Many stories matter.

Thinking about the stories that I studied in my schooling, I think of The Book of Negroes, The Great Gatsby, Romeo and Juliet, The Maze Runner, Othello, and I am Hutterite. I’m sure there were others but these are ones I remember. Why these stories? Because we were supposed to learn how to read Shakespeare and how to use comprehension skills while reading novels. I don’t remember talking much about the stories themselves, however.

What I did learn, is that everyone should study Shakespeare and other old white authors in their English classes. I enjoy Shakespeare so this didn’t seem problematic to me before but it is starting to become more apparent that through reading all of these “stale, pale, and male” authors we are quietly learning that their words are important and worth studying. Meanwhile, we avoid stories written by women and people of colour because we would rather focus on “the Greats”. But, who is to say some of these other authors are not also incredible as well and also worth studying?

What I find interesting is that we read stories about the underground railroad and yet missed stories told by our Indigenous peoples in Canada. What we learned about on the topic of treaties and Indigenous peoples was all about how terrible the residential schools were and this was about it. This didn’t include any of the success of Indigenous peoples, a problem Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie mentioned in her TED Talk. Without hearing the success stories and other personal stories about people who were not white and middle class, which is what made up most of my high school, we sometimes came to know one the single story of some of these other groups of people, causing us to develop stereotypes and prejudices about them.

To change these biases I learned while growing up I think the biggest step would be to look at sources that are produced from, for example, Indigenous perspectives that are also by Indigenous peoples. We should all have the right to tell our own story rather than having someone else tell that story for us.

 

What should be learned in schools?

What should be learned in schools is developed and decided upon by elected government officials. These officials are elected by us, the voters, in elections. The government is then in charge of doing what they may believe to be what the majority wants from them. So, once we vote for these people it is ultimately in their hands to do what is needed.

What is interesting from this article, that I often forget about, is that politicians follow what the majority of the population wants. In this case, it is really the communities that influence what is put in our curriculum in a large way. The article also mentioned that people are not always consistent in their demands which has appeared as of recent in the election. People say they want something but if that means another area may be compromised they will often try to take back what they say. As a result, it is hard to please most people at once because our wants and needs are constantly  changing.

So where did our Treaty Education curriculum come from? The Treaty Education curriculum came from the same people with power who decide the other areas of curriculum. I’ve mentioned that curriculum is influenced by what communities want to be taught in schools. This means that there would have been a large group of people who did believe that Treaty Education was important to have in schools. In looking at the Outcomes and Indicators document, however, a lot of the indicators seem to show that Indigenous worldviews should be taught in comparison to European worldviews. The presence of Treaty Education in our curriculum is important and a great start, but as future educators we need to examine these documents and understand how to teach Treaty Education without appropriation.

Why teach Treaty Education?

Image result for treaty map of canada

“Why should we be teaching Treaty Education in schools?” This question is asked quite often. And the answer? Because we are all treaty people.

The comment on UofR Confessions asks why we should be focusing on Treaty Education when we do not have curriculum that focuses on other people of colour. The thing is, Indigenous culture is in the history of Canada. To ignore Indigenous history and culture in our lessons is to ignore a large part of what makes up this country. In every subject we use examples from the European Canadian history and the culture that was brought here but fail to acknowledge the stories that already existed on this land when Europeans colonized the country.

Instead of asking the question of why we should be teaching Treaty Education, we should be asking “why aren’t we teaching Treaty Education?”

Teachers in schools with few Indigenous students might see this type of teaching as unnecessary, but they are some of the ones who need it most. Schools without much of an Indigenous population do not get the chance to learn from Indigenous students and individuals through their interactions and instead they might only ever see what these people are depicted as being like in the media. We have seen over the years that the media fails in provided an accurate representation of Indigenous peoples, however, and instead relies on stereotypes. The students in these schools need to see representation of Indigenous peoples in other ways than through these stereotypes which is why Treaty Education is needed in these schools.

Claire Kreuger takes several approaches towards incorporating Treaty Education into her classrooms. To start, she is sure to include a map of Saskatchewan that shows the Treaty land on which her school is located. Treaty maps were discussed in seminar last week and I think that this is a great way for teachers to incorporate this curriculum without making lessons that are labeled as being “Treaty Education”. Treaty Education should be in all education and this is one way of doing this. In her interview with Mike, Claire expresses how educators teach students through what they do and do not talk about. Through our silence on Indigenous subjects over the years, we have then taught students that this history is not important. Instead, what Claire comments that we should be doing, we should be sharing with students the benefits and responsibilities of sharing this land, Treaty land.

It is easy to build on the importance of Treaty Education when students begin to become familiar with it in younger years. Claire, for example, begins by getting Grade 3 students to consider what it means to be a Treaty person. This is something some high school students may have never considered and might be a good starting place for any age. Once these initial ideas have been set in place, educators can then begin to build on students’ thinking to help them understand that we are all Treaty people and just how that affects our relationships with the land, other beings, and one another.

As Dwayne Donald also expressed, Treaty history is our history and it is significant to honour the Treaties that we have. While Treaty Education might seem like it is a big topic to cover while maintaining respect for the culture, there are people such as Claire and Dwayne to help educators learn about these topics themselves so that they will be able to go forward to teach their students these important lessons. “Decolonization can only occur when we address this history” Dwayne tells us. We must try to work backwards to bring this history into our present and our future. This is important history. This is Canadian history. Treaty Education cannot be pushed aside and forgotten.

 

Place Based Learning

Students have a strong connection to nature and the world that fades if they do not have opportunities to get out and continue to develop their relationship with it. This is the importance of place-based education. Kellert’s article on place-based education comments on the importance of this learning in all areas of their development. There is emphasis on the decolonization of the land in order to connect with it. Connections can also be made through “restorying” the land, which is something we have discussed in my Environmental Education class in relation to David Abrams (For some of the work he has done, check out this website).The Kellert article agrees in the sense that it describes how to decolonize land, we must “identitfy, recover, and create material spaces and places that teach us how to live well in our total environments” (74). While in this article, this act of creating new spaces is called reinhabitation, Abrams describes this as restorying.

An important area that should be addressed in all subject areas, but especially those which include place-based learning, is Treaty Education. The Kellert article focuses on an Indigenous group of students was able to learn about the land and make those stronger connections but this is something that all students should be getting quality education on. Learning how some of the First Nations peoples interact with the land helps all students develop a better appreciation. One this appreciation has been developed, it is also important to reach out to the community and all the people within it to aim to educate them on the place that we live and the stories that happened here.

place based

How to be a ‘good’ student

Want to be a good student? Here is what you need to do:

  1. Show up on time to every class. Better yet, be 10-15 minutes early.
  2. Make sure you have ALL of your supplies and books.
  3. Sit quietly and listen to the teacher. Only ask questions when prompted to do so.
  4. Assignments should be handed in on time and make time to study every night.

This is what our ‘common sense’ tells us we should be doing to be a good student. If each of these points fits you, you probably have a stable household with money to support you through your education without having to pay the bills and outside stresses are likely minimal to avoid distractions from studying. This common sense idea of what we need to do to be a good student caters towards the white, able-bodied, middle class group of people.

These common sense ideas make it difficult for many people to see the groups who do not fit these ideals for what a student should be doing. And the students who do not fit what we see as being a ‘good’ student are often left out and can fall behind in some classes as a result.

Gender Stereotyping in the Hidden Curriculum – a start to the assignment

So far I have done a bit of work on the assignment by looking at a few articles. I have not read them too thoroughly but did some skimming to see if they would have some information that I could use. So far I have looked at an article on dance education , transgender and nonconforming people and their representation, and one that focused more on how using technology in the classroom influences stereotypes that are taught. I am trying to get a wide range of subjects and age groups to look into so this is a start. I found one other article that addresses high school students a little more but did not see a PDF link for it so will need to go back to look again.

What these journal articles have shown so far is that much of the gender ideas and stereotypes come from the hidden curriculum. The source I have linked on transgender and nonconforming individuals took note of how in some subjects gay topics are to be covered but other areas of the LGBTQ+ community are not. In the dance education source I also read that some of the meanings students form because of the hidden curriculum are a result of Outcome Based Education, which we have already seen as having some other problems.

My future plans for this assignment are to mostly look a little closer at some of these sources, or at least at some of the sections in them. I also would like to look into that last source I mentioned in the opening paragraph and to also find other ones that focus on an older age group as this is the age I plan to teach.

Response to September 16th Reading

Smith’s article opens by addressing the key features of curriculum as referring to schooling with an appreciation for subjects and lessons and that it specifies our goal by planning and guiding learning. It then goes on to outline Aristotle’s categorization of knowledge. This categorization splits into the four models of curriculum. Aristotle’s categories are the Theoretical (syllabus), the Practical (process and praxis), and the Productive (product).

1.Curriculum as Syllabus to be Transmitted

This model is what connects course outlines  to a final examination that determines if what has been presented in the syllabus has been learnt. A downfall to this model is that the syllabus rarely indicates the importance of topics or the order in which they are presented and studied. Instead, the main concern is the content, which is what students are quizzed on. A benefit for the syllabus model is that the most effective methods of delivery are determined and used to transmit and teach students. Planning becomes limited which can be seen as either a benefit or downfall because it decreases the time teachers are required to spend developing their teaching techniques however they do not necessarily improve through trial and error.

2. Curriculum as Product

In this model, education is seen as a technical exercise with set objectives, plans created and applied, and outcomes measured as products. This model also involves detailed attention to what is needed knowledge to work and live our lives. This means that there is a major focus on the practical elements within teaching. A downfall to the product model is that there is no social vision or programme to guide curriculum construction. As a result, curriculum does not grow. Another flaw is that in this model students work towards one final end goal or objective. This reminds me of the reading from last week  in how the students in Nepal were focused on passing a final exam. This takes away from the process of learning and can, in my experience, lead to students forgetting what has been taught after this end goal has been achieved. Continuing with reference to the reading from last week, there was mention of how the students would not interact with the teacher in class. THis is another detail about the product method that can be a problem. Instead of interacting with the learning, success is based on whether pre-specified changes occur to the behaviour of the learner. In this model, trivial elements are judged rather than the bigger picture. This can be a benefit because it helps students organize what they are learning and shows the systematic qualities of this model. Finally, this model’s theory and practice is taken from technological and industrial settings that have a product in the end. This is the approach taken in this model.

3.Curriculum as Process

The Curriculum as Process model mirrors what actually happens in the classroom with the interaction of teachers, students, and knowledge. Again in this model, there is a heavy importance placed on examinations which limits variation. As with any model that includes standardized testing, this is negative in the fact that many students succeed in different ways and that one way of testing may not adequately show the learning that each individual has achieved. This model’s main downfall, teacher quality, is also its main benefit. If a teacher is dedicated on improving their techniques and strategies this model works well. If a teacher is not doing these things the students would struggle to learn what they should be. In an attempt to overcome this problem there have been materials to focus on some of the elements of learning and discovery needed.

4. Curriculum as Praxis

The Curriculum as Praxis model is very similar to the Curriculum as Process model but in addition it considers human well-being and makes a commitment to having a focus on this in the curriculum. What I consider to be the biggest benefit to this model is that the curriculum develops through the interaction of action and reflection. This allows teachers to see what does and does not work and adjust their teaching to these outcomes. What is described as a drawback is that there is not a strong enough emphasis on context in the curriculum. Overall, however, I see this as being the best model of looking at the curriculum because it is more action based and therefore committed to improving.

In my own experience I have had an assortment of these four models present in the teaching I have received. I think that the most prominent, however, was the Curriculum as Product approach. Growing up I always looked towards the next test that I had to study for and learn material on and I definitely noticed that some of the past things I had learned left soon after that test was finished. This was common for most of my classmates too. In a few classes I can remember the Curriculum as Process model being very obvious too. I have seen how quality of teachers has had an impact on this as well and this is what I consider to be one of the reasons I did not enjoy or connect with my high school history classes as much as students in other schools did. I think the teachers I had for these classes did not have enthusiasm towards these subjects and so they relied heavily on reading textbooks and answering questions in them following a chapter.

‘The Problem With Commonsense’ – Response

Kumashiro describes the “common sense” as being what we generally experience, discuss, and conceptualize (XXXI). People do not often question what they consider ‘common sense” because we fall into a routine where we come to expect certain behaviours and ways of doing things. We can also assume that “common sense” can be different between two or more people. This is because it is relative, and it reflects our worldview. Our perspectives, experiences and values within our society are what influences the way we do things and whatever does not fit into these areas we consider to be nonsensical.

Because “common sense” is relative and reflects our worldview, it is important to consider our location when we think about what may or may not be common sense. Some examples provided by Kumashiro were the belief that one does not know how to cook because they did not cook what was common in an area or if you were to wash up at a different time than what was expected. By doing things like this one tends to stand out simply because it is not what is expected in one area even though it might have been the norm in another. We must critique our assumptions on what is “normal” and consider how these ideas might be different from what another sees as being “normal”.

The idea that we need to acknowledge the “common sense” and consider and analyze it is important when it comes to education. For example, there are many ways to be what one student might consider a “good teacher”. This can mean providing many small details in lessons to one student while another could consider a teacher to be “good” based on the amount of examinations they do, and even that can be divided between being few heavily weighted assignments or many assignments weighted a little lighter. Kumashiro also addressed how “common sense” can be oppressive in schools, as well as outside, towards minority groups. This is another reason it is important to recognize the “common sense” and to question it.