Throughout ECS 210, I have learned a lot through lectures, seminars, and projects. Karlee and I made a video together that summarizes our learning. I hope you enjoy watching it.

Thank you for the great semester and I hope everyone has a good summer.

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Looking Through Lenses

I grew up in a small town and went to school with the same class for 13 years. I never saw the diversity that is in Canada. I also had a big change when I came to Regina for university. I grew up feeling safe in my small town and unsure of bigger centres.

I grew up learning about Westernized views and these shaped the lenses I look through. Agriculture is a large part of the community that I grew up in and many of the people in the community saw agriculture as a great importance and shaped how everyone viewed the environment.

A bias that I might bring to the classroom because of my past schooling is that students who are new to the class or immigrant children will have more difficulties. This comes from me growing up in a small town and seeing the transient families come in and their children struggle. I will work through this by getting to know the students and their families. I will also not label the students or take a guess of how well they will do in school when I first meet them.

I may bring racial bias to my classroom. This is because I never saw the other people’s story. I never knew many people who were different than me. This caused me to not learn about them and hear their stories.

The single stories that I experienced in school came from the white majority. I remember collecting items for Operation Christmas Child to send to children in countries around the world. I received the stories about poor children and families which restricted my view and made me think these people are not capable of anything other than needing our help.

Another single story I remember is learning about First Nations, Metis, and Inuit people. The way I learned about them was that they were all the same as each other and hold the same values. I now know that this is not true and will do my best so that other students will not feel the same way.

Curriculum as Numeracy

I remember in my schooling that math was a very important subject and carried the same amount of importance as English and Science. Math was different than the other subjects because of how the students and teachers viewed the subjects difficulty. Most of my classmates hated math and thought that it was more difficult than the other classes that we were taking. I did not feel this way; I enjoyed math and found it easier than English. When I was in school I would never have said I liked math because my classmates would have thought I was crazy. I think that it is important to remember that how teachers and peers perceive math and other topics affects how students will view the class before they even start.

In the Eurocentric worldview of math there is only one answer and one right way of doing something. This can be challenging for many students if they think differently about a problem or if they cannot show their work properly. I remember one classmate who was very good at math and always could figure out the answer, but could not explain how he figured it out. He struggled because the focus in the math class was how you got to the answer and he could not show his thoughts on paper.

Poirier discusses Teaching mathematics and the Inuit community and how Inuit mathematics challenge Eurocentric ideas. Inuit mathematics include the language and system that the Inuit use to count. They use a base 20 system. We use a base ten system, but there is no real reason other than we have ten fingers that we use this system. Using the base 20 system challenges the idea that math is a universal language. The Inuit’s everyday life has nothing to do with the math that they are learning in school, but by incorporating their culture into the math at school they can relate it to their life outside school.

The Inuit also use problems that relate to the Inuit culture and storytelling. This allows the students to relate to the mathematical problems that they are solving. This can allow the students to not be worried about math and just focusing on the problem they are solving.

Another aspect of Inuit math is measuring. The Inuit use different parts of their body to measure length for making clothing and shelter. The Inuit calendar is also measured differently. The Inuit months are broken down by what is happening in nature and with the animals. This is different than other calendars that follow lunar or solar cycles.

Math varies from culture to culture and is not a universal language. It is important to remember that students may have difficulties with math because it does not relate to their everyday life.

Citizenship

Throughout my education I experienced varying amount of citizenship education. I remember in the older grades learning how to vote and the importance of exercising your democratic right. We learned that if a certain group does not normally vote, then the political parties will not worry about pleasing them.

In the younger elementary years I learned the importance of helping my fellow classmates. We would be rewarded if we did nice things for others by getting prizes at the end of the year.

Every year in elementary school, each grade would get a section of town and we would pick up the garbage. This taught us about environmental citizenship and taking care of the land around us.

There are different types of citizenship and some of the types are often more focused on. In “What Kind of Citizen? The Politics of Educating for Democracy” Joel Westheimer and Joseph Kahne discuss three types of citizens. These include the personally responsible citizen, the participatory citizen, and the justice orientated citizen.

One type of citizen is the “personally responsible citizen”. These citizens are responsible, caring, and compassionate. They participate in their community through activities like, picking up litter, donating blood and so on. This is the most common vision of citizenship that is promoted in schools. It teaches the students to fulfill both social and civic responsibility.

In some of my classes in high school I needed to have volunteer hours for an assignment. This is an example of the personally responsible citizen. I was learning to help others and be compassionate and hard working.

Other examples of personally responsible citizen education I experienced include some of the scenarios mentioned above. These include picking up garbage, learning to vote and learning to treat my classmates with respect.

Another type of citizen is the “participatory citizen”. This type of citizen participates in civic affairs and the social aspect of the community. Educational programs that want to develop participatory citizens tend to teach students about the government and other community organizations.

When I was in high school, I was involved in the Student Leadership Committee. We organized food drives and other fundraising events throughout the school year. This is an active form of being involved in community organizations and represents a participatory citizen.

The third type of citizen is the “justice orientated citizen”. This is often the type of citizen that is thought of the least. This citizen is more involved in systematic change and social movement. Throughout my entire schooling I do not remember learning about these ideas. This means that it was either not very important to me so I forgot about it or I simply did not learn about it.

The major focus during my schooling was developing personally responsible citizens. This taught me and my classmates skills that helped us develop good character. There are some downfalls to only focusing on developing personally responsible citizens. These citizens are less worried about systemic change; they are focused on the day to day aspects of helping others and being what they think are personally responsible citizens.

Each type of citizen has both advantages and disadvantages. All three types are important and are needed in society.

Treaty Education

Treaty Education is always important no matter what students are sitting in the class. All students will benefit from learning about the treaties. Teaching treaty education when there are no First Nation, Metis or Inuit students in the class is very important. Treaty education is in the curriculum and it is not a choice. It is mandatory to be taught; no matter who is in the class.

In “On What Terms Can We Speak?” Dwayne Donald discussed how the relationship that teachers have with Aboriginal people affect how they teach about treaties and other aspects of Aboriginal people. He said that decolonization can only happen if we face each other across the historic divide that has formed. To do this we have to build relationships. If teachers develop a respectful relationship they will pass this and their knowledge onto their students. In order to change the relationship it is important to look back at the past to realize how this relationship has come to be.

Relationships between settlers and First Nations, Metis, and Inuit are one of the most important aspects of working towards reconciliation. The content of treaty education is important, but the relationships between the two groups of people is almost more beneficial to students. The feeling of empathy and respect is an outcome of these relationships. If there are no First Nation, Metis, or Inuit students in the class, learning about treaty education becomes even more important in order for the students to develop a relationship with Aboriginal people.

Claire Kreuger discussed the importance of teaching all children treaty education, not only to teach the students, but also their parents. She showed how parents cannot complain about what teachers are teaching as long as they can relate it back to the curriculum. The parents of the settler children had questions when their children came home saying that they are a treaty person. Through children, all Canadians can become educated and respectful about First Nation, Metis and Inuit people.

Another reason why treaty education is always important is because we are all treaty people. The land that we are on is Treaty 4 territory and by acknowledging that we are treaty people we acknowledge the significance of the treaties and the land that we are on. Through treaty education, students can learn about the place they live and further develop their identity. This relates to learning from place. If we learn and teach the treaty map, the way we identify with the place we live will also change. Our relationship with the land and the people on it will change when we think of who we are based on what was here before us.

Treaty education is important and will continue to become more significant in Canada. Through education children will become more knowledgeable about the past and will be able to realize why we are in this situation today. This will allow relationships between Aboriginal people and the settler society.

Learning from Place

Reinhabitation and decolonization were prevalent throughout the narrative “Learning from Place: A Return to Traditional Mushkegowuk Ways of Knowing”.  

Through interviewing elders, Cree youth developed a radio documentary called “The Kistachowan River Knows My Name”. This documentary made the community members excited about the spiritual, cultural, economic, and social value of the river. The elders liked getting interviewed because they had someone who wanted to hear their stories and learn from them. This is a form of reinhabitation because it is the creation of materials that teach others how to live in their environment.

The next stage of the project was community members, youth and elders, going on a trip down the river. On this trip the elders shared knowledge with the youth about the benefits of the river and the important sites. Some of these important sites included where their ancestors are buried. Audio, visual and written material were produced on the trip to document the important sites and knowledge that they learned. It became part of a group of work that values traditional territory.

During the trip the Cree language was used and many participants expanded their knowledge of the language. They marked on maps the Cree names for the different places along the river. There were many Cree names for places on the map that are not labelled in English. This emphasized the idea that every curve in the river has a name. This is part of decolonization by renaming and reclaiming the land.

In my own teaching I can use place in many areas and subjects. Treaty education is in all grades and a way to incorporate place into this is taking children to historic sites. These sites could include trading posts, tipi rings, or other places that were prominent in First Nations lives.

Another way to incorporate place would be to take students outside when learning about weather or nature. They can learn by being immersed in what is around them. I remember going outside and identifying the clouds when I was younger and learning about clouds in school. Learning about a topic through place helps children remember what they are learning about.

Curriculum Creation

Before I did the reading I thought that curriculum was developed by people in the government. I was not sure exactly who made the decisions, but I thought it came from people in the ministry of education. I remember a high school history class when my teacher told us to be aware that the curriculum was written when Brian Mulroney was prime minister and therefore there were biases in the curriculum. This is why I believed the government creates and influences the curriculum. I think that different people would be hired to create a curriculum for different subjects and different grades. There would be experts in different areas that would help make the decisions to develop curriculum. I never really cared about who made the curriculum before, so I never thought of it.

After I did the reading I realized that there are many steps to creating and then implementing the curriculum. Once a curriculum is created it may go through pilot project were it is used for a year and then reviewed. These process are different depending on where the curriculum is being developed and who is developing it. There are many people involved when curriculum reform is taking place. These groups of people start by reviewing the existing curriculum and gathering data to see what worked and what did not work. They then come up with ideas for change and work to all agree on what should be in the curriculum.

Agreeing on the curriculum seems to be one of the greatest struggles of developing a new curriculum. This is a result of different groups all trying to get the curriculum to include what they think is important. These differences can be a result of what to include in the curriculum and how much time should be spent on each aspect. Some subjects that people disagree with are religious studies, sex education, and evolution. These subjects may be seen as controversial topics and some people do not think that teaching children about certain things is the job of the school. The amount of time that is focused on each subject is another controversial topic. Experts believe that their subject is the most important and should require the most time. Universities and other institutions believe that students should come out of school with higher knowledge. Many people believe that there needs to be more time spent on most subjects, but they do not want a longer day or school year. This is impossible and it helps show the struggles that people who are developing the curriculum would see.

Some people believe that when experts in the field make the curriculum, it is difficult for people who are not experts to teach it. I hope that this is not true, the teachers may use the curriculum differently than it was intended, but I think they would still be able to teach it. I think that the people who create the curriculum need to keep in mind who is going to be using it, but also have more faith in the teachers. The reading suggested that elementary teachers do not have an in-depth knowledge of the subjects and therefore would have difficulty teaching a curriculum that was developed by experts. If the teachers cannot understand the curriculum it will be impossible for the children to learn what is suppose to be taught. The reading also discussed teacher proofing the curriculum. I believe that teachers should have the ability to manipulate the curriculum and use it in a way that is best for them and there students.

When a curriculum is constructed it is reviewed by curriculum review parties. These groups may include parents, teachers, students and other people like business representatives. These people have different views than the experts; they have a more realistic view. Education is different than many other government policies because everyone has went to school so everyone is somewhat knowledgeable about the subject. This results in most people having an opinion about what is important and should be taught in school.

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