The subject of mathematics and its role in education is incredibly fascinating. Even outside of math class, there is a case to be made for math and numbers being integral components of the Western curriculum. As Dr. Russell discusses in her lecture, math can be taught and incorporated into lessons in more than one way. The methods typically seen in our schools, though, are Eurocentric carryovers from colonial times. These methods and the beliefs around them differ significantly in the educational systems of other cultures, such as that of the Inuit people. Examples of the Inuit mathematics system differing include theirs being a base-20 system, their expression of mathematics and numbers being primarily oral, and the fact that they do not consider mathematics to be something that should be incorporated into real-life situations. Their system does have some similarities to the mainstream Western system though, such as theirs revolving around six specific topics: counting, localization, measuring, design, games, and explanation. As Louise Poirier explains in her article, various mathematical curriculums incorporate these core concepts in their own unique ways but ultimately still incorporate all six. Inuit and Eurocentric methods of mathematical education are rather different, and learning about Inuit methods demonstrates that there are multiple ways to learn the subject besides the mainstream method commonly seen in Western schools.
In my own schooling, I did not learn much about Indigenous people, let alone those in Canada. Whatever I did learn was about American Indigenous people and their history, and even that was brief. Having finished my secondary schooling in Israel, I learned more about the history of my country, neighbouring countries, and the United States than I did about anything Canadian. I bring a rather unique perspective to my classroom, as I spent half of my life in a Middle Eastern country and therefore did not grow up in the same environment as many of my fellow teachers and students. I am always eager to learn more about Canadian history, especially as I am a Canadian citizen, and I have learned so much from my time at the University of Regina that I am confident I have basically caught up to my fellow students in terms of knowledge of Canadian history and Indigenous culture. I know I still have so much more to learn though, and I can’t wait to accept all learning opportunities and bring as much knowledge as I can to my classroom!
As Westheimer and Kahne detail in their article, the three types of citizenship are personally responsible, participatory, and justice oriented. I had not known of those terms or their distinct definitions and differences until reading the article and watching the associated video, but upon understanding them, I can decisively conclude that my schooling was oriented around personally responsible citizenship. As I spent grades 6 to 12 going to school in Palestine, my school leaned heavily towards community involvement surrounding helping the Palestinian cause. It’s a very complicated political and social issue, but having gone to school in Palestine, I was part of school programs geared towards helping Palestinians. We helped farmers pick olives, donated food and clothes on numerous occasions such as the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict, and had classes specifically dedicated to understanding Palestinian history and the struggle for independence from Israel. The article mentions “[contributing] food to a food drive” as an action relating to being personally responsible citizenship oriented, and it was this that finalized my thought process on what my school geared itself around, as we participated in community events rather than planning them or coming up with alternative solutions.
The approaches taken to citizenship in education vary depending largely on the goals of the school and its authorities. Depending on the overall goals of the school and what it desires from its students, it will most likely gear towards one of the three aforementioned citizenship models. Being personally responsible, for example, helps gear students towards contributing to the workforce in a traditional manner, whereas being participatory involves a more independent approach on the students’ end and leads to them being more independent overall in their thought processes and work ethics. Justice oriented citizenship is a great fit for schools with unique models of education that do not adhere entirely to traditional methods, as it inspires even more independent thought in students and leads to future leaders and officials. The different models of citizenship all have their own merits in the end, and the school and responsible authorities such as teachers, trustees, and government officials make choices based on their needs and desires for the next generation.
The issues you’ve brought up are incredibly disconcerting. As some of the most influential figures in the lives of young people, teachers have the responsibility and obligation to make sure that their students are being taught the right material. Treaty education is an incredibly important topic that needs to reach all students, irregardless of whether they’re Indigenous or not.
All Canadian students, including white people and all non-Indigenous cultural groups, need to learn about the treaties and the history behind them. It is vital to our society that the next generation has a solid understanding of the mistakes of the past and what is being done to make amends. Claire, a teacher featured in a video I’ll link for you at the bottom of this response, states to her class that it is imperative that all students know about the struggles faced by Indigenous students. By learning vital information about Indigenous peoples, students are able to learn to avoid offending Indigenous people in “subtle and unsubtle ways” such as by assuming they are part of another culture. Even if there is a lack of Indigenous students in the class or even in the school, all students still need to learn this material to gain a deep understanding and appreciation for the Indigenous peoples of Canada and their history.
As Cynthia Chambers discusses in her writing “We Are All Treaty People”, which I will also link for you, all Canadians are “treaty people”. What she means by this is that irregardless of whether a Canadian is European in origin or Indigenous or another ethnicity entirely, all Canadians are subject to the treaties. The treaties apply to all Canadians, not just Indigenous peoples, and as a result, all Canadians can be classified as treat people. This is yet another insight into why all students should be taught about the treaties irregardless of their ethnic background.
I hope you found this informative! I have linked my sources for you to take a look at if you would like:
Upon reading the Ben Levin article “Curriculum policy and what should be learned in schools”, I learned a great deal about the development process behind Western curriculum both in the past and today. The article describes how the process has changed over time; in the past, the public had no say and education officials and experts made the decisions, while today parents and families are given a much larger role. They too are able to help decide what they think is best for their children to learn in school. The input of parents, combined with that of public officials, teachers, university professors, and other professionals and experts, all culminate in these decisions. As a result of the amount of groups and people involved, coupled with the often-controversial nature of the changes proposed, the process of changing the curriculum is rather lengthy and tedious. I honestly find it a fair bit confusing and concerning that these decisions are so controversial and take so long to be made, as this leads to the possibility that outdated or incorrect material is being taught due to it not having had the opportunity to be changed into something more appropriate.
Comparing these insights to the Saskatchewan Ministry of Education’s Treaty Education document makes things more clear. The document demonstrates the sheer number of groups and people of various levels of influence involved in the process of making these decisions. It is this overwhelming amount of people involved that makes the process so tedious and difficult, yet ultimately it can be for the better, which makes it worth it. Having so many people would also undoubtedly cause a fair degree of tension among decision makers, due to the sheer amount of disagreements and controversies that were bound to happen over such a topic.
As commonsense is a concept that varies between different cultures and societies, it is difficult to pinpoint a universal concept for what being a “good” student entails. A definition commonly perceived by people is that a “good’ student does exactly what is expected of them by their school. “Good” students show up to class on time and without missing school days, turn in their assignments diligently, and get good marks on homework and exams. Western society places a major emphasis on participation, attendance, and academic excellence. Other cultures have similar expectations of their students, but what they view as ideal or “good” may be vastly different in numerous ways. Franklin Verzelius Newton Painter notes in “A history of education” that education in Asian countries is designed to produce components of the already-established society rather than help build individuals. This, having been written in 1886, is incredibly outdated, but seeing the way Westerners perceived education in other countries is incredibly fascinating and helps understand how Western values and ideals came to be.
Obviously, with this definition of what makes a “good” student, there are a variety of cases in which a student may not be able to meet those expectations. Some students have learning disabilities that prevent them from excelling to the same extent as their classmates, while others may have difficult situations at home that prevent them from getting homework done or coming to class on time. Each case is different, and as a result, it is not fair to not consider a student “good” if they are barred from achieving these ideals through no fault of their own. Students that do not have such disadvantages are able to flourish in a traditional classroom and can be perceived by their teachers as being “good”, whereas those that need special attention or different considerations may not get the opportunities they need to truly flourish.
The model used by Western schools today is most definitely based on older models designed to educate only certain people and create ideal employees. It puts a major emphasis on arriving on time, participating, and doing exemplary work, which are all qualities valued in employees. Back when many students went on to become factory workers, these values were ingrained in them from a young age. Today, with society and the economy having evolved quite significantly, this model is outdated yet continues to be used to produce “good” students in a manner that benefits the privileged and does not give disadvantaged students the opportunity to succeed as well.
Painter, Franklin V. N. “A History of Education.” Internet Archive, New York : D. Appleton, 1 Jan. 1886, archive.org/details/historyofeducati00painiala/page/8/mode/2up.
Kumashiro considers commonsense to be something that is so ingrained into culture and society that it is not questioned. There are countless different things that can be considered commonsense, and the term is widely used around the world. There are some things that are never questioned, and while the specifics can vary worldwide with different cultures, the topics in general are typically universal. This widespread notion also applies to education, as Kumashiro demonstrates. During his time in Nepal, he experienced a very standard and traditional form of education, with textbooks, exams, and lectures all being pre-determined. Being inspired by the American education system, Nepalese education in Kumashiro’s experience heavily incorporated commonsense topics, which caused there to be a certain degree of bias. This was also blended with more controversial educational tactics such as separating boys and girls and physically disciplining students. While the commonsense model may be controversial worldwide, it is the most conventional and therefore most convenient, and as a result it is used in Canadian schools along with schools worldwide. While other methods may prove to be more effective on an individual level, the fact remains that few alternative methods exist that are able to effectively teach a standardized curriculum to large groups of students at once.
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