Questions/Writing Prompts from Gale
1. At the beginning of the reading, Leroy Little Bear (2000) states that colonialism “tries to maintain a singular social order by means of force and law, suppressing the diversity of human worldviews. … Typically, this proposition creates oppression and discrimination” (p. 77). Think back on your experiences of the teaching and learning of mathematics — were there aspects of it that were oppressive and/or discriminating against you or other students?
Looking back to my mathematics experiences in schooling, I think there were lots of aspects that were oppressive and discrimination for myself and my fellow students. One thing I noticed in the reading was that a lot of indigenous knowledge and views about the world are not implemented in math. For example, the reading states that one has to look at the whole to begin to see patterns because everything is constantly moving and changing. However, when I think back to my mathematics in school, a lot of what we did was not focused on the larger patterns and relationships but rather everything being separate and containing one answer. Another oppressive teaching often used in mathematics is that indigenous language is often left out of the math class. For example, aboriginal language allows for the transcendence of boundaries so the language often does not contain either/or, black/white, etc. However, math language normally does include these binary ideas.
2. After reading Poirier’s article: Teaching mathematics and the Inuit Community, identify at least three ways in which Inuit mathematics challenge Eurocentric ideas about the purposes mathematics and the way we learn it.
Ways in which Inuit math challenged Eurocentric ideas:
- Inuit math uses base 20 while euro math uses a base 10 system
- Inuit developed a sense of space to help orient themselves. Learned to read snow banks and assess the direction of winds.
- The calendar system is different. Each year a month can have a different amount of days (September- when the caribou’s antlers lose their velvet). The calendar is based on natural independently recurring events rather than being lunar or solar.
- What is the purpose of teaching Treaty Ed (specifically) or First Nations, Metis, and Inuit (FNMI) Content and Perspectives (generally) where there are few or no First Nations, Metis, Inuit peoples?
I think there are many reasons why we should be teaching Treaty Ed or First Nations, Metis and Inuit context. For starters, it’s our history and I think just talking about it in a social studies class is not enough. Often students get a basic overview of treaties in a social studies class. This may just include the phrase “we are all treaty people” and a short description explaining that “treaty is a promise”. At least for me, that was my educational reality going through school. I, however, do not think this is enough for students to truly understand not only the importance of treaties and first nations culture but also the significance and impact of it. Even with few or no First Nations, Metis or Inuit students in our classroom, this history stands importance. In my opinion, it is even more important to teach if there are no First Nations, Metis or Inuit students in the classroom because we need to include those different cultures.
- What does it mean for your understanding of curriculum that “We are all treaty people”?
I understand that the meaning of “we are all treaty people” can have multiple meanings. Firstly, it means that we are all somehow or way connected to treaties. I also understand that we live on Treaty 4 land. We all carry out the treaty every day and it is indulged in our community.
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)
1. List some of the ways that you see reinhabitation and decolonization happening throughout the narrative.
- Focusing on Cree land and a story of their history
- They heard stories from an elder
- Some of there focuses were relationships, history, and ways of seeing the world
- Goal was to bring together elders to talk about role and meaning of land to social well being
- They focus strongly on the community aspect
- The project renames and reclaims land
- The trip helped members of the community share linguistic, cultural, historical and geographical knowledge
- How might you adapt these ideas to considering place in your own subject areas and teaching?
- Considering that I want to be in elementary level classes to teach I am given lots of opportunities to adapt these ideas into my teaching. For example, the idea of identifying and changing ways of thinking that injure and exploit others can be done in lots of subjects. The first thing I think of when hearing this is the idea presented in the Saskatchewan curriculums of “providing anti-oppressive and developmentally appropriate resources that allow all children and youth to see themselves”. I think the most important thing to take out of these ideas is that as teachers we need to adapt in order to implement every child into learning. This means taking ideas and changing the way they are often seen in order to decolonize. For example, in a social studies lesson, instead of focusing our attention on how the French and English colonized Canada, we can instead focus on learning about aboriginal culture and practices.
What does it mean to be a “good” student according to the common sense? Which students are privileged by this definition of the good student? What is made impossible to see/understand/believe because of these commonsense ideas?
According to the commonsense, a good student is defined as a student that is opposite than N and M and can conform to traditional learning styles. I think we often view a good student as someone who does all the readings, pays attention in class, doesn’t question the teacher, hands in their work on time and so on. By this definition, we are privileging the traditional learners and oppressing the nontraditional learners. For example, the “good student” is not normally seen as a student who posses questions against the teacher’s style of teaching. However, for some students, it helps them to learn if they have a fuller understanding and ask questions. Because of these commonsense ideas, it is impossible to see/understand/believe that any student who learns in a different way can be considered a “good student” when in reality the only difference is each individuals learning style.
I decided to focus on and examine the Health Education Curriculum focusing on Grade 8 level. Both of the frames of literacy, autonomous and ideological, are present in this area of the Saskatchewan curriculum. However, I did find that the ideological model is more present in the health curriculum.
The autonomous model of literacy works off the assumptions that literacy will have effects on other social and cognitive practices. This assumes that literacy will lead to other higher skills. It also makes the basic assumption that literacy is simply a technical and neutral skill. An example of this in the Saskatchewan curriculum is the objective set that education will help serve students regardless of their choices after leaving school. This statement meets the assumptions set by the model that literacy work will lead to higher skills.
The ideological model is more culturally sensitive. It begins with the assumption that literacy is a social practice and is embedded in social principles. By reading about this model I get the understanding that it has the basic principles of one’s own knowledge is socially constructed and affected by external properties. With regards to education and curriculum, external properties effect areas of learning. An example of this model being used in the health education curriculum is the indicator that students must learn the differences that exist in families are protected in Canadian human rights legislation. I believe this is an example of the ideological model because the indicator is based on the Canadian human rights legislation and that is a social principle which is being embedded in Canadian education curriculum.
BEFORE READING: How do you think that school curricula are developed? This is an entry point to this topic and whatever you write will be fine.
I think that school curricula are developed by a group of people, mostly from the school board or people involved in the Saskatchewan education system for many years, getting together to discuss what is important for each subject matter at each age. From there I think they break it down smaller and each person puts their own input as to what should be placed in the curriculum. The final step would be to they publish the curriculum and start implementing it in the classrooms.
AFTER READING: How are school curricula developed and implemented? What new information/perspectives does this reading provide about the development and implementation of school curriculum? Is there anything that surprises you or maybe that concerns you?
The reading first describes curriculum as “an official statement of what students are expected to know and be able to do” (Levin, 2008, p.8). The article then draws on the importance of policy and the description of public policy as being “rules and procedures governing public sector activity— what they are and how they are made” (Levin, 2008, p.8). While policy has a large influence in schools such as who teaches, funds for the school, rules, etc. The curriculum controls the importance on what is taught.
The article states that school curricula are developed with little public attention and most of the decisions around the curriculum are political and cause lots of controversial discussions. The curriculum is also made up with the following framework- issues, actors, processes, influences and then results. The curriculum also has two main objectives, “general or broad goals and then much more specific learning activities and objectives” (Levin, 2008, p.14).
New information and perspective about the curriculum that I never thought about was now much policies have an influence on curriculum. Levin states that most political decisions about education are made from interests. In saying this, I agree with the majority of educators who believe that “education policy choices can and should be made on the basis of educational expertise” (Levin, 2008, p.22). I agree with this because it is easy to make assumptions about education or the curriculum from the outside. But if you have a basis of educational expertise, you have a better understanding of what happens in the classroom and therefore will make more educated decisions about curriculum.
Something I found concerning is that in the article Levin (2008) states that “ Curriculum politics and policy choices are also increasingly related to larger issues of school change and improvement and to varying theories of what it is that shapes the outcomes of education” (p.14). I found this concerning because if the curriculum is based on school change and theories, I now wonder how often the curriculum is reviewed and changed in order to keep up with the changes? I also found it concerning that because of the limit on time and the wide range of information to be taught some content such as sex education could be missed. I think this is concerning because some of these topics are very important for students to know and should be made a priority.