ECS 210 Response: Unpacking a Piece by Aristotle

Response to a Prompt: Choose a quotation related to education. It might be a quote from lecture, a quote from the list posted here, or a quote you found independently. In a post, unpack that quote.

  • Think about what it makes possible and impossible in education.
  • What does it say about the teacher, about the student?
  • How does it relate to your own understandings of curriculum and of school?

I am choosing the following quote to respond to:

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” -Aristotle

I chose this quote because I have often thought about this exact notion in the past. I have also experienced it myself and witnessed it in others.

I found this blog that helps to explain how this quote may be interpreted. There is a lot of overlap between their understanding of Aristotle’s quote and my own general understanding of it.

Simply put, it is crucial to be able to “tear apart” an idea or notion, fully examine it, and see both sides of the equation. After unraveling the pros, cons, and effects of said idea, is one able to use what they have learned from their analysis and practically use what they have learned?

Another aspect I understand of this quote is not accepting anything at face value. Just because there are popular views about ideas, does not mean that those views are valid.

There are limitations of this quote, especially with the use of the term “educated”. Just because someone can acknowledge an idea and even intelligently unpack it, does not mean that they are educated. I am sure that lots of formally uneducated individuals are able to take into consideration ideas without accepting them at face value.

As educators, we often have one way of thinking about ideas, and we pass on those biases to our students. Even curriculum-writers have biases. But, who are we to say what is meaningful to teach? It is time to stop endorsing our biases and rather, learn the depths of an idea, and then continue learning about that idea, through research and communicating with others. It is only then that we can firmly endorse an idea.

Additionally, I think that people are often not as “wrong” and often not as “right” as we believe. It is often the people who have not critically analyzed ideas, that are the most confident. This confidence often translates into the general population believing that these ideas are the correct ones. Thus, the people who have critically analyzed ideas often do not know how to coherently and confidently communicate their truths. Either way, it is important that we do not always just nod our heads to agree with others’ ideas. We need to do the background work ourselves, but unfortunately many of us do not “have time” for this. In other words, we do not make time for this.

We owe it to our students and to humanity as a whole to provoke and support diverse thinking. Gandhi once said, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind”, and how true this is…

 

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ECS 210 Response: The Problem of Common Sense

Reading: Introduction. The problem of common sense (Kumashiro. (2009). Against Common Sense: Teaching and Learning Toward Social Justice, pp. XXIX – XLI).

Reading response: Respond to the following writing prompt: How does Kumashiro define ‘commonsense?’ Why is it so important to pay attention to the ‘commonsense’?


Kumashiro defines (through his story) ‘common sense’ as the way we have been trained, taught or accustomed to see and do things. Kushamiro’s common sense was much different from that of her Nepali students’.

It is so important to pay attention to the common sense because it can blind us. What is considered common sense to each one of us and the societies we “belong to” are often seen as superior to others’ common sense in our own eyes. This leads to oppression and being ignorant and blind to others’ ways of learning, teaching, and living. Not only acknowledging, but working to unravel and disrupt, our own ideas of common sense enable us to change the that ideas are understood. If persistent, this unraveling and disturbance can eventually lead to a revolution in working through oppression.

EOE224 Digital Story: Connections of Learning and Becoming Through Outdoor Education

I invite you to watch my connections of learning and becoming through Outdoor Education unfold. I want to thank my instructor Audrey for nurturing the learning opportunities over the course; my classmates for helping me to learn alongside them; and the many guests that supplemented the growth of my Outdoor Education philosophies. In this course, I have learned more about myself and the interconnectedness of beings than I ever thought possible.

 


References

Kimmerer, R. W. (2014). Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants. Milkweed Editions.

Louv, R. (2006). Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder. Algonquin Books.

Newbery, L. (2012). Canoe Pedagogy and Colonial History: Exploring Contested Space of Outdoor Environmental Education. Canadian Journal of Environmental Education, 12. Retrieved from https://cjee.lakeheadu.ca/article/view/1112/653

Orange, L. (2017). EOE224. Retrieved from https://lacybecomesateacher.wordpress.com/category/eoe224/

EOE224 Week 13: New Friends and Field Trips

This week was quite eventful. We had guests from Prairie Sky School here in Regina, and we also took a field trip downtown to explore some art pieces. The art piece that my group visited was in the courtyard of City Hall. The art piece was fairly large and it exists to honour the relations of immigrants (i.e. Ukrainians) to the founders of this land (Indigenous peoples). The piece on the West side of the courtyard reads “Tawaw” (meaning “welcome” in Cree), among other terms, phrases, symbols and landscapes engraved into the metal.

Further Southeast of this art piece is another kind of art piece, though I don’t know if I could call its subject a work of art. The art piece is a statue of John A. MacDonald, a founding father of Confederation, and detrimentally, the creator of residential schools, the beginning of many long years of cultural genocide to Canada’s Indigenous peoples.

This week, I felt closer to my classmates than I ever had throughout the semester. I felt like we were a big family at this point. I’m really going to miss them and the learning that we were each a part of together.

I have to admit that I did not do my place bonding this week. I have been mentally overwhelmed and told myself “I don’t have time for this”. I know that I was really just enabling the overwhelming feeling to grow, and that I was contradicting myself: if I had done my place sitting, I would have actually felt a lot better.

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ECS200 Volunteer Experience: Speers Funeral Chapel – Final Reflections

THREE things I learned:

  1. No two services will ever be the same. Every individual is unique, and I find that the funeral services truly aim to reflect who the individual was, what they valued, and how they lived out their life. Funerals are not about drawing on the negative aspects of one’s life, but celebrating the cherished memories that their family and friends may have shared with them. I believe this puts some amount of pressure on whomever is officiating the service (this may be an Elder, celebrant, priest or pastor) to gather a large amount of information about the deceased’s life in a small time frame. How the officiant conveys this information may have either a positive or negative impact on the funeral guests.
  2. Funeral directors and workers must put their personal opinions aside when arranging for and working a funeral. Although we may not have shared religious beliefs or general values with the deceased or their family members and friends, we must put our biases aside and attend to the deceased and their loved ones first. While this may be thought of as difficult to do, I don’t think it’s as difficult as one would imagine, i.e. honouring the wishes of the deceased is sort of the last thing we are able to do on Earth for them. Our objective is to help honour the deceased to our best ability.
  3. Just because someone has passed away, does not mean that they are able to receive the same services or memorials as others. In an ideal world, this would be the case. Funerals are costly, and because some families receive assistance from Social Services, for example, they may not be able to get the casket or urn that they would have chosen had they had the money to purchase it. There are certainly options that are provided for every family; however, the choices are limited. This is not necessarily a result of the funeral home, but rather shows a greater effect of marginalization in society (i.e. inequitable funding, etc.).

TWO connections I made:

  1. Hearing the dedications to the deceased at a service makes me think about how short life is. As family members or friends of the deceased say words about their late family or friend’s life, I can’t help drawing a picture in my head about their life adventures or the conversations they may have had with their loved ones. Of course, lives are often not lived 100 per cent good or 100 per cent bad, but hearing about the positive impacts that some individuals have had on those that they knew, really motivates me to consider my own life. I ask myself, “What will my legacy be when I pass away?” I want to be remembered not necessarily for doing one amazing thing in my life, but in having even a small positive impact on a few people, would make me happy.
  2. Helping out at funerals and generally being in the setting of a funeral chapel, has certainly enabled me to become more comfortable with death. Prior to volunteering at Speers, I had a concept of death, but I was scared. I was scared because not only did I not know what life after death would look like (none of us do, really), but I also didn’t like the fact that my earthly life would be over: I wouldn’t be around my loved ones or do my favourite things. I was also worried about no longer being able to try to make a difference in this world. However, reflecting on what I have taken in from my experiences at funerals and around those who are comfortable with death, I have realized that what I do on Earth can make a lasting difference. Hearing a loved one’s eulogy about how they have been impacted by the deceased can be truly moving. Plus if the people who help honour my life when I die are anything like the people at Speers, I can rest assured that I will be in good hands at my funeral.

ONE question I still have:

If I am helping someone with their grief (not professionally, but more as a friend or acquaintance), to what extent do I explain what my own views of death are? Everyone is comfortable to a different extent, and I don’t want to push my beliefs on anyone.

EOE224 Week 12: Embracing Discomfort

This week was sunny but frigid, plus I didn’t have mittens this week as they were at a friend’s house – big mistake.

It was fun to be active while playing a game called “Oh Deer”. It was a great way to connect with my peers and, I think, an effective means of socialization. Even though not a lot of dialogue was needed or used, the fact that we had to link up with someone across from us was a fun way of connecting. Audrey mentioned that this was a great way to bring in cross curricular connections, such as math, science and environmental education – even physical education. However, she also mentioned that outdoor education is not always about games. Through this game, there was no level of recognition of the land or historic ways of connecting events (Indigenous peoples and the traumas that have occurred on the land, for example).

I place bonded for 10 minutes…yes, a whole 10 minutes! I never thought this would be possible. Although it was frigidly cold (still didn’t have mittens at this point), I was able to lose myself, so to speak, in my surroundings. As I have learned to appreciate the land and the outdoors more than in the beginning of this course, I have a much more positive attitude toward my outdoor surroundings. I am not as phased by the cold weather and I don’t spend all the time I am outside complaining rather than being thankful for the beautiful Earth we have been given, and the relationships we are offered through it. I don’t try to ignore what could cause me discomfort, but rather embrace it and try to learn from it.

ECS200 Week 12: Looking Beyond the (Dis)ability

THREE things I learned:

  1. Before reading Kelsey’s blog, I had often wondered whether it was appropriate to bend down to the person’s eye level if they are in a wheelchair. I often thought if I bent down, they may feel like I am treating them as lesser than because I can’t talk to them effectively from my height. I am glad to know now that that’s not the case.
  2. From Kelsey’s blog, I also learned that it’s okay to be chill and relaxed when around those with disabilities. She mentions that it’s okay if we accidentally use the phrases that make references to one’s abilities, such as “I’ve gotta run!”. However, language is important and although it may happen once or twice, it’s something that I would definitely try not to say.
  3. Kelsey says that Cerebral Palsy is a part of her, but she also says that she won’t let it define her. If we changed the stigma around disabilities and instead looked to what their strengths and abilities are first, we would see so much beyond the disability and perhaps that notion would change.

TWO connections I made:

  1. By watching the TED Talk titled “Isn’t it a pity? The real problem with special needs and reading Kelsey’s blog, I made the connection that persons with disabilities can potentially teach others way more than we can teach them. At the end of the TED Talk, Torrie Dunlop shares that his son Samuel had had such an effect on his peers, that they began reciprocating the generosity and respect for their peers.
  2. It is important not to underestimate or give blanket generalizations to individuals with disabilities. As teachers, we have the potential make a positive impact on a child with a disability’s life. Little things can go a long way, such as speaking to someone with Cerebral Palsy in language that does not underestimate their ability to hear us. For example, instead of speaking to an 18-year-old in 10-year-old speech. As mentioned in the video, those with Cerebral Palsy can usually take in everything that is being said, but they can’t always reciprocate with gestures or motions that let us know that they have understood or heard what was said. Also, including children with disabilities in sports and games, and giving them the same opportunities their peers are taking part in, is an important part of inclusion.

ONE question I still have:

What is a piece of advice Kelsey might give to teachers who will have children with disabilities in their classroom without an EA? How does a teacher balance the duties between all students?

EOE Week 11: Regina Indian Industrial School Site

Today we took a trip to the Regina Indian Industrial School (RIIS) site. I can’t even call it a cemetery because although it is a burial ground with a fence surrounding it and flowers upon the graves, the graves are unmarked. Family members aren’t exactly sure who might be buried there. Some have an idea, but there is no record of it. Many families are living with the uncertainty of where their child was buried as a result of the RIIS. Will there ever be closure for them?

We walked around the outer edge of the fence three times, and on my last circle around, I sat down and observed both what I was seeing and feeling. The wind was blowing the snow hard across the open space, making it difficult to fully open my eyes. I watched a bouquet of artificial flowers fluttering on the fence’s edge. Although the petals could easily have blown away, they stood strong through the gusts. To me, these flowers represent the parents and other family members of those who attended RIIS, especially those whose children did not come home. Parents, like the flowers, have stood strong and persistent through the blizzard of the aftermath of the RIIS. Many family members and friends of those who attended the RIIS dedicated their strength and effort to trying to get the RIIS site recognized properly. Now, this sacred site is recognized as a provincial and municipal heritage status.

But still, as James Daschuk, a professor from the University of Regina, says in the documentary RIIS from Amnesia, “With regard to reconciliation, especially with the white or mainstream community, if we know what happened, maybe we can move on together…for people to take a drive out here, to spend the day here, it makes it a lot more real”.

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ECS200 Volunteer Experience: Speers Funeral Chapel

Yay! I have finally begun volunteering with at my amazing placement after my initial placement didn’t work out. I’m now volunteering with Speers Funeral Chapel. I can’t wait to share my learning experiences over the next little while.

THREE things I learned:

  1. Keeping the mood light between staff/team members in an otherwise difficult or  emotional environment, can make a significant difference. I was unsure of how the staff members would take on other’ emotions, say, at a funeral or meeting with families regarding funeral plans for their loved ones soon after their passing. The staff members, whether full-time or part-time, are resilient, compassionate, and loving; however, they know that they need to be strong in order to support the families and friends of the deceased, in order to help honour the deceased as best they can.
  2. No matter how professional one must be in their job field, there is almost always emotions involved and personal connections made. No matter how strong we must be for others, it is difficult not to have emotions toward people or particular events. For example, a simple hug can mean more to someone than we may ever comprehend. No words need to be spoken to make a momentary connection with someone that could potentially change their life forever (i.e. the first time they’ve ever felt truly cared for).
  3. Everyone deals with death in their own way. It doesn’t matter the age of the deceased, there is almost always a level of sorrow and solemnity when one passes away. Perhaps this is a ‘stereotype’ of funerals: to be serious and solemn, rather than to celebrate in a cheerful way the life that the deceased had lived. It is easy to be sad because someone is no longer here, but each religion, culture and family may celebrate in a different way…and that’s okay.

TWO connections I made:

  1. We will never know the full story about what someone is enduring. As teachers, we will hear bits and pieces about what our students may be going through at home or elsewhere. Perhaps a student doesn’t show up to school for weeks on end. It is not our place to judge why a student is not meeting our schedules, because they could be going through something much larger than we can comprehend. It is, however, our role to support students in the capacities that we are able. Listening and showing humble kindness can go a long way with someone who is going through a difficult time. Sometimes no words have to be said to have an impact on a child.
  2. Relating to Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Model, funerals are very central to the microsystem. When a loved one passes away, for a while, nothing else matters – politics, industry, even one’s job may be put on hold for a while so that they can instead be supported by their family and friends. Social Services (part of the exosystem) certainly plays a part, but the focus is not on Social Services; it is simply a potential step in the planning of a funeral. As the school is part of the microsystem, I will have to help nurture any student/s that are affected by the death of a loved one. I believe that the components of the microsystem would play the largest role around the occurrence of a death.

ONE question I still have:

If a student passes away, how could I help support the other students (potentially the deceased’s classmates, friends and siblings)? I.e. how could I explain a child/teen suicide to students?

ECS200 Week 11: A Response to “Gord Downie’s The Secret Path”

Watching “The Secret Path” and listening to the CBC panel discussion, I felt dirty, I felt angry and sad, and most of all, I felt remorse for myself and my ancestors. The discomfort this real-life story brought me is precisely the reason that “The Secret Path” should (and needs to) be seen by every white Canadian and beyond.

THREE things I learned:

  1. Before watching “The Secret Path”, I had no knowledge about the significance of trains in regard to residential schools. I had previously learned that the John A. MacDonald government divided some First Nations tribes in Southern Saskatchewan due to the creation of the Canadian Pacific Railway. However, “The Secret Path” brought me a new meaning to trains, because they were used to transport children to their residential schools. When I look at a train, I think of freedom and curiosity, but now I wonder what many Indigenous people think of when they see a train. Perhaps for some, it brings back memories of the last time they ever saw their child.
  2. It is not enough to hear. We must listen and put our knowledge into action. Gord Downie believed in making people aware of the importance of the history of residential schools and reconciliation, and he did something about it. He likely impacted a larger scale of people than others would due to his societal status. However, it does not matter how widespread one’s impact is; if the teaching of the legacy of residential schools and reconciliation is significant (important) and true (correct and undiluted), it can be a meaningful step toward reconciliACTion.
  3. Creative arts and multimedia have the potential to reach deeper meanings and expressions. One of the panelists, Tasha Hubbard, teaches at the University of Saskatchewan using creative arts such as film, to go beyond what we can see and learn from text. I have to admit that for me, “The Secret Path” was perhaps more meaningful because it created a raw, emotional connection to the story. When I begin teaching students, I will remember this personal impact and offer multimedia approaches to my students in hopes that they be affected in different ways as well.

TWO connections I made:

  1. “I know she did not mean to hurt my feelings but that’s what she did.” These lyrics, to me, signify the misconception surrounding intent. I often hear the statement that is primarily used in defence of oneself, “I meant well”. It doesn’t matter if we mean well; if some person is affected – not to mention an entire race or culture – the situation has to be correctly rectified. We are all human, and yes, we do all make mistakes. However, there can be harm in good intent. What we intend is not always what’s right or best for others, or for those we are aiming to affect with our good intentions.
  2. The project “The Secret Path” in itself is an example of how being willing to create and foster relationships can put reconciliation into action. Relationships are not always easy to create, especially given the destructive legacies that have taken place before (i.e. we may sometimes be denied relationships because, well, I wouldn’t trust me with my heritage’s legacy either). However, Gord made the sincere effort to help build a relationship with Chanie “Charlie” Wenjack’s family and friends. I believe that relationships are crucial to not only reconciliation, but knowledge. We are only able to learn so much about someone else through reading, research and studying. Being willing to create genuine relationships with Indigenous peoples is, I think, an important step in the path to reconciliation.

ONE question I still have:

Someone recently told me, “You only know the academic view on Indigenous peoples (they actually used the term ‘Indians’), you don’t actually know what they’re like until you’re around them”. According to Ry Moran, one of the panelists in the CBC’s discussion of “The Secret Path”, this individual was likely trying to find a way to defend them self and to avoid feeling shame. What would you say to this person, and is there a point in trying (like, really trying hard) to education people if they are unwilling to listen?

 

Image credit: http://bit.ly/2zFASYQ