Category: ECS 203 (Page 1 of 2)

Inuit math

One of the fundamental differences between Inuit math and Eurocentric math is that the Inuit math, it is viewed that there are many ways to get to the same result. This is some that most people have a hard time getting their head around because Eurocentric ways are that there is one right way to get to the result, all other ways are wrong. I have many personal stories with this topic and many things that I want to improve on when I am a teacher. One common thing that I encountered is that teachers didn’t like it when students solved a problem a different way than what they had been taught in class. I was a good student, but I often didn’t understand the way that the teacher taught us, so I would go to other teachers and the internet to find a way that made sense to me, most teachers didn’t like that. The next difference is that Inuit math uses base 20, this stood out to me because I have (and many people) have only ever worked in base 10.  You see it everywhere; it makes the most sense to use because it is used in everything.

The last difference is that in Inuit math understanding is oral. Learning is based largely around spoken understand and saying what you know instead of writing and test taking. This is something that I love, the idea of solely judging someone’s ability and understanding based on how well they can take a test seems like a terrible idea. And being able to say and orally explain a topic actually gives you a much better understanding than anything else.

Single Stories

The most common single story that I had when I was in school, was that teachers always assumed that our one story was that we were students and nothing more. I found that it was a difficult bias to have against us. For example, if I couldn’t get homework done on time it was assumed that I was lazy when it was most likely because I had to work after school, and I had to pick between sleeping that night or getting the homework done on time, this is a mild example to what many high school students dealt with, many had to take care of their siblings or had to work because they had to help pay the bills. It was never that school was not important it is just that it is not the only thing that is important. Students also do this to teachers, assuming that they don’t have a life, family or friends outside of school. The way that teachers see their students, whether it is a biased view or through a single story, the way you view your students determines the relationship you will have with them.

For me, the teachers that got to know me as a person, not just as a student, but as a whole person were the classes that I did the best in. I also had teachers that were biased because they only saw me as a student, nothing more. At the time I didn’t understand why they didn’t like me, but I understand now that it has a lot to do with the fact that I saw school as important, but I also had other things in my life that were important.

One of my goals as teacher is to know students as more than just that, get to know what their interests are, what do they like/dislike. The relationship a teacher has with a student has a direct effect on how well the student does and learns. That being said this is not the only thing that affects how a student does, but having a good relationship with your students has a positive effect on your students

Treaty ed in the Curriculum

My response to anyone trying to teach treaty ed or dealing with students/ co-workers that don’t take it seriously is to take a few steps back and start with why it is important. As obvious as it is to you it may not be obvious to other people. Start with a video or group discussion, and maybe have some kind of assessment before you get too far into teaching. One of the common misconceptions about treaty ed is that you should only teach it if you have FNMI students in your classroom but as discussed in We are all Treaty People, that is not the case. It is important to emphasize that treaty education is just as important if you have no FNMI students or all FNMI students, it affects and applies to everyone, it is a large part of Canadas history therefore it is important for all Canadians to learn about it. Many people have the mindset of us and them and believe that it has to be one or the other. For example, the idea that treaty ed is FNMI history and culture and they are the only ones who should know about it, when is reality it is Canadas history and should be learned by all Canadians/ people living in Canada.

My understanding of the curriculum in terms of treaty ed is that it is not very well integrated into the curriculum. It has some places where it is in the curriculum, however it is not very well infused, there are some treaty ed outcomes but as for being infused into the curriculum, it is not. My experience in school was that the only classes that really dealt with treaty ed was English and social studies. Math and science didn’t really have any treaty ed components/outcomes.

Learning Theories

The three main theories of learning are behaviourism, cognitivism, and constructivism. Behaviorism focuses on teaching specific behaviors and rewarding for those behaviors to get students that have the behaviour that is wanted. Cognitivism has a large focus on how the students learn and allows for inquiry and curiosity but does not take into account individual needs. Constructivism is highly inquiry-based and allows students to take control of their learning.

I saw mostly behaviourism and cognitivism in my school experience. I found that teachers tend to use behaviourism in small ways in the classroom. For example, teachers sometimes did things like giving the students that settled down the fastest candy or something along those lines. Cognitivism was the most commonly used when I was in school, most teachers would do some inquiry, but it was for the most part it was structured and focused on learning the curriculum. I found that constructivism was used little to none and most of the teachers leaned towards the other learning theories. It was interesting to me because most teachers wanted to be inquiry based at let students take control of their own learning but most of the time it did not happen.

I have always wanted a classroom that I could do inquiry based and teach students what they want to know, unfortunately this is not possible because of the curriculum. One of the things that I always remember, and it always sticks with me is that so many students want to learn practical skills that they need once they finish high school. Many students are unengaged because what they are learning is irrelevant to what they actually need and want to know. I want to use cognitivism and constructivism in my classroom as much as possible.

Citizenship Education

In the article What Kind of Citizen? The politics of Educating for Democracy, three types of citizens are described, the personally responsible citizen, Participatory citizen, and the Justice-Oriented citizen. This article explained the three types of citizens as three levels of being good citizens. The responsible citizen being the one who “acts responsibly” (votes, volunteers, donates to charity etc.), the participatory citizen being the one who takes it a step further (runs a campaign, organizes charity events etc.) and the Justice-oriented citizen being the highest level of being a good citizen and tries to fix the problem at the root instead of just the results of what is actually going on.

In my experience in school is that being a responsible citizen was encouraged, there wasn’t much push for anything more than that. Most people wanted you to be a responsible citizen and vote, volunteer, donate etc. Schools should be teaching what is actually at the root of the problem so we can fix it. It would also teach a lot about society and how the world works if teachers and educators taught about the root of the problem and what we can do to fix the problem. This approach to citizenship focusing on being a responsible citizen limits how much you can teach about the social justice issues behind it. For example, if the curriculum only requires you to teach to be a responsible citizen, it is very likely that the curriculum will not allow teachers to teach the students to be justice-oriented, there won’t be much room to learn about the justice issues in society.

The approach the citizenship in a given place will show what is valued by curriculum makers. Since the government plays a large role in the curriculum, it makes sense that the government would want to shape the citizens that they want through the curriculum. The type of citizen that they are trying to make says a lot about the integrity of the government in that place. For example, if the government are trying to make only responsible citizens, it is an important first step, but it sends the message that the government doesn’t want its citizens to question the decisions that are being made in the local government. If the government wants Justice-oriented citizens, they are more likely to be open to the citizens challenging the governments ideas.

Queering the Classroom

The education system itself is against anything that falls outside of what is considered normal, when this idea of normal does not exist. Ever since we were kids we are told to “be normal” or “act normal,” and it’s all based off the idea that we are all capable of being the same, and this still applies today, everyone is different, everyone drifts outside the bounds of “normal” in some aspect of their life. The question I have to ask myself as a future educator is whether I am trying to normalize or am I trying to accept and celebrate differences? Personally, I think that trying to normalize is going to cause more harm than good.

I image Integrating queerness into my classroom as straying away from what is considered the traditional way to teach, with a teacher at the front of the classroom and teaching by lecturing. I would like to incorporate as much variety into how I’m teaching as possible, group work, student led assignments etc. I also want to make a space that is a safe and welcoming space for all students. When I think of the kind of space, I want to make for my students I always think of the teachers I had in high school and what they did to make it a good space. What I have found is what makes the most difference is how my teachers treated me or other students.

For me I think that teachers need to find the balance between recognising and addressing sexuality and not letting it affect the classroom so much that it takes over. The way I think of it is as if my students are my kids, it wouldn’t matter my kids’ sexuality I would still want the best for them and want them to succeed. However, a person’s sexuality has a (or can have) a significant impact on them.

Politics and Curriculum

In the article Curriculum Policy and the Politics of What Should be Learned in Schools by Ben Levin, he talks about how the curriculum is made through public policy. Because public policy is closely related to politics, politics tends to dictate what is in the curriculum and what is taught. It is concerning to me that politics controls curriculum because the government doesn’t have students’ best interests in mind. So much of education is controlled by what the government wants, therefore the curriculum benefits the government and produces a product that benefits them. The main priority of whoever is making the curriculum needs to be the students, it is easy for government to make a curriculum that benefits them, because they don’t see the effects of what they are doing, they just want what they want and that’s how they are getting it. Levin also mentions that experts help make the curriculum which can also be bad because not all teachers are experts in the subjects that they are teaching. Some teachers have to teach subjects that they didn’t necessarily want to teach, so when they go and try to teach it it becomes difficult do.

After reading both the article and the treaty education document one things that I notice is that since the government has a major part in making the curriculum, this should mean that treaty education would take its place in the curriculum, however, this is still a battle. I can only image that the idea of putting treaty education had a fair share of pushback before it was finally put into the curriculum. Even now there is not much for treaty education in schools. I remember when I was in high school there wasn’t really much for treaty education and for what was taught, it was a lot of the same things that just got retaught. One thing I do remember is in grade 12, I had a really good social studies teacher, I was not a fan of social studies, but this specific teacher was determined to teach us what actually happened in history instead of what was necessarily in the curriculum. She did a really good job of giving both sides of the story rather than just one, and that was the first time I ever learned the whole story.  

The “Good Student”

According to Painter “Sound education stands before me symbolized by a tree planted near fertilizing waters.” (1) This idea is giving the impression that if you do this set of things that is assumed to be the “right” things then you will end up with the perfect student every time. A common traditional belief that if you put information into a student head enough and often enough then they are going to understand it, and that definitely doesn’t work for all students. As a teacher we have to be flexible to teach differently than what we are used to. Traditionally the idea of a “good student” was because when students were done with school, they were expected to be workers and they wanted uniformed workers and it seemed to be more about structure and learning how to work then the curriculum and what they were actually learning. However, when more jobs and careers became popular most students needed more from there education then just the basic skills.

In the article “Preparing Teachers for Crisis: A Sample Lesson. What it Means to be a Student.” Kumashiro describes a situation from when he was in college and working in a daycare and experienced dealing with a child that did not fit the “good student” character. The idea of a “good student,” someone who follows all the rules and does everything that they are supposed to do and learns everything that they are supposed to learn in the way and at the time they are supposed to learn it. This privileges the students that learn the way that they are taught (the read the textbook and understand type) which is usually a small group of students. I have mixed feelings about the idea of a “good student” mostly because I was that student, I was the “good student” (or so everyone thought) and most of the time I hated it. I was praised for it, but I watched many peers struggle because they thought differently or learned differently or considered lazy because they already knew the material. This idea of a “good student” should not exist but it is still very present in schools today.

Tyler Rationale

In the article Curriculum theory and practice, Smith talks about the different ways in which we can approach curriculum, including the Tyler rationale. In my experience I never heard of the Tyler rationale until this class, but throughout high school especially it was somewhat clear that things were done in a systematic way. Teachers did things in a specific order, and in some cases, it was a good thing and in others it would have been better if it had been done differently. The rationale tends to leave little room for flexibility and creativity. It creates the mindset that everything must be done in a certain way and may not work for everyone or be effective for teaching all students.

One nice thing about the rationale is that it provides some stability and consistency, some students do best with that. I think this rationale has its place but I don’t think it should be written in stone as something that all teachers should follow all the time. Sometimes it just isn’t possible to plan and organize everything that happens down to every little thing. And one thing that I have been thinking about when it talks about “selection of learning experiences” in step 5, because you can’t always predict what students are going to learn from, there’s always going to be a kid that will come out of a what you think is a great learning experience and not get anything, which is why you have to continually asses your students and adjust from there.

One of the drawbacks of the rationale is that it puts assessment at the end, which seems to be the way that many teachers still do it, but it might not be the most effective way to do it. You might want to asses at the beginning of a class and all the way through instead of relying on that one assessment point. For example, if you were teaching math at the beginning of the year you might want to assess your students to see what they already know and what they need help on, this would give you a better idea of what you should be teaching.

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