Numeracy

My brain responded well to the perspective of numeracy that was expressed in school. I was always a 90%+ student, and did especially did well in questions where there was an exact formula and process to follow, with only one answer. However, one of my good friends was did not have the same tendencies as I had towards mathematics. She was quite creative… both a story-teller and creator. I was often jealous of her artistic capabilities in other classes, which had us composing poetry or paintings. Unfortunately, my friends mind was not suited for the breed of math we were taught. “A squared plus B squared equals C squared” could never thrill my friend in the way it thrilled me. Though I enjoyed the logical and singular nature of Foundations 10, 20, and 30, my friend’s understanding of the world was not accounted for in our math classes.

Kay, super interesting lecture by Gale Russel! I had never thought about math being vulnerable to taking on culture! I though mathematics were completely unbiased, as that seems to be what science likes to claim. “After all, no matter where we are, ‘two plus two equals four.'” (Poirier, 2007). I think Gale has challenged the way I think about what Math is… I see it more of looking for ‘patterns’ which we can rely to be the same time and time again!

Here are four ways that the way Inuit understanding of mathematics challenges the way we are taught math in school:

  1. Using a base 20, rather than base 10 number system. (also, in their native language, not in english/french!) Problems like “Atausik” for the number 1, meaning ‘indivisible’ would certainly cause issues when Europeans try to push fractions on Inuit students. (Gale Russel also explains this issue)
  2. Emphasis on spatial relations (“The Inuit have developed an outstanding sens of space to help orient themselves.” p.59)
  3. Learning math through stories and observation, rather than pen & paper
  4. Calendars that change based on natural events (Caribou)
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What about 20!?

Looking through Literature

I know that my worldview was shaped through my school, church, and family. I’d say I spent 98% of my time within at least one of these three structures. Each of these three dynamics offered a different perspective than the other, yet they each showed similarities. I could predict that the similarities that these three pillars had are most cemented in my mind, and had the largest influence on my ‘lenses’. For example, in each of the three pillars I learned about the commonsense way to interact with people (or the culture of relationships). Honestly, due to the ‘Canadian context’ of these three influences I learned strictly about “Canadian” (*ahem- white) way to do things.

How do I unlearn these biases? Geez. It’s important to realize it is a lasting process, yet we cannot be apathetic about it. We need to continuously be striving to seek out our biases, educating ourselves further, and set up friends that will support us in this endeavor. In my ECE 325 class, we have been reading a text called “Anti-Bias Education” (Derman-Sparks et al) which does a phenomenal job of digging up so much of our bias. I know it is going to be a book I need to revisit at least yearly when I am an educator.

As I listened to Chimamanda Adichie’s Ted Talk, I realized that I had been filled with ‘single stories’ from a very young age. There is much danger to this, especially in that we as people send to classify and group the things we see. We like to make sense of things, and especially people. When we read or learn about people, we naturally want to fit them into a group, groups which we never consider ourselves a part of. Chimamanda experienced many situations which confused her, only to later find out that her African heritage is misunderstood by America. Though she was hurt by this, she realized it was within herself even to judge people and be surprised when they don’t quite fit into the box we made to contain them. It is seemly “impossible to see them as anything else but” ______, fill in the blank with whatever we category made for that person. As educators now, I see how vital it is to challenge these ‘single stories’. To prove interdependence, diversity, and similarly to the child them self. We are in control of literature that makes its way into our student’s hands. Let’s work as critical developers, raising questions as to the image we are painting of people and the world.

Here is a site I have used in the past to select an anti-bias text, it may be helpful to some of you! Anti-Bias Storybooks

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“…the work of interrupting one’s own privilege is never done” ~Kumashiro

Citizenship

It is interesting to reflect on the education I received in my primary secondary education. It hasn’t been until now that I am actually thinking about this, so bear with me as I explore this within myself.

I do not remember the word ‘citizenship’ being mentioned to me during school time. It is very possible that I simply missed this, yet I know this can’t have been a primary goal due to my lack of memory of this topic. I believe this topic was taught more so through covert instruction, as I certainly have built an understanding around citizenship. I was always a watcher during high school, especially observing the way adults engaged with certain topics. How teachers discuss their passions and values was highly influential to the way I view ideal citizenship.

Reflecting on my experience in school, I can identity my schooling mainly teaching us to become ‘participatory citizens’. Through school activities I learned that when I engage with extra-curricular activities, there are benefits (ie. awards, winning prizes). School announcements would would advertise volunteering opportunities in leadership positions, which teachers would gush about. I also remember staff members would call out students that they noticed were involved outside of the classroom. Additionally, there were all sorts of opportunities for students to get involved in planning events which would serve the school. The people in these groups were always considered popular, and were often considered to have additional responsibilities and certain advantages that others didn’t have. This seemed to preserve the notion that being involved meant you were important.

Even though it was an afterthought, my school did encourage their students to be ‘personally responsible’ and ‘justice oriented’. Activities such as food drives, fundraisers, and generally volunteering positions continuously gave us practice in giving our time/resources to those less fortunate. The school was relatively satisfied if we would get involved in these events, but it was always obvious they wanted us to be a part making it happen. However, it was very rare indeed that we discussed concepts such as how to prevent issues such as hunger. Especially in leadership group meetings, it was always concerned with putting a band-aid on the problem, never pursuing where the issue came from.

It was really not until I began attending church meetings that I found out that we can take the stance of finding the root of the problem. My church was active in helping those who suffered, but we were always look for the cause of the hurt. We would debrief after outreach events to try to address what more can be done for the individual and broader issue. I really appreciated my church for being one support that helped me to see another way(justice-oriented) of being a useful member of society, or at least one that made a difference!

Dear Inquirer,

First I would like to applaud you and your bold encounter with this topic. Even simply bringing up this subject is admirable!

You have done a good job of introducing the issue you see within the content being discussed surrounding the different standards of living across Canada. I’m astounded that the teacher in the classroom has not included a discussion surrounding Indigenous life, considering the progress that has been made. However, please remember that the Saskatchewan curriculum in Social Studies 30 has not been updated since 1997.

In regards to how you can approach this issue…

First of all, I’m not sure the school (teachers or students) fully understand that, “We are all treaty people” (Roger Epp). It is difficult for some people to understand this concept, especially for those who are not living on or around reserve lands. Unfortunately, it seems that this group of people haven’t been fully educated on this. I’d remind them of this fact before anything else. If they ask something along the lines of ‘how?’, you can refer to the historical significance of the treaties in that it shaped the Canada we see today. Also, a reminder that the treaties are to be honored, “as long as the sun shines and the rivers flow”, and that means today too! We all have a responsibility to work towards reconciliation with the past wrong, as well as the current issues facing our Indigenous brothers and sister.

Second, it could be beneficial to remind the classroom of their humanity. It seems as though the topic is being waved off simply because the students have no relationships between those students and Indigenous people. It may be necessary to ask them what their responsibility should be, as a citizen, to those around them. The students seem to be brushing off the conviction by cracking a joke. Helping them to understand the serious issues on some reserves, like suicidal epidemics, may wake them up. (refer to “Children of the Broken Treaty” for more info on the suicide rates on James Bay First Nations Reserve)

I’m curious about the Social Studies teacher. Have they brought up Indigenous issues or Treaty Education previously? It certainly is a part of the Social Studies 30 curriculum, and if you find this is not a part of your discussions I would recommend bringing it up in a casual, non-judgmental conversation and keep initiating it in classroom discussions. If this changes nothing or you feel any sort of backlash from your teacher I’d encourage you to address it with some form of leadership at your school. Principles can be a fantastic resource, and are often thankful to hear from a student who is passionate about their education.

“The ways in which teachers are taking up aboriginal perspectives in the classroom is directly connected to what they think of the relationship” (Dwayne Donald). If your educator isn’t addressing this issue head on, I’d share your concern as well.

Please know that you will be fighting somewhat of an uphill battle. What you see today has been shaped by hundreds of years of framing the culture. There are going to be people who stand in your way. Please also know that you are fighting the right battle. You are a part of moving forward towards compassion and understanding of all people, and you are playing a part in this evolution as you influence those few in your Social Studies group.

I encourage you to do some more research and keep me updated with your thought processes and what goes on in your classroom!

More resources: A) Saskatchewan Support B) Why Indigenous Education Matters (to everyone!!) C) Discrimination

Politics… my favorite.

I’ll be honest. This article blew my mind.

For the last 21 years, I’ve resolved in my mind to stay away from political discussions. I genuinely believe that few people know what is actually going on and that our sources of information are unavoidably biased. I have just chosen to wash my hands of it and spent my time on ‘more effective issues’. But then I read this.

Theoretically, I should have predicted it. I shouldn’t have been so apathetically dismissive. Having the network of curricular influence articulated so concisely forced me to address the elephant of government in the (class) room.

I’ve learned that government policies have a colossal impact on the curriculum that educators hypothetically cater to each minute of the school day. A basic concept is this: Curriculum must fit within policy, and policy is shaped by the government. The government is influenced by voters, but people have inconsistent and illogical demands. Thus, the government makes policies which accommodate the voters so they win elections, but little change takes place because media has a short attention span and will move on their next demand before the first is completed. I have come to realize the doom this seals, as the government is constantly shifting their efforts to please the crowd.

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“We promise to address you concerns about…..”

Implementation of this curriculum is largely left up to educators. This article wistfully acknowledges that writing a curriculum does not guarantee it will show up in the classroom. Additionally, analysts discovered that “policies did not always produce the intended results” (9)

As I read through “Treaty Education: Outcomes and Indicators”, I felt like I was able to moderately understand what was going on! Before I had read the previous article, I likely would have considered the majority gibberish- at least not for me at this stage! How neat is it that I’m actually getting to the point of understanding this stuff!! Anyways, back on topic….

As I was scrolling through those on the Curriculum Sub-committee, I wondered who played which roles. In the first article, they spoke of the actors who played a part in shaping education policy. Experts, parents, educators, and local school authorities were mentioned. I noticed a couple of elders mentioned, which would certainly be considered an expert (people who know more and care more), who would be incredibly valuable to have involved in Treaty Education discussions. I also noticed some people who held expertise in other areas, such as Ed Bourassa (whom I was once employed under!).

I noticed that in 2007, Treaty Education became mandatory. I find this very interesting, as according the the first article, there are unending discussions surrounding the policies of how much time certain topics get in a classroom. It is difficult to determine what a student should be learning in schools, considering the very limited time that teachers have with students and the fact that EVERYONE has a different opinion! I’m confident that this decision was not made without heavy discussion and almost certainly, conflicting responses.

Place Propagates

paquataskamik

Reinhabitation can be found in this article in many ways. First, we see the opportunity that came from creating an ‘audio documentary’. During its production a potential space appeared, which gave a variety of people to start conversations about the land and its meaning. The river was revealed to be hugely valued to the Mushkegowuk peoples, but the older generation seemed to be disappointing in the youth’s understanding of its significance. Through a river-trip, people of all ages came together and discussed the history of the river and the issues presented today surrounding it. Through these two endeavors, the land began to present its own narrative while its older residents persuaded the younger ones of their responsibility to understand and protect.

Additionally, we see a resistance to the white culture, or ‘commonsense’. They see the exploitation of the world going on around them, and are not allowing themselves to be driven by selfish ambition or autopilot. This nation is struggling against the pressing forces of development and extraction projects that will undoubtedly interfere with the natural environment. They wrestle with the powerful corporations, rather than weakly submitting to instant economic gratification. Thus, they fight the power in order to protect the vulnerable environment, as well as the powerless seventh generation.

Through Mike’s lecture and this article, I have had an awakening of sorts about the significance of place. As Mike concisely put it on Monday, “where we think we are affects who we think we are”. I’m embarrassed to say that even after 3 semesters of education, I hadn’t related this concept to the Indigenous population. I was blown away by this, as I like to think I am a compassionate person who is sensitive to the fact that everyone is coming from a context that determines their present. The hurt of the past is not necessarily banished to the last generation. There is present pain that originates from deep within our nation’s biography.

Place propagates. This production of concept is unavoidable. Yet, we have power over this ‘law’ of sorts. We can finagle it, maneuvering its potential to encourage a positive and healthy self identity in our youth. If we are intentional about teaching who we are in this place we call home we can advise the future generation of the weight of responsibility paired with the relief of joy.

A “good student”?

I would like to assert that the way to be a ‘good student’ has not changed since the beginning of our educational system. As a student, we are expected to engage with materials, socialize well, and apply our knowledge. We are not outliers in the population of the class. We can sit and listen without distraction. We do not challenge what is taught unless is it a topic that is opened to debate, such as literary interpretations. Now let’s not kid ourselves… if a classroom was full of children like this, most educators would be ecstatic. I know I would be. Imagine what could be accomplished! The learning that could occur! Now I challenge you to make a listen of what makes us human. I would be surprised if a form of saying ‘our diversity’ didn’t make top three on your list. We are different, and we have to embrace the beauty of what it means to be human. We can’t just accept the ‘common sense’ view of what ‘good’ is.

In my last paragraph I mentioned what makes up a good student, and this directly privileges anyone who is able to attain this standard. Pretty simple concept. Let’s think a little deeper though. We have constructed this image of what a good student looks like, and I would like to consider why this is the model we have landed on. For some, I truly believe it comes from a position of wanting the best for the child. We want them to learn and grow, and we have each found an environment that we best work in. I think these educators are lead astray by our brains unrelenting capacity to learn and apply knowledge. Throughout our lives we learn how to manipulate situations to get the desired effect, and this is true in terms of academic achievement. However, these people mistakenly neglect that each person learns in a different way (or pace). Other educators have built this expectation of what a ‘good student’ should look like from societal forces. It is easier to manage a classroom if they act in a certain way compared to others. We also want to be able to appear like our classroom is being effective it its purpose. We all know what a productive classroom looks like, but some students will not be able to engage in an environment so controlled.

I quite liked this article’s discussion on the importance of ‘crisis’ in our minds. This part of learning is uncomfortable, but it can bring important change. I do however want to consider the issues of children becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable. At some point, children should become familiar and determined within an opinion, so not anyone can convince them they are wrong and needed to change. I wish the article talked even briefly about the danger of children not learning to defend what they believe to be true. As adults, we should always be learning. But we also have to possess discernment as to what we believe and what we don’t. If children are told, “if it makes you uncomfortable that’s good! Because you’re uneducated and learning something new!” they will be swayed by every wind of commentary that comes their way. I do believe in the importance of open mindedness, but I wonder if we should simultaneously be teaching our children the necessity to boldly take a stand.

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Article: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1kkJc7k2AyKB-Usl3pujiMAeWpfzmpZRK/view

Virtual Curriculum

I have chosen to dig deeper into the article “Virtual Curriculum: Digital Games as Technologies of Aesthetic Experience and Potential Spaces” by Chloe Brushwood Rose. The purpose of this article from the Journal of the Canadian Association for Curriculum Studies investigates what can be learned while playing digital games. Young people invest significant amounts of time engaging with this form of media, and we have long been watchful of the effects that digital games have on our youth. Though many people hypothesize negative outcomes, Chloe Rose advocates for the journey-centered approach that digital games use. Games like realMYST have made an environment where the process is more rewarding than the product. While this is in contrast with curriculum’s product-oriented style, if we truly aim to prepare students for life we must consider the asset that digital games can be.

Schools have a history of deteriorating popular culture. Schools attempt to engage their students by bringing their fascinations into the classroom and adapting them to fit with curriculum. Chloe discusses how this will quickly lessen the motivation that adolescents once had to play it. She digs into what some theories of play are and argues that once play has an objective, the desire to engage with it disintegrates. By trying to fit the games into the learning outcomes teachers are, “undermining the… cultural and imaginative possibilities” (p. 98) of that game. Chloe asks that readers understand the learning opportunities that the game intrinsically holds by allowing students to work through challenges with no consequence of mistakes. The players are given the opportunity to ‘learn how to learn’ (p. 99) through problem solving and experiencing conditions that hard to come by. For this free participation to be possible the game must make players feel as though they are both fully immersed in the game, yet maintain an understanding that it is a fictional experience. The game must persuade the players that they need to respond as if it were real, in order for the learning experience to be optimal. You cannot create a persuasive story line if the games’ priority is to hit all the outcomes of the curriculum. So we find ourselves conflicted whether the experience of experiential learning is valuable enough to put product-oriented curriculum on hold.

To continue with this investigation on the place of virtual games in curriculum I would like to dig in farther to what other scholars view virtual gaming as. If I can find two articles which take opposing perspectives, I would like to find some truth about this topic. What can everyone agree on, if anything? I would also like to take more time looking at the different thoughts on play discussed in this chapter. I would also like to briefly examine Object-Relations Theory and Aesthetic Experience, as it was referenced in this article regularly.

Article: https://jcacs.journals.yorku.ca/index.php/jcacs/article/ viewFile/16998/15800

Bobitt to Tyler

I had always heard that the educational system was designed to train factory workers, but had always had difficulty figuring out why.

I see now that the study of curriculum was grafted to the pursuit of efficiency. During the Industrial Revolution the discovery of new strategies was routine, and Franklin Bobitt had a mind for the children. He decided that there must be some method of expediting the educational process, and thus began his investigation into curriculum. He made many logical conjectures, yet we do not fully accept his findings.

Ralph Tyler was concerned with evaluating the process of education. He was a man of science through and through and believed through a scientific approach the education system could be perfected and preserved. He believed if we followed a process of four deliberate steps in our institutions we could guarantee that all differences between people be smoothed out.

However, both of these men neglected one issue that I find very important to teaching. Context is key.

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