Blog 10 – Curriculum as Numeracy

Like so many others, I have always struggled with math. While growing up and still to this day, I do not like math. The people who were good at math and liked it were always the ones that got the most attention in the classroom. In grade 11, my math teacher was not a friendly and open teacher. If you did not understand something, he would not be helpful and often talk down to you. This made it even harder to learn because I never wanted to ask him questions. This created a classroom environment which was oppressive and discriminatory. Students who struggled often continued struggling, whereas, the ones with the natural ability for math or that the teacher liked, succeeded. 

Three ways Inuit mathematics challenge Eurocentric ideas about math are:

  1. Language – Inuit mathematics challenges the eurocentric view that math is a universal language. Inuit children learn math in their own language. The Inuit people do not see math as helping them in their everyday lives – something many of us are taught from a young age. 
  2. Spatial Relations – In the article from Poirier, he says that Inuit children think about spatial representations in a different way than Canadians do. He says, Inuit are also often very good at geometry. These skills are not valued as much in a classroom today. 
  3. Teaching Methods – Inuit children often learn from listening or observing an elder. What the child hears or observes from the elder is then used to solve math problems. This shows how Inuit people use oral tradition to learn math, something that is very different from Eurocentric ideas about math.

Blog 9 – Curriculum as Literacy

Coming from a smaller city, there wasn’t much diversity. Therefore, single stories and biases were easily present. People did not talk about race. This setting I grew up in, sheltered and minimized my worldview on things such as race and gender. The literature we read in highschool was usually about the dominant white group. For example, a classic like Shakespeare. Kumashiro states, these classics only allow students to learn about the dominant group, not allowing them to learn about perspectives other than their own (2009). In my experience this is 100% true. After moving to Regina for university I was surrounded by a variety of cultures opening my worldview. Being surrounded by diversity and in university I am able to learn about different perspectives than my own. As I stated before, nobody talked about race in my hometown. I believe one of the first steps to unlearning biases and working against biases is to recognize we are different and embrace that. As a white woman, I automatically bring a lense of white privilege into the classroom. I can change this lense, but the first step is to be aware of this and know it will take a lot of work to uncover my biases.  As a future educator passionate about education, I am willing to do this. 

Single stories make people have misconceptions and judgements of people even before they meet a person from that particular group. I believe often we dehumanize others and forget they have complex feelings just like us and group them into one “single story.” People learn “single stories” from friends, family, media and schooling. The single stories that were presented in my schooling were biases or stereotypes about different cultures. Most commonly, there were often single stories of Indigenous people. These single stories are damaging and hurtful to society and especially towards indigenous peoples. I was taught through a Euro-Canadian lens where only the dominant groups’ truth mattered. 

It is important for all educators to unlearn their biases so they do not continue to reinforce single stories in their classroom and to create a safe, inclusive environment for all children.

Blog 8 – Curriculum As Citizenship

There are three types of citizens that align with educational aims; personally responsible, participatory and justice oriented (Westheimer and Kahne).

Within my K-12 school experience there were many examples of citizenship education. The main focus was on the personally responsible citizen. This type of citizenship teaches students the basics of being a functioning member of society. For example, my grade one teacher  reinforced good behaviour through prizes. The teacher would put a sticker on a chart by whoever name performed the good behaviour. By a certain time, if you had a sticker you were rewarded. A personally responsible citizen also is involved in community service. In grade eight, we had days where we would go pick up garbage around the neighborhood. In grade ten, to pass physical education you needed ten hours of volunteer service. In highschool, we had mock voting during election times. 

As you get into the older grades, there is a choice of what citizen students want to be. Student councils are an example of a participatory citizen. There were no examples of justice oriented citizenship education in my schooling. 

Within the education system there is a clear lacking of students who are participatory or justice oriented citizens. With little participatory and very little to none justice oriented students, students are limited in their critical thinking. Many believe that it is good enough to be a personally responsible citizen. Being a personally responsible citizen is important, but it is not enough. Schools need to teach students to be critical thinkers that are all three types of citizens; personally responsible, participatory and justice oriented. 

Source: https://www.civicsurvey.org/sites/default/files/publications/what_kind_of_citizen.pdf

Blog 7 – Treaty Education

Teachers have an important role in children’s lives. I will discuss a few resources you could use to help you and other teachers understand why Treaty Education is important for everyone. 

Cynthia Chamber says, “the treaties are stories we share.” We are all treaty people no matter our race. We are all here now and connected through the land we share. If we choose not to listen to each other, we will never move forward. 

Claire Kreuger is an elementary/middle years teacher who does great work in Treaty Education. Through her blog and videos, Claire shows us why we are all treaty people. Teachers give students subtle and non subtle clues on what they should think, therefore, when a teacher says treaty education is not important they are saying Indigenous people are less than. People often have misconceptions about treaty education and aim it towards First Nations people. A very important note Claire states, this is a white problem. Teaching treaty education is detrimental, especially when there are no Indigenous peoples. We are all treaty people. It does not matter if you are a settler or indigenous to this land. Treaty education is about “learning the benefits and responsibilities of sharing the land, but also honouring the long history of this place” (Claire Introduction). Claire describes how treaty education lets students and others to own the history, move forward and understand our identity. Claire also discusses how if your students aren’t understanding the curriculum outcomes for treaty education it is okay to step back and teach concepts from earlier grades. This could be a good suggestion for your students. 

Dwayne Donald gives a lecture called “On What Terms Can We Speak?” that I believe would be helpful for you. Dwyane just like Claire discusses how we have all been colonized, therefore, we are all treaty people. Treaty education is about relationships. There is often a disconnection between First Nations people and Canadian settlers due to colonialism. Dwayne says often teachers focus on content and facts, not showing how it is connected to each of us. Decolonization can only happen when we “deconstruct the past we share and engage critically with the realization that the present and the future is tide together” (Dwayne Donald). This saying, everybody needs to know treaty education to work together to a brighter future. 

Considering these sources, I would suggest trying to connect the materials with your students. Ask them what they think and know. If need be, teach concepts that they have missed from other grades. Educate and have conversations about why we are all treaty people so they can have a deeper understanding why treaty education is important. Treaty education is not something that is going to go away, as educators, we have to be open to always learning. It is okay to make mistakes, you can learn from them! Treaty education can be linked to every subject. I hope these sources help. Good luck! 

Resources: 

Chambers_We are all treaty people.pdf

Dwayne Donald – On What Terms Can We Speak?

Blog 5: “Learning from Place”

Some ways the narrative shows reinhabitation and decolonization:

  • Bringing generations of community members together 
  • Involving youth in conversation about the importance of land and water 
  • The process of creating an audio documentary – interviews 
  • Community involvement 
  • An excursion to the river 
  • Use of original names and Cree concepts among the youth 
  • “paquataskamik” meaning traditional territory – connects people to land 
  • Deepening relationships 

Within the classroom, you will have a diverse range of students. As educators, we have to respect and welcome all cultures. In relation to my own teaching, the article discusses the importance of relationships between people. To respect and welcome cultures you need to create a relationship. The article discusses how they used the original Cree names to feel more connected to their culture. In the classroom, the students and you could explore languages. The article also mentions that the connection to nature is important for children’s intellectual, emotional, social, physical and spiritual development. This point stuck out to me as something I should incorporate into my own teaching. You could do this with trips, such as the river trip in the article. The river trip allowed the people and youth to feel more connected to nature and their culture.

Source: Restoule et al (2013)  Learning From Place

Blog 3 – Sex Education and the Curriculum

“The objective of sex education is to provide information about sexuality and sex that children need in order to make informed choices regarding their sexual health and pleasure” (Saarrenharju, Uusiautti and Maatta, 2012). I have chosen sex education in the curriculum for my paper topic. While first researching this topic, a lot of information came up about how abstinence is the main thing taught in sex education, specifically in the United States. Personally, this startled me quite a bit because students need to have the information to make informed and safe decisions and ideas about their own bodies. 

My first article I will be exploring is “It goes beyond the fundamentals of sex and education.” Analysis on the online commenting on the curriculum reform in Ontario” by Maiju Saarreharju, Satu Uusiautti & Kaarina Maatta. This article discusses the issues surrounding teaching sex education to students and the Ontario sex education reform. One main problem that has risen while teaching sex education is resistence or criticism from the parents and public. The article goes on to provide background information regarding the Ontario sex education reform. Sex education has been seen as a basic human right. The absence of sex education violates a child’s right to protection and right to information (Kennedy and Covell, 2009). Majority of people think sexual education is important to protect children from teenage pregnancies, sexually transitted diseases and sexual abuse (Saarrenharju, Uusiautti and Maatta, 2012). Where people start to disagree is the timing of sexual education, religious values and abstinence (Saarrenharju, Uusiautti and Maatta, 2012). 

The article carries on discussing a study done to analyze the public’s view on sex education curriculum reform. This was done by looking at 453 online comments regarding sexual education curriculum. The findings stated; there is a need for curriculum reform, the suitable time for sex education, and the child’s needs. 

While continuing to write my paper, I will discuss the articles findings more in depth. I will also continue to explore the benefits, needs, and issues surrounding sex education

Blog 2: Tyler Rationale

The Tyler Rationale is a curriculum theory I have witnessed in my schooling similar to many others. I can recall in my grade nine social studies class, my teacher printed off the curriculum outcomes and posted them on the board and said “This is what we need to learn.” The Tyler Rationale is focused on the final product and evaluation. In schools, especially post secondary we have finals and midterms that make up the biggest portion of our mark. This is another example of the Tyler Rationale. These tests are often not about learning the material, but memorizing it. 

The major limitations of the Tyler Rationale are it ignores the context of learning environments such as, social or cultural aspects. It is not an effective way for everyone to learn from. The article states, this theory takes away the learners voice and tells them exactly what to do and how. This way of teaching takes students and teachers creativity away, not leaving much room for thinking for themselves. Of course there are some benefits of the Tyler Rationale. Some benefits of the Tyler Rationale are it gives teachers an easy list of what to teach. Another benefit of the rationale is it is also organized and clear. 

Blog 1 – “The Problem Of Common Sense”

Common sense is different for everyone, depending on where you live, culture, age and much more. Kumashiro defines common sense as “what everyone should know.” Kumashiro states, common sense tells us what we should be doing and is often decided by the privileged and when challenged is often seen as irrelevant.

When Kumashiro was in a place where the ‘common sense’ was different than what he was used to, it took him time to learn what was common sense for everyone else in the community. For the students and teachers in Nepal, the commonsense in school was to memorize straight from the textbook to prepare for the year end exam, different than what Kumashire knew. Kumashiro wanted to mix the seating arrangements, but soon found out that was not how things were in Nepal. Kumashiro was even encouraged to hit the students that misbehaved, something very different from North America education. Kumashiro had to change his ‘common sense’ to be culturally sensitive to Nepal’s “common sense” but also inform the school on ‘common sense’ he was sent to teach. Such as, not only learning through tests. It is important to pay attention to the ‘commonsense’ of your students to help you be the best teacher you can be for your students. Teachers must change and develop their commonsense. The article talks about Kumashiro’s colleagues believing the “American Way” of teaching was better that the “Nepali Way.” As teachers from Canada, we have to recognize the superiority and not fail to mention it like Kumashiro’s colleagues. Just because one’s commonsense may be different than ours does not mean it is wrong. It is also important to look at the ‘commonsense’ of your students because something that was meant to be helpful could end up being oppressive. Common sense is often oppressive but not seen this way because it is the “norm” and often needs to be examined, therefore, teachers need to be aware of ‘common sense’ within their classroom.

Source: The problem of common sense (Kumashiro. (2009). Against Common Sense: Teaching and Learning Toward Social Justice, pp. XXIX – XLI).

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