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?
- For me there personally was not. I am caucasian and I had been thinking mathematically since I could talk. My mathematical thinking followed the colonial pattern of base ten and all of the things that were taught throughout school. I was taught the Western style of thinking that is very quantitative. So for me my mathematics in school were nothing out of the ordinary and considering all 17 of my classmates had had the same upbringing as me and were all caucasian I don’t think any of them felt oppressed either.
Identify at least three ways in which Inuit mathematics challenge Eurocentric ideas about the purposes mathematics and the way we learn it.
1) They do not have a written number system. Their numbers are stated orally up to three and from there they see no need for quantity as they use things like “many” or “enough.”
2) They do not quantify space, rather they have a strong sense of how far away from something they are.
3) Instead of making a calendar with a certain number of days per month they make “months” out of the animal activity that happens during that time. “When baby caribou are born,” for example.
- 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?
There are a lot of myths circulating around about First Nations people. I come from a small town where all I ever heard about Indigenous people was that they were lazy and that they don’t pay taxes. I’ve since learned differently, but it wasn’t through school that I got passed these myths. If we learned anything Indigenous in school it was that residential schools were bad. My nephew, who is in grade 2 right now, asked an interesting question the other day at home: “are First Nations people extinct?” This really opened my eyes about the importance of not only teaching Treaty Ed, but about doing it right. Clearly they had been talking about Aboriginals in school but my nephew is a bright kid, and he came away from school that day very worried.
- What does it mean for your understanding of curriculum that “We are all treaty people”?
We all live on Treaty 4 land. Our ability to own property here and do things like farm all depends upon the treaties. A treaty cannot possibly be a one sided agreement. It takes at least two to make a treaty. So by living on Canadian soil we all have obligations to fulfill.
- Spend at least one paragraph making some connections to TreatyEdCamp – What did you hear/see there that might help you to enact treaty education in your future classroom?
Treaty education is for everyone. It’s important for First Nations students to see themselves in the curriculum and for non-Aboriginal students to learn about our shared history and open their minds to a different worldview.
Today’s response will be to the following reading: Learning from Place: A Return to Traditional Mushkegowuk Ways of Knowing.
During this research project youth and elders got together to explore the traditional homelands of the Mushkegowuk at Fort Albany by conducting a river excursion. They were taught to respect the space and that water is very important to the Mushkegowuk culture. This information was broadcast later on the radio in an effort to “reinhabitate” this place.
Another important aspect of this project was “decolonization”. The participants of the River excursion made a step towards this by mapping out the river and using Cree names for different landmarks.
One way these ideas could be used towards treaty education in my own classroom could be by taking my students on a walk while using a map (say we walk around campus using a campus map, for example) and point out that everything is written in colonial terms and then discuss how we might make the map differently. Maybe instead of labeling the buildings as geographical points of identification instead we name the trees or things in nature and use those as navigational points.
This is of course only one idea and there are an unlimited number of ways we could reinhabitate and decolonise our classrooms.
Thank you for reading my post!
Curriculum is developed by a group of individuals getting together and looking at the old curriculum and trying to agree on ways in which it could be made better. These individuals may be teachers, administrators, professors in the subject area of curriculum being developed or even people working in a field that uses that subject matter. A new perspective provided for me in this week’s reading is that curriculum development does not happen in a closed vessel and that often public interest groups campaign for certain curriculum changes. These groups have no part in the formal process of curriculum development, yet decisions sometimes change as a result of their rallying. So, outside forces clearly play a huge role. Something that surprises and concerns me in this reading is that there is often personal interests being transmitted through curriculum decisions. A physics professor might vote for a heavier emphasis on physics in the curriculum in order to ensure an interest in his subject area, for example.
According to the “commonsense” of living and growing up in Canada in the 21st century, a good student is someone who does their homework, answers questions in class, engages with the class material and then does well on the exams. However, the notion of “commonsense” changes depending on the context. For example, in Canada it seems like “commonsense” to drive on the right side of the road while this feels really backwards to someone who comes from England, for example. This translates to the “commonsense” in the education system as well. A more authoritarian country might have the “commonsense” that a “good” student is one who quietly does their work and obeys commands by the teacher, while a more liberal country might have the “commonsense” that a “good” student is one who asks lots of questions and challenges the knowledge they are receiving.
In Canada, if we follow what I listed above as “commonsense” then students who are more comfortable at speaking in front of the class might be privileged as being the “good students.” This could be a major disadvantage for someone whose first language is not English.
When we look at the world through our “commonsense” lenses it becomes impossible to see the value in the way other cultures/time periods did things.
“Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.”
The above quote is what my blog post will focus on today. John Dewey is an educational philosopher that I have heard a lot about throughout my time here at the University of Regina and I have to admit, the man had some very forward thinking ideas for his time. He falls into the educational philosophy category of “Progressivism.” He was an advocate for active learning and learning for the sake of learning rather than learning for the sake of future work.
To focus on the particular quote I have selected I would like to start by pointing out how different this view would have been compared to the existing view of his time where education was merely preparation for the work force. I agree entirely with this quote though, because I think education plays a huge role in making someone who they are and isn’t that the purpose of life? I suppose that could be argued depending on who you are, but I think most of us agree that a good goal in life is to become the best person that you can be. Therefore, by Dewey’s standards education is all about developing the student for the sake of developing them rather than having an end goal.
This makes experiential learning possible in education. If our goal is not to just force feed information into our students then we have room to make learning more meaningful and create cognitive pathways that will last a lot longer than just until Friday’s exam. There is room to delve into topics rather than picking three indicators for a lesson, doing a lecture, and moving on. If learning “is life itself” as Dewey states, then it would make sense that we allow students to spend time on a topic, experiment with it, and come to meaningful conclusions.
Something it makes impossible is allowing for individuality. Yes, the goal of this quote and of Dewey’s philosophy in general, is to develop people, but this implies there is a certain way that people should be and that our goal as educators is to create this type of person. Though I am a firm believer that there are things everyone should and shouldn’t do (should = be kind to others, shouldn’t = murder people), I also believe that individuality is important and that it takes all kinds of people to make the world go round.
Overall I find Dewey’s quote – “education is not preparation for life; education is life itself” – to be very truthful. For thirteen years of our lives the majority of people go to school. This is a time of development, so school really does become life itself. It is up to myself and all other future educators to decide how we deal with such a great responsibility as influencing the minds of the future and I think John Dewey’s idea is a great place to start.
For today’s response I will be addressing the prompt: Curriculum development from a traditionalist perspective is widely used across schools in Canada and other countries. Can you think about: (a) The ways in which you may have experienced the Tyler rationale in your own schooling? (b) What are the major limitations of the Tyler rationale/what does it make impossible? (c) What are some potential benefits/what is made possible?
This is in reference to the reading: Schiro, Michael (2013). Curriculum theory: conflicting visions and enduring concerns, (2nd Ed.) SAGE
a) Some ways I have experienced the Tyler Rationale in my schooling are… As a child in elementary school there was always a big emphasis on behavioural skills, hygiene, sharing, and following orders. These are all behavioural things that conform to Tyler’s idea of produce people that act a certain way. I think this is a very positive view of this part of Tyler’s Rationale. In later years, however, there was a negative light to the application of the Tyler Rationale and that was how in classes like Physical Education, or Art. If evaluation is checking for a change in human behaviour to conform to a specific mold and “evaluation is limited to the overt behavior of the evaluee and the specific behaviours stated in the educational objectives,” (Schiro, M. 60) then when you don’t conform to those standards you are unable to get a good grade, no matter how hard you try. This, for me, was a huge advantage in Art class, but a major disadvantage in Phys. Ed.
b) A major limitation of Tyler’s Rationale is when he states that the environment should be manipulated “in such a way as to set up stimulating situations – situations that will evoke the kind of behaviour desired.” (Schiro, M. 59) This to me seems unrealistic and I don’t think this would set students up for success in the real world.
c) A potential benefit of Tyler’s Rationale is the objective of creating good citizens. It is stated: “the way to prepare individuals to lead meaningful lives in society is to provide them with the skills that will allow them to be constructive, active members of society.” (Schiro, M. 70) I think this is a wonderful idea. As a glider pilot instructor I always give my students tips on how to improve their flying and I tell them I am giving them “tools to add to their tool belt.” I see this Tyler Rationale as being much the same. Schools don’t often follow this format today, though. I was never taught how to change my oil, or do my taxes. These would have been highly useful skills that would have made me a more functional member of society.
Thanks for reading!
Kumashiro roughly defines common sense as the predominantly existing ideas of the way things should be done. In this case it refers to the ways in which students should be taught and evaluated. This idea of there being a ‘common sense” way to do things limits and silences any new idea on how to do things and makes us ignorant of how other cultures might do things.
It is important to pay attention to “the common sense” because if we don’t we might not even notice that we are conforming to these norms. This is important because often the status quo is quite oppressive and only allows a certain type of person to succeed. In order to move towards a less oppressive education system we must first realize that the way we do things conforms to the “common sense” we must then open our minds to how we might challenge the status quo and change things for the better, and then we must be willing to make changes.
Welcome to the revival of my beloved Education blog. Here you will find mostly reflections to educational readings I do. Feel free to comment back!
A little about myself: I am a third year Education student at the University of Regina with a major in Social Studies and a minor in Biology (I know, weird combo – but I like it!) Some things I like to do: Sing, dance, paint, read, write, and fly airplanes (again, I know, shocking! But yes, I am a pilot!) Over all , I am a fairly enthusiastic individual with an enthusiasm for learning and I look forward to the day when I become a teacher myself!
During ECS 200 my volunteer placement was with Street Culture Kidz Project. (SCP) Here is a video presentation explaining what SCP is and what my roles were as a volunteer:
Hope you enjoy watching it! If you still have questions please comment below or visit Street Culture Project’s website at: http://www.streetcultureproject.org/