Summary of Learning


One day, I hope to be an art teacher. That is the reason that I am taking ECS 210. I dream of helping children learn to reflect, communicate, and connect with themselves and others through art. Doctor Laura JJ Dessauer once said, “Art therapy allows for processing and externalization of emotions, explorations of choices, and reflection on conflicts.” I love art because it gives me a chance to reflect and express myself. This class has helped me realize how important that really is. Today, however, I will go out of my comfort zone to try to communicate through audio storytelling instead.


I drew a pathway to represent the journey of growth and self-discovery that teachers take as they endeavor to become the best educators that they can be.


Six short weeks ago, around the beginning of July, I began taking a class about Curriculum as a Cultural and Social Practice. But, in the event that someone asked me what the class I am taking was about, I would simply reply “curriculum” because deep down, I was unsure what Curriculum as a Cultural and Social Practice entirely entailed. 

I remember on the first day, back in July, we were asked to brainstorm, “What is curriculum?”  “A plan or guideline that a class is expected to follow,” was my answer. It took me by surprise when I learned that there were many types of curriculum. I was especially intrigued by the concept of a hidden curriculum. Hidden curriculums are not always hidden. Often, they are obvious, but the reason they go unnoticed is because they have been normalized. After learning this, I first identified a hidden curriculum in my own childhood. I have a very traditional father, and taking this class helped me pinpoint many hidden curriculums that have been in place throughout my childhood. Fortunately, my mother was able to teach us that those agendas were not okay. For example, for the first 11 years of my life, my siblings and I were not allowed to speak when an adult male was in the room. No, we were never told this directly. But we were told to “Be quiet; Grandpa is talking” or shushed when he entered the room. I think a major issue with hidden curriculums is that children are expected to behave a certain way without understanding the reason why. Children learn to accept standards such as that tables are to be moved by “strong boys” and that learning must be done sitting, for standing at your desk is unacceptable. Depending on the situation, there may be a good reason behind these rules, however, there may not be. These hidden curriculums shape children’s minds and who they become when they grow up. 

Now that these six weeks have passed, my view on the definition of curriculum has changed drastically. Yes, I still believe a curriculum can be a guideline. But now, I also know that curriculum comes in many forms and that curriculum is never neutral. 

The fact that curriculum is never neutral was repeated often throughout this course. The curriculum documents are never neutral, meaning, the creators of the documents build the document with their biases or their government’s biases. Secondly, the teachers who teach the curriculum are never neutral either. I think that as a teacher, it is a little more difficult to remain neutral. After all, most teachers want the best for their students and the lens that they teach through is what the teacher believes is the best. It is difficult, although important, to recognize the lens and question if it is really the right one to be using. As teachers, it is our job to understand that we have a lot left to learn ourselves and that we may be wrong with our current understandings.

When the day comes that I am a teacher, I will have to sit or stand at my desk and decide what I will do with the curriculum document that faces me. Before I begin reading and planning, I will take some time to identify my biases and how my biases will affect how I view the curriculum. Secondly, I will try my best to set my biases aside and then view the curriculum document with a clear lens, keeping each and every one of my students in mind. Identifying my biases is not a one time activity. Not just every time I receive a document, but day after day, I must recognize the biases that I am holding within. On my journey to becoming a teacher, I will revisit this process frequently. One of my main concerns of teaching is integrating Treaty Education within the curriculum. I do not want my students to just listen about Treaty Education, but I want them to live it. I believe that some of the best learning is done through experiences, such as time spent on the land, listening to stories, and building relationships. I hope I can make that happen in my classroom. I know how important it is, so I  am also worried that I will not be able to do it justice. Fortunately, incorporating Treaty Education into our classroom is a skill we practiced during this class. There are so many exciting things to learn about each and every culture, it is almost overwhelming. To deal with this, I will set small goals and build from there. In this way, I will become a facilitator – someone who can take curriculum and use it as a tool to build life-long learners.

Throughout ECS 210, I experienced cognitive dissonance when we learned about the making of the curriculum documents. I was surprised to learn that politicians have a big influence on curriculum. Before, I used to think that there were professionals, who perhaps had a Doctorate in Education, that created the curriculums. I imagined that they spent time researching and reflecting on what works and what does not work in the actual school setting. Too often, teachers are given a curriculum that does not fit with the reality of the classroom. We see this today with school starting back up mid-pandemic. Children are expected to wear masks and stay six feet apart. This is going to be nearly impossible. I was also very disappointed to realize how many of the politician’s decisions were based on what would get them re-elected and not necessarily based on what is best for the people. I believe that the bigger decisions should be made by professionals who have done research, taken and analyzed statistics, had practical experience, and have reflected on the past. 

I am happy to be entering the world of education at a time when people realize change is needed. Slowly, but surely, we work towards developing more appropriate ways of teaching and knowing.


Week 6

Part 1 (Numeracy): Using Gale’s lecture, Poirier’s article, and Bear’s article, identify at least three ways in which Inuit mathematics challenges Eurocentric ideas about the purpose of mathematics and the way we learn it.

Inuit mathematics and Eurocentric mathematics have opposing approaches to learning. Each approach is unique and has an important place in learning mathematics. 

Firstly, the Eurocentric approach to learning math is very objective and linear. What this means is that learning is very progressive; there is an order in which things are learned. Inuit mathematics challenges this. Inuit mathematics is relationship-based. The Inuit believe that everything works together and everything is animate, including math (Bear 2000). Bear (2000) explains that Inuit mathematics is “cyclical,” meaning, instead of learning things linearly, patterns are studied to understand topics on a deeper level. Much like the rest of Inuit culture, math is looked at in relation to the bigger picture. 

Secondly, the Eurocentric approach focuses on the written form. Worksheets, formulas, and handwritten practices are used frequently. Inuit mathematics challenges this approach by teaching orally. Poirier (2007) reminds us that Inuit culture teaches through storytelling and life experience. Inuits have a strong sense of spatial awareness since they spend so much time outdoors. Therefore, Eurocentric mathematics is more 2D, while Inuit mathematics is more 3D. 

Thirdly, the Eurocentric approach teaches mathematics as “knowledge for the sake of knowledge.” Inuit mathematics challenges this by approaching “knowledge for the good of all” (Bear, 2000). They aim for their knowledge to help others and not just be theoretical. 

Part 2 (Literacy): Which “single stories” were present in your own schooling? Whose truth mattered? What biases and lenses do you bring to the classroom? How might we unlearn / work against these biases?

Throughout school, I had heard many of the same single stories that Chimamanda talked about. Looking back, the majority of the novels we read in school were about children who looked like us. Then, in the occurrences where that was not the case, they were novels that shared the hardships about that country. As a rural community, we were also taught about how lucky we were to be from the countryside, and that city kids were lazy and ate MacDonalds all day. I remember in Grade 7, being warned by our homeroom teacher to be careful of all the bad people in the city when we set out to University. Fortunately, since then, I have been able to travel and meet many people from all across the world. Many of the girls I had met were just like me, except bilingual – which I was jealous of. Unfortunately, there are still biases I bring to the classroom. I am grateful for the safety and security I have experienced in Saskatchewan, and I often feel pity for those that have not experienced this. I was raised in my schooling to have a very white, colonialist, traditionalist, and European bias. To unlearn these and work against these biases, it is important to read books from other cultures, to study movies made in other countries, to travel, and to build friendships with people all over. There is still so much for me to learn and I am definitely going to focus on strengthening other lenses so that I am able to teach my future students to not have single stories.

References

Bear, L. L. (2000). Jagged worldviews colliding. In M. Batiste (Ed.), Reclaiming Indigenous voice and vision (pp. 77-85). UBC Press.

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

Week Five

What examples of citizenship education do you remember from your K-12 schooling? What types of citizenship (e.g. which of the three types mentioned in the article) were the focus? 

From my experience throughout Kindergarten to Grade 12, I would say that the Personally Responsible concept of citizenship was the focus. The Personally Responsible Citizen’s role in society is to help others, be responsible for themselves and their actions, and to abide by government laws. In my experience at school, there were definitely set standards of how we were expected to behave. One of the examples in this week’s article suggests that a personally responsible citizen would “pick up litter.” The school that I attended had a population of fewer than 100 students from K-12. Our community had a population of about 360 people. Every year on World Environment Day, the town would be divided up into sections for each grade of the school. We would all go out together to pick litter, doing our part as a citizen in the community. 

Explore what this approach to the curriculum made (im)possible in regards to citizenship. 

The Personally Responsible citizen approach to the curriculum taught us how to take responsibility and care for ourselves and our community. We all wanted to have a good reputation through the eyes of the older community members. One downfall of this approach is that we were not pushed to be better. Maintaining the Status Quo was enough. We were not encouraged to be creative regarding how we could make the world a better place. Unfortunately, this is acceptable in our community because nobody wants to be uncomfortable here. 

What does the approach we take to citizenship instruction in any given place tell us about that place? About what the curriculum makers value? About what kinds of citizens they want to produce?

The approach we take to citizenship instruction in a place tells us the values and goals that the given place has. When the Personally Responsible citizen is produced, they are expected to take care of themselves and those around them. They clean up after themself and simply abide by the “common sense” laws established in their community. A Personally Responsible citizen has a good reputation. The Participatory citizen wants to make a difference in their community. Their schools have produced citizens who are capable of planning things for themselves. The schools that produce Justice-Oriented citizens could make the greatest positive change in our society. These members challenge themselves to figure out the source of a problem. Perhaps they will figure out what would actually help the community or perhaps a more effective method in doing so. Regardless of the citizen that is produced, I believe they are trying their best. If a school could produce citizens of all three types, they could all work together to make their society strong.

Week Four: Building Curriculum

Hello!

Thank you for your email. First of all, you are doing well taking the first step, seeing the importance of Treaty Education and wanting to integrate it into your classroom. I understand it is difficult to teach a perspective that has not only been rejected by the students, but their other teachers/mentors as well. First, start by trying to capture their attention. Surprise them with facts or share stories that leave them interested in the topic. I believe one of the best ways to approach this topic would be by emphasizing the purpose and relevance of Treaty Education. Your students do not understand why or how it affects them, but it is our job to persevere! 

There are many purposes of teaching Treaty Education. You probably already have many ideas. Treaty Education must be taught and implemented in the curriculum because it affects everyone – whether they are Indigenous or not. In reality, “We are  all treaty people.” We are all living in this country together and must find harmony. Treaties bind us together. Chambers (2012) explains that, “The treaties certainly were, and continue to be, an invitation – an invitation to meet again: same time, same place, next year.” Without revisiting the discussion time and time again, people will stop taking responsibility for one another. As we live in this country together, it is so important to constantly be listening to each other’s perspectives and stories. The Indigenous People have many Ways of Knowing and understand the land differently in a much different way than your students appear to have. Your students will one day be the decision-makers in this country and so it is extremely important that they see the value in learning these other perspectives. Donald (2012) explains, “The past occurs simultaneously in the present, and deeply influences how we imagine the future.”  Together, we can all find and form the truth. 

Again, thank you for your email. I hope this helps.

Celina

References

Chambers C. (2012) “We are all treaty people”: The Contemporary Countenance of Canadian Curriculum Studies. In: Ng-A-Fook N., Rottmann J. (eds) Reconsidering Canadian Curriculum Studies. Curriculum Studies Worldwide. Palgrave Macmillan, New York. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137008978_2


Donald D. (2012) Forts, Curriculum, and Ethical Relationality. In: Ng-A-Fook N., Rottmann J. (eds) Reconsidering Canadian Curriculum Studies. Curriculum Studies Worldwide. Palgrave Macmillan, New York. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137008978_3