Reshaping My Views on School Curriculum and Treaty Education

Reshaping My Views on School Curriculum and Treaty Education

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According to Levin’s article, developing and implementing school curricula is a timely process that involves input from many individuals and groups, with some having more voice then others. It is further influenced by societal factors.

As Levin states, “[e]very education policy decision can be seen as being, in some sense, a political decision” (p. 8). In reality this makes sense because so many aspects of our lives are influenced by politics. As the article further stated, “[g]overnments are in some sense responsible for everything”, and yes education is listed as being part of that. These realizations raised some concerns for me while looking at curriculum, as I believe curriculum needs to have its focus on the learners, while being helpful for educators. It needs to be practical for the setting, while helping all learners grow. With education policy being wrapped up in politics there is danger for curriculum to not best reflect learners and educators as there may be more of an effort to please those with influence and the loudest voice. As Levin further states, “[p]olitical processes are driven by interests, and particularly by the most vocal interest” (p. 22). It is concerning to read that those who are seen as “powerful” in society have great influence on curriculum decisions, but it is reality.

“In most jurisdictions, final authority over curriculum rests with national or subnational governments. In many federal systems it is provinces or states that control curriculum. In a few situations curriculum authority is largely located within individual schools.”

Levin, 2008, p. 15

When I was reflecting on these articles there were a few points that specifically came to mind. If it is schools themselves who have little say in curriculum development, what kind of messages are being sent? Furthermore, how does this affect educational objectives and ultimately relationships in society?

“Most curricula are organized around at least two levels of objectives – very general or broad goals and then much more specific learning activities and objectives. Curriculum documents and policies may also endorse or support, explicitly or not, particular teaching and learning practices. These relationships have themselves been changing over time as a result of growing knowledge…”

Levin, 2008, p. 14
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Curriculum – a framework for what educators are presenting to students, as discussed in lecture – needs to be influenced by educators and schools themselves. Curriculum should encompass various voices of the community, while listening to educators. This is not always easy when political voices influencing curriculum also face numerous presses, such as pleasing voters, and more, as Levin discussed.

In regards to development of Treaty Education curriculum, I believe many varying viewpoints caused for tension. As Levin stated, “[p]eople’s own school experience, whether primarily positive or negative, deeply affects their views about education policy” (p. 15). Many people who develop curriculum did not grow up with Treaty Education in their schooling. The importance of Treaty Education is still working its way into the viewpoints of many. As stated in the Saskatchewan Treaty Education document it wasn’t until 2007 that Treaty Education was made mandatory. With that I am sure it took time for this document to be created, but it shows that steps are being taken to include various voices in the classroom.

As Levin discussed various groups and levels of governments develop and implement curriculum. The Saskatchewan Treaty Education document listed groups that worked to make the document. Some of these partners included the Ministry of Education, the Office of the Treaty Commissioner, and the First Nations University of Canada. These partners reinforced Levin’s discussions of experts creating curriculum, which is at times good, and at times creates a product not as practical for classrooms.

Overall, both of these articles helped equip me as a future educator looking at curriculum. It’s importance to recognize that curriculum is influenced by many factors and to recognize whose voices are heard and whose are not.

5 thoughts on “Reshaping My Views on School Curriculum and Treaty Education

  1. Hello Tamantha,

    I enjoyed reading your response to Levin’s article on curriculum policy and politics, and your comment on my post. I agree that greater involvement of teachers, learners, and parents in curriculum formation will lead to better equity and inclusiveness in the classroom. Of course, broadening out the number of groups and individuals involved will slow the process of change. As you mention, it is only recently that Treaty education has become mandatory in the curriculum, which shows how long it can take for curricular problems to be addressed and solutions implemented. Levin’s advocacy of greater public involvement in curriculum development, even if this further politicizes it, will certainly help address problems of inequality and unfairness.

    From my own experience, Canadian schools are incredibly diverse. I have often thought that better reflecting that diversity in terms of suitable educational materials and approaches (different religions, cultures, and environments) would benefit for everyone. Do you agree?

    Best wishes

    Jacques

    1. Thanks Jacques. Yes, broadening the groups and individuals involved in curriculum creation may slow the process, but it can also lead to really a more well-rounded document.
      I agree that Canadian schools are very diverse with students of all different backgrounds. One thing I have appreciated is how much this is discussed in Education classes so we realize the importance of reflecting all students in the classroom. I agree that it is important for students to see themselves and their families represented in educational materials/activities. By that I mean we should have books, posters, and more that include various cultures, etc. It is also important for our schools, and for curriculum, to give opportunity for students to share their cultures, etc. I think diversity is something that should be normal, in that it is at the forefront of our minds as educators to make sure all students and families are represented and included in respectful ways. This helps create a welcoming environment. I think this relates to the Treaty Ed document as it is a step towards making sure everyone is represented, and that multiple perspectives and backgrounds are being discussed in the classroom.
      Thanks for the question. 🙂

  2. Tamantha – thanks for this detailed and thoughtful post. You did a great job of pulling out the key ideas in the Levin article and connecting it to Treaty Education. You also raised a good question around the lack of control schools have when it comes to education – this certainly can contribute to lack of uptake of a new curriculum, which then defeats the purpose of renewal!
    As an aside, you’re certainly correct in saying that the Treaty Ed outcomes took a while to be developed – Treaty Ed was made mandatory in 2007, but the outcomes weren’t put out until 2013. This might also tell us something about government priorities…

    1. Hi Katia,
      Six years between making Treaty Ed mandatory and actually putting out outcomes is quite interesting… thanks for pointing that out! The time gap definitely makes me think more about Levin’s article and the whole process of curriculum development and implementation.

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