Summary of Learning: Final Post

It is crazy how quickly a semester goes by when you are enjoying what you are learning. ECS 210 had taught me a lot about, not just curriculum, but about what kind of teacher I want to be in the future.

For my assignment, I had teamed up with Kylie. We were able to bounce ideas off each other as to all the new information we had learnt. Together, we created this short summary of our learning.

As this class comes to an end, I am able to reflect on all the important lessons I had learnt from my profs and peers. Thank you all for teaching me such valuable lessons that I will carry with me during my teaching career!

Cheers!

Curriculum as Numeracy: My Experience With Mathematics

Were aspects of learning mathematics oppressive or discriminating for myself or other students?

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). By this definition, there was oppression when learning math.

In my own experiences, we were taught things in the order that the textbook had outlined and we had only learnt from the textbook. Our assignments would be right from the textbook and we would have to hand them in to get a grade. This linear order made a lot of students fear math for the sake of failing. There was deadlines to be made and if you were lost along the way, that was your responsibility to catch up.

In high school, we would have to complete a unit every two weeks which usually meant that every day we were learning something new and every two weeks there would be an examination. While there was no time to review, some students would do well as they had naturally excelled in mathematics, and often times the students who did not understand the concept would be penalized. They were often sent to work in another room by themselves while the rest of the class worked on the new materials. They were usually not given much help by the teacher but when they were, the teacher would not change their explanation to help the student understand.

It wasn’t until I got to university that I was told that I could use different methods to solve a problem. This put me in a moment of despair as I had only ever been taught one way and was told that any other way was wrong, which usually meant it would not be graded at all. After taking MATH 101 at the University of Regina, I realized how oppressive my past mathematical experiences had been. Later in life, I was reminded of how math is unique to each and everyone of us. That it is actually a part of who we are, physically, as explained by Eddie Woo.

Challenges to the Eurocentric ideas about the purpose of math and why we learn it

Inuit mathematics is one that challenges the Eurocentric ideas about mathematics. In Poirier’s article it is stated that, “mathematics is a dialogue between people who have maths problems to solve” (p.56). The article had talked about six (6) domains of mathematics that are universal across all cultures; “counting, localization, measuring, design, games, and explanation” (p.56).

Somethings that are different between Inuit and Eurocentric math are:

  1. Inuit have a base 20-system while we have a base 10-system
  2. Inukshuks, reading snowbanks, and smelling the salt in the air are ways in which Inuit peoples have a concept of space. We have a sense of space by using kilometres, referencing other points near by, street names and house numbers, and GPS.
  3. To measure, Inuit peoples use their palms to measure how long something is. For example, when making a parka, they would use their palm to measure the base of your neck. We measure with a ruler or a tape measure.
  4. Inuit peoples months may be different every time. They have months, like we do, but each month means something. For example, “September means ‘when the caribou’s antlers lose their velvet’ and that the number of days changes, since it depends on how long it takes for the caribou’s antlers to lose their velvet” (p. 60). The only time our months change the number of days is when it is a leap year to which it only affects one month.

Lots of other aspects challenge Eurocentric ideas/views that are further discussed in Poirier’s Article that you can read here.

In closing, I want you to think about your ways of life. Are they dominated by Eurocentric views and beliefs? Was your mathematics in school oppressive?

Cheers!

Kumashiro’s Against Common Sense: Curriculum as Literacy

How has your upbringing/schooling shaped how you you “read the world?”

My upbringing and schooling was all small town based. I think that because of this type of upbringing I was, in a way, sheltered from some real-life issues. In school, everything was handed to me and my classmates on a silver platter. I would even go to the extent to say that we were even babied when it came to our school work. If there was something we couldn’t do, our teachers would show us how, make the assignment something else, or make the assignment of a lower grade. For example, in my grade 11 English course, my classmates decided that we did not want to do the final exam because it was stressing us out and that it would be hard. We convinced our teacher to take away the final exam and to let us do a group project instead- this group project we also decided what we wanted to do.

In class we would read stories that were of European descent and that was pretty much it. Shakespeare was read every year of high school. I think that all of these factors have influenced the way that I “read the world” because I start to believe in europeanized stereotypes about the people around me, I believe in the ways of life in a European way, and I believe that if I don’t want to or can’t do something, there is always another way.

What biases and lenses do you bring to the classroom?

Based on my own personal experiences and teachings, these are some of the possible biases/lenses that I bring into the classroom:

  • Boys are always the troublemakers in the classroom
  • The students who are involved with the school and are liked by the teacher will do better in school
  • Girls should be quiet and proper when in the classroom
  • Teaching lessons from white europeans views

How might we unlearn / work against these biases?

As educators, and simply just as human beings, we can work at eliminating these biases by consciously being aware of the biases that we hold. By bringing those to the front of our minds, we will always have those in mind and will try to keep those biases out of the classroom. For example, if you know that you have a bias about teaching lessons from “old dead white guys” then you will have to bring that bias forward in your mind. In doing that, you will want to bring more perspectives into your classroom and have more cultures and identities present in the literature and lessons you teach.

Curriculum as Citizenship

Image of Menti collage made in ECS 210 based on the question “what words come to mind when you think about citizenship?”

What is Citizenship Education?

Citizenship education is part of the hidden curriculum. Here, you focus on teaching students to be good citizens. You teach them about voting, honesty, compassion, responsibilities, being part of the community and other aspects that create good citizens.

Examples of Citizenship Education In My Own Life

Growing up in a small town, volunteering was how a lot of things had been run in the town. We talked about all the volunteering that could be done for the community during our classes, to which most of our classes had a portion for marks that we had to complete through volunteering. Physical Education, Health, Art, and sometimes English Language Arts were the classes were this was talked about most. Through reading stories, assignments, and lectures, we were taught about what it took to be a good citizen. We would often go to one of the three senior citizens homes at least once a week. Here we would devote an hour of our days to doing crafts, playing games, and doing other activities with the seniors, although this was not implemented until my grade 11 and 12 year.

Types of Citizenship Mentioned In The Article

The article talked of three different types of citizens. The first being a personally-responsible citizen. This type of citizen fulfills their social and civiv responsibilities, which is things such as paying taxes, voting, and helping those in need. They possess desirable qualities, such as compassion and honesty, and have a common vision of citizenship being promoted in schools through community service projects and volunteerism. To connect to my personal experience, I would say that my community would be focused on this type of citizen. The second type of citizen is the participatory citizen. This type of citizen has knowledge of strategic and skills for public engagement and actions, which would include; decision making, problem solving, etc. These types of citizens are also very active in the community and community organizations (such as being on the SRC in school). The last type of citizen is the justice-oriented citizen. This citizen questions the root causes of social problems and work towards equality. They believe that citizen action leads to social change.

What Has Been Made Impossible In Regards To Citizenship Because of This Approach To The Curriculum

I believe that because of this approach to the curriculum some important teachings are being left out. Topics such as culture, being able to critically think and analyze, and other part of the hidden curriculum that are missed because of this approach. However, I still believe that teaching students to be good citizens is also an important aspect that should be taught as well.

Resources Used For This Post

What Kind Of Citizen? The Politics of Educating For Democracy

Joel Westheimer speaks on “What Kind of Citizen?”

Michael Cappello speaks about Citizenship Education

Treaty Education: What Does It Mean To Me?

What is Treaty Education?

Treaty Education is an important part of Canadian Curriculum as every Canadian has treaty rights. As many people have heard many of times, “We are all treaty people,” thus we need to know what we are a part of and the shared history of this country. Treaty Education brings forward the colonial history that is rooted in Canadian history as well as understanding the cultures that were hurt in the process of becoming Canada and the process of reconciliation.

What is the purpose of teaching Treaty Education?

Some may think, “why teach this, it’s history, let’s move on” but how can you move on from something that is still an ongoing issue in todays society. The purpose of Treaty Education is educate children on treaties; treaty relationships, spirit and intent of the treaties the context of the treaties (historical), and the promised and provisions of the treaties. This education is cultural. It teaches about the cultures (First Nations, Metis, Inuit, etc.) that had suffered loss and abuse from the Canadian Government. It brings forth topics of Residential Schools, Sixties Scoop, and other horrible events that these cultures were put through. We teach Treaty Education so that future generations understand the Canadian history, become culturally aware of their surroundings, and become culturally-accepting members of society.

What does it mean for your understanding of curriculum that “We are all treaty people”?

This is probably the hardest part of this blog post. What does this mean to me..hmm.. I have grown up with being told this all throughout my education and yet I had never thought about what it means to me. I was always drilled with this quote but I never added my own personal thoughts about it. I phoned my grandma to talk to her about this blog. To her, being a treaty person meant that she has rights to land, to her identity, and to life. She spoke highly of treaties and the recent acknowledgment of treaty lands. It wasn’t until my conversation with her had come to an end that I thought about what it meant to me. Being a treaty person means that I also have rights, like my grandma, but I also have responsibilities too. I have a responsibility to keep cultures alive, to remember history and to make sure that those events don’t repeat, to embrace life around me, and to live fully. To be a culturally-accepting member of my society and an advocate for cultures is my responsibility as I am a treaty person.

Further Research If Interested..

Below I have attached some articles and other sources that you can take a look at if interested. Some thoughts of mine that were written in this blog were sparked from some of these works, so check them out!

Cynthia Chamber’s work

Dwayne Donald’s work

Claire Kreugers Blog and Conversation with Mike

Ryan McMahon’s Keynote Presentation

I had also came across a video from the Nova Scotia Government that talked of treaty people and treaty education. Linked here if you are interested in looking into it.

Levin’s “Curriculum Policy and The Politics of What Should Be Learned In Schools”: Reflection

As this post will be quite lengthy, I will provide my readers with an understanding of what will be talked about. To start off, I would like to walk my readers through a quick summary of Curriculum Policy and The Politics of What Should Be Learned In Schools. Once the summary has been established, I will reflect on the piece. I will speak about what stood out to me and my thoughts about the piece to which I will later connect the work of Levin, my reflection, and the Saskatchewan Ministry of Education 2013 document on Treaty Education Outcomes and Indicators. Understandably, skim through the headings and read through the parts of interest to you. 

What is Curriculum?

“Curriculum is defined as an official statement of what students are expected to know and be able to do” (Levin 8). 

What is Public Policy and Politics?

“Public policy is about the rules and procedures governing public sector activity—what they are and how they are made. It can be thought of as either a subset of the study of government or an element in the study of various policy fields [such as;] health, education, justice, social welfare, transportation, and so on” (Levin 8).

“Politics focuses on [the] formal processes of the government, such as elections, political parties, and division of powers” (Levin 8). 

These two definitions combine together to form a system that creates a hierarchy- some people dominate the other people

How is the Government tied to Education?

Voter Interests Drive Everything

When a political leader is running in politics, it is their main goal to appeal to the people of that area and to make them happy, which means giving them what they want. All of these promises are usually said during the election, however, sometimes these promises are not fulfilled. In this case, people become unhappy because they did not get what they were promised, and the person will be tossed out of government since they did not fulfill their duties. Education can be put in the mix of this as everyone has had some form of education within their lifetime. This can come up in election when a politician may promise to better the education in some way, for example, lowering the dropout rates by implementing a policy or creating a program of some sort in hopes to lower the current rate. 

Control Over the Political Agenda

“Government agendas are shaped in part by the commitments, party forums, and the views of key political leaders” (Levine 10). This meaning that the government will attempt to do fulfill those promises that they had made when they were elected, however once elected, different parties and groups of people will try to influence or change the ways of the agenda. This is tied to education as the agenda of the government may be more creativity in the classroom, more ways standardized testing, or even tougher testing, or whatever the case may be. 

 Time 

The government does not have the ability to fully think about an issue in depth as there is always new things happening in the world that require attention as well. Because of this, decisions are often made quite quickly and answers to the problem are thrown together in a hurry to move onto the next problem. An unconfirmed case can connect this to education. The case went a little something like this: “The Minister of Education went to see the Prime Minister with two major policy proposals. The Prime Minister told the Minister of Education that he could have one only and could pick which one” (Levin 12). 

Beliefs Are More Important Than Facts

Some educators may believe that policy around education should be based on the knowledge and experiences of educators. However, the government cannot drive decisions solely off of these beliefs and experiences and are actually “among the less important factors” (Levin 13). Some people believe “that free tuition would substantially increase accessibility to postsecondary education for the poor” (Levin 13), and this is just one example of the beliefs around education. 

How is Curriculum created?

Elements of Curriculum

Most of the curricula is organizes around two objective levels; broad goals and specific learning activities and objectives. The discussion that the government has around curriculum involves two kinds; the shape of the curriculum (“what subjects should be included, how much of each, and at what stages of students’ education”) and the content of subjects (Levin 14). 

Who’s Involved? What Influences Curriculum Development?

  • A combination of national, local, and school participation
  • The cabinet has a single person who assumes responsibility for education 
  • The school itself (whether the implement the curriculum or not)
    • Staff of those schools 
      • Teachers
      • Principals 
      • senior administrators
      • elected local authorities
  •  Postsecondary institutions and their experts
  • Assessment of student
    • Both by the student and by the teacher
  • Textbook companies
  • Cooperate Companies/ Institutions
  • Public domain 

The Process of Curriculum 

Image of “Phases of Curriculum Process” from Indrani Rengasamy, Associate Professor of English

A Personal Reflection of the Article

Based on the article, school curricula are developed solely by people who are experts in the area although they may lack experience with the physical environment that they would be implementing their work into. One thing that really surprises me is the lack of time spent on governmental decisions. I believe that good things take time, especially when it comes to problem solving. The way Levin described the process, it reminded me of a saying that my father would always say when repairing something around the house, “quick and dirty”. I feel as though something as important as curriculum should be something more than just “quick and dirty” as it has a large impact. It impacts the staff who teach it, the students who receive it and the life the students lead from those lessons they received. 

Saskatchewan Treaty Education Outcomes and Indicators Document

This document was written in 2013 by the Saskatchewan Ministry of Education. The document starts of by acknowledging the people who worked on the document. It walks through the background of the document and the purpose along with Treaty Relationships, Spirit and Intent of Treaties, Historical Context, and Treaty Promises and Provisions.  It then provides a breakdown of the outcomes and indicators of Kindergarten to grade 12. 

Connections between the work of Levin and the Treaty Education Document 

One obvious connection that I can make is the support between the two articles. Levin speaks of the many people who influence the making of curriculum and when looking at the Treaty Education document we see a list of people who are involved from the beginning of the document. However, Levin also talks about the process of creating curriculum and one of the steps being the implementation of the curriculum into the school. After reading his work, we understand that if the teachers do not implement the curriculum, it cannot work or be adjusted. This can be the case with Treaty Education in the classroom. Some educators still have strong beliefs about when and where this form of education should occur, to which they may not bring the curriculum into their classroom thus affecting the education of the students. 

Tensions That May Have Arose from the Development of this Curriculum

This curriculum was constructed by a list of people (who are mentioned in the document along with their positions). After reading this list, some tension may come to mind. For example, rehashing the past. For the Aboriginal people who sat on the board to create this work, rehashing the past may have caused a lot of pain. The insensitivity and or lack of knowledge of their peer may have caused tension. Another tension that comes to mind is White Privilege. Some people may not understand how important this document is or how much it should be implemented in the school system however; their culture is dominant within the school without them really even noticing. Overall, this topic brings tension out of everyone so the creation of this would bring a bunch of tension just by creating the document. Since I was not a part of the journey of creating this, I cannot know all the tensions that arose from this. There may have been many, there may have been some that I have mentioned or none that I had mentioned but whatever the case may be, the tensions I had mentioned are my own opinion and thus I cannot prove that the tensions had arose or that there are more or less. 

Learning from Place: A Return to Traditional Mushkegowuk Ways of Knowing

This article suggests that a “critical pedagogy of place” aims to: (a) identify, recover, and create material spaces and places that teach us how to live well in our total environments (re-inhabitation); and (b) identify and change ways of thinking that injure and exploit other people and places (decolonization) (p.74). 

List some of the ways that you see re-inhabitation and decolonization happening throughout the narrative.

ReinhabitationDecolonization
The documentary (audio) that had been established to bring elders and the youth together to promote youth, adult, and elder involvement Economic exploitation 
Fostering dialogue between cultures, and youth and adult generationsInjuring the land that the Mushkegowuk people find sacred and important to their teachings and culture
Respecting the community and the land the individuals were brought up onPassing down of knowledge from elders

Visitation of “documented sites of significance to the community” (p.75)  by youth

How might you adapt these ideas towards considering place in subject areas and teaching?

As I look further into my teaching career, I plan on incorporation this article more in depth. I can do this by helping my students gain a better understanding and appreciation for the land, culture and beliefs that surround them and that they may even be a part of. I can have students part take in traditional ceremonies and teachings (with respect) to help them have a physical understanding of the culture. 

Having Treaty Education be a main focus within the classroom can help initiate students understanding for Aboriginal cultures and even to allow for reconciliation and acceptance to occur among my students. Of course this change does not happen with the click of a button with years of practice—which is what I intend on doing 

Communities of Mushkegowuk Territory

Kumashiro’s Against Commonsense: Is There Such Thing As A Good Student?

What does it mean to be a “good” student according to commonsense?

According to the text a good students is a student that adheres to the way the school system and teacher deem an education to play out. That is someone who follows directions, create/do what they are told to, listening quietly, speaking quietly, sitting quietly for longer periods of time, no creativity, and lack critical thinking skills. Basically, to commonsense, a good student is a preprogrammed robot without a personality. 

Which students are privileged by this definition of the good student?

Students that are the dominant culture are more than likely to be the privileged due to this definition. By being a child of the dominant society, one is viewed as well-mannered and already know what is expected of them. Being part of the non-dominant culture is oppressive as teachers often feel that it is their responsibility to turn them into the mainstream student; to learn, do, say, and believe what the curriculum tells them they should. By abiding by the commonsense of the classroom and have more privileges from their parents, students will be at an advantage over the other students. 

What is made impossible to see/believe/understand because of these commonsense ideas?

Due to the ideas that commonsense brings with it, learning can often be an impossible task for students. Students are unable to make sense of the topics that they are learning because they are not able to spin the information in ways that makes the most sense to them nor are they allow to think for themselves. Students form understanding by doing, critically thinking, learning from their mistakes, and voicing their opinions. Because of commonsense, students often do not get the best of their education and are deemed a bad student by society when they  don’t abide by the commonsense way of learning such as the students M and N in the article. 

Retrieved from: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1kkJc7k2AyKB-Usl3pujiMAeWpfzmpZRK/view
Figure 1 from Kumashiro, “Against Common Sense”.

Something else to think about when it comes to the “good student” is race. More often than not, this is the case in many classrooms, which is a shame. Things need to change in our education system!

The Truth About Autism Spectrum Disorders and The Curriculum

For this assignment I have decided to take a look at Autism Spectrum Disorders and the curriculum. Being a part of the Best Buddies program here in Regina has really opened my eyes to different disorders within the Autism Spectrum. I have always loved being around people with disabilities as they are amazing, funny, and kind people!

A quote that really peaked my interest in writing about this topic was from “Cultural Factors Related to the Hidden Curriculum for Students With Autism and Related Disabilities” written by Lee Hyo Jung. The quote stated, “The hidden curriculum, the unwritten rules and standards for social conduct that most people take for granted and learn more or less automatically, poses a challenge for many individuals on the autism spectrum because of deficits in social cognition and social interaction skills” (Hyo Jung 141).

I have compared the piece from Hyo Jung to the works of Alyssa Hillary and Jessica K Bacon. So far, what I have found is supports can be put in place for children on the Autism Spectrum and steps can be followed to ensure that those students receive the education that they are entitled to and deserve. However all of this appears to be full of challenges such as decreased social cognition and social interactions, learning, behaviour, and communication. Some of my articles have pointed out that because it takes effort and time to ensure that students with disorders are understanding the content, doing what they should be, and participating in the classroom, that it often gets pushed aside. I have personally seen children with disabilities struggle with school because they have been pushed aside only to later be given an Educational Assistant who, sometimes, cannot help the student due to the lack of training.

This seems to be a flaw in our education and during my piece I intend on outlining what the articles have to say. What they believe can be done, what should be changed, and what should remain the same within our curriculum to help support all of our students.

If this appears to be a topic of interest to you as well, I would love to chat more!

Smith’s “Curriculum Theory Practice”

Before reading this article, I thought that the way I had received my schooling throughout my childhood was normal. However, after reading this article I start to understand just how strange the way my education had been done. My education consisted of exactly this:

  1. Sitting in desks
  2. Worksheets
  3. Lectures and exams
  4. Organized activities with right and wrong answers
  5. Outcomes and Indicators must be hit to pass
  6. Little to no chance to think for myself (ex. no Inquiry Projects)

Now looking at this list again makes the curriculum seem like a strange document. John Kerr defines curriculum as, “all the learning which is planned and guided by the school, whether it carried on in groups or individually, inside or outside the school” (Smith, 2000). This article focused on the Tyler Rationale which, in simplest terms, is the education that I had experienced. I like to think of it as an analogy of a factory; we are all brought into the factory to become something in the future (schooling), we are built and programmed to be the same to ensure quality (our education and what we are taught), and then we are shipped out into the world.

When reading about the Tyler Rationale, there was a couple of limitations or problems with the theory that really stuck out with me. One of which being “[the students] can end up with little or no voice. They are told what they must learn and how they must do it” (Smith, 2000). This meant that students were told what to do, when to do it, how to do it, and where to do it which completely severs creativity within the children, along with even potentially damaged their self-development and turning the “educators into technicians,” (Smith 2000). Another aspect of this rationale that had really struck me was the focus of the whole approach which is similar to a shopping list. “Focusing on the parts rather than the whole; on the trivial rather than the significance. When all the items are ticked, the person had passed the course or has learnt something,” (Smith, 2000).

As a future educator I do not believe that ticking something off proves or means that a child has learned something. Children learn better when they are interested in the topic, the work is engaging and hands-on, and when the teachers also appear to be excited about this topic as well. All of these do not come from this rationale, which limits creativity with a given child or student, can impact self-development and understanding while also limiting the educators ability to expand the students knowledge but also to showcase their gifts in education, such as new ways of educating or adaptations to old methods. Lectures, note-taking, exams, and “staying on track” are all part of this rationale and, in my own experience, seem to only apply stress to the students and the educators.

Now, although I have pointed out some big limitations/problems, the idea behind the Tyler Rationale was a well developed and favourable one. For example, one of the main ideas behind this rationale was structure. Now for anyone who has been in a classroom, you know that structures are an amazing thing, however in this rationale they tend to be limiting. Teachers and students need structure on what to teach, rules of the classroom and other structural aspects, but they also need creativity without limitations. A teacher can follow the guidelines of what to teach while also teaching the lesson in more engaging ways whether that be through experience, such as field trips, or through inquiry and other engaging forms.

In summary, I believe that the structure of the Tyler Rationale has advanced education but also has limited the other possible advancements that could come from education. Again, every educator is different which means that another person may approve of the rationale and incorporate it into their classroom but I believe that you can incorporate the rationale with some modern quirks to enhance student interests, capabilities, and knowledge while also promoting educators to try other educational methods of instruction and assessment.