ECS 203: Summary of Learning – Final Blog Post and Video

  1. Evolution of understanding: Curriculum and Pedagogy
  • Realizing how much education has changed over the years
  • Acknowledging and celebrating positive change and growth
  • Being a forward-thinker and anticipating and propelling movements for socially justice oriented social change
  1. My approach to curriculum and pedagogy
  • Indigenous Education and Indigenous Pedagogy
  • Nature Based Curriculum
  • Social Justice Oriented Education Approach
  1. Space for growth and evolution in my own processes
  • So much more to learn about queer pedagogy. This is an area where I would like to grow and develop more as an educator. Spending time reviewing the latest research and blogs, as well as sitting down with a Judith Butler book (or two) are on my focus list.
  • Analyzing curriculum documents is hard work! It takes time, focus, concentration and tenacity! It can be dry – it can be confusing – it can feel overwhelming. It requires dedication and grit! And yet there is so much in depth understanding that comes as a result!
  • Developing more compassion for perspectives different than my own. Especially ones that are less than compassionate towards social justice or that do not see the depths of struggles of other marginalized groups of people.
  1. Learning Theorists 

We were introduced to all kinds of amazing education theorists. Here were some of my favourites:

Paulo Friere 

Judith Butler 

John Dewey

Indigenous Scholars

Dwayne Donald

Cynthia Chambers

Aparna Mishna Tarc

Queer Pedagogy: Space for Growth, Learning and Discussion

Learning about and implementing Queer Pedagogy is a necessary part of Education work.

For our class learning process, we read several articles. We also had some really important discussions.

Our class asked: “At what age should we start teaching about using pronouns?”

The class had various thoughts about this. “The sooner in life the better.” “We learn pronouns so early in life.” “We should introduce them in later elementary years.” 

It occurred to me that these concepts are not clear-cut to teach. They can be controversial, messy, complicated. Something that should not be hard somehow becomes so hard. Ultimately, this is just a quest to help people feel seen, heard, loved – and that comes from a place of such pure motivation. I ask myself “why does it have to be this hard?” “Why do these conversations have to be so difficult?”

But this is how life is. Not always simple. Not always straightforward, or clear-cut. Learn to embrace the complex. Learn how to love it if you are going to be successful in helping others to rise up.

One of the teaching moments that stood out to me, was the realization that both current and future educators may truly wish to have open discussions but struggle to know how. This fear can contribute to more silence.

Our ECS 203 teacher Corey said, “Better to take a chance and have a conversation than saying nothing at all.”

This statement hit me – I realized that as a future educator, I feel afraid to speak out of fear of misstepping or saying the wrong thing because I know how sensitive of a topic it can be. At the same time, I know how important it is for these discussions to be had. I want to create a warm, encouraging, open space for my students. Corey’s encouragement made me think about wanting to take more risks – and that perhaps having what I call stumbly, imperfect conversations.

At the same time, becoming increasingly educated, reading current articles and research related to the 2LSGBTQ experience will give me the background knowledge and confidence I need to move forward as an educator.

Additionally, on a more personal level, we may have our own work cut out for us – in our reflections and understandings of our own sexuality – sexual gender, identity, and expression. Our own uncomfortable feelings may be brought up. We may find this painful, difficult. As educators, we need to make sure we can access the support we need to do our personal work. The more clear we are – and the more healthy and balanced we feel inside – the more we will have to give others.


A Document I learned about was published by the Saskatchewan Ministry of Education in 2015.

Deepening the Discussion: Gender and Sexual Diversity

It asks the question: Why do we need to understand gender and sexual diversity in schools and communities? It emphasizes size key categories.

  1. Student Safety
  2. School Culture
  3. Student Physical and Emotional Health
  4. Student Engagement and Academic Success
  5. Diversity and Equity

And the intention for all students is to develop:

-a strong, positive sense of identity – caring disposition -respect for human and biological diversity -a commitment to the well-being of others -a desire to engage in social action for the common good 

2014 – I am proud of the rainbow flag tattoo on the back of my neck. For me, it symbolizes pride, freedom, faith, and strength.

Reflection on Literacy in my schooling – from a critical social justice perspective

In Chapter 7, Examples from English Literature, Against Common Sense, the following ideas are presented:

  • The selection of literature presented to students over the course of their education can have a massive influence on their understanding of the world and society
  • The questions we ask; the way we ask those questions; significantly impact our students and the development of their thinking.
  • “ ‘Multicultural’ literature is not inherently anti-oppressive: It can reinforce stereotypes if teachers fail to ask questions about how students are reading them”. -Kumashiro, p. 75

How has my upbringing and schooling shaped how I “read the world” What biases and lenses do I bring into the classroom? How might we unlearn/work against these biases?

When were we given “single stories?”

In my French Immersion schooling, I was given the opportunity to learn a different language. Immediately, this provides a widened perspective of the world – allowing for students to use brainpower to think, act and speak in two different languages. My scope of the language world was broadened to show me that languages were structured differently, expressions were different, words were different, grammar was different. At an early age, I believed that language was one of the influences that shape culture, and I found myself fascinated by that. I would observe differences in the Francophone and English groups in my community and be struck by the differences (as well as the beauty) in their unique (and similar still, in other ways) expressions.

What I observed in school was that there was a subgroup of Indigenous children, who attended the same school, but with who we had only occasional interactions. This was the “English stream” of the school: these kids were often poor, many came from difficult backgrounds living affected by intergenerational trauma impacts) and seemed disconnected from the rest of the school. “They seemed disconnected” is what I said – but it was us who were disconnected from history, from the truth. All of the stories of the people, their lands, and their connections. Displacement and change. There were essentially two worlds, two societies, two streams  – within the same school, the same building.

We were given little knowledge of them. We were invited to cultural events sometimes, which we attended. But we did not learn the full history of Indigenous people in the North. I remember feeling disconnected and confused sometimes, not knowing where we were meant to fit in these ceremonies. Most of us coming from a place of privilege did not know about the stories of suffering (and movements towards healing) that must have been whispered in those places.

I wish we could have read Indigenous literature, talked about the heroes, the resilience, the beauty and the strength. The language and the culture. Instead, we were left in the dark – eyes covered – “don’t go there” – while the disconnect caused us all to continue to suffer.


Hidden Oppression in the Math Experiences of Traumatized Kids… and Exploring Patterns in Math Worlds, Including Inuit Math

Leroy Little Bear gives some illustrative examples of how mathematics is approached through the Inuit lens:

-Language (Inuktitut, English, German) affects the learning of numbers

-Base 20 system is followed

-Counting is less important

-Inuktitut as traditionally an oral language affects students the experience of the written word, includes numbers, and written math equations

-Measurements by fingers, rather than rulers 

-Calendar months by different animal, plant and season shifts. Slightly different every year. -Affected by the environment.

Leroy Little Bear states that colonialism “tries to maintain singular social order by means of force and law, suppressing the diversity of human worldviews.”

“Typically this proposition creates oppression and discrimination….-”

In elementary and high school, I learned math in French. I think this was a privilege – to learn math in another language. And to have the opportunity for formal education is a privilege too. Many of us do not realize how lucky we are just to be learning every day. While many underprivileged groups endure their daily fights against hunger, abuse, oppression, others are fortunate just to have seats in the classroom with bellies full of food, parents with good jobs, peace in their home life, warm, clean clothes to wear, and very little “big stressors” to worry about.

When basic needs are met, life is different: Our brains are primed for a different kind of learning. 

Truthfully, my childhood education experience was coated in layers of seemingly unbeatable stress – the kind that seems impossible to change – and that, to my dismay, even at the time, was in my awareness that the stress was interfering significantly with my learning.

Grade 10, 11, 12 math is incredibly challenging. Our French Immersion math teacher in high school was incredible. She was passionate about mathematics and cared greatly about passing along her knowledge to others. She worked hard to help every student understand complex math concepts. There are, however, the greater barriers to learning, the ones that feel too big for us as children. These are the barriers that exist in the unspeakable spaces: because to give voice to it would be to risk breaking ourselves. Only the traumatized know the fear, the sting, the caution, the risk….of being unheard.

So better to sit through math class. Try our best to focus. But using a brain that has been primed to dissociate wants the opposite of math learning. It wants to be free to run loops, to find creative outs, rather than the structured focus of the math. Or at least, I did.

Painful for me was the reality that I had the capacity to excel at math. I had the smarts, but I couldn’t bring myself to keep my attention on my schoolwork and learning. I would find myself focusing politely for the minimum expected duration. We would then move on to individual work time, and I would distract others, goofing off and avoiding the work. I hated my own pain and suffering more than I loved math.

Truthfully, I felt deeply bothered that I could not be present in class, knowing I was losing out on important learning opportunities, but telling myself “I will figure it out later” Later, I learned, that would be much more difficult than I ever could have thought, and that in fact, it was my traumatized brain that was preventing me from learning.

I believe it is beyond the scope of most math teachers, to support kids whose brains have been overtaken by traumatic hooks, and whose focus is at best, fragile. Our teachers are spread thin, giving every moment of time to each student, helping them to break down concepts, and helping them understand to the best of their ability. They are not meant to be counsellors, or social workers, or family therapists: But what enormous expectations we may place on them. They themselves also cannot fix the fabric of society, a culture that created or contributed to the difficulties students face. They are trying to teach math, but truthfully, they will bump up against so much more. So many other painful truths, maybe invisible at times, but sometimes brought forth by attempts to follow the pathways of instruction for mathematics curriculum learning.

Expanding on our learning, we watched a YouTube video, featuring Eddie Woo (Mathematics is the sense you never knew you had). What I liked is how he showed that there is math in everything. Math is everywhere.

And what underlies this is more common connections. Such as the work of Bishop (1988), who recognizes six different domains of mathematics that seem to be found in all cultures:







In future education work, I am interested in reading studies on how students’ brains are impacted by trauma. Specifically, how are mathematical learning centers affected by trauma?

My brain’s curiosity goes to the six domains described by Bishop. I can’t help but wonder if these common mathematical processes are used in the experiences of children living through ongoing situations of complex post-traumatic stress in their upbringings. For example, in homes of violence, how many times do children “count” the reactions of their stressed-out parents? In what ways are complex mathematical calculations used to predict future trauma? Once this pattern of thinking has been established in the mind, brain and psyche of traumatized children – how might these pathways be inadvertently reactivated by the learning of similar math processes in school? And could the unknowing reactivation of these pathways by educators (without acknowledgement of the hidden history) actually cause a further stress response in children that may affect their learning?

I hypothesize that traumatized children may learn math differently (as well as other subjects), and the lack of understanding of this contributes to a type of systematic oppression that we are only just beginning to learn about. 

Clearly, there is so much to learn and explore – from the depths of particular math approaches – such as Inuit mathematics – understanding commonalities and patterns in mathematical thinking – and exploring layers of hidden oppression. What a journey!


Louise Poirier (2007). Teaching mathematics and the Inuit community, Canadian Journal of Science, Mathematics and Technology Education, 7(1). p. 53-67.

Alan Bishop (1988). Educational Studies in MathematicsVol. 19, No. 2, Mathematics Education and Culture (May, 1988), pp. 179-191

Three Scholars and Perspectives: Treaty Education

Dwayne Donald

Dwayne Donald, gets to the heart of important reconciliation challenges in his talk “On What Terms Can We Speak?”  

He points to the relational issues between indigenous people and non-indigenous, or what he refers to as “Canadian-Canadians.” He says there is a disconnect: That there are two frames of reference and they do not quite match up. He said this comes from the legacy of colonialism. Colonialism, he says, is ultimately an extended process of denying relationship.

He says that we need to look at the history of relationship, rather than just teaching timelines. His words “because how we think of relationships affects how we take it up in the classroom” struck me.

“How we think about relationship affects how we take it up in the classroom” – These are words for me to sit with, and live some time to let the reflections pour over me.

I felt moved by his presentation and felt compelled to seek out more of his work, which I plan to do. I also felt compelled to watch this talk over and over again.

Claire Kreuger

Claire Kreuger provides a fantastic introduction to educators to inform perspectives from a white-settler perspective, as an Indigenous-supporting educator. Raising two nieces who are Indigenous helps to inform her perspective on issues of racism, social issues, micro- and macro-aggressions in the school system. She sees the need for better listening, more time spent understanding, and more social, and emotional support for Indigenous students, and more care for all. I was pleased with the resources I found here, including her blog, and will continue to access them in the future.

Cynthia Chambers

“We Are All Treaty People” – What a well-written article! Understanding histories and all of the ways that they intersect is a necessary path to moving forward. So much history, and so many connections, have been left out of colonial school systems and curriculum. We are all affected by Treaty. For me the work is doing more to trace my own historical path, to map out the ways my history has intersected with Indigenous history, learn more about the layers and complexities of Indigenous people and their history, and weave this into both story and curriculum development work in the future.

Teaching students about history is somehow both complicated and simple. We are there to teach facts. But we don’t always know all of the facts. The facts can somehow be complicated for all kinds of different reasons.
Ideally, teachers learn to hold space for themselves, as well as students. To be not only compassionate and supportive of one another, but to be informed as well. In the context of Treaty Education, this means ensuring that all students are given connections to Indigenous history and present, because of the reality of its role in bringing Canada into its current shape. The here and now. Where we all are. Where we all strive to be. In the present, informed, connected, compassionate, proactive and respectful. Holding space for all of the stories and history. Making decisions from a place of informed equity.

Culturally Relevant Pedagogy

In my future classroom, I imagine:

-Place-Based Pedagogy

-Incorporating First Nations Culture and Values

-Use of images to showcase our First Nations people, art, public ceremonies, elders and practices

-Inviting people in to share, and teach; create connections

-Nature in the classroom: real nature items and elements

Sense of Place

Supporting our students in asking and answering the following questions:

-Who am I?

-Where did I come from?

-Where are we going?

-Use of maps in the classroom

-Use of and connection to local resources

-Field trips to the community to learn and explore

Creating Connections and Understanding Connections: John Dewey and the present world of Education

How can we understand new educational trends in relation to the global network context?

John Dewey believed in:

  • Creating connections, specifically connections to nature
  • Learning through interacting with the environment
  • Interactive, hands-on learning
  • Encouraging discussion between students, debate, and constructive problem-solving
  • Interdisciplinary education, and understanding connections

Philosophically, he championed education as a necessary agent of social change. He was a well-respected philosopher, educator and psychologist who sought to cultivate a better world and increased connectivity, fairness and experience of humanity for all.

John Dewey’s work and literature The School and Society highlight progressive education with a focused on two main points: his observed views of the tendencies of education.

  1. New educational trends are reflections of our current social context – and are part of an inevitable effort to bring educational in line with broader systems of globalization.
  2. He believed in democratic social ideals – so he wondered how we could align educational change with these.

How can we use the work of Dewey and modern like-minded scholars, to examine our present education system?

Scholars who believe in progression and change, and hold a democratic worldview will likely resonate deeply with Dewey’s work, as he describes large-scale trends and movements in education through a progressive lens. What is different from today, then from 100 years ago, is our direction: advancements in technology, science and social justice have formed, emerged and settled many times over. What is not different today about Dewey, is ultimate, his compass of the world. Social idealism promotes continual progress, growth and change, moving towards a more fair and just society. 

“New educational trends, including active and cooperative learning, interdisciplinary projects, networked distance learning and global corporate universities, can be accounted for as more or less conscious attempts to bring learning in line with the changing patterns of life and work activities in the global network society.” (Waks, 2013, p. 77).

Dewey’s encouragement towards a more natural environment reminds me of the Yukon First Nations movements in Education. Incredible efforts are made by dedicated educators and stakeholders to offer more land-based opportunities for Indigenous and non-Indigenous students alike. I think this is one example of what Dewey had in mind when he suggested the importance of interconnectedness and nature. Our present education system in the North allows us to establish more connections with both Native culture and nature for our children.


Walks, L. 2013. John Dewey and the challenge of progressive education. International Journal of Progressive Education 9(1).
Dewey, J. (1899). The school and society. University of Chicago Press.

Human Complexity and the Development of Curriculum

Photo by Tony Gonda (used with permission). A Yukon dandelion going to seed, in front of a flowering dandelion. There are layers, complexities and stages in flowers, just as there are in curriculum policy and its processes of development.

The process of developing curriculum is more much complicated than it initially appears. Many considerations – ideology, values, public issues and interests – shape the direction of curriculum development.

To understand how curriculum exists in its present state, we must look to the past, and understand its various stages of development to arrive at its present point.

A lengthy process may be involved in the development of the curriculum. For new ideas to arise, shape society, stir social change as well as social unrest with the status quo of learning, all involve the considerable passage of time.

Within this, humans have complex and varying beliefs about the world, which direction we are heading, which direction we “ought” to go, and where our energies are most needed. The discussion of these, and the debate, and who even ought to be the head of these decisions shape our politics.

To teach a child a certain set of ideas is to prepare them or equip them with specific knowledge and tools. Their ways of being will shape the future world.  Our children are our future, and yet our visions of the future are variable. As people, they are free agents, but so much of what we teach them shapes who they become.

While progression is ideal, necessary and valuable, one must not forget that the slow movement of change allows people time to come together and, most ideally, for democratic processes to occur. Democracy allows for many voices to shape the path forward, which prevents the kind of fast-moving change that can be difficult to sustain.

New curriculum forms, as the world we live in changes, and educators and their stakeholders gather to incrementally shift the guiding documents, to match the path most suitable for the best-agreed upon future ideals of the world – to try to help shape the unknown.

Challenging “Good” in Education

In Chapter two, Kumashiro discusses how the expectations we have of our students can colour and deeply influence the ways we perceive and interpret their behaviours.

A “commonsense” understanding of the student, is that to be “good” you must know how to behave properly, be able to sit still in class, listen attentively, provide answers upon demand and participate as asked by the teacher. Kusmashiro discusses how this expectation backfires, in their initial response of frustration towards a student and inability to “manage” the class.

They later realized that they were not reaching the student at the level they required.

Kusmashiro begins to realize that with students with these kinds of struggles, it may in fact be the institution and its overarching structures that fail to meet the demands of the kids.

Looking back through years of teacher training processes, various theoretical frameworks have shaped the influence of developing teacher minds. Post-secondary pedagogy, and all of the underlying processes that have shaped it, are vast, woven into the fabric of our culture, socio-political climate, and global connections. We are all connected – and the learning of the people before us – and the people before us who taught us – have been shaped by so many influences. This has in turn affected our processing, our perceptions of the world, and the way we view the reality that we live in.

Our class was introduced to a 135-year-old Teacher Training book called “A History of Education” by F.V.N. Painter. In the sections we were studying, some clearly racist ideas were presented. Detailed descriptions about how certain cultures were classified over others, including intelligence level and capacity, exist in these pages. Some of it is difficult to read. A lot has changed since 1886. But some of the ideas in this book persist in society today.

As we progress in our ECS 203 learning, we will become more aware of the layers of influence upon teachers and societies, as well as the progress towards change that has been made. Being a social justice advocate myself, I like to look to the bright side of progress and try to understand the darker parts of history as a way of making sense of the present.

Instead of thinking of students as “good” or “bad,” or classifying their behaviour as such, I strive to be an educator who embraces complexity, flexibility – one who can lean into the many “different ways of knowing and being” and help offer deeper learning opportunities as they present – whether that be in the bright daylight or in the hidden corners of life and students minds.

Reconciliation and the intersects of curriculum and pedagogy

I am working with the topic of reconciliation and exploring its intersections in curriculum and pedagogy.

As a caucasian person, and a descendant of white European settlers in North America, as well as a born-and-raised Yukoner and person of the North, this is a topic I care deeply about. In our ECS 203 class, we begin a quest into the understandings of depths, richness, history and complexities of curriculum and pedagogy. Understanding the ways of the past as it has been laid out before us is necessary. As a social-justice-oriented education student, and as a friend of many Indigenous people in the North, I wish to orient myself to both the past and present understanding of reconciliation as it associates with curriculum and pedagogy, specifically with a Northern focus. From a baseline theoretical understanding of past and present, visions for the future may be sparked and shaped. For as future educators, education policymakers, school counsellors, administrators – whatever our eventual role could be – I believe we hold such an important gift and humble power in our capacity to make a difference for change. “Reconciliation” is a term we hear often – in the cries of Indigenous people asking for more listening, more acknowledgement, more recognition, and more support. The ties within our education system are boundless: reconciliation and the education system are two deeply interwoven facets requiring meaningful attention and care. With a special focus on curriculum and pedagogy, we can continue to harness traction for change, as these deeply intersect into this movement and hold the key for powerful implications.

One of my big questions in doing this research is: “How is reconciliation incorporated into the curriculum?”

One of my big discoveries (when I first started researching this week), is the curriculum theorist William Pinar. He has written many influential curriculum books, articles, and founded curriculum journals. What is notable about his work is how (and when) it diverges from the Tyler Rationale. His work forms a significant part of the 1970’s Reconceptualist movement, an era in theoretical and applied education that continues to ripple through the Education system today. The concept of a system that requires continual evaluation, growth, and change, is at the heart of what it means to be a social-justice-oriented educator. One does not wish to sit and watch problematic patterns reoccur – instead one desires reflection, evaluation and change. These were some of the ways of thinking and action, that Reconceptualism sought to establish as an accepted regular practice provided within education.

Some of the big movements related to reconciliation in Canada are the Truth and Reconciliation Commission work and Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women Call to Action. Changes to curriculum, especially additions to history and social studies that include Indigenous histories, are movements of reconciliation. Increasing “First Nations Ways of Knowing and Being” among educators and in the classrooms by providing culturally shaped experiences is reconciliation in action.

Jumping forward into more recent reconciliation academia, I discovered an article by Aparna Mishra Tarc, discussing a topic known as Reparative Curriculum (2011). Some of the big themes of this topic include guiding students to learn to sit with the suffering others have endured as a way of trying to make peace with it. This will be one of my chosen articles for discussion in my research paper.

This article led me to other articles that discuss the differing viewpoints in the concept of “resolution.” I discovered that resolution can have varied meanings. It also seems to be an emotionally charged topic – how can it not be? From the article Truth, Reconciliation and Amnesia: Porcupines and China Dolls and the Canadian Conscience (2009) “While healing and reconciliation are desirable occurrences…these concepts can also entail a fixation upon resolution that is not only premature but problematic in its correlation with forgetting” (Martin, p. 49). The tension between staying with discomfort and passing through it quickly is affected by the overarching need to find some kind of resolution, with a seen-at-times confusion about the pathway. Are we in such a rush for resolve that we neglect to spend enough time just sitting with the discomfort involved with accepting the difficulties of the past?

The other valuable resource that I discovered is a textbook called Framing Peace: Thinking about and Enacting Curriculum as Radical Hope (2014). From this book, I would like to study the chapter by Ashley Pullman and Chris Nichols: “How to ‘Teach’ Peace to a Subject that is Continually in Crisis.” This chapter is of interest because it theorizes ways that educators can “illuminate problems of violence while providing strategies to address these concerns” (p. 29). This book also explores the concept of peace as a practice, rather than an endpoint. This would seem to me another perspective within the reconciliation framework. We are still in a time of violence within communities – for example, as discoveries about residential schools, and buried children continue to be uncovered. How do we move towards peace in the processing – the present and resounding impacts of this? This could also tie in with other research around incorporating mindfulness into the curriculum, but at some point this may begin to diverge from the original topic, so this may be better to hold this aside for other research work. 

Finally, I wish to search for practices that use cultural approaches to teach about reconciliation. This would be my next area to search for in my assignment. This would tie together my other research and work. I also noted, that in my research, the work of Judith Butler, a feminist scholar, was often referenced. I spent some time reading about her work and reflecting on how it may apply to future coursework. 

I am enjoying the process of researching and learning, and I look forward to putting more of the pieces together in the form of a written assignment. Incredible strides are made to introduce more Indigenous programming into the curriculum. However, as we look to the practices in the present, truthfully, educators and schools are oftentimes struggling and may face challenges in the actual delivery of this. Studying curriculum and pedagogy through the lens of reconciliation may provide insights into the complexities of the current climate in Indigenous education.

growing – learning – openness – dedication