ECS 210 Learning Journey through Storytelling

It was difficult to encapsulate all of the key learning from my learning process through ECS 210. However, I did my best to tell you my story in the timeframe allowed to me. I hope you enjoy it.

Advertisements

Mathematics in the Inuit Community

Prompts:

  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 world views. 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.

Responses:

  1. After learning about the Inuit ways of knowing and learning math, I believe that the ways I was taught math, were geared toward western ways of knowing rather than Indigenous ways of knowing. There was a right and a wrong answer, and it was not practical. I am struggling now in even everyday math problems because I was not taught how to apply it. Math how I learned it was also discriminatory  based on learning abilities. For example, in the 30 level maths, there were only a few of us still comprehending the content. There was not a lot of accommodation regarding learning abilities.
  2. 3 ways Inuit ways of knowing math that differ from Eurocentric:
    • Practical ways of measuring, such as by the length of an arm, rather than units such as inches or metres.
    • Scale was based off of 20, not 10. Thus, they did not begin repeating until they reached 400, rather than 100.
    • There were various (sometimes up to 6) ways of describing numbers/measurements, rather than one way.

“We are all Treaty People”: More than Just Words

Email Prompt: 

“As part of my classes for my three week block I have picked up a Social Studies 30 course. This past week we have been discussing the concept of standard of living and looking at the different standards across Canada . I tried to introduce this concept from the perspective of the First Nations people of Canada and my class was very confused about the topic and in many cases made some racist remarks. I have tried to reintroduce the concept but they continue to treat it as a joke.

The teachers at this school are very lax on the topic of Treaty Education as well as First Nations ways of knowing. I have asked my Coop for advice on Treaty Education and she told me that she does not see the purpose of teaching it at this school because there are no First Nations students. I was wondering if you would have any ideas of how to approach this topic with my class or if you would have any resources to recommend.”

This is a real issue in schools. As you think about what TreatyEdCamp offered, as you listen to Dwayne’s invitation/challenge, as you listen to Claire’s lecture and as you read Cynthia’s narrative – use these resources and your blog to craft a response to this student’s email. Consider the following questions:

  1. 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?
  2. What does it mean for your understanding of curriculum that “We are all treaty people”?

Information I would include in my response:

  • Equity: in regard to standard of living, Indigenous peoples receive inequitable funding for education, healthcare, and other essential services. It is crucial that non-Indigenous peoples know these inequities and the reasons for them, in order to help bridge the gap for a more equitable and sustainable system.
  • Relationships: relationships is one of the guiding ways of knowing for Indigenous peoples. Building meaningful and genuine relationships with Indigenous peoples is a step toward reconciliation. When we build relationships, we not only show that person trust, patience, and loyalty, but we are able to gain an understanding of what we can do to work together. Whether that be addressing an issue or simply being there as a friend or companion, relationships are crucial.
  • Understand the past and present so we can reconcile for a better future: when we know the traumas and injustices of the past and present (i.e. residential schools, foster system and overrepresentation in jails), we are able to understand our role in reconciliation to create a better tomorrow for everyone. It is important to look to the future in a positive light because otherwise, we will not get anything accomplished.

“We are all Treaty people” is more than just words. Acknowledgements are meaningless if we do not have the understanding and education to know what those words mean. Simply put, this phrase means that we all have right to uphold. If you own land, you are exercising a Treaty right. Treaties have not adjusted with the ever-increasing standard of living, which has created a significant gap in funding and provision of services. We must learn what Treaties represent so that we know how to responsibly and respectfully exercise our rights and advocate for an equitable system.

We are not fully engaged citizens until we understand our shared history, because it is a part of our collective identity.

Learning from Place

Prompt:

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.
  2. How might you adapt these ideas to considering place in your own subject areas and teaching?

  1. Some specific ways that I see reinhabitation and decolonization happening throughout the narrative are as follows:
    • Bringing generations of community members together on the land to advance the community’s recognition and reclamation of Mushkegowuk knowledge and culture.
    • Creating an audio documentary about relations to the river and engaging in trips along the river, as younger generations were re-introduced to traditional
      ways of knowing.
    • Learning about the land in critical ways in regard to cultural identity, especially during a time during external forces seeking to impose a different meaning of land and its ‘utility’, upon the Mushkegowuk in the Treaty 9 region (i.e. the Ring of Fire mineral deposits being extracted by mining companies).
    • Involving Elders and youth in intergenerational discussions about the importance of the land and river.
    • Essentially, seeking to identify routes towards “decolonization” towards shaping adequate responses to problems arising in the face of externally-driven development and its implications for life and land in Mushkegowuk
      territory.
    • Youth were offered skill-building workshops in which participants made their own audio documentaries based on the interviews they carried out with community members.
    • Names for places in the Inninowuk language were marked as an effort to bring the original names and Cree concepts to more common use among the youth. The words paquataskamik and Kistachowan Sipi (Albany River’s original name) were written along the fifty-foot long sides of the raft. The focus on the word is an explicit attempt to retain a relationship to the rivers, the lands, and the communities joined together by them.
  2. Some ways that I might adapt these ideas to consider place in my own subject areas and teaching are as follows:
    • Have students use specific language and traditional terms to define meanings of place. Evident by ‘paquataskamik’, the use of specific words and language choices can have wide implications in relation to governance, land use, economic development, and social relationships. If the use of a specific word is deteriorating, that could be an indicator that culture is deteriorating (or working to be colonized) as well.
    • The authors offer that decolonization as an act of resistance depends, in part, on “traditional, non-commodified cultural patterns such as mentoring and intergenerational relationships.” Thus, as an educator, I would work to foster intergenerational relationships between students and Elders/elders. Elders/elders have so much knowledge to share, and know of the stories and ways of life that existed before many of us were born. Without the transmission of stories, traditional culture and cultural identity could perhaps not exist. Our past is so much of who we are as individuals.
    • Learning about the land, of the land, and on the land helps us to understand the context, and how we benefit from the land (it is not often anymore that the land benefits from us). I will without question focus much of my teaching about, of, and on the land. Students may find connection in the land that they are unable to find in/from anything else. Further, the quality of the land can tell us a lot. For example, in the article, the land was facing extraction from mining companies. The land can often serve as an indicator of the status of land rights and political autonomy. This is merely one way that my students would be able to tie deeper learning and connection to place-based education.

The Realness of School Curricula

curriculum1How do you think that school curricula are developed? This is an entry point to this topic and whatever you write will be fine.

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?


Prior to the reading, I thought school curricula were developed by subject specialists along with the Ministry of Education, with input from parents and stakeholders that hold an interest in the subject (i.e. for physical education curricula, Saskatchewan Physical Education Association would be consulted).

After completing the reading, I learned that curricula is political because of the impact that politics has on public policy. Voters may very well decide the decisions about curricula that will be in place when they vote in a political leader. Political leaders will do what they can to make their voters happy, and if their base is highly conservative, well, the government will likely make decisions based on far-right views. That is, if the governing party has enough time to implement all of the changes they they had promised (the four-year election cycle is not as long as it seems in regard to public policy).

I am concerned that voters often do not know the detriment they may cause when they elect a new leader. For example, Doug Ford will likely do more harm to Ontario’s residents than Kathleen Wynne ever did, but because Wynne had been in a negative spotlight for her exuberant spending, many voters would have done anything for a change, even if that includes electing Ford. Voters can be short-sighted when they are outraged, and that is concerning.

 

 

 

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…

 

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.