The Importance of Treaty Education

Response Prompt: “As part of my classes for my three-week block I have picked up a Social Studies 30 course. This past week we have been discussing the concept of standard of living and looking at the different standards across Canada. I tried to introduce this concept from the perspective of the First Nations people of Canada and my class was very confused about the topic and in many cases made some racist remarks. I have tried to reintroduce the concept but they continue to treat it as a joke. The teachers at this school are very lax on the topic of Treaty Education as well as First Nations ways of knowing. I have asked my Coop for advice on Treaty Education and she told me that she does not see the purpose of teaching it at this school because there are no First Nations students. I was wondering if you would have any ideas of how to approach this topic with my class or if you would have any resources to recommend.” -Anonymous 

Consideration 1: What is the purpose of teaching Treaty Education (specifically) or First Nations, Metis, and Inuit Content and Perspectives (generally) where there are a few or no First Nations, Metis, and/or Metis peoples?

Consideration 2: What does it mean for your understanding of curriculum that “We are all treaty people”?

Dear Anonymous,

It is important to teach Treaty Education and the Indigenous ways of knowing and understanding. Generally, it is important to teach these topics because it is a HUGE part of Canada’s history. The relationships made and broken are crucial to the development of this country and shaped it in ways we still don’t understand. Clair Kreuger states in one of her videos, Introducing Treaty Education, that her school has few Aboriginal students and because of the small Indigenous student body more effort should be put into the cultural programming, teaching histories, and building relationships. It is important to teach the students of our schools the Indigenous ways of knowing and understanding so that they can gain knowledge about their country’s history and the people it still continues to affect. Dwayne Donald speaks about the importance of Treaty Ed in his lecture “On What Terms Can We Speak.” He states that the past and present are intimately tied together. Dwayne also quotes his colleague and friend, David Smith, who says “if you are going to think about the future, you are going to have to work backward.”

Treaty Education is also Settler Education, as Clair Kreuger puts it. This means it is all of our history and education. It has become a big part of the Sask curriculum, and rightfully so. As educators and future educators, it is important to be honest about this subject to all people, even young children. It is important to own the history of our country as well as explain how it effected the people of this country in order for us to move forward. Years ago, I was told by a wise woman that it took 7 generations for us to be where we are now and it will take 7 generations to get us out of it. She spoke of Residential schools when she told me this but it resonates with the topics at hand now. For us to get those 7 generations ahead, we need to work for it by learning about Treaty Education and Aboriginal content and perspectives.

Relationships are a huge way for all peoples to come together. For Indigenous peoples, relationships have always been important. As educators and schools, we can get involved by acknowledging these Treaty relationships. We can all participate in Tipi raisings or ceremonies, heart-to-hearts, assemblies, or even something as simple as wearing an orange shirt to show your support.

As each year passes it is more and more important for us as educators and teachers, schools, communities, and country to acknowledge the topic of Treaty Ed. This is not going away. It will only become more predominant. A good way to reach to parents and community members is through the above listed ideas as well as sending home emails and notices to families about what is being taught in class, proving them with the content you’re teaching so they can follow along with their kids, and being transparent with those around you. Part of our job, as Clair Kreuger puts it, is to teach parents the knowledge they lack on this subject. “We are all Treaty people.” When asked what this means to my understanding of curriculum, it becomes a hard question. It is important to acknowledge Treaties, the past of colonization, and everyone’s place in this history. I think it is crucial for us to work backwards in order for us to move forward. I suppose my answer for this is written above through my response to the other questions. As a person who is part of Treaty, I don’t know a lot about it and this is true for many people. As I move on to my next few years of school and into my career, I plan to look into Treaty Education more. This is a topic that is here to stay and I have a long way to go in learning my place and how to teach this to others.

Place-Based Learning: Reinhabitation and Decolonization

The article suggests that a “critical pedagogy of place” aims to: a) identify, recover, and create material spaces and places that teach us how to live well in our total environments (reinhabitation); and (b) identify and change ways of thinking that injure and exploit other people and places (decolonization) (p.74). List some of the ways that you see reinhabitation and decolonization happening throughout the narrative. How might you adapt these ideas / consider place in your own subject areas and teaching?

            The article Learning from Place: A Return to Traditional Mushkegowuk Ways of Knowing by Jean P. Restoule, Sheila Gruner, and Edmund Metatawabin mentions the process of Reinhabitation and decolonization. These two processes can be seen throughout the text. A few ways that reinhabitation and decolonization can be seen are on pages 70, 71, and 73. Of course there are many more examples but I’m focusing on only a select few. On page 70 and 73 the authors talk about economic exploitation and large-scale extractive development. This is harmful to the land and the culture of the Mushkegowuk peoples. These are ways of exploiting and injuring the land which the Mushkegowuk people find sacred and important to their culture and teachings. On page 71 and throughout the text the discussion of involving the youth and adult generations as well as fostering dialog and respecting the community are brought up. These concepts are important for regaining intergenerational discussions and to discuss ways of changing how people treat the land as well as the beliefs associated to them.

As I move into my teachings, I plan on incorporation the ideas from this narrative to better my lessons and classroom. I can help students gain an understanding and appreciation for the land and for other cultures and beliefs. I would like to create an environment that can educate students on how they could work in and with intergenerational groups as well as large-scale groups. Overall, I wish to foster respect in my classroom and allow my students to involve themselves in discussion.

Reflecting on Kumashiro’s Commonsense Idea

What does it mean to be a “good” student according to the commonsense?

I had a hard time thinking about what a “good” student is according to commonsense in Kumashiro’s text. He started off this chapter with a story of a girl, M. M didn’t listen or act in the same ways as the other students so they were deemed as troublesome and unable or unwilling. Another story told was of a boy, N. He was also a student deemed as unable or unwilling because he wasn’t as interested in the mainstream learning styles or approaches and he would much rather question these approaches than follow them. These anecdotes in Kumashiro’s text lead me to believe that a “good” student is one who listens intently, follows directions laid out before them, works hard at achieving good grades and test scores, and by learning norms and idealized behaviours they are shaped to be a desired student by society.

Which students are privileged by this definition of the good student?

Based on the definition of a good student under the commonsensical ideal there is only a small select bunch of students I feel benefit the most. These students seem to be the ones who are already privileged by society. The reason I feel this way is because the traditional approach to school and teaching/learning is laid out to benefit those who are already in a position of privilege so these students get labelled as good students. On the reverse of this, those who do not succeed at the traditional approach to school or teaching/learning is already at a disadvantage. These students may struggle more and not succeed as well as the others making it seem as if they are bad students and thus being labelled as such.

What is made impossible to see/understand/believe because of these commonsense ideas?

I think the commonsense idea makes it hard for educators to adapt their teaching strategies to accommodate “good” and “bad” students with trying to reach their requirements set out before them. I also think this idea of commonsense makes it hard to change the routines in which you use everyday when it comes to teaching. It can be difficult to understand the oppression associated to this commonsense idea and I think if you have a hard time understanding it, it could be because you’re more privileged under the commonsense idea than others.

Kumashiro (2010). Against Common Sense, Chapter 2 (pp. 19 – 33) – “Preparing Teachers for Crisis: What It Means to Be a Student”

Sex Education and Curriculum in Schools

As children reach the adolescence stage of their lives, they become more interested in sex. This age range is usually around grade 7 or 8. Looking at the statistics laid out in the article “Factors Affecting Sex Education in the School System”, it is notable that like other developed nations, the United States has high rates of sexual activity. But they also have one of the highest rates for teen pregnancy, birth, and abortion. These teens and young adults face 10% of all births in the US as well as 9.5 million new cases of STI’s (Woo, 142). Any efforts to delay sexual interactions among adolescence are often done through sex education through the school system.

Argued throughout the article is whether or not schools are including enough in their curriculums about sex education. Most schools incorporate topics that are deemed necessary, such as HIV/AIDS or STIs and abstinence but lack information for contraception, abortion, or sexual orientation. There is a lack for established sex education curricula (Woo, 142) and many school districts allow teachers to pick and choose what they want to teach. The study done within the article states that nearly 20% of health teachers for grades 7 and 8 do not cover any sex education topics and only 50% integrate a comprehensive sex education curriculum.

            To further my take on this subject I want to dive further into why curriculum is so vague for sex education. I also want to look into why some school districts think it is unnecessary to teach sex education to impressionable students. I would like to incorporate some curriculum scholars into my paper as well in order to further my understanding of this topic. I think it would be beneficial to look into what some educational scholars have to say about sex education and its connection to the curriculum.

Woo, G. W. “Factors Affecting Sex Education in the School System.” Journal of pediatric and adolescent gynecology Vol 24. Issue 3 (June 2011): 124-146. Libproxy.

doi-org.libproxy.uregina.ca/10.1016/j.jpag.2010.12.005  

Smith- Curriculum Theory and Practice

What are the four models of curriculum described in the article, and what are the main benefits and/or drawbacks of each? What model(s) of curriculum were prominent in your own schooling experience?

            The four models of curriculum described in the article are curriculum as product, curriculum as process, curriculum as praxis, curriculum as context. Curriculum as product is dependent on the setting of the behavioural objectives as well as “influenced by the development of management thinking and practice” (Smith, 3). There are many issues with this approach including the assumption of importance, the dependency of measurement, an inability to examine educators, and finally not knowing the results of the approach. Curriculum as process sees curriculum as what actually happens in the classroom and what things are done to prepare. This model has many elements that interact constantly and that links with ideas from Aristotle. Some possible drawbacks or problems include an issue for those who want “some greater degree of uniformity in what is taught (Smith, 8), a lack of attention towards context, dependency on the quality of teachers, and this approach does not look at the commitments in depth. The process model is driven by general principles and focuses on meaning-making. Curriculum as praxis model of curriculum theory and practice benefits from human well-being and emancipation of the human spirit. The actions put forward in this model is informed and committed. This model of curriculum theory and practice looks to individuals but also pays attention to a collective understanding, there is commitment towards the exploration of educators’ values and practices. With that all said, praxis is said to not put enough emphasis on context. Curriculum as context, with the introduction and attention to milieu, draws a focus to the impact of multiple factors as well as formulating a grasp on the impact of structural and socio-cultural process on teachers and students (Smith, 11).

            In my past schooling experiences, I think I witnessed curriculum as context and curriculum as praxis. Some of my schooling has been heavily focused on context. I find that my educators have drawn from socio-cultural processes which is one of the significant statements of context according to Catherine Cornbleth in Smith’s article. I also feel as if I witnessed the praxis model. I have witnessed an attention to collective understanding from my educators and past schooling experiences as well as a commitment expressed to the action of exploration. Many of my schooling experiences reflect the idea to explore the practices or concepts of a topic with peers.

Kumashiro, “Against Common Sense: Teaching and Learning Toward Social Justice”

How does Kumashiro define ‘common sense?’ Why is it so important to pay attention to the ‘common sense?’

            In my opinion, I think, Kumashiro defines common sense as a way of knowing that is common among a group of people. For example, Kumashiro explains how the people of Nepal use rice or lentils in their cooking and that cooking without them means you don’t know how to cook. In this example, if you do not cook with rice or lentils it is assumed you do not know how to cook. In Nepal is it “common sense” to solely teach out of the textbook and prepare for end of term exams where as in the US or Canada it has become “common sense” to incorporate other ways of teaching and learning.

            It is important to pay attention to the ‘common sense’ because it has become such a regular way of thinking. Common sense has become routine for many people, whether you are from Nepal or from the US, it goes unnoticed. I think it is important to pay attention to this concept because some aspects, as stated in the reading, need to be challenged. For example, it is common for the schools in the US or Canada to use new and innovative teaching ways, so when Kumashiro was to teach in Nepal he/she was faced with the realization that there was “a failure to critique the unspoken assumptions about US superiority” (XXXI). It is important to realize that we as a people use common sense in our daily lives without question. Sometimes our personal idea of what should be common sense can differ from that of someone else’s idea of common sense. Neither person is wrong when it comes to common sense knowledge, it depends on who you are or where you are from that shapes our ideas of what is commonly thought or should be thought of independently.

Inspirational Videos

Enjoy!

This is a TED talk video shared to me through my ECS 100 class. I decided to insert this link because it moved me and inspired me to become a great educator and to be there for my students. This video is called “Every Kid Needs a Teacher” spoken by Rita Pierson.

https://ed.ted.com/featured/oM5nk8Rv

The below link is another inspirational video that moved me. I required this video through my ECS 100 course as well. This video is called “What Teachers Make” by Taylor Mali.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxsOVK4sy

ECS Field Experience (final recap)

The end of my first field placement has come to an end and I am so very sad that it is over. I’ve learnt a lot on my journey and I will miss this experience greatly. I hope to provide this experience for others in my future.

Read more about my last day out in the field under the Professional Field Experiences tab under the ECS 100 Field Placement flag.

My First Field Experience Recap

Hey!

My first field experience is coming to an end. I’m sad that it is over all ready. Monday next week (December 3rd) will be my last day there making my whole journey 7 weeks long. I learned a lot in this experience! I got to watch classroom management skills and I got to participate in teaching and helping the students. It truly showed me that this is what I want to do everyday. The students in the classroom were very welcoming and quickly accepted me. I feel as though I build student-teacher relationships with these students even if they aren’t the same as their relationships with their regular teacher. My cooperative teacher was super nice and answered all of the questions I asked. Because of this experience I am looking forward to the other field placements I have as well as my internship and teaching career. I am so thankful to have had this wonderful experience!