Curriculum as Citizenship

  • What examples of citizenship education do you remember from your K-12 schooling? 
  • What types of citizenship (e.g. which of the three types mentioned in the article) were the focus?
  • Explore what this approach to the curriculum made (im)possible in regards to citizenship.

Curriculum as Numeracy

  1. 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 can honestly say that I never thought math would be under the umbrella of ways colonialism continues to oppress and discriminate.  Listening to Gale talk about how

  • 1) the western societies ‘stole’ math with no credit to the original creators
  • 2) how the western society took math, tweaked it to our preference and language and then reissued it as our own
  • 3) How the learning of math  can be different because of the way we know numbers and language. This had never occurred to be a possibility to me.  I had never looked at math as a language based subject before now.

All three of these points explain some reasons why math can be oppressive, but for my personal experience, the 3rd point stands out the most.  I went to a community school in Regina’s central neighbourhoods. We had a multicultural school with emphasis on Indiginenous students.  Was english their first language? Were they taught how to count and think of numbers in the ‘commonsense’ way, or were they taught in the ways passed down through their family?  Who knows – nobody cared to think about that.  This is very oppressive to students who don’t fit into certain boxes.

  1. 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.
  • Counting: the systematic use of methods to compare and order sets of
    objects
  • Localization: the exploration of one’s spatial environment and the sym-
    bolization of that environment with the help of models, diagrams,drawings, words, or other means
  • Measuring: the use of objects or measuring tools to quantify dimensions

Curriculum and Treaty Education

  1. What is the purpose of teaching Treaty Ed (specifically) or First Nations, Metis, and Inuit (FNMI) Content and Perspectives (generally) where there are few or no First Nations, Metis, Inuit peoples?

My first reaction to this question, is “How is this even a question?” The purpose of Teaching Treaty Ed, First Nations, Métis, and Inuit content and perspectives is not supposed to be a history lesson for those peoples. It is supposed to be a lesson in history for those who do not understand- which would be primarily the white folks and those who have benefitted from these oppressive systems.

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

My understanding of the phrase is that we are all treaty people because we live on treaty land. My personal stance on it is in order to call ourselves treaty people we have to be a more inclusive society. With that being said, it’s a nice phrase but there is a lot of work to do.  We absolutely cannot use this phrase freely while continuing to oppress our Aboriginal neighbours.

3. Spend at least one paragraph making some connections to TreatyEdCamp – What did you hear/see there that might help you to enact treaty education in your future classroom?

One thing that was said that caught my attention was Ryan McMahon’s speech. He discussed that Treaty acknowledgment meant nothing without action. As I agree with the sentiment, I was shocked to hear this. I am often in educational and professional settings, yet the first time I heard the phrase being said was attending my sisters graduation at the University of Saskatchewan. They referenced their gratitude and acknowledgment of being on Treaty 6 territory. I thought this was a really nice gesture to acknowledge and appreciate the land – and I know for my entire family (as our eyes started back-and-forth at each other) that this was a new concept that we thought was pretty cool. I understand Ryan’s point but I can’t help but feel like “hey man, white people are not getting it and this is a stepping stone on the right path”. I know settlers do not need to be granted any more patience from our aboriginal communities, but I can’t help but feel that more patience is needed as we work through these tough conversations  (WHICH SHOULDN’T BE TOUGH BUT THEY ARE)

Learning From Place – Restoule Et Al

The 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 (reinhabitation); and (b) identify and change ways of thinking that injure and exploit other people and places (decolonization) (p.74)

  1. List some of the ways that you see reinhabitation and decolonization happening throughout the narrative.
  • using the precise words of their language to reference their specific land
  • realizing and acting on children not using those specific words
  • the continuation and emphasis on elders passing stories onto the young
  • strong desire to maintain decolonized. Stating that land is greater than money
  • desire to be studied in order to get their message out there

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

Centering Indigenous voices in the classroom by:

  • Having students know and acknowledge the treaty area of the school and participate in Indigenous focused events
  • Involving voices of the Indigenous community.  Ex: invite an elder in to do an intro to a unit
  • Centre Indigenous authors, musicians and artists in appropriate classes
  • Acknowledge and make effort to introduce Indigenous language. Ex: Teach “hello”, “bonjour” and “tanisi” and have these words and others visible in the classroom.
  • Have Indigenous letters and numerals or posters visible in the classroom. Support Indigenous groups and artists when purchasing these items.
  • Bring in Indigenous leaders to lead students in Indigenous art such as beading, creating art using Bob Boyer strategies, etc.
  • When listening to background music in the classroom, choose Indigenous musicians
  • Create opportunities to try Indigenous foods and make efforts to have these available in school canteens. Pizza and perogies are there – why not bannock burgers at the canteen?
  • When teaching units focused on Treaty Ed, have Knowledge Keepers visit the classroom to share

 

CURRICULUM POLICY AND THE POLITICS OF WHAT SHOULD BE LEARNED IN SCHOOLS BY BEN LEVIN

How are school curricula developed and implemented? What new information/perspectives does this reading provide about the development and implementation of school curriculum? Is there anything that surprises you or maybe that concerns you? IMPORTANT – Please write your blog before our lecture as YOUR OPINION will be an integral part of the lecture.

In Ben Levin’s article, he states that “education governance typically involves some combination of national, local, and school participation; and in federal systems, education governance will have a fourth (and often primary) level at the state or province. The division of powers and responsibilities across these levels is quite variable from one country to another. In most jurisdictions, final authority over curriculum rests with national or subnational governments. In many federal systems it is provinces or states that control curriculum. In a few situations curriculum authority is largely located within individual schools. The central role of governments inevitably brings into play a range of both political and bureaucratic elements.”

This article gave me a new perspective on the development and implementation entirely.  I had no idea how it was created and I assumed that it was done so by teachers and the school boards.  I have heard comments in the past about schools not including voices of varied representation but I did not fully understand what that meant.  It was interesting to see how many people are involved from many different areas and sectors.

I do find it concerning that there is no student voice being used.  The balance is also concerning.  Voices will likely never be equally powerful, so it is concerning that any of the deserving voices may not be heard.

 

 

 

Kumashiro – Against Common Sense,”Preparing Teachers for Crisis: What It Means to Be a Student”

  • What does it mean to be a “good” student according to the commonsense? Which students are privileged by this definition of the good student? What is made impossible to see/understand/believe because of these commonsense ideas?

A good student “gets along”. Kumashiro states that “learning means completing certain assignments and repeating information on exams the correct definitions or themes or analysis in a strong essay format”, and “students who are unable or unwilling to be the kind of student that schools and society often tell them to be” will not fit in.   Kumashiro states that there is “pressure from schools and society to produce this type of student.”

The students that are privileged by this definition are the few students who learn well from a particular teacher’s teaching style. Students who do not have any learning disability, have no problem sitting at a desk, have no issue with taking instruction and following along, etc.  Essentially, any student that does not fit within the “perfect student” mold will face many more difficulties.

Students who think outside the box, need special instruction or need a different form of authority figure are made difficult to understand because of their difficulty to fit in to the “commonsense student”.  Kumashiro states that  “there is a problem that was deeper than art and abilities to create tailored, responsive, or engaging lessons.”  Kumashiro stresses that students of all backgrounds and needs need to learn in comfortable ways.

Unpacking a Quote

Choose a quotation related to education. It might be a quote from lecture, a quote from the list posted here, or a quote you found independently. In a post, unpack that quote. Think about what it makes possible and impossible in education. What does it say about the teacher, about the student? How does it related to your own understandings of curriculum and of school?

“If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow.”
-John Dewey

In our recent discussions about curriculum, the topics of what curriculum is and who decides what is taught has come up frequently.  As a class we have discussed the value of the transmission style based learning, where facts and specific information are told to the student with the expectation that the student can repeat it back while testing.  We discuss how valuable this is – how valuable it is to know facts, dates and specifics? Is it that important? Can the time and energy be better used to focus on something else?

How about the actual pedagogy itself? Dewey suggests that we need to keep our strategies and information evolving.  We cannot teach future students the same way we taught the past because as the world evolves around us, so do the students around us.

It makes perfect sense. Teachers need to be maleable and flexible with student learning.  Events and culture will always be challenging and attention grabbing, and with these we need to have the fluidity to change our discussions and lessons at any given time.  However, this way of teaching can be a disservice as well.  How can Dewey expect a teacher to be a great teacher during class, a fair marker after class, complete all teacher repsonsibilities, and then fnd some time to evolve their style of teaching as well?  Perhaps a refresh every year? Every semester?  How can we pay our respects to this quote while also managing the daily routine?

Dewey suggests that the student is ever-evolving, always learning, and culturally aware.  It also implies that the teacher has full control over how the student observes and learns – as if the student is only able to develop if the teacher is also developing.