Throughout this course, I learned a deeper understanding of the curriculum. I once believed that it was simply the government document given to teachers. I now know that there is so much more to curriculum including everything that is and is not explicitly taught in the classroom. I have begun to see that I want to approach curriculum as a process and evaluate my students on what they learn throughout the lesson rather than just their outcome. This class gave me the opportunity to reflect on myself and see how I as a teacher want to approach my career and make school a better place for marginalized groups. This class also introduced me to lesson planning and the incorporation of Treaty Education. Prior to this class I was not overly familiar with Treaty Education and also felt uncomfortable with teaching it. I now see the importance of Treaty Education and my fear of teaching it is something I am slowly beginning to overcome.
This class gave me the opportunity to deeper understand why I want to be a teacher and I look forward to furthering my professional development.
For my summary of learning, I decided to collaborate with fellow classmate Taylor Gamracy. I hope you enjoy our video.
Thinking back, I remember really enjoying math. However, this was because it came easy to me. I do remember other students struggling in math which made it not as enjoyable. I did not see math as oppressive to anyone, but I did not consider that different people did math in different bases until coming to university. I can see how it would be hard for an individual who knows math in base 3 to come into the classroom I was taught in and attempt to do math. A way that math can be discriminatory is when using items or scenarios familiar to Euro-Canadians in word problems. From a young age I recall that our math textbooks would try to be multicultural by having names familiar to different cultures within the story problems, but they would not have a scenario or items in the word problem that were familiar to these different cultures. The scenarios and items were always Euro-Canadian. This can lead to students who are not familiar with the item or scenarios to have troubles understanding the question.
Three ways that Inuit mathematics challenges Eurocentric ideas as shown in “Teaching mathematics and the Inuit community” are:
- Inuit mathematics is done in base-20, whereas Eurocentric ideas see mathematics as a universal language. However, it can’t be when it is not done in the same base. Inuit learned in base-20 because they used their hands and feet to count, so they had 20 counters.
- Inuit mathematics also challenges Eurocentric ideas because the Inuit traditionally measured with body parts. Inuit women today, still use body parts in order to measure clothing. Eurocentric ideas use inches or centimeters to measure, which seems practical, but not if you do not have a measuring tape or ruler. It would be simpler to use say your finger and measure the length.
- Inuit mathematics also challenges the Eurocentric calendar. The calendar has the same number of days in a month with the exception of a leap year because the calendar is solar. The name of each month comes from animal activity or nature. How long a month is will depend on the natural even that is associated with that month, such as “when the ice breaks”.
Throughout my schooling, the “single stories” I learned came through the hidden curriculum. Although we did have Indigenous Studies and were taught about the lives of Indigenous people we were not fully understanding and aware of this. I was a part of a dominantly white school, with a small amount of diversity that included First Nations students from Ocean Man Reserve. My classmates, as well as myself had preconceived beliefs of these First Nations students. We observed them not always going to class or receiving extra help from teachers. My fellow white classmates and I have stereotypes in our head that these students did not go to class because First Nations were lazy. I am ashamed that I had this stereotype in my head, it was not until I was in grade twelve when a teacher of mine better explained the situation to us. He explained that the First Nations students started out in Ocean Man School which was very different from ours, the expectations and routines were quite different. It was also a difficult transition to Stoughton School in grade nine because Ocean Man did not have a high school. I also now realize that students and teachers were not very accepting of First Nations students and were not as welcoming as they should have been. This too could have led to students not feeling welcome in class, and therefore not wanting to attend. The truth of the dominant culture of white students and teachers was the truth that mattered and First Nations education needs were not met.
Growing up, my parents always encouraged me to be welcoming to all individuals regardless of culture, race, and gender diversity. I did feel that my school experience counteracted with my parent’s influence on me, but as I matured I felt as though I was better and understanding and accepting diversity and various views. I try to “read the world” with an anti-bias view but I do catch myself not doing so in certain situations. Such as perhaps believing someone of colour is more likely to steal something compared to someone who is white. Or a man more likely to threaten someone over a woman. These are biases that I have in my head and can catch myself thinking from time to time. Although I do try to be accepting of all individuals, I find it difficult when society is engraving certain stereotypes and world views into our minds.
I bring a number of biases/lenses into the classroom being a white, middle classes, heterosexual woman. I am a part of the dominant culture, and my culture is supported and promoted where I live. Due to this, I find it difficult to understand how others do not have these privileges and how it is to be an individual who is oppressed by mainstream society. As a pre-service teacher, I recognize that it is important for me to recognize this and help support my diverse students. It is also important for me to unlearn what western society has taught me about various cultures and ethnicities. This can be done by getting to know each individual student and family. And not making generalized assumptions about individuals based on stereotypes about their culture. It is important to work against negative societal views and work towards changing these views. If we accept that we have these biases we are better able to work against them. We need to start somewhere, so why not in the classroom?
In my K-12 schooling, we had a number examples of citizenship. From a young age, we were taught to be polite, be quiet during class, and raise our hand when we wanted to talk. We learned to be good citizens within the community as well such as cleaning up the town in spring. We would have an afternoon where the whole school went out and picked up all the garbage that had accumulated over winter. We also had SRC where individuals could be a part of the committee and help organize school events these are both examples of participatory citizenship. We also participated in We Day because of an idea we came up with in Biology class to provide clean drinking water to a place in need. However, this idea was not carried out and I believe it was just a way to get to go to We Day. In reality, the plan should have been carried out, but it was not. So, what we did was not very beneficial at all.
I found that my school and teachers made justice-oriented citizenship really hard. We were taught to be good people and participate actively in the community. We were told to be critical thinkers and think about what was happening around us and question it. However, although we were taught this, questioning teachers was out of the question, and anyone questioning the teachers would be seen as acting out. Justice-oriented is often seen as bad or acting out when in reality the individual actually does have good values behind what he/she is doing or questioning. I found in school we were taught to be critical thinkers and justice-oriented citizens but only in certain scenarios that would not go against what teachers or people in authority believed.
The purpose of teaching Treaty Ed or First Nations, Metis, and Inuit content and perspectives where there are few or no First Nations, Metis, and Inuit people is to educate individuals on a topic they may not be familiar with but is very important. It was not just Indigenous people who signed the treaties, it was also white settlers. The treaties were an agreement to share the land that we currently live on. In order to have a better relationship with individuals we share land with, we need to better understand these individuals. If students are not exposed to relationships with First Nations, Metis, and Inuit people they do not get the opportunity to gain first-hand knowledge on the culture. Due to this it is essential to teach Treaty Ed and First Nations, Metis, and Inuit content or perspectives in order for students to understand and respect the culture of the First Nations, Metis, and Inuit. First Nations, Metis, and Inuit people suffer because of what has happened in the past between the government, white settlers, and their people. This is something that we as individuals can begin to make a difference in. Although we cannot change the past, we can change the future. Raising awareness and educating students on the lives of the people whose land we share can be the first step to repairing relationships with First Nations, Metis, and Inuit people.
“We are all treaty people” means that we are all a part of the agreement to share the land. This means that we all need to work to get along and establish good relationships with one another. Although not all promises of the treaties have been kept, we as individuals can work towards establishing better relationships with all who we share the land with. With this, we can work towards a better future and better relationships. This is why teaching Treaty Ed and First Nations, Metis, and Inuit content and perspectives is essential in school. “We are all treaty people” means that we are all responsible in maintaining a healthy relationship with one another.
Throughout the reading “Learning from a Place” I was able to see reinhabitation and decolonization in a number of ways including:
- The trips along the river
- Bringing together Elders and youth to learn about the role and meaning of the land to social well-being
- Re-introducing younger generations to traditional ways of knowing
- Elders teaching youth about how to live off the river and land
- The history and current usage of the river and the vision for the future
- Marking names of places in Inninowuk language
- The emphasis of the word Paquataskamik, which is a Cree word used for traditional territory, all of the environment, nature and everything it contains. This word is significant because it is being mispronounced by younger generations due to intergenerational language loss.
- Burial sites along the river to represent the significant connections between ancestors, land, river, and Paquataskamik.
I believe place can be essential to a student’s learning. Field trips are an essential way place can be incorporated into a student’s learning. Rather than learn about a place while in the classroom, students can learn about it while on a field trip to said place. The youth in the article would not have learned or understood as much about the importance of the river if they had not experienced firsthand. In my own teaching, I can do something similar by not having my teaching restricted to the classroom. If my class is learning about nature, we could go outside and experience it for ourselves. If the class is learning about something such as art, we could go to an art museum or art workshop. Students learn so much more when they are brought into the environment in which they are learning about. Place can play a huge role in a student’s learning experience and the amount of information they retain from the experience. A student is much more likely to remember something if they visited the place where it is or occurs rather than just learn about it within the four walls of the classroom.
I think school curricula is developed based on what is important in society at the time. School is political, so what is important to the people in charge is what will be taught. It is all about what these individuals believe the outcome of the student should be and how this outcome can be achieved. Teachers do not have a role in curricula development and are required to simply teach what he/she is told to teach.
According to the article by B. Levin, curricula is based upon two levels of objectives. One level is very general, whereas the next is very specific. Curricula also reinforce particular teaching and learning strategies. Curricula is always changing due to new theories about the outcome of education. There is a constant debate over what should be taught and how much of it should be taught at different levels. Subject areas get included, excluded or focused on less or more compared to other subjects. In many places, it is the government that has the final say on curricula, not the school itself. This means that this curriculum may not be efficient for the particular school. The curriculum consists of more components than can actually be taught throughout the school year. This is where the school or individual teacher needs to decide what to include in their teaching. Post-secondary schools also influence what is taught because of their requirements for entering the institution. Schools will offer these required classes in order for students to be eligible to apply to post-secondary schools. Many businesses influence curricula by trying to support and promote subjects that support their needs. The society also has an impact on curricula as there are groups that want the curriculum to represent certain issues and perspectives. However, different groups often have more power over others will be better represented in the curriculum.
I found it interesting that in creating a curriculum it is not always beneficial to find experts on the subject area. If this is done, the curriculum could be constructed to only suit the experts teaching needs, and not the needs of other teachers. I found this intriguing because I would have thought of this strategy as a good starting point for creating curricula. Curriculum construction is moving away from experts and instead of looking to parents, students, and non-educators in reviewing the curriculum. I believe this is a good approach to constructing curricula. This was not something I had considered before.
I am concerned that curricula are extensively influenced by individuals and forces that do not have the experiences or knowledge needed to create a suitable curriculum. The curriculum is reflective of politics and people in power. An excellent example of this is the neglect of Indigenous studies in the curriculum until more recent. I believe that this was a major mistake in the education system. It is concerning to think about what similar mistakes could be happening right now and in the future.
A good student is one who does not question the curriculum or the teacher. In the chapter Preparing Teachers for Crisis: What It Means to Be a Student, the author explains, “I remember consistently feeling quite frustrated by such students, not only because I assumed that being a student required behaving and thinking in only certain ways, but also because I felt pressure from schools and society to produce this type of student” (19). He recalls a student who would sometimes misbehave or behave in a way that he saw unacceptable. A “good” student is one who always behaves in the proper manner for school, does what he/she is told, and doesn’t question things. Students who were white, intelligent in school subjects, and were well behaved were privileged by this. As long as a student tried hard, got good marks, and did not act out they were considered a good student.
It is impossible to fully understand children with learning disabilities or other obstacles that prevent them from being successful in school and “well behaved”. It is impossible to see the strengths students have in other fields unrelated to school because only school subjects matter. It is impossible to see a child’s creativity because anything considered unacceptable is punished or dismissed. Such as M’s creativity of making a branch into a sword. M was punished for his minds creativity which leads a student to conform and not be creative. If students are punished for their creativity they will begin to see it as something they should not do and eventually no longer do it.
A quote that stuck out to me was one by Ken Robinson,
“We have to go from what is essentially an industrial model of education, a manufacturing model, which is based on linearity and conformity and batching people. We have to move to a model that is based more on principles of agriculture. We have to recognize that human flourishing is not a mechanical process; it’s an organic process. And you cannot predict the outcome of human development. All you can do, like a farmer, is create the conditions under which they will begin to flourish.”
I enjoy this quote because I believe it makes students have an active role in their learning. It says that the teacher is the guide or facilitator and creates a learning environment where children can become successful. The student’s role in their learning is to be present and willing to learn in the learner friendly environment their teacher has provided for them. I believe that this makes it possible for schools to not have a desired outcome for their students. Students all develop differently and there is not a standard outcome for a student graduating school. I think there are positives to this quote, but there are also negatives. To me, this says that the student is responsible for their own education. However, there are many factors that influence a student’s education. If a student lives in a home where his/her parents both work and cannot afford childcare, the student may be responsible for looking after his/her younger siblings. Due to this he/she may not get the opportunity to be as successful in school. I believe that to “create the conditions under which they will begin to flourish” a teacher needs to also look at exceptional circumstances where a student may not be able to be as successful. The teacher needs to be accommodating and create conditions where the student can flourish. Perhaps the student who has to look after his/her siblings during the day as time in the evening to do school work and the teacher can perhaps find ways to help this student out in the evenings.
This quote relates to my own understanding of curriculum and school because I believe there should not be the desired outcome for every student who graduates grade twelve. Every student coming through school is unique and can be successful in his/her own way. Every student has strengths and weaknesses and I believe that it is important for this to be noted. An excellent example is for providing credits for students that are more hands on learners, perhaps a student can get credits for their mechanic work that they do outside of school. I believe every student will be able to flourish if the conditions are appropriate for his/her own needs.
In class, we were recently introduced to the Tyler Rationale. As explained in class and in the article Social Efficiency Ideology, the Tyler rationale consists of four questions for someone creating a curriculum to ask themselves. There four questions are,
- What educational purposes should the school seek to attain?
- What educational experiences can be provided that are likely to attain these purposes?
- How can these educational experiences be effectively organized?
- How can we determine whether these purposes are being attained?
In the article, it explains that Tyler believed that education was a way of changing people. I feel I experienced the Tyler rationale in my schooling when as a student I was expected to sit quietly in class. The school sought to make students well behaved individuals that could be quiet during class. Teachers achieved this by making a classroom where children sat alone at their own desk making it harder to speak to their peers. Students were also rewarded for their good behaviour by getting gold stars on a chart of being first to go out at recess. This was a desire for students and pushed them to be quiet during class. This can be evaluated by observation of the class to see who was being quiet and who would sometimes misbehave and not be quiet when they were supposed to be. As a student, I felt that my behaviour was changed because I was normally a very outspoken individual who talked a lot, and I would have to control my talking from a very young age.
Some limitations of Tyler’s rationale is that it is impossible to produce a suitable citizen for every culture. The school is only able to produce a suitable citizen for their own culture. The article explains that education is the changes in human beings, however, these changes may not be desired among every culture. An individual can become a part of a new culture after having gone through school and find what they had learned is no longer acceptable in this particular culture.
Some benefits of Tyler as discussed in class was that he provided a scientific model for the development of curriculum. He explained that curriculum can be more than just context, and was very concerned by the final product or evaluation. Curriculum changes between cultures, social communities, and throughout time. Different cultures have different society norms in which an individual needs to conform to. The curriculum of schools differs in order to accommodate to that society. Another benefit was that his questions allowed educators to question and evaluate their own teaching and question why they were teaching what they were. This has allowed educators to adapt their teaching and become more productive in their teaching.