ECS 210 – Summary of Learning

It is the end of semester already! It went by so fast, I can hardly believe that it is done already. With that being said, I wanted to share my last assignment, which is a summary of what we learned in Educational Core Studies (a class about curriculum). I hope you enjoy!

Curriculum as Numeracy

When thinking back to both teaching and learning math, I am able to say I had a positive experience and was successful. However, there were times where there was oppressive or discriminating experiences for other students. Leroy Little Bear’s article states that, “Any individual within a culture is going to have his or her own personal interpretation of the collective cultural code; however, the individual’s worldview has its roots in the culture – that is, in the society’s shared philosophy, values, and customs. If we are to understand why Aboriginal and Eurocentric worldviews clash, we need to understand how the philosophy, values, and customs of Aboriginal cultures differ from those of Eurocentric cultures. Understanding the differences in worldviews, in turn, gives us a starting point for understanding the paradoxes that colonialism poses for social control”.

This means, regardless of our own individual background, we must open up our world view to those of others. This reminds me of talk Gale Russell’s gave to our class today when she identified that there is different ways of interpreting the world, this includes mathematics. With that being said, Gale explained that we are all math people but math is not universal. This means we need to think of the ways in which we are teaching mathematics so that there is not just a singular answer or way of doing things, but rather multiple ways that are anti-oppressive and anti-discriminatory.

After reading Poirier’s article: Teaching mathematics and the Inuit Community, there are at least three ways that mathematics challenge Eurocentric ideas and purposes in regards to the way math is taught and learned. Firstly, the base system. We that use a western style of mathematics use a base ten system. Whereas some communities use a base twenty. This presents a challenge to those learning math because the system of counting conflicts with each other. Secondly, language can be a challenge. For example, there are numbers but each are given different meanings. As Gale pointed out this may be challenging because when saying a number there may be three different ways of saying that number, it all depends on context. It would be especially challenging for anyone who wouldn’t know the language. Thirdly, that Inuk mathematics is traditionally passed on orally, where as a more western view of mathematics is written down to be documented or transcribed.

Gales included this chart in her lecture. I thought it was very interesting to see the similarities and differences that lie in these valued ways of knowing. Definitely some food for thought! Thanks Gale!

A Single Story

Reading Response Nine

Thankfully, because of where I grew up, throughout my own schooling there were usually two stories present. The first is from an Indigenous perspective and second is the “white man’s” story. I think that the truth, which lies behind both of these stories, matter. Why else would they be present within the classroom? I am thankful that growing up I was able to receive both these stories. However, that is still not enough. There should be more stories and more perspectives because without them, we are limited. Without these stories we unconsciously form  false preconceived notions, such as in the way as it did with the roommate in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TEDX Talk. In the end, ALL stories matter. The truth matters.

We are all limited by the biases and perspectives that we have. I bring the biases and perspectives to the classroom of a privileged white woman. But this does not define me or who I am. My experiences, for instance growing up in the community that I did, has shaped me and will continue to shape who I am both as an educator and a person. Kumashiro’s seventh chapter of Against Common Sense he enforces that we unlearn and work against our own unconscious biases by exposing ourselves to a wider range experiences and having an open mind. By immersing ourselves into texts that have multiple stories, or reading many single stories, we being to think critically. We begin to challenge or biases, our lenses, and our thoughts; and this is exactly what we must do with our students. We must break down the barriers and enhance their learning, not limit them to a single story, to a single perspective, bias, or lens.

Here is one example:

Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed this weeks post!

Curriculum as Citizenship

Reading Response Eight

In this week’s article, What Kind of Citizen, written by Joel Westheimer he states, “most educators … agree that teaching how to be a good citizen is important. But when we get specific about what democracy requires and about what kind of school curricula will best promote it, much of that consensus falls away”. Westheimer then talks about where some disagreement takes place. There are diverse opinions about how we include democracy in the classroom, what about democracy is important, and what being a good citizen entails (p. 49). As teachers, we must do our best to leave our opinions behind and be unbiased to the best of our ability. Even though we know that teaching is never neutral, we should try to let our students uncover knowledge on their own in a way that allows them to form their own thoughts and opinions.

As the article mentioned, there are three ways in which citizenship may emerge. This goes from children to adults. These three kinds of citizens being the personally responsible citizen, the participatory citizen, and the justice oriented citizen. Although students may not know it, they could be one or more “kinds of citizens” already. For example, look underneath the ‘Sample Action’ heading in the picture below taken from this article.

In my own education experience I remember doing lots of activities that promoted citizenship. After reflecting, I believe that my most valuable citizenship experiences came from being on Student Representative Council for eight years (grade 5 to 12). One thing I found myself struggling with in these years was how to make the distinction between what we were really doing for other people and what were we doing for ourselves. From this I take away that it is crucially important that when students and staff are putting on an event for a cause that we make it known what the cause we are raising money is for and why it is an issue, not just we are doing a wake-a-thon (or other events) because it is fun.

Going back to an teacher’s perspective, there might be conflicting opinions amongst educators and the curriculum regarding how curriculum and citizenship meshes together. I think that we can all agree that citizenship is important. As well, there are lots of ways teachers can integrate citizenship into the classroom. For example, look at the tweets below as a reference to what other teachers are doing (and what future educators could do) with curriculum as citizenship in the classroom.

In conclusion, citizenship can easily be brought into the classroom in a variety of ways. As an extension of our learning, please answer the poll below as to what you think Curriculum as Citizenship is all about.

We are All Treaty People

Reading Response Seven

In Dwayne Donald’s video On What Terms Can We Speak, he speaks about deconstructing the past that we share and engaging critically with the realization that the present and the future is very intimately linked. He states we should speak on terms of bringing together the past, present and the future since sometime we separate those, when really the past has a significant in the present and future. So it is important that we, as educators, recognize and make the distinct links that the past, present, and future known in our classrooms because it affects all students.

To further this point, in Regina, SK we are on Treaty Four territory. This means we all share the land (i.e. we live on the land, use the lands resources, etc.) and thus are all treaty people. That in itself should clearly represent one aspect to significance as to why Treaty Education should be taught to ALL students, regardless of if there are few of none First Nations, Metis, or Inuit peoples in a said class, “What I understand from treaties: First-nations and non-First Nations peoples are bound together in a relationship” (Claire Kreuger, 2017).

In chapter one of We are All Treaty People, the author states that everyone is a treaty person, no matter if you are Indigenous or non-Indigenous “…The treaties would still be my story, and my family’s story. It is our story: the one about the commons, what was shared and what was lost. It is an elegy to what remains to be lost if we refuse to listen to each other’s stories no matter how strange they may sound, if we refuse to learn from each other’s stories, songs, and poems, from each other’s knowledge about this world and how to make our way in it. Old-timers and newcomers alike, “we are all treaty people” (Epp 2008)” (Chambers, p.29).  When I think about this quote and the statement that we are all treaty people, I find it hard not to think of connections to the curriculum. Here is one example of how Claire Kruger has brought Treaty Education into her classroom.

But there are also other ways you can bring Treaty Education into the classroom (While linking it to curriculum). One way might be talking about different current events that are happening in your community with your students and co-constructing how students could get involved or take initiative. I think showing students that people are doing something with what the students learning is very beneficial, especially if it relates to the students own interests. One example a media source could be Colonialism Skateboards (I’d definitely would recommend giving their Facebook page a look!)

As far as my understanding of curriculum that we are all treaty people goes I think that, as future teachers, there are many ways to incorporate this into our teaching practices, lessons, and everyday life; and that teaching Treaty Education to your students is extremely important and very valuable.

Mushkegowuk Connections to the Land

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

Reading Response Six

           In this article reinhabitation and decolonization is happening throughout. Youth, adults, and Elders are experiencing and discuss the issues of land and water rights. This excursion is the link that ties having a connection to nature to the importance to children’s mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual wella4 being. Language is one topic that comes up nearing the end of the article as it is notes that the youth suffer from intergenerational loss of language due to the effects of residential schools. However, by bringing the generations together there is intergenerational growth that occurs. Overall, this project and the learning that occurred is reigniting youth with the connection to land, culture, and overall life.

In my classroom I plan to incorporate activities such as the blanket exercise, have students participate in outdoor learning experiences, bring in the treaty ed game, or have elders come in a talk to further classroom discussion around land and Indigenous history that some students might not have even known about. It is easy it relate these exercises because the results of those issues are present today with their own set of issues, it is not however, an easy topic to discuss with your students, it is a hard topic and brings up a lot of strong emotions, but it is essential to their learning. In my future teaching career I plan on getting to know my community and then bring in everyday examples into my teaching practice. For example, currently in politics there is uproar between some Reserves and governments about the placement of a pipeline. And why shouldn’t there be? It is the same issue that is discussed early on in this article. With the arrival of mining and hydro development companies came concerns over proposals about potential roads and mining projects on the land. To companies such as these, the land is viewed as a resource. To the Mushkegowuk the land sustains their ‘way of life’ and on page seventy-one the article mentions the land is a relative, not a utility; meaning that the land is not a resource. But there is so much more we as teachers can do, there is so much history to unfold inside the classroom, so much knowledge for our students to gain. As teachers, it is of the most importance for us to teach our students about what is going on in the world so that they can be not only aware but can formulate their own educated opinions on the matter.

Who Determines Curriculum?

A Response to Ben Levin’s “Curriculum Policy and the Politics of What Should be Learned in Schools”

Reading Response Five

Prior to Reading:

Before reading this article I thought that school curricula was developed by a group of teachers, other big contributors in society (i.e. health officials, politicians, businessmen and women, etc.), and the government. I thought a group of these people would sit down and make the curriculum together. I think I thought this because I believe that everyone who has gone through the education system and has gone on to live and work in the world has gathered experience and knowledge in subject areas that teachers educate their students in. However, now I know differently.

After Reading:

After reading I found out that the school curriculum is developed, and is governed, by politics in just about every aspect.  While the curriculum is initially developed and revised by teachers, experts in the field, and representatives from post-secondary institutions the article states that, “in most jurisdictions, final authority over curriculum rests with national or subnational governments” (p.15) meaning that governments will have the final say in what should be included in the curriculum. Politics determines what students will learn, how they will learn, with what resources, etc. How sad. There is no freedom to explore what can or should be learned, if it is not included within the curriculum. However, powerful individuals, within the government, is able to make the decision to add or drop elements within the curriculum. This does not sit well with me because how do we know that that one powerful individual is knowledgeable within the subject area? We don’t. While teachers implement the curriculum in the classroom on a daily basis, as teachers are mandated to follow curriculum, it is the governing officials that initially create and implement curriculum.

This reading provides new information to me, in that there are two central debates that exist in the development and implementation of curriculum. The first being the concerns that shape school curriculum, which is what subjects should be included, how much time should be designated to them, when sex education should be introduced, etc. The second debate is over the content of each subject. This includes disagreement between what information should be included in each grade, what should be explicitly taught, what classes should be required, etc. Both of these debates can be ever going because not everyone is going to agree all of the time, and that is okay because every individual is entitled to have their own opinion. However, we need to be able to separate what are opinions and what are facts. Which leads me to my next point.

I found it concerning that the government attempts to shape and respond to the public opinion. In some cases this has the potential to be good, but it also could have very bad affects. Simply because not all of the public is knowledgeable on certain issues, we need to consider where the public’s information is coming from and if it is creditable before taking the issue into account and making changes. Some people might have very strong views but do not have any evidence to back up what they are saying. It is scary to think that Education policies can be shaped and altered by those same opinions because many educational policies are important and need to be included in student’s education for that reason alone.

On a final note, it is surprising that in the conclusion of this article states that the dynamics of curriculum tend to be poorly understood by most educators. However, I find this troubling to believe as us educators are some of the people that work very close with the curriculum. But that is just my opinion.


A Good Student

A Good Student- A Response to Commonsense

Reading Response Four

            According to commonsense a good student is a student that is hardworking, quite, follows the rules, and doesn’t question authority. A “good” student will complete all of their work on time without assistance or clarification.  The students that are deemed as smart, independent, and follows assignment criteria are privileged with being defined as the “good” student.  It is, however, impossible to believe these so called “commonsense” ideas. After all, how can one student be labelled as a “good” student for these traits? Just because some students may need more help with their work or take longer to complete an assignment doesn’t mean that they are not a “good” student, but it in the article commonsense it does.

A Wise Man

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

-Nelson Mandela

Reading Response Three

A wise man once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” this man was Nelson Mandela. Education is the process in which one gains knowledge and when that knowledge is gathered it becomes a powerful weapon. You could also think of this quote in a way in which knowledge is power and power is knowledge. Education is such a powerful tool. Once people are educated it opens up their eyes to a new world, which in turn changes their world and the world of the people who surround them.

This quote is made possible in education through means of the progress that can be made by students when they are receiving an education. For the students that utilize their education and are granted, or make, their own opportunities they are able to change the world. Even if that change is small. For example, a student may want to change the world by decreasing water pollution so the student may use the knowledge (education) they have gathered to lessen the about of plastic that pollutes our water supplies so the student may stop using/drinking from plastic water bottles to prevent them from ending up in our water supply and change the world. This example may be something small, however, one small step can be a step to something even bigger. Conversely, this quote is made impossible in education because it is impossible for one person to know everything.

As a future teacher, I think it is important to recognize that education is not only crucial, but essential. In an educational context, this quote can imply that teachers empower students with knowledge everyday and that their students then go off into the world and changes the world as we know it. For example, if we think about every great leader in history all of them had a teacher of some kind that taught them something, thus giving them the education that they used to change the world. For a student it can often be hard to believe that you can change the world. But, if you put your mind to it, anyone can make a difference.

This quote relates to my own understandings of curriculum because a curriculum attempts to provide a guide to teachers to help prepare their students for the life they have ahead of them. It is important to recognize that though curriculum attempts to give students similar educational experiences, their school experiences are usually quite different. One example I can think of is demographics and economics. Depending on where students live and their financial resources students are given different educational opportunities that students may use to “change the world” may be limited.

Curriculum Development

A Response to “Curriculum Theory: Conflicting Visions and Enduring Concerns” written by Michael Schiro

Reading Response Two

School is meant to prepare you for life. In this article we learn Frankin Bobbit’s view of school meant to ensure that the students are able to perform the tasks that make up adult life (i.e. work). The article further explores Bobbitt’s theories regarding efficiency. Ralph Tyler is introduced and his work (The Tyler Rational) becomes the focus of the article. The Tyler Rational is a model for curriculum which can be broken down to four major themes (objectives, learning experiences, organization, and purpose/evaluation).

Some of the ways I have experienced the Tyler Rationale in my own schooling is in the curriculum. Firstly, when teachers teach to the curriculum they have different outcomes and indicators for every lesson they teach; which is essentially teachers meeting objectives. Second, teachers pick out activities to do in class that they think are meaningful. These are learning experiences. When I was in school I remember doing a science experiment where we grew beans (which we wrapped in wet paper towel then placed in a plastic bag and proceeded to hang them up) in the window. This experiment went on to describe and show us students the process of photosynthesis. This was a learning experience. Thirdly, organization. Organization was a HUGE part of my educational experience from when you walked in through the door to when you left to go home. For example, organization is present in schools when the bells ring (the students know it is time to go class), in assignments (there are usually some guidelines as to what the requirements are), and rules (what is expected of you- appropriate clothing, language, behaviour, etc.). Fourthly, purpose. Everything in school has a purpose.  In school every lesson, activity, and project has a purpose (an assessment is given); even if the student doesn’t realize it at the moment.

The major limitation of the Tyler Rationale is that it is set up for efficiency, not human beings. Everything does not always go according to plan. As educators we need to be able to adjust and adapt on the fly. The Tyler Rationale is just not possible simply because everyone learns differently, and everyone makes mistakes. But just because something is different shouldn’t label it as “bad” or “not efficient” it is simply just different, unique. The first example of a limitation of the Tyler Rationale from the article is the lack of concern for the child. In this view children are seen as potential functioning members of society, not children trying to learn. And secondly, the child is seen as a worker. This doesn’t allow the child to fully develop, results in children trying to act “grown up” and never really have the chance to experience being and growing up as a child. Which could cause negative side-effects or regrets later in life.

A potential benefit includes giving students the skills they need to function as an adult. In the concluding perspective section of the article states that the most useful knowledge is the ability to perform skills. I relate this to the Chinese proverb, “give a man to fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man how to fish, and feed him for a lifetime”. Teaching our students is possible. While others and I may not have all the answers to curriculum and the issues that surround it, what we do have an answer to is to make an impact in our student’s lives. So make that your goal, to everyday positively impact the learning of your student because that’s something anyone can do, with or without curriculum.