The video below is a summary of my previous knowledge of curriculum and pedagogy and how it developed throughout this past semester. What I thought to be simple and “common sense” was far from simple and it turns out “common sense” is only relevant to those who know and understand the “common way”; which is actually quite discriminatory. Please watch and enjoy, my learning journey continues.
My schooling experience began in the early 90s in Regina, Saskatchewan. I come from a middle-class white family with parents who love my sisters and I more than anything in this world. My sisters are my teammates and although we might not always have gotten along when we were young, we always had each other’s backs. I attended one public elementary school and one public high school and grew up in the same neighbourhood until I was 17 years old. For my grade 12 year, my parents relocated to the opposite side of town to the home they reside in, to this day. My upbringing and schooling certainly related closely to the single stories from Chimamanda Adichie’s talk.
Although I would not consider my childhood to be monetarily wealthy, I certainly did come from privilege. I had white privilege and love and support that surrounded be to no end. In the classroom, especially in elementary school, the theme was the same. The majority of my classmates were also white students coming from middle class families. There was not much for multiculturalism and it seemed like the couple students who were not white, conformed to the white culture around them. I did not view them to ever be excluded because of their skin color but that would be easy for me to say coming from the dominant culture.
I believe picking out some of my biases will take time as I believe some learnings are so deeply engrained that one is unaware they are even there. I do believe that everyone deserves to have the right to a fair education regardless of their skin color, language, disability (or ability), gender, sexual orientation etc. Although I may not know all of the biases I may hold, I can commit to having an open mind, an open heart and be ready to learn alongside my students.
Truth be told, I never cared much for math but I also never considered the way it is taught as being oppressive or discriminatory. If I were to pick out a subject as being free from oppression and discrimination I would certainly have picked math. My reasoning behind this is simple, I thought there was only one way to teach it and one way to learn it, as this was my own experience growing up. I also was under the impression that math would be the easiest subject to learn for an ESL student because at least numbers were the same in all languages, again wrong. My entire previous opinion of math certainly underlines the oppressive and discriminatory ways it has been taught. I simply did not enjoy math because I struggled greatly with it and clearly I was not understanding the way it was taught. This article definitely makes me wonder if my opinion would be different if I had been taught in a different way.
Poirier’s article “Teaching mathematics and the Inuit Community” highlighted a number of ways Inuit mathematics challenged Eurocentric ideas about mathematics and its purpose. The most notable to me, were measurement, localization and how counting took place. For measurement the Inuit have traditionally used parts of the body rather than tape measures or rulers and certain measurements relate closely to nature. For localization or their sense of space, it is again very related to nature, rather than a set figure of measurement. The way the Inuit count was the most unique to me as their language is traditionally oral. In past they have used the Eurocentric symbols for numbers as they do not have their own but they have found a way to express everything orally.
Dear [Coop Students Name],
Thank you so much for both your concern and your courage to reach out to discuss this important topic further. I am saddened to hear your coop teacher thinks in such a negative way; it is really of no surprise that the students would follow suit. Remember, not all teachers were trained in the same era and what you are learning now could very much so be different from when they attended University. It sounds like it is very possible this teacher has not had relevant Professional Development opportunity further their understandings and teachings of such an important topic. Please do not be discouraged by this teacher’s particular views and actions.
I would suggest in order to continue these important teachings within your internship that you arrange a meeting with your coop teacher to discuss the importance of the teachings. If you believe it to be necessary, please do not hesitate to involve your school’s principal as well. Treaty Education is for everyone as we are all treaty people. When an individual’s knowledge on a particular topic is limited or influenced by negative sources, it is quite likely their opinion is going to follow suit. Opinions are not fact and it is important to provide supported teachings on a topic so important in order to make understandings common place. Understanding what treaties are and their relevance to our students is one of the best ways to work towards eliminating an uninformed and negative mindset.
Before sitting down with your Coop Teacher, I would suggest reviewing some of the materials below. These materials also could be recommended to your Coop Teacher (and principal) to support your reasoning as to why Treaty Education is important. This is a topic that has not been discussed nearly enough in schools in the past, which is why some educators may find it uncomfortable, it is not yet a common sensed understanding. With that said, everyone, teachers and students alike need Treaty Education as an important step forward in working towards reconciliation. Also, it is important to remember, Treaty Education is not about teaching Indigenous culture but to teach about Treaties and how they relate to everyone.
Dwayne Donald – Video – “On What Terms Can we Speak?”
In this video Dwayne speaks on why teachers should be teaching Treaty Education.
Clair Kreuger – Blog – http://clairekreuger.ca
Claire explains importance of Treaty Education and discusses it throughout her blog.
Thank you so very much for reaching out for insight and please feel free to reach out again should you require my assistance further. All the best on your learning journey!
[University Professor’s Name]
In my future classroom culturally, responsive pedagogy will be incorporated into all I do. To me, culturally responsive pedagogy is not something with a start and end point. It is not simply a unit to be taught but something which becomes incorporated into all subject areas. I will be cognisant of the students within my classroom and will work towards having all feel welcomed. In my classroom I would like to have the students share their ideas of how to incorporate their particular cultures into the classroom, as it is very likely, we will all be from diverse backgrounds. I love the idea of having a day where each student can bring a traditional dish from their culture to share with the class; although I am not sure the logistics of something like this post Covid-19. Sharing a map within the classroom for students to show where they and/or their ancestors are from is also a neat visual to have.
Place is an intriguing topic which has been brough up in almost all of the education classes I have taken thus far. I am particularly intrigued by this, as when I was a student going to school, there was not such a focus on place. Learning was to be done withing the classroom and school walls and on the rare occasion, we went on field trips. I personally am fond of the focus on place as there are so many non-traditional places to learn outside of the school. In my classroom I will educate my students on what place means and ask for their ideas of how it can be incorporated into their education. Including my students in decisions that might traditionally be up to the teacher is important to me as I believe the ability to be flexible goes a long way with students.
Hip hop education is a unique tool that can be used within the classroom to promote social justice and youth activism. I have to admit, prior to reading this article I would have simply thought of only the artistic ways hip hop could be incorporated into the classroom. After reading the article it is so clear to me that hip hop education can be brought into the classroom in so many different valuable ways. As Akom quotes in the article “Hip Hop is the dominant language of youth culture, and those of us who work with young people need to speak their language”(Akom, 2009). By bringing hip hop education into the classroom we are giving students a relatable and memorable experience.
By incorporating hip hop education in the classroom, the teacher is being given a tool to teach openly about the problems of poverty, police brutality, patriarchy, misogyny, incarceration, racial discrimination, as well as love, hope, joy (Akom, 2009). Hip hop education helps bridge the gap between teachers and students. This way of teaching can help to take pressure off the important teachings of topics which may be considered uncomfortable and controversial to some. Most valuable of all is, it allows students to see a marginalized group through a new, creative and relatable lens. By teaching in a relatable way to students, engagement will surely be higher.
A. A. Akom (2009) Critical Hip Hop Pedagogy as a Form of Liberatory Praxis,
Equity & Excellence in Education, 42:1, 52-66, DOI: 10.1080/10665680802612519
Truth be told, I have never heard of citizenship education until the reading, podcast and video for this week. This is not to say I am unfamiliar with the practices of it, simply, I did not know this way of teaching had a formal name with tangible research backing it. When I was going to school in the 90s and early 00s, I saw both the personally responsible and the participatory citizen mixed into my education. In school as the personally responsible citizen, I was introduced to recycling, donating blood, and volunteering with a strong focus on responsibility. As the participatory citizen, I was taught to care for others, for the environment and learned about government agencies. For the most, part the Justice-orientated citizen was not part of my education.
In the education system, I would imagine it would be easier to be the teacher who holds the personally responsible and the participatory citizen to the highest standard. To teach students to be justice-oriented citizens, could mean uncomfortable conversations and situations in the classroom, as individuals will have their own opinions as to what is just. For a teacher to be progressive with their teachings of the justice orientated citizen, they would have to be comfortable with the uncomfortable. The types of citizens seen being taught in the classroom, often can correlate to what government is in power and their particular goals. The ideal for me would be a combination of all three types of citizens. Although this goal could be difficult to achieve, I believe teachers have the duty to work towards it for the benefit of their students but also society.
It is an interesting thought that curriculum is a fundamental part of the framework of schooling yet, the make-up of it actually has very little to do with educators and parents. Curriculum is heavily guided by government, large companies and influential people and decisions are typically made in the benefit of those systems and people. Although I absolutely do believe it makes sense to have educators and parents involved in creating curriculum, I would not say I am surprised to know their involvement is limited. Education is very political and always has been, the overarching governing body to the education system is the government. I spent the last 10 years involved with a major wealth management firm and I can freely say, no one asked my opinion as to how my job should be done. The job descriptions come from senior executives who influenced the mandates although they had never had experience in that particular job. Although this type of structure is not impossible to change, it falls under the mentality of “It has always been this way” which is a mind-set that will take years to change.
In the reading “The Saskatchewan Way” educator Henry Janzen is touted for his contributions to influencing and changing curriculum in Saskatchewan. Due to Janzen’s efforts, Saskatchewan is miles ahead of other provinces when it comes to curriculum development and implementation with a “quality unmatched elsewhere”(p.5). I find this thought provoking, as although Janzen’s efforts are certainly commendable, some 70 years later educators are still fighting to influence curriculum withing Saskatchewan. I believe this is a fine example of just how hard it is to influence a change, in a system that has been in place for many years. Although I am excited to know Saskatchewan is ahead of other provinces, there is still work to be done.
The Saskatchewan Way: Professional-Led Curriculum Development. Available on-line from: https://www.stf.sk.ca/sites/default/files/the_saskatchewan_way_professional_led_curriculum_development.pdf
Addressing the fact that our curriculum is intrinsically homophobic, transphobic, biphobic and oppressive towards queer and trans people is certainly not without its challenges. The document “Deepening the Discussion” is a fantastic resource for school systems to guide this necessary change. The document is all encompassing and goes over questions individuals may have, how to appropriately address situations, how to influence and create change and how to create an environment for a better tomorrow. The continued education of staff is necessary to guide this change as “When students do not feel safe or valued, it undermines their learning and well-being” (p.1, Saskatchewan Ministry of Education, 2015).
To queer the curriculum means to challenge it, to bend it and to massage it, in order to provide a safe and inviting learning environment for all Saskatchewan students. Breaking colonial ways of teaching and learning is vital in order to influence and create positive change. Some ways to normalize queerness withing schools would be to provide materials upon which LGBTQ individuals can relate to themselves in, refraining from separating students into gender-based groups and allowing students to simply decide what feels best for them.
Teachers should always provide a duty of care for all students, always. Maintaining a classroom free from any notion of sexuality, would be virtually impossible and it would also be doing a disservice to our students. Teaching students to avoid uncomfortable situations rather than address them, speak about them and normalize them, is not instilling good values within our students. Students lead by example and need to know that they are in a safe space when it comes to any situation which could be perceived as uncomfortable or not “normal”. To have a classroom free from any notion of sexuality is simply running from or avoiding a basic human right which is simply unacceptable.
Deepening the Discussion: Gender and Sexual Diversity. (n.d.). Retrieved October 06, 2020, from https://www.saskatchewan.ca/government/government-structure/ministries/education
According to Kumashiro, the good student is one who conforms to societies expectations of the ideal student. In these terms, the ideal student is one who thinks and acts a certain way, they listen well and do not create extra work for the teacher and in all likelihood, they likely have white skin. In today’s terms, the good student would be the auditory learner and there would not have been much, if any focus on kinesthetic or visual learners. A different way of learning outside of the auditory style was seen as more work for the teacher and for society. This viewpoint seems to be very ‘in-the-box’ given that schools should produce contributing members of society. A contributing member of society could be the Prime Minister, or they could work for a waste management company, but both are contributing, and both would have different levels of education. Willfully ignoring different learning styles, to me, creates a bigger issue with society as we create a higher likelihood to allow individuals to become a burden as we were unwilling to foster their different leaning styles.
The students which are privileged by this definition of the good student are those that fall in line with societal expectations. These students are the ones who listen and behave well, they do not cause problems or extra work and again, they likely have white skin. Those who do not fall within these guidelines, seem to be a write off and are considered to be troubled students. Troubled students are just that, troubled and cannot be ‘fixed’. Within the definition of good student, there is no room for anything else and there is no mention of how to ‘make it work’ with what is considered to be a troubled student. Painter says “Thus, in its essential nature, education aims at developing a noble type of manhood”. This type of development Painter speaks of, was only available to the good student.
The idea of the good student was shaped by historical factors and is still evident in school settings today. Painter describes students as “helpless and ignorant for a significant period of life” with schooling the only fix for this. Years ago, the whole idea behind going to school was to create the ideal member of society when one was finished. It was predetermined at this time, however that some students, typically based on race, had a better ability to learn than others. This way of thinking is problematic because certain students simply do not fit into this model but that does not mean they are unfit to learn and succeed. These students may indeed create more of a challenge for the teacher in the classroom but with the proper attention they also have the ability to succeed and contribute in society.