Blinded

My upbringing I think I was pretty blinded about what other children may have been experiencing in their home lives. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a loving home with two parents who have been together for 35 years now and who would do anything for my brother and me. I had grandparents still alive and multiple play dates with near by cousins. I thought everyone’s families were like mine. My Dad was a grain farmer and my mom worked a few odd end jobs to keep busy, but she was home lots with my brother and I, to help with homework, drive us to our sporting events, spend our summers at the cabin etc. We did many family activities together and I never worried about where my next meal was coming from, or who was going to wake me up for school the next day, or how I would get to the bus to attend school. Now as an adult and talking with some of my friends that grew up in the same town as me, but had different cultural backgrounds, I feel silly or naïve. One of my best friends had grandparents attend Residential Schools. She has now told me that she watches her own Mom and aunties/uncles struggle with alcoholism. Her Mom and aunties/uncles found her grandma (their mom) passed out in a snowbank and she ended up passing away – imagine the trauma those kids would have went through. I spent many days in our childhood playing at this friend’s house and being around her family and I never noticed a difference in us, until I was older and learned more about the hardships Indigenous peoples face everyday.

My schooling I do feel privileged that I had many teachers of Indigenous backgrounds. I learned how to make pemmican in grade three (this is one teaching I still remember), the teachers that I had did share with their classrooms their traditional ways as much as they could while following a curriculum that would not have included their traditional teachings.

Biases and lenses that I have entering my future classroom would be my white privilege and growing up speaking only English and only understanding English. We can unlearn or teach against these biases by incorporating diverse literature, incorporate different languages and cultures into our classrooms, have guest speakers and take field trips to explore other cultures and learn about them. I think it is important for our students to learn from people who are of different backgrounds instead of me standing at the front of the room talking about different cultures. The impact of my words will not affect the students as it would coming from someone who has experienced hardships, language loss, and culture genocide/shock. Showing our students that we see and recognize them and their differences in a good way and encouraging them. Building relationships regardless of race is important to my future classroom and me. I want to be a person the students can rely on and trust.

The single stories present in my schooling were mainly viewed from white middle class men. That is how society wants us to grow up to seek income and jobs and to be a law-abiding citizen. The colonized European settler way was the only truth that mattered. That is why Canada’s history about Indigenous people were not spoke about. Chimamanda Adichie talked about only having books that were based off what White wealthy men deemed important even though she lived somewhere that did not experience most of the ideas that were in the stories. It is unfortunate that it is hard to find books relating to other cultures and races. I do believe that there are good books out there and they are starting to appear in School Libraries, but its taken this long to get them, so it is going to take a while for them to be recognized as an important as the story books I grew up with.  

Mathematics

Math scares me!

Growing up, I was not a strong student in math. In Elementary school, I remember getting so nervous before “mad minutes” and it was not necessarily because of the addition or subtraction, but we had to put the “time” down when we finished. My parents only had one clock in our house and it was in roman numerals and the rest of the clocks were digital. I still get anxiety as an adult to have to tell someone the time from an analog clock and ill admit it does take me longer than most to figure it out (face palm), but we do not need to tell time that way with all the technology around us. Another fear is dealing with money. Counting back change used to give me extreme anxiety. If I was ever asked to work the door or concession at a hockey game/high school event that was my biggest fear that I would not give back the correct amount of money.

I can say that I do not remember my math learning experiences from elementary school, but I do remember in grade 7-9 we did A LOT of math questions up at the chalkboard where other students could see our mistakes while working through problems. I felt like in math you should be able to just “know it.” It should be easy… Did you not memorize your times tables? Well if 5X6=30, how come it takes you so long to figure out how many groups of 6 go into 30? I also felt that if you did understand it you could fly through the assignments and were praised, but if it took you longer or if you did not finish your homework (my parents couldn’t help me with math problems at home) you were a student that got left behind. How Math was taught to me was usually a written lesson on what definitions meant, example questions (not many maybe 1 or 2 of each type of questions), than we would be given numbers from the Math Makes Sense textbook and told to get to work. In math, you worked alone for most of it. I also felt like the subject was taught quickly. That might have been because I would finally start to understand a concept and we would be moving on to the next concept.

In my grade 10 and 11 math class, I had THE BEST math teacher. He cared and made an effort to get us engaged and wanting to learn. I remember our whole class marching down the hallways chanting a math song we created in class to learn a new formula with him leading the way. He also volunteered a lot of his time to do math with students that needed extra help (like me) in the mornings, during lunch hour, or after school. He has actually helped me in my university math classes too, I reached out for help and he would send me a video of how he got to his answer and explained each step. I am thankful for teachers like him.

Reading the article “Teaching Mathematics and the Inuit Community” by Louise Poirier we learn how using other cultures view points can be beneficial to learning math in other ways than Eurocentric ways of learning. The article talks about students that were not doing well at Eurocentric math, but when they were taught a new strategy game those students that were spending more time learning from their traditional cultural or from their grandparents were able to learn spatial relations quicker and easier than the western taught children. We also learned that the Inuit children used a base 20 system for their first 3 years of learning math. Base 20 works for their culture and society because they do a lot of their teaching orally. It works well because in their number system can be the same meaning for the same number unless it is spoken differently. We also learned in our lecture on Tuesday that they use the base 20 system because they use their hands and feet for counting and grouping numbers. I also like how the Inuit teach the months of the years. They go by what naturally occurs over the months and not by a set of 30 or 31 days. I actually like this way of using a calendar because not all years are the same with weather changes, hunting availability and so on. The Inuit use the land to survive so if they went by a strict 30/31 day monthly calendar it would not fit their life style. It just goes to show that not all MATH is the same which I have always considered it to be a universal subject. I thought this because of how I was taught, I am happy to see other forms of math and hoping I can incorporate different varieties of teaching math in my classroom so my students do not fear math like I did.

Email Response

Good morning,

I just want to first off thank you for bringing awareness to a place that needs to be more educated by the sounds of your concerns. Teaching Treaty Education is apart of our jobs being teachers and you are doing a great job bringing awareness to your classroom.

Let us start by problem solving why your class was confused about the topic and why they were making racist remarks or joking about the topic. I believe it is because of how undereducated they have been about Treaty Education. You are bringing awareness to a “foreign” subject that might make some of the students, teachers, and community members feel uncomfortable. Treaty Education has not been taught at the school you are in because it is a predominately-white school; you are going to have to start at the basics. A good place to start looking to help you educate your students is in the Treaty Education Outcomes and Indicators my suggestions is to start at the grade three curriculum. (You might even need to go earlier than this is you are still not able to express your teachings to the students or staff.) The Grade Three curriculum focus is on Exploring Challenges and Opportunities in Treaty Making. Your students do not have an understanding on how the land is important and how the land means something different to Indigenous people compared to settlers of the land. It is a good place to show the view points of each group.

You have also stated that the teachers are “very lax” when it comes to the subject and that, they do not see the purpose of teaching it. In Dwayne Donald’s Video “What Terms do we Speak?” he says “teachers are meant to teach aboriginal perspectives, but really we don’t know anything about it!” This is where you can come into play in your school. If you have ideas and are confident to share them with the staff. Start! We are all Treaty people, is a good place to get your fellow colleagues on board with becoming more educated and wanting to learn about Treaty Education. It is not something we can ignore as teachers; it needs to be showing up in all our classroom subjects and daily. In the video presentation by Claire she says when we are teaching about Treaty Education we are NOT focussing on the Indigenous students in our classrooms (they already know about their histories) we are focusing on the non-indigenous students and building their knowledge and understandings. Claire has a blog ill add the link here it is a great resource to help you further your own education, but also tell your other teachers that it is a great place to discover and learn about Treaty Education. http://clairekreuger.ca/

I hope that these suggestions can help you and will further your learning.

My Future Classrooms Sense of Place and Atmosphere!

Thinking about how I want my future classroom to be culturally relevant reminds me of some of the teachers I had growing up. I do feel fortunate for the teachers I had and some of them being of Indigenous decent. I remember in my grade three class learning how to make pemmican and listening to stories about my teacher’s culture. I think about how I can incorporate other cultures into my classroom and how to explain the importance of other cultures to younger students. Literacy is a good area to incorporate different cultures. Reading to younger students books like Henrys Freedom Box, Rough Faced Girl, The Colors of Us, Same Same but Different and Hair Like Mine are all great books to bring awareness of other cultures and identities to your classroom. I am all about building connections with students and making sure they know I care! I want my future classroom to feel safe, look cozy and warm and sound respectful, but questioning allowing room for growth and learning among peers. I also strongly believe in building connections with my fellow educators and peers and learning from them and getting them to help teach me. In the article “Culturally relevant pedagogy and critical literacy in diverse English classrooms: A case study of a secondary English teacher’s activism and agency” by Ann. E Lopez she comments, “it is important that teachers recognize that this work cannot be done alone and that collaboration is important.” The reason why collaboration is important to build your futures classrooms look, sound and feel is because it allows teachers to listen to others who potentially have more experience than I do. It leaves space to question how to appropriately go about culture. In my EAE class we learned about “Culture Appropriation and Culture Appreciation” in the article Moving from Cultural Appropriation to Cultural Appreciation written by Hsiao- Cheng (Sandrine) Han. She wrote it is important to be aware of how you are “speaking for others or representing them in fictional as well as legal, social, artistic, and political work [as] appropriate or proper, especially when individuals or groups with more social, economic, and political power perform this role for others without invitation” (Han p.9). I think the most important thing is to just be aware and teach culture with acknowledgement.

Sense of place and belonging is important to teach our students. Making connections to their communities and surrounding environments will help them plan for a better tomorrow and promote awareness on how they can improve the world we live in. If you are not following Garrick Schmidt on twitter you need to start. I went to high school with Garrick, and he is definitely incorporating place based learning in his teachings. I will be using him as a resource to broaden my teachings in my future classrooms. Engaging the students in their own community will help them connect to the stories or that area of their community and be proud of where they are living. Place based education I think involves the students more and they are more actively involved and participating when you can incorporate a sense of space into their learnings.

Hip Hop Culture in Education

I’m not up to date on my hip hop culture, so at first I was wondering why this article was important in our readings. While reading it and made many clear and precise points. Relationship building, promoting black history (a topic I am definitely under developed in), building culture in your classroom, are a few points that stuck out to me. Using hip hop as a tool in the classroom can promote social justice and youth activism in a variety of ways. Not only does encouraging and incorporating hip hop allow you to build a sense of connection with students interests, It gives a different view on how learning can occur. The words that are used in hip hop music tell a story and usually a story that isn’t being told in regular education classes. Incorporating hip hop education also connects you and the students with culture. In the article Critical Hip Hop Pedagogy as a Form of Liberatory Praxis we are introduced to “Critical Hip Hop Pedagogy (CHHP) that can respond to issues of racism and other axis of social difference that Black people/people of color face in urban and suburban schools and communities” (Akom p.54). Encouraging hip hop in your classroom as an educator can help students deal with racism, teach students about world issues that are happening (BLM Movement is a strong and prevalent issue occurring in our world currently), teach students about diversity, and promote advocacy and build relationship among students. Allowing this teaching can build justice-orientated students that promote and question the whys! Why is our school teaching about hidden histories and ignoring the histories of other races? We have and are starting to see the movement for change with “Black Lives Matter.” One of my professors this semester actually took part in the scholar strike to support and stand in solidary with the issues Black people are facing today with police brutality. Building students knowledge about Black histories and involving hip hop culture in your classroom also helps Black students relate to someone that is similar to them or their experiences. The relationship between hip hop culture and the development of critical consciousness amongst students is a form of “resiliency and resistance that can be developed to challenge the dominant mind set, increase academic engagement and achievement, and build new understandings of the strength and assets of youth of color and the communities from which they come” (Akom p. 57).

Week 7 – What Citizen Will you Teach?

The type of citizenship education I remember growing up according to the article What Kind of Citizen? The Politics of Educating for Democracy written by Joel Westheimer and Joseph Kahne would range from personally responsible citizen to participatory citizen. I do no recall any experiences that would of lead us to bigger issues and classified my learning to be justice-orientated citizens. I remember having classes where we would go outside, walk around the community, and pick garbage. Some of the classroom teacher’s I had made our class responsible for the recycling of the school etc. Teachers would fundraise for certain organizations and my parents would send me with food for the food hampers or dog treats for the humane society. Those are some examples of being a personally responsible citizen that I can remember. I was involved in the SLC in elementary school and the SRC in high school, this allowed for more growth in the description of what a participatory citizen would be. We were able with guidance from our teachers discuss as a group what charity we would like to donate to, what activities we thought the rest of the student body would enjoy during spirit days and gym assemblies. I think the main focus was just making sure we would be law abiding citizens that would help contribute to people in need or help someone in need. I do not remember learning about politics or how governments worked and I do definitely fell undereducated in that area as an adult now. I do not remember the push to get us as students to take active roles in leading initiatives.  

Only teaching at what I would say a “safe” level of teaching (teaching what is comfortable and not rocking the boat on bigger issues) and not pushing us as students to explore and try problem solve world issues like racism, global warming, homelessness, and malnourished children etc. left little to no growth in fighting for changes as an adult. The teacher’s focus was to get us to act and behaviour as good citizens and we did have voices, but not a voice for big change. In the YouTube video What Kind of Citizen? Educating Our Children for the Common Good starring Joel Westheimer he says “we need to shoot higher than just the basics for our students” that stood out to me. I recently had a tarot card reading, one of the cards that was pulled for me was “spiritual teacher”, and the card reader explained to me that it is not about just learning from books… Once I get how to teach and teach good do not forget, where I come from and what is in my heart and passion for teaching. She reminded me that there is a light in everybody and try look for that light and remember that about my students and about myself as a teacher. This has had me thinking since I had that reading done. As teachers, I think we all want to make a difference not only in the children we are teaching, but also in our society. I think that card was meant to push me and to push my future students to achieve more than just the participatory or personally responsible citizen and aim for more. Dabble into justice-orientated teaching and get my students to be passionate and strong about bigger item issues.

We are stuck in a world that is caught up with how and what media and politics want us to be, we forget we have our own paths to make. We are also living in a westernized society that speaks highly of how we are wanting and willing to make change, but we are not teaching why it is important for that change and reconciliation to occur. The curriculum makers value the good westernized citizen that will follow the rules of how to be a good Canadian. They want us to produce citizens that are active and working member of society, that volunteer their time at special events, and who will not challenge the norm. We need to teach students to become leaders and to challenge what they do not believe is right.

I found this quote and I think it would of been good for last weeks blog post, but I will post it this week so more people potentially see it.

Curriculum Development

What should be learned in schools and who is making the decisions on this? This week we read two articles about curriculum and learning and how it is a complicated system and how Saskatchewan curriculums are out dated and in need of change, but the difficulties that arise from making change come down to some factors. Who will pilot the project? Who should be involved? How effective will the new material be to our students? How to implement going about the changes? and many more questions that will come along the way has affected what is in our curriculum. I used to think curriculum was simple, it was given to use by the government, and we follow what it says, teach it to our students, and get the job done! Some of our curriculum is outdated and has not been changed in years because of the challenges of peoples view points, how history has evolved, and what we now know. In our lecture we talked about the Social Studies curriculum and why it would be a huge obstacle to tackle and revamp. Although, I know that it has to be updated, I understand why it has not been yet and how it will be difficult to develop because of society’s opinions and what has taking place here in Canada is something many people are not willing to talk about.

In the article Curriculum Policy and Politics of What Should Be Learned in Schools, they talk about the two debates that take place while thinking about our curriculum and what politics are involved in the discussions. The first concern, they talk about is what subjects should take place in our education. An example they use is “whether literacy or mathematics are getting a sufficient share of the school day and year, whether sex education or religion should be part of the curriculum, when students should first study a foreign language, or degree to which they should be required to study music or physical education.” The second debate they are concerned with is over what content should be included in the subjects. Many people have their own beliefs of what should be included and what age you should learn about it. Some of the examples they use from their second debate questions are “How much of their own country’s history and geography should students learn as opposed to that of other countries? Should all students learn algebra? Should all students- or any- be required to study Shakespeare?” (Levin p.14). In addition to these areas of curriculum concerns teachers are also expected to teach about non-subject related matters. They teach about bullying, self-care, drugs/drinking abuse, obesity/anorexia and also promoting equality and eliminating racism in their instructions. The teachers are relied on heavily for guiding our youth, but do not have the most say in what is being put into the curriculum for learning. Overall, I don’t think what is in the curriculum is as big as a concern as how much time teachers have to teach what they are expected to teach. The public and government want teachers to help improve our children’s learning, but they are given more on their plate than what they can confidently tackle in a school year. Teachers are not only educators. We are caregivers, social workers, comfort zones, medical supports, etc.

It is concerning the lack of input teachers have in creating the curriculum. They are our front line workers and should be involved in the process of developing content that is necessary for our youth to learn. In the Saskatchewan way article, it was nice to see Saskatchewan have an active role in implementing teacher’s ideas and decisions along with government and experts to enhance student’s learnings and objectives. This statement stuck out to me while reading the article “while teacher involvement was intended to assist in making the new curriculum acceptable to students in the schools, it also had another effect. It allowed teachers to see curriculum as something dynamic and relevant, not an immutable imposition from above. The curriculum committees provided teachers with a mechanism to alter the course studies and gave them some confidence to undertake such changes” (p5). It is important to have freedom to go off course and provide different subject matters that may not be implemented in the curriculum, but what your class of students are curious about or what is important for them to learn in the safe space of your classroom.

             References

Levin, B. (2008). Curriculum policy and the politics of what should be learned in schools. In F. Connelly, M. He & J. Phillion (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of curriculum and instruction (pp. 7 – 24). Los Angeles, CA: Sage. Available on-line from: http://www.corwin.com/upm-data/16905_Chapter_1.pdf.

The Saskatchewan Way: Professional-Led Curriculum Development. Available on-line from: https://www.stf.sk.ca/sites/default/files/the_saskatchewan_way_professional_led_curriculum_development.pdf

Be the Teacher you want to be! Grow with your Students!

I believe that we will be able to teach our curriculum in a natural way towards queer and trans people if we leave biases at the door and are open to discussions with our classrooms without placing judgement or making derogatory remarks and comments. On page 29, of the Deepening the Discussion: Gender and Sexual Diversity, that was published by Saskatchewan Ministry of Education (2015) it talks about providing “safe places, supportive spaces, and activist areas.” I believe that those three matters are what can really make a difference in our school systems. I also believe that building relationships with students is a key ingredient to providing safe places, supportive spaces, and encouraging and supporting activist areas and groups to have a voice.

Integrating queerness into curriculum studies means to be challenging the norm. We are living in a day in age where opinions are allowed and heard, but have room for discussion. We can teach in a way that our students are not “robots” and allow them to explore different learning possibilities. As educators, we fill a big role and we wear many different hats in our roles, but providing that community feeling is important to me in my classroom. It will look relaxed, comfortable and cozy I want my students to feel like family when they are in my classroom. It will sound loud and opinionated, but also thoughtful and respectful of others. It will feel safe! I want my students to be able to come to me and know that I will seek out additional supports if I cannot provide them with the answers they are needing.

I think the rule or discourse teachers need to follow is what they believe is right. I know we have guidelines and stipulations to follow, but sometimes it is easier to do things first than ask permission or questions later and seek forgiveness (queering curriculum). I think as long as your intentions were best for your students you should do them. I know this will not apply to every scenario, but follow you gut and your hearts decisions and go with the flow and energy of your classroom. If your students are curious, explore the topics of sexuality/ gender with them.

I really enjoyed our lecture on Tuesday and learned more about sexual identity and gender and queerness than in any other class. Growing up in a rural community those topics were taboo! It was nice to hear from someone that experienced difficulty, but was able to challenge it and feel passionate about it to pursue it in her life now.

The “Good” Student

To be a good student according to “common sense” you must follow and obey what is expected of you. What society, public, or teachers consider the norm for their classrooms. In Kumashiro’s second chapter of his novel, Against Common Sense he talks about, how he became frustrated with students. He assumed that “being a student required behaving and thinking in only certain ways, but also because he felt pressure from schools and society to produce this type of student” (Kumashiro p. 21). The good students were the ones that sat quietly, completed their work on time, did not challenge the teacher, raised their hands when they were asking or answering questions, and participated in activities following the guidelines given by the instructor. The bad students were the ones that challenged ideas, did not sit still, would not listen, and made the school day more difficult for the teacher leaving them feeling frustrated with those types of students.

In A History of Education written by F. V. N. Painter (1886), we learn that teachers were taught to teach students to be good citizens. The educational journey was least important. What was important was “education does not aim to develop a perfect man or women, but prepare its subjects for their place in the established order of things” (Painter p. 9). The students would become functioning adults who would contribute to society they did not care about different needs of students. Although, this text is dated it still plays a role in education. We were raised on the European views on what education and citizenship should look like. We were taught eurocentrism and the importance of it and only it.

The privililedged students would be the students who knew the most knowledge going into these schools. Students who spoke the same language, whose parents were able to give them background knowledge and opportunities (mainly, white students who came from wealthier families), students who the society considered valuable because of their race. Those students were at an advantage because our educational system was racist and one-sided and that was what was being taught. That is what teachers were told would make Canada a better place. That is why historical views played a factor on what were good student in schools.

https://archive.org/details/historyofeducati00painiala/page/8/mode/2up

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1kkJc7k2AyKB-Usl3pujiMAeWpfzmpZRK/view