Curriculum as Literacy

My experiences with any mathematics class have been nothing more than triggering and negative in a sense that I was never good at it therefore I did not care about it. When receiving a lecture about it, I was completely turned off and refused to listen because of this experience. When I was in my early years of school, when they brought forth a new textbook called “Math Makes Sense” there were many cases in which I found the content discriminating because of its main focus. In every textbook there were chapters dedicated to that of Indigenous peoples, but as discussed in lecture, none of it was addressed in full for the simple reason that I do not understand. We would read out the chapter and title but never go into detail the aspects of why the chapter was written the way it was and the content that was discussed. As professional and smart that my math teacher was, he never went into full disclosure of the textbook content and would leave us to fend for ourselves with lessons and questions that were to be completed before the test. In a way I think this was discriminating towards myself and the other students but at the same time it wasn’t because people of my race and culture were excessively included and talked about within the materials. Nothing in my eye was ever cruel or oppressive in teaching or content but I also speak from a role in a dominant society where my culture and ethnicity is well represented in all classrooms and curriculum content including textbooks and other materials.

Three ways in which the Inuit community challenge Eurocentric ideas are as follows:

  1. They teach mathematics in their mother tongue for the first three years of child schooling to incorporate their own culture. They believe that their everyday life has nothing to do with the mathematics that they learn in school and believe that it isn’t something that can solve their problems. Separate from that, in a Eurocentric point of view, I was taught that mathematics would be something I would use every day for the rest of my life and there are very few things that I actually use from my mathematic experience of school.
  2. As said before, they learn mathematics in their mother tongue from Kindergarten to grade 2 and then from Grade 3 onwards, they learn it in either French or English. More recently they have made it official for them to also learn their mother tongue in Grade 3 as well for a further understanding and a continue further on.
  3. Teaching methods are also what set apart the Inuit from the Eurocentric because they use Elders to teach enigmas which are then used as problem solving within the mathematical context. They ask questions in which the children/students will know and understand rather than get them to figure out something they do not. This was something I struggled with in school. My teacher would assign questions followed by bonus questions. I would understand the questions but when it came to the bonus, my thought process and knowledge of what was being asked failed because I was not able to think outside of the box.

Kumashiro’s Chapter 7 : “Against Common Sense”

My upbringing within a small-town school has shaped my in a way that I am not proud to be and continually try to correct throughout my life. Growing up, I was exposed and taught in Odessa school which was a catholic school at the time. Not knowing anything of it, the views and ideas in which I learned were very one sided and followed that of the catholic church (across the street from the school). As I look back at this, I understand now the negative impact it left on me and the impact it could have possibly left on others. Odessa did not have a variety of nationality within the school, apart from the high percentage of Caucasian teachers and students, there were three Aboriginal kids, all in the same family. When I think of how attending a school who followed the ways of the catholic church, I begin to imagine how dreadful it must have been to learn one’s own cultural ways and then have it blindsided by that of Western European culture. When Odessa school closed in 2007, all students were to newly attend the school in the next town over which was Vibank. Vibank’s school system did not follow that of the church, but rather a “normal” Saskatchewan curriculum. Before expanding my knowledge on different cultures, I was introduced and lived by many biases in which I thought were very true. Being in university has changed this perspective drastically but at the time I was too naïve to know any better until taught otherwise. I held the idea that all Aboriginal peoples lived in tipis and hunting using spears and arrows and this continued until I was introduced to Aboriginal studies in my first years of Vibank. This was because I had not been exposed to any culture other than Western European descent. Unravelling these biases occurred when I was exposed to the truths and knowledge of culture other than my own which allowed me to understand and comprehend diversity in culture. Now, as a university student who attends a diversified school, I have been able to experience and become knowledgeable about a variety of cultures including Aboriginal, which has allowed me to unlearn the knowledge I thought I had before; stereotypical and bias.

Single stories that were present when I was in primary schooling were what I thought I knew about people like Chimamanda Adichie who had a roommate thinking that all of Africa lived something along the lines of a “wild” life. I too thought this until I was exposed to the age in which I was able to search subjects of culture on the internet. This was the most evident one that I can think of because it happened so many times during my elementary years. The perspective and image of countries and cultures that I thought I had, were all completely wrong until I had educated myself or teachers did so. As for the question “Whose truth matter?” I believe that it is the people in which want their truth told. In the case for Adichie, she was the one in which her truth mattered and in other cases it would be whoever’s culture/lifestyle is being stereotyped or biased about.

School Curricula Development

In the article “Curriculum Policy and the Politics of What Should Be Learned in Schools”, Levin explains school curricula and its development from culture, ideologies, and politics. Levin articulates the influence of these components and why they have become the inspiration for present curriculums. He advises what we should really be learning about in schools, drawn back from the ideas of dominant politics. Honestly, as a student in my second year, one would think that prior to this reading, I would have known how much politics and government control curriculums, but I hadn’t realized until now. An unsettling feeling arises because I know the state in which our government is in and the issues it has had with members. I want to be reassured that the education I am receiving the education the next generation is receiving is imperative to everyday lifestyle and can educate them on important issues like adulting (mortgages, bills, etc.). Levin mentions that arguments can become very heated, especially on a topic like sex education. He says, “Sex education is one obvious example…how much attention in these subjects should be given” (15). Something like this is a topic that should be extended on because it is potentially something that could affect a person’s life forever. STI’s and other issues like teen pregnancy are more common than before, because teens aren’t educated on the topic enough, I’m unaware, but this could be a leading factor. I find it very hard to believe that people we are to entrust are the foundation to the learning I, myself, and many millions of other people will receive and that such arguments on topics like sex education are even discussed as whether or not they lie as important piece of education; enough for students to know and understand.

Connections that can be made between the two articles fall in the line of what people think needs to be taught apart from what is actually taught. In the article it states whether or not certain subjects and areas should be included in the curriculum and this issue also arises on the topic of Treaty Education. I feel as though the idea of Treaty Education is bounced around in many schools but also implemented directly in others. The idea of involving TE in the Saskatchewan curriculum is a great way for students to understand the history of Canada, but what faculty and educational facilities must realize is to not overdo it or force it onto a child. Teachers have to find ways in which the topic is easy going but also understood. That children want to learn in and not just have to learn it. Government needs to recognize the diversities within school settings and develop initiatives in which all students will at one point in their life want to learn about Canadian history and Treat Education. Tensions were probably speculated around areas goals of the document and how they would be met amongst every single student who learned about Treaty Education as well as understand the topics. Purpose might also be a leading factor in building tension because one’s purpose for something might differ from the next. As a future educator, I want my students to realize the importance of every topic and lecture that they take part in and how it will affect their future; how it will play a role in their lives.

Indigenous and Treaty Education

Dear Claire,

In response to the email you sent I think you make it understandable remarks in regards to the Indigenous education taught within schools such as your own, or lack thereof. As a student that was once in your shoes, I can assure you that every school system is different. For my own schooling experience, I had started to learn about Indigenous education way back in grade 2 and it followed until I graduated. I think that in regard to your situation, you make the point of acknowledging that we are all treaty people and that there land we live on was once not what we call Canada, but rather a land mass accompanied by Indigenous cultures and traditions. Treaty education and the learning of Indigenous peoples is not mandatory but should be something every student learns within their educational path, especially if they live in Canada. As part of a societal rebellion, someone like you, being as passionate as you are on the topic, should fight to educate your fellow students and help them understand true Canadian history. You might consider having some First Nations peoples’ attend your school to talk and discuss their history or invite a tribe or Council for traditional activities. I know that having any sort of Indigenous culture pronounced within my schooling benefited from my learning and having activities such as Powwows and building tipis drove me to want to learn more about Canadian history.

Based on personal opinion and research of Canadian treaties, educational institutions make an effort in teaching First Nations and Treaty ed to historically pronounce the issues that happened in our history. Explaining in a way that we understand everything that went on for many decades and want to change the views of individuals of all races rather than impact dominant ethnicity in a negative way. From personal experience, every time I was taught about First Nations and Canadian history, I felt as though I was being attacked by the content I was learning about as well as attacked by the person teaching it. I felt bad for being part of a race that would never fall under a dominant society and I felt bad as though I was the specific person who caused pain to thousands of people. The purpose behind teaching First Nations Canadian history is to allow generations to understand real and true Canadian history without making individuals feel ashamed of the country in which they live and the cultural backgrounds they have. It is important for individuals who live within Canada to attain information that is crucial in being a true Canadian citizen. We incorporate this knowledge as a way of finding peace in the cruel and inhuman actions that happened; letting people of Indigenous communities understand that we are not accountable for our ancestors’ actions, but we will fix it by teaching the next generations.

We should understand that “We are all treaty people” because we are. This term justifies the means of Canada and the history it holds. It represents that treaties do not just associate to Indigenous peoples, but rather to each individual living in Canada, stretching from 100 years ago to today. Treaties of the past still pertain to today’s Canadian society, including immigrants and refugees. Our treaties build the foundation to what each Canadian knows as their home and the knowledge of knowing that the harsh events that took part some decades ago, will not happen again because that would be the action of breaking treaties. Although once exploited before by early European settlers, our newfound understanding and public action amongst society have changed the ways in which we worship treaty law.

Learning from Place

Throughout this paper, there is an overlying narrative drawn on the aspect of decolonization and reinhabitation. Recovering the old traditions and culture from prior acts as a main focus in the paper, initializing readers for the hard truth throughout history. The paper itself acts as a remedy as to how society is backing in its tracks in order to correct the corruption of our European newcomers. The paper mention that “reinhabitation and decolonization depend on each other” much like we depend on each other to better society. The committee involved with the project identified that they wanted something to bring their youth and elders together, something that would reinhabit community and growth of land. Youth were set to participate in activities that drew on their culture and the importance of a tight knit community, bound by inseparability. In connection this statement, Cree-youth were put into workshops where they were directed to make audio recordings in regard to an interview with community members. As this was happening more and more ideas came into view such as the river excursion. This was done in the attempt to bring light and understanding to unthread any colonization formed by the European settlers from decades prior and as an understanding of the knowledge found within the land.

I want all my students to know and recognize that the land we live on, the land we teach on, is sacred. That the people before us worshipped it before our European settlers came over and colonized. I want kids of all ages, no matter the grades I teach to understand that it wasn’t there faults for what European settlers did but that it has to be recognized until it is cleared or solved. I want my students to feel educated on the land that they live and have an understanding of the truth behind the matter; that people of First Nations culture lived on the land decades prior. I want to incorporate this idea through lessons that are easily changeable or adjustable for me to include Canadian history. I do not want it to be something mandatory for my students to learn but rather contribute themselves to be a part of a movement; my action of reinhabitation. By teaching, I want the students to want to learn about it and not think of it as a topic like “Oh. Do we really have to learn that?” and rather a “This is such an interesting topic! I want to know more about it!” Through my primary schooling experience, anything associated with First Nations and Metis culture I felt was shoved done my throat which made me gather feelings of disliking the subject every year that it came up. This is not at all what I want for my students. I want them to enjoy what they are learning and use ideas such as that of the river excursion to explain and give them the understanding and why it is happening.

Kumashiro Ch.2 – The “Good” Student

Based on what Kumashiro explains as a “good” student, he refers to those who offer respect to themselves and the people around them. Children who are able to understand the diversity that the classroom carries and the diversity of themselves from others, attribute to being a “good” student. He mentions how “…M became a different kind of student during a less structured class time.” (Kumashiro, 20) This quote explains the range of students and the needs in which some of them require to be what is called “cooperative” in classrooms and achieve their own academic goals. Many people mistake a “good” student as one who listens when being taught, getting work done on time, never initiating problems or getting in the middle of things and/or being a role model to others around them. This is society’s definition and it is nothing less that the definition of a robot. Society has hand-picked and created an idea of how students across the board should act within a school setting that would classify them as “good”. Anyone one that stepped out of line or did not portray at least one of these ideas, was under the classification of “misbehaved” or “bad” student.

            In my opinion, I think that the only students who found themselves privileged by the concept of a “good” student, if any, were white, middle class children because of their race and culture. Having both of these things would initially give this student the advantage over someone who would potentially Black, Asian, or Native American. Other students that were privileged by the idea of a “good” student, were actual good students. Students who followed the rules, obeyed everything teachers said, were never tarty during school hours, etc. “Good” students’ expectations were based off of examples of actual good, well-behaved students who wanted to attend classes, enjoyed their time at school and never questioned/argued amongst teachers and their lessons. In today’s age, no matter race, gender, culture etc. “good” students are all students because many teachers and educators understand that a variety of children have learning, physical, cognitive, behavioural and many other disabilities that make a learning environment much more complex than usual. Educators adapt to these children so that their learning experience is similar to that of someone without any disabilities. “Good” students are everyone from kindergarten to university. It’s anyone who works to the best of their own ability and has hard as they can.

            With the idea of common-sense, it is harder to see one’s learning disability and track how they understand concepts apart from another student because society has categorized everyone under the same umbrella of education. Everyone should learn at the same pace and everyone should know how to do everything the same way. When we categorize everyone into this umbrella, we do not recognize those who learn differently and have trouble learning the same as those seen as “normal”. It is made impossible to change this idea once set in place for so long as well as believe that students with any disability will be anything more than their disability. Changing this notion, changes the environment of a school, which changes classroom settings, which changes student’s beliefs of themselves, which in the end changes the goals and achievements of students, no matter if they have a disability. It is a cycle that needs to be rerouted into what was previously said, to better every student within a classroom setting and change society’s idea of common-sense.