Mathematics

  1. My math schooling was centered around being able to read and understand problems, and being able to write and solve them. After reading about the Inuit schooling, I realize how this could have been oppressive to students who were just learning how to read and write in English. Although they may have understood it in their head, it didn’t matter, what mattered was if you got the answer right and were able to show the process of how you got there. I don’t recall elementary math as well but I know in most high school math courses there was a lot of content to be learned in the time that we had. There was almost no room for extra learning days, which meant if you needed extra help you went after school, or during lunch. This is oppressive to any kid you doesn’t process math easily because if you don’t understand a topic quickly enough then you fall behind. Even during class time when we had to do homework and ask questions, there was usually a line up at the teacher’s desk, and when time ran out and you didn’t get your turn, it would depend on the teacher how flexible they were with helping you out of class.
  2. One way Inuit mathematics challenges Eurocentric math is the base 20 system. Eurocentric math uses a base of 10. This means that the Inuit students would have a completely different process of how they would get to an answer then what is expected in the Eurocentric math ways. As well, the Inuit use their bodies for measurement instead of the metric system. Something that was also really interesting is the calendar. The Inuit calendar is based on animals and does not have pre-set dates, it changes with nature and the animals. The Inuit count their numbers orally, as well when they are talking about a number the word varies depending on the context. In the English language the number three is always just that, three, but in Inuit language that can vary depending on the context that the number is being used in, for example if it is a grouping of three, a pattern of three, the digit three, etc. So, neither Inuit math or Eurocentric math is better or worse than the other, but this goes to show that no wonder the Inuit students failed on the Eurocentric math tests; I would probably fail on an Inuit math test, and I do fairly well in Eurocentric math. These are two completely different methods of thinking and understanding that cannot simply be translated from one language to the next.

Single Stories

I grew up in Regina in a middle-class, white, Catholic family. Many of the families and friends I was surrounded by were the same, so I viewed my world, my life, as “the normal”. These privileges allowed me to identify with most books I read, even when the characters race was not stated I viewed them as white because that was the dominant color that I grew up around. Once we got into the older grades and started talking about romantic relationships, or reading romantic books, it was always about a straight relationship. Thinking about all the children’s books I used to read, I now realize that most of them involved a white little boy or girl, with a mom and a dad, growing up in a nice little neighborhood. With these privileges I do bring a lot of bias, however, since I got into the faculty of education and started taking ECS classes I have been working on decolonizing my mind and realizing that not everyone is like me. I’m working on challenging my thoughts that are influenced by my privileges and bias’s. I am realizing that as a teacher I need to look deeper into my students lives. I need to not let my “common sense” understandings of the world assume things about my students lives. Everyone will always bring their bias’s and their certain privileges with them wherever they go, but it is important to always be challenging them and working towards removing them from society. Something to help me, and even my students unlearn these stories would be to, as Kumashiro suggested, read books from non-traditional-settler authors. As well, help students to realize and understand the reoccurring themes, characters, and stories that many of the books they read, have.

Listening to Chimamanda Adichie’s TED Talk, it opened my eyes to the whole idea of a single story. I never realized or acknowledges that in my head I had single stories of a person or group. In terms of my own schooling, I’m sure many kids in Regina have the same single story about Aboriginal people. The story is that they live on reserves, or the streets, and are “helpless”. Only until about grade 10 there was not much attention put on the history of the Indigenous peoples in Canada, this then gave us the view that their history was not important, which also gave us the idea that they, presently, did not deserve much of our thought. So really it was white settlers and Europeans whose truth mattered. It was the stories of Europeans and settlers that we would tend to focus and expand on. Every story and history lesson showed Europeans as the hero, helping other countries and people to become “great” or “better”. This, again, indirectly gave us the single story that all other nations that European countries colonized, were “helpless”.

Levin Article Response

The Levin article, CURRICULUM POLICY AND THE POLITICS OF WHAT SHOULD BE LEARNED IN SCHOOLS, made me realize how much work goes in to curriculum development and much it is influenced. The article talks about how schools have a big role in how they implement the curriculums. In high schools they choose which optional courses to offer. In elementary both teachers and the school decide how much emphasis they put on certain chapters or sections in curriculums. I also agree that post-secondary institutions have a big influence on secondary curriculum since secondary schools need to ensure that their students have the requirements to get into whatever university, college, etc. they choose. They make a good point about how the development of a curriculum usually involves experts of the subject, but whom have no teaching experience. Teachers need to be a part of the process so that the curriculum includes real learning and actual experiences that the students will have. I think it is also important to involve parents because they are a part of student’s learning and for them to have input on how and what their kids are taught would be beneficial and helpful. According to this article, school curriculum is developed not only by what teachers and experts think should be in there, but also by politics. When I say politics, I mean both the government and what the general public is saying. They are now moving towards having people of the public come in and give input into what the curriculum should be like. “People of the public” includes parents and students, even people who have nothing to do with schools. “The role of politics in policy is troubling and misunderstood by many educators, who feel that education is a matter of expertise and should be beyond politics.” (pg.8) I agree with this quote because politics is always going to be apart of a classroom, no matter who/where you are it will always affect the classroom. It is important that these four perspectives, politics, teachers, outsiders and experts, always be used cohesively for curriculum development. These perspectives are the root of a well-rounded curriculum.

I think the implementation of Treaty Education emphasized the fact that politics will always be a part and connected to education “The Ministry of Education respects the federal government’s legal, constitutional, and fiscal obligations to First Nations peoples and its primary responsibility for Métis people.” (pg.3). There were also lots of people representing the government in the acknowledgments. If curriculum development only included educators and experts in certain subjects this most likely would not have happened, or at least a lot later than it is. I imagine there was a lot of tension between the teachers and curriculum developers. I’m sure when most teachers learnt that this was going to be something they had to implement they were angry and confused because most of them probably never got training on this. As well, since it is a big political controversy, they were most likely unsure of how their students were going to take it.

Treaty Education

I think when talking to a class who is not open to Treaty Education, one way to introduce it while emphasizing the importance of it would be with the saying “We are all treaty people”. Dwayne Donald says that when Aboriginal peoples of Canada sit across from non-Aboriginals, they tend to not understand each other because both sides have their own views on the past and they don’t understand the other sides views. So, I would recommend teaching kids both sides. Once students hear both sides, whether they favored one side or not, hopefully, they will understand why either side was acting certain ways and will want to rebuild those broken relationships. Hopefully students can then move forward and be able to have meaningful conversations. Claire Kreuger took her students to the celebration of the signing of Treaty 4 and I think that is one of the best ways to introduce students to topics like that. It’s a fun but still educational day and once you get into the classroom and dive a bit deeper into the topic, students will already have an understanding of what this is, and with an enjoyable memory to go with it.

It’s especially important for us to teach Treaty Ed where there are little to no First Nations, Metis or Inuit students so then non-Aboriginal students can get to understand the whole truth of the past. Something that I found thought-provoking in Mike and Claire’s discussion was when they talked about educating students on Residential Schools, it is not only about the content-the dates, names, etc., it’s also about empathizing and understanding what these kids went through and how it has had an impact on their lives and their families. This also applies to the way the Treaty agreements were carried out. Hopefully, once students can understand and empathize with what happened in the past to Aboriginal people, then they will work towards rebuilding those broken relationships.

For my understanding of curriculum “We are all treaty people” means that we are a part of this Treaty, this is our lives and we need to understand what it means to be a part of Treaty 4, or whichever Treaty you are teaching under. Just as we are supposed to know about the Canadian government and how it came to be and all of that strictly settler history, it is equally important for us to educate students on Treaties. Just as we live under provincial or territorial law, we live under the Treaty agreement. I would say in this day and age, one of our parts in the Treaty agreement would be to continue with and work on relationships between us (settlers) and the Indigenous peoples of this land. However, the relationships did not play out how they were supposed to and now they are broken and damaged, so it is our duty to repair those relationships and fix what has been broken, and educating students on the true nature of the Treaties will help with that.

Learning From Place

I see rehabitation happening through the youth of the Mushkegowuk community. “The processes of creating an audio documentary about relations to the river and engaging in trips along the river were part of a decolonizing process of re-membering (following Haig-Brown, 2005) as younger generations were re-introduced to traditional ways of knowing.” (pg.70) this quote summarizes well how rehabitation is in the article. For example, the word Paquataskamik. This is a word that young Cree speakers don’t use because the word noscheemik is easier and they don’t understand the difference between the two words. Learning from the elders about the significance of the river and land and even the difference between those two words shows rehabitation. The elders are re-teaching to the young kids this traditional knowledge so it doesn’t get lost down the road.

Some of the interviewed community members said that the confusion of words like Paquataskamik were due to the language loss in Residential Schools. Now that the elders are teaching about the traditional language shows that they are decolonizing from the effect of residential schools. “The river trip helped members of the community share linguistic, cultural, historical, and geographical knowledge.” (pg.81) The river trip definitely helped the community to at least start the process of decolonization by being able to educate their youth in the natural environment and showing them exactly where sacred grounds were. This shows us that learning in an environment that is significant to you and being able to see what you are learning about and how it relates to you and your life is very important and useful.

I am a social studies major so most likely I will at some point be teaching about Canadian history or even directly Native Studies. So, I will have multiple chances to teach my students about colonialism and its effects. I will also be able to teach them about decolonizing our minds and the importance of it. For me I learn best when I’m able to relate the content I’m learning to things I experience in my own world. So, I thought it was great that youth and elders went on the river trip and they got to see all the sacred grounds and nature and I hope I can give my students experiences like that where they can physically see and experience the content we’re learning.

Bibliography

Restoule, Jean-Paul, et al. “Learning from Place: A Return to Traditional Mushkegowuk Ways of Knowing.” Canadian Journal of Education , 2013, pp. 68–86., https://drive.google.com/file/d/1dI7wj8JcsOuMVHjWx1aKJy3XzCSoyYuc/view.

What it means to be a “good” student

According to the commonsense to be a “good” student is almost to be like a robot. You need to sit quietly, do not move around, or talk to your classmates. You understand everything that is taught to you and have no questions. You do not need extra breaks or learning time than what is given to you. As well you hand in assignments early or on time. You never come to class late or need to leave early and you are always ready and eager to learn. Students who are privileged by this commonsense understanding would be kids from middle- and upper-class families. Also, kids who do not have any physical or mental disabilities/ issues. As well kids who are just natural learners, they pick things up really quick and don’t have to ask many questions. Something that is made hard to believe with this commonsense understanding is for kids who struggle with school, they may feel like they can never reach a point where they understand and enjoy the content they’re learning. From a young age you realize whether you fit into the commonsense box of what is a “good” student, and most kids who do not fit into it, carry that title with them for the rest of their schooling and let it define them, which can bring down self-confidence. We need to remind our students that just because you don’t understand one subject, or school entirely is not your thing, does not mean you are any less smart or capable of doing great things, because sometimes this mindset gets engraved into kids, whether schools means to do it or not. Also, this commonsense can lead to teachers not fully understanding why a kid is struggling in school. If they come in with a mindset that “these students come from good families and are eager to learn and can learn easily” and if the student or parents have not told the teacher about the circumstances then teachers may perceive situations wrongly. For example, a kid coming late because they had to walk their siblings to school, may be perceived as the student not caring. Or if a kid is constantly moving around in their desk or always seems to be talking to someone because they have ADD, the teacher may view them as someone who is always distracting others and not willing to learn. So, teachers should always be looking a bit further, as to what could be causing these difficulties in learning, and what changes could be made to help the student.

Decolonization and Curriculum

For this assignment I will be looking at decolonizing the curriculum, which I think is something new teachers need to be thinking about a lot. It is important that when we go into classroom’s we our open-minded and welcoming of all people. I also want to look at the struggles of adopting this new way of thinking and how it is challenging for students and teachers.

In “Anti-Discriminatory Practice: Pedagogical Struggles and Challenges” Narda Razack talks about the class she helped develop called “Anti-Discriminatory Practice, a core course at the School of Social Work at York University, Canada.” (Razack, pg.232)”. The class is meant to help social work students develop anti-oppressive mindsets by looking within themselves. She also talks about the issue of both students and professors needing to be open-minded and vulnerable as that is what it takes to truly understand the objectives of this class.

Razack also discusses “Many articles tell us what to teach but tend not to deal with the major challenges the teacher and students face in the classroom.” (Razack, pg.234). During the classes first few attempts there was a lot of tension, discomfort, and anxiety in the class when talking about difficult issues, as well as personal guilt after the class- all of this was felt by both students and professors. With this Razack talks about how scholars will write about how the class should be taught and what to discuss but not how to deal with the uncomfortable feelings that accompany these discussions.

Next, I will be looking at “CHAPTER 5: Decolonization and Education: Locating Pedagogy and Self at the Interstices in Global Times”, this talks about students being sidetracked from important history that has greatly affected certain societies. Nina Asher also discusses how even though we are trying to decolonize our thinking many of the effects that colonialism has on curriculum still come through to students. As well, “The Decolonization of Educational Culture: The Case of India” which has a unique look at decolonizing the curriculum, and researching India’s curriculum.