Category Archives: ECS 210

Final Project

For this video, we looked at the blog posts each of us wrote throughout the semester and incorporated the major points into the lyrics of this original song.  Writing this song allowed us to include many of our blog ideas and “points” into our video, and to recall the information that we learned throughout the semester. In particular, we focused on common sense, treaty education, curriculum, single story views, Inuit mathematics and being a treaty person.

Common Sense: We learned through readings and discussions that common sense ideas can hinder opportunities for growth and improvement in our schools and in society. An example of this would be the “common sense” idea that, in our society, school should start at 8:30 a.m. and end at 3:30 p.m. What if children work best between 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. instead? Our common sense ideas often hold us back from trying new things. Challenging these common sense societal ideas and our own personal beliefs, will allow us to grow and become better teachers.

Treaty Education: We felt that a huge learning in this class was that treaty education is not about teaching the Indigenous culture; it’s about teaching true and real Canadian history. Therefore, if a parent or student has a problem with learning about treaty education, then they have a problem learning about Canada. Through reading journal articles and discussions, we learned that without reinhabitation, our country and people cannot appropriately attempt decolonization. This means that we need to learn about the land from Indigenous elders, and learn the stories of this country from them. Indigenous people need to be at the forefront of the decision making process on how to best decolonize, or else there is no point in doing so.

Curriculum: We learned that the politics of our country have a huge impact on what is written in curriculum. This is because the government chooses the curriculum writers, and the people elect the government. It is assumed that elected government officials reflect the majority of people’s opinions therefore resulting in curriculum mirroring the country’s wants/culture/and desires for the future generation. However, we question this process and wonder if the best interests of the next generation are truly represented. For example, the majority of voters could very well vote against anti-oppressive education…. But is that what is best for our minority students? It’s not, and that’s why we need to be aware of how the curriculum is written and who it might benefit and/or leave out.

Single Story Views: We focused on this topic as we discussed and reflected on the harm that can be caused if working from only one person’s (or a small group’s) specific perspective. Single story views refer to our perspective on events and life issues. The way things have affected us in the past influence the way that we think they should happen in the future. To quote our song, “When you are raised a certain way you take these learnings into your future classrooms”. We included these lyrics as we wanted to send the message that an individual’s perspective, like common sense, can hinder them. There is more than one story to be told, and more than one perspective to be shared in every situation.

Inuit Mathematics: We chose to reflect on this topic because we both find it interesting.  The Inuit language, Inuktiut, is not being valued in the northern Canadian communities in schools. This limits Inuit students’ understanding in many subject areas, especially in Math. It also limits the use of Inuit knowledge and ways of knowing. For example, the Inuit people use different tools than settlers would for measuring, and different words for the months. They also have a different way of keeping track of the changing months. We need not see things methods as wrong; we need to see them as powerful and useful. This is part of decolonization.

We Are All Treaty People: To quote our song, “We need to respect our land and understand that history did not begin with us”. We believe that this is a large part of being a treaty person, in addition to respecting the treaty agreements and the other people who live here. We are both settlers and this aspect of the course made us rethink our identity. We find it empowering and we are proud to say, “We are all Treaty People”!

In our song’s “Bridge,” we quoted Michael Cappello and Nelson Mandela. The quote from Cappello was, “If Rip Van Winkle woke up after hundred years of sleep what would he recognize—schools”. Cappello wanted to express that schools should not be exempt from progress or adaption. Maple used this quote and reflected on it in one of her blogs. Laura included this Mandela quote in one of her blogs, “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world”. Laura used this quote to reflect on the power of educating young people. The world would be a very different place without the tool of education.

Song Lyrics

ECS 210 this is what we learned in our classes.

Common sense rationale, treaty ed and curriculum studies.

First Verse

We learned that common sense can really hinder proper education.

You gotta challenge status quo, you can’t just stick with what you know, it’s not right.

We won’t be able to reach our goals of anti-oppressive education without change.

ECS 210 this is what we learned in our classes.

Teaching Treaty Education is about the history not about culture.

Second Verse

Treaty Ed is a tool we use to break down biases and single story views.

Decolonization can’t happen without re in ha bi tation.

By following indigenous ways, we are on the path to reconciliation.

ECS 210 this is what we learned in our classes.

Common sense rationale, treaty ed and curriculum studies.

Third Verse

Our countries political views influence our curriculum studies.

Voters don’t know the ways that they can influence our education.

Should curriculum focus what’s going on inside the class or making good people?

The way we teach our students will set the tone for the rest of their lives.

So stand up for anti-bias education, don’t work under a disguise.

We believe in challenging common sense and including minority views.

Bridge

 If Rip Van Winkle woke up after hundred years sleep what would he recognize (echo) –  schools.

Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the (echo) world.

ECS 210 this is what we learned in our classes.

Single story views, Inuktiut math and we are all treaty people..  

Fourth Verse

When you are raised a certain way you take these learnings into your future classrooms.

We need to shed our biases or else were not teaching proper education.

Stereotypes are ingrained unconsciously and we need not provoke them.

ECS 210 this is what we learned in our classes.

Don’t forget about the ways of knowing from the Inuit people.

 Fifth Verse

There are many ways to learn a subject, certain cultures have found their very best methods.

An Inukshuk has many uses including helping with directions.

You don’t need a ruler or an abacus you’ve got ten toes and ten fingers.

ECS 210 this is what we learned in our classes.

We all made a promise to stand together for the rest of our lives.

Sixth Verse

A marriage takes two people and living in harmony takes unity.

We need to respect our land and understand that history did not begin with us.

We are all treaty people and we need to start acting like it!

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Week 10

Week 10 –ECS 210

  1. How has your upbringing/schooling shaped how you you “read the world?” What biases and lenses do you bring to the classroom? How might we unlearn / work against these biases?
  2. Which “single stories” were present in your own schooling? Whose truth mattered?
  3. I was raised in a white, lower class family. A single mother who owned an art gallery raised me. In the summer I would visit my father in Vermont. This made me read the world from a slightly underprivileged perspective and I was taught to be aware of the other underprivileged students around me. On the other hand, being raised by an artist made me appreciate the arts, street art, music, and non-profit foundations. My schooling influenced my perspective on what a teacher should do for students. Most of my teachers found themselves giving me extra help and guidance, and now that I’m older I realize that this is not exactly expected. But as a future teacher, this is something I’d like to provide for my students, as well.

    I bring the bias against students that are underprivileged, sometimes I assume that they have the same issues in school that I did. At the same time, I see the potential in these types of students. I also work through the lens of a white female raised in the prairies. It might be hard for me to relate to boys, people who are of other races, or people in other places in the world.

    I can work against these biases by questioning my own common sense in relation to them, and work towards anti-bias education in my classroom. I think that by teaching every student like they are capable, unique, and informative, I will see more diversity in my classroom then the ones I listed. In some respects, I hope that some of my students bond with each other for more reasons than class and race.

  4. I felt that during my school experience the single stories were present in classrooms where teachers felt that every student grew up the same or like they did. After living in a city, my family moved to a small town… I found that few teachers were understanding to my family’s perspective because we were not from a farming or conservative group. This often made me feel like we were the other, and that our family’s experiences and knowledge were irrelevant.

    The stories that mattered the most were the stories of the majority in the town. Also, the perspectives that mattered where from the perspective of white and middle to high-class families. This made it impossible to relate to families who came from diverse backgrounds. This single story problem also made it impossible for people in my town to relate to stories in our country applying to those with different perspectives. For example, many people in my town are incredibly racist and would support white farmers before low-class indigenous citizens because they can’t relate to them.

 

 

Week 9

  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 for you or other students?
  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.

Little Bear Article:

“One of the problems with colonialism is that it tries to maintain a singular social order by means of force and law, suppressing the diversity of human worldviews. The underlying differences between Aboriginal and Eurocentric worldviews make this a tenuous proposition at best” – Little Bear

Mathematics: I suppose mathematics taught that there was one solution for things, based on cultural norms. EX/ Sally has a pie and three friends… How will she cut the pie? However: understanding different culture, we could say that we aren’t considering the host, Sally, might not eat the pie.

Discrimination in math: I don’t recall being discriminated against, however Indigenous people might have because math was designed from a euro western point of view.

Poirier’s Article:

Something that Poirier’s article focuses a lot on is that fact that Inuit students learn math in their first language, Inuktitut until grade 3, and then learn math in either French or English. The author also have learnt that Inuit student develop special representations that are different from those of children who live in a big city, like Montreal. Something that we need to consider as future educators is that there are many different ways of knowing. Depending on culture, geography, and perhaps history, people learn differently.

The Poirier article states that many times, natural/traditional ways of teaching in the North means observing an elder or listening to enigmas. This is important to know if we were ever given the opportunity to teach Inuit students.

Three areas that Inuit ways of knowing disrupts Eurocentric ways of knowing:

  1. “The Inuit have developed an outstanding sense of space to help orient themselves. They have learned to ‘read’ snow banks and assess the direction of winds. I was told that they can say how far they are from the bay by smelling how salty the air is (each village is built on the banks of a bay). But mostly, for thousands of years, Inuit have builtinuksuit (singular, inukshuk) to help them (Poirier, 59)
  2. Their traditional calendar is calendar is neither lunar nor solar, since it is based on natural, independently recurring yearly events. The name of each month comes from animal activity or from nature:January: the coldest of all months
    February: when baby seals are born but are dead
    March: when baby seals are born
    April: when bearded baby seals are born
    May: when baby caribou are born
    June: when birds lay their eggs
    July: when the ice breaks
    August: when sea elephants rest on land
    September: when the caribou’s antlers lose their velvet
    October: when male caribou fight for a female
    November: when the caribou’s antlers fall
    December: when two stars appear in the sky
  3. Inuit women use certain parts of their bodies to measure length—for example, the palm when making atigi (parkas) (Poirier, 60)

(EDIT: Teaching inInuktitut until grade 3 actually applies to all subjects EXCEPT for math, as learnt today in our lecture from Gale Russell… This is because popular opinion would like to keep math “pure”)

 

Week 8

The purpose of teaching treaty education in schools with low population of First Nation, Metis, or Inuit students is to educate those students on the first history there ever was created by people on this land. In my opinion, it is even more important to teach Treaty Education at these schools than it is to teach it at a school with a high population of Indigenous students. This would be because Indigenous students would more or less know a part of their family’s history and beliefs, whereas white students may not.

The phrase, “We are all treaty people” means that we should not only refer to Indigenous people as being the ones holding the requirements to the treaty. Settlers are the other part of the treaty, and we need to hold up our end of the deal. The phrase says to me that people who come from Canadian settlers need to realize their part in the treaty actions and realize that they (we) are treaty people too.

Based on the podcast from Dwayne Donald, I learnt that there is a certain problem with treaty education being framed as cultural education. Donald describes culture as being just another word for race. This being said, I think that Donald is saying that it’s hard for other people to relate to treaty education because it’s perceived as racial education. In reality, treaty education has little to do with race and everything to do with real history.

Cynthia Chambers finds that her ancestors acted as if the Canadian land that they settled on had no stories or experiences before they settled here. This is much like what our guest lecturer talked about in class during Week 8 of ECS 210. Our lecturer read of berry bushes and plants that had been torn out for farming. This vegetation was a place for someone to wander in, eat from, and be with. Settlers act as if there was no story before their own.

 

 

Reinhabitation and Decolonization

This article explains that both reinhabitation and decolonization actually depend on each other to exist, and you can’t have one without the other. In my own words, reinhabitation is the act of learning processes and traditions in order to live in the natural world comfortably. As the author says, reinhabitation is to identify, recover, and create material spaces and places that teach us how to live well in our total environments. In my own words, decolonization is the notion of changing perspective to benefit the previously colonized people, which will at the same time benefit all people. In a way, I find the term “decolonization” to refer to reversing the affects of Westernization, but this isn’t always the case. As the author says, to decolonize is to, “identify and change ways of thinking that injure and exploit other people and places.

Examples in the article, Learning from Place: A Return to Traditional Mushkegowuk Ways of Knowing, of decolonization and reinhabitation are:

1. Documenting elder’s experiences, stories, and beliefs of the natural world in which they live. By doing this, the interviewees and listeners are able to learn more about the alternative perspectives of the environment that they discuss, and in turn change their view of such. As the author says, ““In the development of the radio documentary, the significance of the river and knowledge of the social, cultural, economic, and spiritual meanings of the river among community members became heightened”

  1. Highlighting the important qualities of the environment that the First Nations people value. Not only is the land a source of food, but it’s also a source of community and a source of income. This information would broaden the understanding of the depths of importance land has for First Nations people, and potentially create that significance in a person’s life. As the author notes, “The excursion into traditional territory itself offered a wealth of insight into the importance of land for social and economic well-being among people in the remote First Nation”
  2. Naming areas in their traditional Cree names in an effort for young people to use the names fluently and comfortably. This act is an act of decolonization because the motive is to have young people, the future leaders, see the names of the land as it was originally called—pre-Westernization.
  3. Seeing the land as a path to betterment. The Mushkegowuk people believe that appreciating and valuing the land can do true healing. This is an act of both reinhabitation and decolonization, because not only is the land a home, but it is a sense of the traditional way of life. As the author says, “Historically and currently,
people have derived sustenance from the land, are guided by seasons and traditional hunting routes, and consider the land as crucial to healing the Mushkegowuk people from the impacts of colonialism”

In my future classroom, I would use the use of Cree language to explain the proper and original names for lands and areas. Not only would I like to encourage my students to play and enjoy outdoors, I would encourage them to see the outdoors as their true and natural habitat. I would like to encourage my future classrooms to think about areas that they value, like the river described in the article, and to critically think about what that area gives them. Does it give them food, a playground, and shelter? Or does it give them peace, freedom, and thought? These are the types of teachings that I would bring to my classroom to help them understand the First Nation’s values related to the environment.

Types of Citizens

I remember being a part of the Student Representative Council from grade six to grade twelve. Through this group, we often were part of working at the food bank, fundraising for charity events, adopting families for Christmas, or working for families in the community who needed help with yard work, etc. These types of activities fell between being a personally responsible citizen and being a participatory citizen.

A regular student in my school experience would absolutely have felt that they were being asked to donate and asked to volunteer constantly. I feel like our teachers expected a lot of contribution out of us. However, we were never asked to organize events ourselves, fundraise for personal charity passions, or find methods to contribute in new ways in our community and globally. Therefore, I would feel like the “personally responsible” citizen type is the most common in regular rural public schools in Saskatchewan (from my experience).

As the article describes,

“The personally responsible citizen acts responsibly in his/her community by, for example, picking up litter, giving blood, recycling, obeying laws, and staying out of debt. The personally responsible citizen contributes to food or clothing drives when asked and volunteers to help those less fortunate whether in a soup kitchen or a senior centre” (Westheimer, 3).

This approach has at least made it possible for students to be aware of some charities and the importance of at least contributing. Having been a part of the SRC, as I mentioned, I did find I fit into a slightly more “participatory citizen” group. As a result, I am now more active in organizing ways to contribute and encouraging others to do so. In the past I have organized charities/events for donation for Carmichael Outreach, Understand Us, and Hope’s Home.

However, I would love to be the type of educator that encourages students to think more in depth about socioeconomic issues. I would encourage students to not only contribute to the alleviation of base level issues, but also to find out reasons why issues occur. By understanding what the root reason is for socioeconomic issues, and working towards the bettering of these problems, I’d hope to be creating students who are justice-oriented citizens. In my opinion this will create real, true change long term.

EDIT:

Post our lecture today, this topic has me thinking about the type of citizen Universities aim to make. I actually think that the Education department aims to create justice-orientated citizens. In my classes we often respond to current events and research the reasons for recent happenings. For example, we have talked about the Stanley/Boushie case in almost every one of my courses this week, as this is a crucial issue for deeper understanding http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatoon/what-happened-stanley-farm-boushie-shot-witnesses-colten-gerald-1.4520214

Talking about this issue has opened my eyes to more questions like “Why did this happen?”, “What are the historical reasons for something like this occurring?”, “What are the non-Western/cultural perspectives on property on land rights?”… Without discussing this issue in class, my previous questions were, “What can we do now?”, “How can we support the families and communities affected?”, and “What is my opinion on this issue/What is the appropriate opinion to have?”.

That being said, what if the court system lacks a justice-oriented perspective… What if we trusted the government and court system is working on surface level issues, and not digging to the roots? Could that be why the Boushie case was responded to by the courts in the way it was last week? I wonder if this was a response to the surface level of theft being a problem on farms, and not a response to the fact that Indigenous people have been forced to steal to survive.

 

 

Curriculum Creators

Before:

I am under the impression that curriculum in decided provincially by the province’s government and school board. I also believe that there would be some influence from the federal government and policy makers. I think that there must be a federal board of education as well that examines province’s curriculum and suggests adaptation.

After:

I was unaware how political curriculum writing is… This article opened my eyes to the many incentives curriculum writers have to adding in certain subjects. This could be religious, national, language, or government motivations– just to name a few. It is logical that public policy would bother itself with curriculum, as the article states, “curriculum is a fundamental aspect of schooling and thus of public policy” (8). 

The curriculum, in my mind, should be progressive and deaf to voters opinions. However, because government officials have such an influence in curriculum, it ends up that curriculum will reflect voters opinions. This is scary because what occurs is that government officials will promise whatever will get them elected. As the article states, “But whatever the form, elected governments are subject to pressures and constraints based on voter preferences, election timing, and the views of key interest groups” (9)

Unfortunately, voters don’t always represent the large issues either, as the article explains. This being said, curriculum and education might not be what voters are asking for, regardless of this is a large public issue or not. In my opinion, I don’t think voters realize that they have influence on this topic.

Regardless, the way that curriculum is written and who it is written by sets the seed for how students will be taught and in turn what kind of people they become. This is an important topic, it can’t be taken lightly. However, as the article states, the student’s personal lives are much more influential to their futures than curriculum may be,

“At one time there may have been a common sense assumption that curriculum was central to the enterprise, in that what was taught is what would be learned. Decades of experience with educational change have made it evident that the situation is much more complex. There is a substantial debate as to how important formal edu- cation as a whole is in shaping student outcomes, with some arguing that socioeconomic status and other non school factors are by far the most important influences on outcomes while others believe that what happens in schools can play an important role” (14)

In my opinion, students should be taught skills that are practical for the workforce. I believe in teaching subjects that are practical for classrooms and student’s futures. That being said, I would understand that without trying something, a student would never know they like it or are good at it.