The Chosen Truth for Students

When I was growing up, a lot of the books and shows I watched involved people that were usually white.  Definitely at a young age, growing up in the late 90’s and early 00’s, television and entertainment was focused on white characters.  I was taught that being white was normal and being born a different colour meant they were the minority.  Even though they are the minority, the lesson that was behind that meant white was powerful.  Sadly, even if it was not expressed verbally or obviously, I can see how i grew up with those ideas.  At a young age, you are so impressionable and making those decisions are not as simple as they seem.  You learn just as much from the curriculum as you do from interaction, media, and community.  I went to school at a catholic, mostly white, middle-class population.  All those elements play into the biases that one may have.  Learning that white is normal and different races were “other”, catholic beliefs were important and what the bible said is law, and finally that wealth was truly a matter of trying and those who were poor did it to themselves.  As I have grown up and started to challenge the subconscious beliefs I have had, I remind myself that all are equal but not all stories are the same.  By keeping an open mind and constantly reminding myself that I do not know the whole story, and I do not know them better than they do allows me to keep my biases in check.

One of the single stories that was present in my education was the idea that the poor people around the world were incapable and the only thing they could accomplish was being poor.  It set the idea that we were lucky and privileged, and that what largely mattered in life was being successful in terms of income.  Even though there are many different ways a person can be successful that doesn’t require them to be wealthy, that typically was not the lesson.  I also remember the importance it was for us to do fundraiser’s and charity events for kids in places like Africa.  Constantly reminded of how lucky were, and how poor and unfortunate their lives were.  We would even watch those classic “for two dollars a day you can save the lives of this young boy’s family” videos in class.  Even though what were doing for those kids was good in nature, it created the mindset that we were better than them.  And definitely at a young age, seeing these families that were usually black, most kids would have associated circumstance to race.  We never got to learn about the successful people that were also from Africa, and what they are doing for their people, and rarely did we ever learn about the people within our own communities that were poor.  The single stories that we get taught could have long effects on every individual and it should be our job as teachers to express many different sides and opinions that would allow the kids to have a proper understanding.

Inuit Mathematics

When I had the chance to look back at my own education and the different ways that we had learned math, I think about the underlying messages that come along with that type of learning.  Math itself is not based on perspective or opinion, it is based on rules and facts.  The constant message of “number’s don’s lie” always comes to mind.  We were taught that math itself follows rules and every question has a specific answer that you always have to come to.  We were taught to do math in a certain way, and that when you were able to figure out the right mathematic answer that was not the way the teacher taught, it was considered wrong.  Thinking of specific examples of lessons is hard because I have not had a math class for six years.  Thinking back, I can totally see how math could be considered oppressive and discriminating.  It never promoted students to work out questions on there own terms and feel as if they were the ones that came up with it.  We were simply using a method that was given to us and told that it was the only way to do it.  When you compare it to life and the challenges that many people have, we are told a certain way to act and work within society.  Every person does not see the world the same way, but sometimes education is meant to push a certain outlook whether it is wanted or not.

Counting-  They use a different counting system compared to the Western way of doing it.  They have different words for numbers dependant on the context in which those numbers are being used.  In Westernized math, every number can be used in its own form without being changed, which makes it constant.

Localization-  The Inuit have developed an outstanding sense of space to help orient themselves.  Inuit have also developed a very precise vocabulary for speaking about spatial relations.  This is something that I do not remember focusing on in my own education.  I imagine that is largely due to the technological world that we live in that does not require us to need those skills.

Measuring-  Inuit women use certain parts of their bodies to measure length.  In the western world, we use measuring tools compared to body parts.  I imagine this would make westernized people uncomfortable because we are so use to being so precise and calculated.

Curriculum as citizenship

When I look back to my years of schooling, it is very easy to think of examples of the type of citizenship education that we were taught.  Lessons were usually based on a moral lesson which allowed us to develop as people in society.  Simple lessons from kindergarten such as learning that sharing is caring, and helping someone in need was very important.  As we got older, the lessons were usually more societal based and allowed us to think about the our place in society and what was required in order for us to make a difference.  Those differences that we were supposed to make were not actually meant for us to make change, but help where needed and develop a good self-image in the community.  Looking back, we were never really challenged to find out what needed to change for the societal issues to progress and change for the good.  It was our job to donate food, help the homeless by giving them a couple bucks outside 711, or maybe give away some old clothes for people in need.  It was for us to be able to pat ourselves on the back and feel like we were making a difference, compared to taking the time and investing our time in changing the narrative for the good.

The focus of our education was to create a Personally-responsible citizen by being someone who fit into society and did the things that were expected of us, instead of exceeding the expectations.  When we got into high school, things changed a little bit.  The expectation grew a little and our education was more so modelled to be a participatory citizen.  That is when we were told to advocate and explore the societal issues a little differently than before.  It looked good on us to be involved in the community, which was only ever done through the mandatory community service hours that were required.

I hope that one day curriculum allows students to explore the real issues within society and not just develop young adults that help the community to help themselves succeed.  The importance to being an outstanding citizen goes beyond what one takes credit for.  Being a good citizen should be about the good a person does without acknowledgment and credit.  That is when you know a person is truly invested in the betterment of society and the people they share the world with.

Understanding The Importance of Treaty Education

Treaties are agreements. The First Nations people of Canada went into negotiated agreements that spelt out the rights, responsibilities and relationships of First Nations and the federal and provincial governments.  These agreements were about creating alliances, and often dealt with the sharing of land, resources, and the ability to coexist.  They were negotiated in Canada between First Nations and the British Crown as early as 1701. The Canadian government acknowledges 70 historic and 24 modern-day Treaties. These are considered important building blocks of the nation.

This means that Treaties do not involve only the First Nations and the government or the Crown, it also involves everyone past and present. Every Canadian has Treaty rights.  If you own property or plan on owning property in Canada, you are exercising a right that goes back to the very first signed Treaties.  As newcomers to Canada, learning about Treaties is very important and will help understand a picture of what Canada is. It will help us better appreciate the relationship between the First Nations peoples and the federal and provincial governments. More importantly, it is a big part in understanding the country’s origins and how it developed.  Historic and modern-day Treaties continue to be key elements in future relationships between the First Nations and the Crown.  There are still modern-day Treaties being negotiated in Canada today. These Treaties concern First Nations traditional territories that were not included in the Treaty-making process.

Assimilation is still a large part of the Canadian society, and understanding Treaties can help us become more aware of economic and societal issues that First Nations peoples are facing. Understanding Treaties is one of the steps that can prevent us from making judgments or biases and become more understanding and motivated members of society.

Critical Pedagogy of Place

The Mushkegowuk Cree have found a unique and special way of growing the faith and development of their community and the livelihood of their people.  It is so different from the way that western ideology has expressed how and what to value in life, and it definitely shows in terms of the education that most of us have been taught. 

They have been able to show forms of reinhabitation by involving the youth and all generations in different activities and community excursions as a way to develop awareness.  This also helps in terms of cultural development and understanding.  As each generation grows and adapts to the western world that is fairly unavoidable, they find it extremely important to share with and help the youth.  The elders and community leaders have developed a program that helps the youth learn and experience the values of their ancestors and the importance of the land.  paquataskamik is significant because it refers to the historical relationship to land which encompasses a much larger area than the reserve or family camps  .The relationship that the Mushkegowuk Cree have with the land and the river is absolutely crucial in their lives.  They believe that by sharing the importance of the land and their peoples relationship to the land, they will be able to develop an understanding and respect that can be utilized in all areas of life.  They also talk a great deal about the importance of the river.  The river is the main connection between their people.  Their people believe that by appreciating the river and all that is has done for the people, they will understand the importance of relationships and bond between them. 

I believe it is crucial to be able to take the product of what you teach as an educator and allow it to have meaning inside and outside of the classroom.  All of their lessons and stories allow for each student to grow as a human being which is very unique.  I hope that I will be able to use this because I am majoring in health and i believe that it can be used as a great tool to express the importance of treating yourself and others with the respect they deserve.  I may not be able to have the spiritual connection to the earth and the world as they do, but that does not mean I can not learn or bring in people who have that greater understanding.  Being open minded and developing relationships with people in and out of the community will give me the ability to become a well rounded and meaningful educator

Curriculum Politics

I believe that the development of curriculum is solely based on the level of satisfaction of the majority.  People who have power are ultimately the ones that get to voice their opinion and have a say as to what children of today get to learn.  I imagine the process of changing curriculum is extremely difficult and creating progressive ideologies and teaching outside the box is quite frowned upon.  The government most likely has its way of controlling the outcomes and development of curriculum, as their goal would be satisfying the people who have equal or higher social standing.  To create a curriculum with respect to all races, genders, classes, etc., they would no longer be appealing to the people of power and influence, which would most likely result in a lack of support.  Since the governments job is to stay in power as long as possible, this would be hard to progress.

After reading the article, one of the most shocking things I found about the politics and policies of curriculum is knowing how many different groups of people are involved in the process.  Not only the different groups are significant, but the different levels of government, local groups, and community influencers that have a say in it as well.  I never thought about the community as a contributor, but now thinking about the importance of what a province or city feels they need in workers and employment, it makes sense.  I am not shocked by the intense involvement of the government, but it does worry me that their main concern is the approval of the people in power.  This no longer shows the focus of developing the student but ensuring the vote.  The focus should be on the people who are receiving the education because they are going to be the future leaders of the world.

Good Student

When reading the assigned readings for this week, I was able to attach a bunch of different lessons that I have been learning in my education courses over the past two weeks.  I have been learning about focusing on our position in a student’s life, and what our role should be for that student.  This poses many different issues because not all students can be affected the same way by the type of teacher you want to be.  In the chapter it essentially explains that students should be a blank canvas.  This would allow teachers to mold and add to them however they please.  They need to have the ability to sit quiet, engage nicely with students, and have the focus to attain all information that is being shared with them, and take that information in the context that the teacher wants them to.  No student comes with a blank slate to work with.  They all have a past and an understanding of the world that may differ from what is expected of them.

The kids that usually get to fit into the mold of what is a good student are the children that are part of the majority.  This favours children in a way that already instills the hierarchy of power at a young age by expressing favouritism and success for children who fit in that mold.  This allows us as learning educators to find the subtle flaws in how we relate and understand the students we one day will be involved with.  We need to have the understanding that all kids have their own way of learning, and that we as educators should not punish them for that.  Is it our responsibility to help them either learn in their best way or help them find ways to develop in other ways of learning to give them the best opportunity possible.