Blog Post Week#10
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?
I stopped learning mathematics in Grade 12 – 1988. I have no recollection what aspects of it were oppressive and/or discriminating for others or myself. However, I will guess at what this question begs to hear … This article speaks to the need to recognize a different perspective. In particular, Indigenous ways of knowing are defined for four (4) pages, followed by 1 ½ pages of defining Eurocentric Western ways. The argument being that the Indigenous ways are intertwined, communal, truthful, subjective and more loving vs. the hard, static, linear, individual, objective ways of the Caucasian Western culture. Examples of these traits are provided. I found the article to have a high and mighty tone to it. Possibly most when the author stated, “This is why I have gone to considerable lengths to illustrate the worldview of Western Europeans, which is linear and singular, static, and objective.” A page and half? Regardless, it was certainly informative. I was reminded to continue considering others perspectives like common sense, professional upbringing, life experiences, etc.
I imagine within the walls of Clavet Composite School in the early 1980’s ~ I didn’t fall in love with math because it was boooooring. I assume, as Gail notes in her presentation, I was taught to get the results, not to love the process. Mostly, I didn’t care for the math teacher either – his delivery was dry, and boring. So the material must be. I don’t think this was oppressive or discriminating in terms of the perspective of the material. I’m sure I recognized that it was smart way to understand the world around me. Sadly, Mr. Trishchuk couldn’t turn an abstract subject into wonder for 12 – 17 year olds.
2. Using Gale’s lecture and Poirier’s article, identify at least three ways in which Inuit mathematics challenge Eurocentric ideas about the purpose of mathematics and the way we learn it.
Poirier’s article states the following,
1. Inuit see numbers/symbols as having many definitions as they are based on the cyclical aspects of nature.
2. Inuit do not perceive mathematics as something that can help them solve everyday problems.
3. Inuit children develop spatial representations that are different from those of children who live in a city like Montreal.
4. Months are determined by the cycle/events of nature – such as when the ice breaks, when sea elephants rest on land or when two stars appear in the sky
Dr. Gale Russell
– base 20 explanation, and digits on hands and feet creation.
– curves are more understandable than lines to Inuit.
– Importance of Oral and storytelling lessons
– Importance of hands on learning.
– Quantity vs quality – bucket of potatoes.
How has your upbringing/schooling shaped how you “read the world?” My upbringing was within a family of five children, and two married parents. My father toiled for thirty+ years as a University professor at the UofS, while my mother gleefully ran the family farm. My formal education was at a conventional small town prairie school, while my informal was place-based within a barnyard. I read the world through the lens of a Caucasian, non-religious, personally responsible citizen who derived his common sense from the systemic means of the status quo.
My biases/interpretations, which became “the norm or standard to which all others must conform,” was from an agrarian upbringing, within a medium sized family of moderately conservative world-views. Instilled was a work ethic that suffered no lack of integrity, or weakness in moral compass. Nothing came free, but with effort. I would venture to say this was a stereotypical household environment of a small town middle class farming community of the 1970 and 80’s.
The literature read during middle and high school years may have included Shakespeare, and 20th century writers such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Hound of the Baskervilles), and F. Scott Fitzgerald (The Great Gatsby). I do recall the most influential writers in my informal education included Ayn Rand, Leon Uris, and E.B. White.
How this has shaped my reading of the world is that I have a politically and socially conservative leaning in my views, while flavoured with a the liberal understanding of the importance of arts within our communities.
What biases and lenses do I bring to the classroom? The biases and lenses I bring into the classroom have grown from those established as a young man fresh out of highschool and into my early twenties. These are built from two ingredients. There are the personal and professional experiences in a workforce not protected and safe as an academic institution. One is guarded when introduced to opinions/topics espoused by academics, as their life experiences come with limitations. Secondly, for most people outside the ivory walls, it is the individuals, media, internet, and literature that one interacts with daily who have a more profound effect in shaping the biases and lenses. Who and how one interacts with these are key – ex. Fox news or CNN, Ben Shapiro vs. Randi Rhodes, etc. – to establishing biases.
How might I unlearn and work against these biases? Funny enough, returning to the safety and confines of a post secondary academic culture, allows me to reflect with critical thinking tools in which to evaluate my tendencies. I’ve seen this in my growing perspective on Indigenous matters, Transgender issues, the importance of music and the like.
Which “single stories” were present in my own schooling? Whose truth mattered?
The single stories present in my schooling were of the dominant culture within Canada – as I was taught through the readings of Shakespeare, and the texts directed by a Euro-Western dominated curriculum. I cannot recall ever learning about matters related to Indigenous, transgender, or immigrant peoples (this was the 1980’s).
I spent my childhood and youth growing up on an eighty (80) acre farm roughly twenty (20) miles South East of Saskatoon. My traditional schooling occurred during 1975 – 1988. I went to Clavet Composite School from grade 3 to 12. I was a Clavet Cougar 6-man football corner back in 1986! Grrrr! Woot-woot! My untraditional schooling was land based with my late afternoons spent interacting with my pigs – Mork, Mindy, Clyde, Runt and Miss Piggy. I was a citizen the municipality of Corman Park for my 20’s. I was a citizen of Los Angeles and New Orleans for my 30’s. In my 40’s…I spent it stuck in butt-crack Regina. I hope it gets better in my 50’s…
I do not recall ANY citizenship education in my K-12 schooling. I can’t even recall who my high school social studies teacher’s name was. This is not to say I didn’t receive any citizenship education. My memory simply doesn’t reach back that far. I do not recall leaving high school with any sense of responsibility or knowledge regarding voting, procedures, rallies, running for office, or even group organizing. If I were to guess a type of citizenry education I could have been exposed to at Clavet, I’d assume it was the basics. I have been less than a Personally Responsible citizen. My committed desire to vote in elections, local, provincial, or federal didn’t begin until I was in my late 30’s.
However, I did learn a lot about politics (and possibly citizenry) while pursuing a Political Science degree in the 1990’s. Unfortunately, it did not have much impact regarding my citizenry duties. Living in Canada I took for granted.
Just as significant was that this non-dutiful citizen I have become, was echoed in the family household. I do not recall my parents ever participating in politics other than voting in the municipal, provincial, and federal elections.
What has this approach to the curriculum made (im) possible in regards to citizenship? This non-approach to the curriculum may have been due to the time period. I assume the acknowledgement and importance of citizenry education might have been apart of the same non-existent topics much like LGBTQ and Indigenous rights. It was the 1980’s…when Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen and Tina Turner were deemed most important.
There is a 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. Dwayne Donald notes that most Canadian Canadians have a sense that they do NOT have a culture. And if they do, it is not as rich as others. He asks the question – What kind of education would you have to receive in order to believe that you do not have a culture? Wow – that’s a bit of Clavet Saskatchewan highschool truth. I certainly have a learning disability as an American/Canadian. Coming into INDG centered lectures and courses, has given me the ability to see my earlier inability to comprehend Indigenous culture/issues today. I’m paying for and receiving an education that’ll make me a teacher who encourages inquiry into citizenship and its meaning. Into Indigenous education and its meaning. Into a view of what could be a future of engagement and change between students and Indigenous peoples. We hold the balance of power – physically and financially, and populationally. We can make the difference. We can move beyond the token de-colonization education verbiage. As Donald writes, “”The way that you think about the relationship (between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples) has a distinctive bearing on how you take it up in the classroom.”
We inhabit this land, and therefore are apart of the freedoms, and confines, of the specific Treaty, which governs this area regardless whether we are direct settler descendants or not. Even those getting off a plane tomorrow, and stepping into a home anywhere in Canada – are Treaty people – because they can only do so, due to the treaty. A treaty signed with the intent of genocide and cultural destruction. In being a treaty person, a student/citizen has to ask the questions, “Identity – who am I? What is that history I must own. How did I get to be here? How do I call this home?” And what does it mean to ‘own’ a piece of history. Do most shun the idea simply because they nor their relatives were physically living here prior to 1971 (that’s when I initially crossed the CND/USA border). I think anyone living here has a responsibility to equality, sharing of resources. Through teaching our children we are too educating all people, their parents, grandparents older siblings, neighbors and friends will hear their voicing these thoughts, ideas and considerations. Discussions regarding their relationship and identity within this place, where is their individual and collective place in de-colonialism. Its important to share with non-indigenous students the clear okay sign to imagine what it is currently like to walk in Indigenous shoes, and to sit with the grief of the personal impacts of colonization. Certainly part of our job is teaching parents and explaining it in ways they understand. As Cynthia Chambers states, “The treaties certainly were, and continue to be, an invitation – an invitation to meet again.”
I like the quote by Chambers, “The countenance of the common lives on in the language, stories, dances, and songs, in clothing and art, in tools and what must be made from them.” What we have in common is our need for a curriculum that can help us to make a livelihood that does no harm. To believe and teach in a way in which students do not want to take for granted the opportunity to live differently than my parents, and grandparents.
According to the Levin article, 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?
School curricula is developed by a gathering of experts, and non-experts. Curricula is developed by people who’ve specific agendas, balanced by those with the future of humanity and society in mind. School curricula is implemented by districts, administrators, and teachers. Most policy decisions in education, including curriculum decisions, are made with little or no public attention (concerning but understandable). Every government has to pay some attention to the views of elites of various kinds, even if not to citizens more generally. Because of the statement (pg. 9), “Everything in government occurs in the shadow of elections” ~ true beneficial policy changes to curriculum may be biased/skewed.
There are too many public issues for even the most committed citizens to know about beyond the most superficial level. “If I can’t explain it in 25 words or less, people stop listening.”
“Education policy is particularly susceptible as pretty well everyone has some experience of schooling and therefore opinions about how it ought to work.”
I understand better the ‘machine’ of politics and fickle creation of curriculum via: “However, they are also influenced, often to a much greater extent, by external political pressures, changing circumstances, unexpected events, and crises. Politicians are constantly bombarded with requests or demands to do things, stop doing things, increase funding, decrease funding, pass legislation, repeal other legislation, and so on.”
After reading pages 1-4 of the Treaty Education document, what connections can you make between the article and the implementation of Treaty Education in Saskatchewan? What tension might you imagine were part of the development of the Treaty Education curriculum?
The internal politics/preferences of various desires/wants between members of – Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, First Nations University of Canada, Office of the Treaty Commissioner, Curriculum Sub-committee for the Shared Standards and Capacity Building Council, and the Ministry of Education – would have been a nightmare to satisfy.
Putting Treaty specific desires into the curriculum – but if teachers are not ‘experts’ in any way, shape, or form, on this subject matter – one better give them a crash course – and not ask for them to make it up on their own.
Tensions – infighting between different regions regarding what is / isn’t important – MIGHT have been a tension. Further, the implementation of Treaty understanding from BOTH perspectives – Euro-Western vs. Indigenous – do both get taught – both are legitimate understandings. All predicated on a teachers understanding of / and how to communicate the Indigenous way of knowing – regarding treaties.
List some of the ways that you see reinhabitation and decolonization happening throughout the narrative.
The gist of the article is the exposing of, “a critical pedagogy of place that 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)
The examples of decolonization and reinhabitation, can be seen in the mention of how:
“Elders would share knowledge with youth about ways to live off the river and lands and note key sites along the way. As part of the project, youth and Elders travelled together on the traditional waters and lands, exploring history, language, issues of governance, and land management.” (p. 75)
Knowledge transfer from elder generations to youth – they used radio to spread the elders knowledge to those throughout the north – what a far far reach! Great use of technology.
Paquataskamik speaks to a way of relating to land based on laws and governance arrangements that were in place long before European settlers arrived.
The group documented sites of significance to the community, experienced routes that hold great historical significance, and brought people together in the sharing of knowledge. There was a community mapping of key cultural and historical sites. As adults involved in the project described, paquataskamik is significant partly because it references a historical relationship to land, which encompassed a much larger area than the reserve or family camps.
For project participants, it was important to remember words like paquataskamik because they spoke to the broader project of territoriality and self-determination within Mushkegowuk lands, the ability of the Mushkegowuk people to define development on their own terms, and to continue to build on a historical identity in a vast area that was never ‘given up’ to European settlers.
Intergenerational language loss – The elders and other community members were concerned that the word paquataskamik was falling into disuse among the younger generations, who tend to use noscheemik instead, which pointed to a loss of important linguistic distinctions related to concepts of territoriality. During the river excursion the Cree-language terminology was expanded for those participating.
Example – The words paquataskamik and Kistachowan Sipi (Albany River’s original name) were written along the fifty-foot long sides of the raft.
Example – English language topographical maps are scribbled over in Cree syllabics.
How might you adapt these ideas towards considering place in your own subject areas and teaching?
I intend to run a nature place-based classroom. I may be naïve, but I believe with my past 30 years of summers outdoors, the growth obtained through parenting, and the knowledge from this degree will enable me to structure a four-day classroom learning environment. The fifth day (Friday) always being an outdoor place-based excursion of inquiry that completes the unit of study via all disciplines – Literature, Science, Art, Health, Phys. Ed and Social Studies. Furthermore, I believe unstructured free playtime is more beneficial in a child’s intellectual, emotional, social, physical and spiritual development than lessons learned from a book whist sitting at a desk. Lastly, I believe in the power of art in the development of creativity and mental health. Art being expressed via dance, visual, music, and drama.
What does it mean to be a “good” student according to the commonsense?
One who learns by planned lessons? One finds comfort in commonsense ideas put forth in school, and via people in their upbringing? Or one who comes with knowledge, and willing to challenge what they know. They work toward learning from a place that challenges their beliefs, and challenges oppression. Aims to challenge the partial knowledge he/she knows. To be uncomfortable. Learning things that reveal the partial and oppressive aspects of our knowledge of and actions in the world. The type of student who challenges troubling knowledge. “Brain scientists have shown us time and time again, that when you are a little bit out of your comfort zone, you are at peak learning capability” – Klasky, B. (2014). Get hooked on nature. Ted. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ArhjLa4xbNk
Which students are privileged by this definition of the good student?
Educated students would be able to see the value in challenging what they know – to not feel inadequate or shame. If the definition of a good student is one who doesn’t challenge – then the privileged would be those who benefit from the commonsense – stereotypes put forth – the wealth, power, education – even in the classroom. Privileged student – those who carry the commonsensical ideas that permeate mainstream society. Students learning things that reinforce an oppressive status quo. “The student was learning that views and practices had different implications in different situations. The student was learning to unearth the oppressive tendencies and anti-oppressive possibilities inherent in the way that we taught the disciplines. The student was learning something that brought discomfort and a desire to do more work.” (27)
What is made impossible to see/understand/believe because of these commonsense ideas?
The ‘other’ is impossible to see because of these commonsense ideas. Maybe. I’m not certain from the article. But I did come away with the following: Entering crisis is merely the stage where students confront troubling knowledge. Learning through crisis is not a process that can be standardized for all students. Learning is a disarming process that allows students to escape the uncritical, complacent repetition of their prior knowledge. The student entered the school filled with knowledge that the student already learned from the family, the community, the media, and life experiences, including prior schooling – much of this knowledge had been culled together from the cultural myths, stereotypes, and take-for-granted assumptions that permeated daily life.
Two significant influences on the development of my character, personality, and intellect were my family and physical environment. When I was eight years old (1978), we moved from thick in the city, to eighty barren acres of prairie. It quickly became a farm brimming with every ‘pet’ animal known to childkind – cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, goats and barn kittens galore! Outside of the traditional education received at Clavet School, I lived a life rich in the harvests of a ‘place-based curriculum’. My community consisted of loving, supportive and moral people, companionable animals and a wide-open prairie playground.
In a conventional school setting, a place-based curriculum is a vibrant approach to education that takes students out into the communities, to learn, to do and to grow as human beings. In a rural environment, this might be an outing to a local dairy; in an urban environment, it may be a walk down to the neighborhood bakery. It can connect curriculum outcomes for many strands of social studies, science, math, health, literature and art. Its pedagogy provides students the opportunity to learn subject matter in tangible living ways, to understand the places they live in, and how to contribute to their communities.Moreover, they often begin a lifelong stewardship for the land (Sobel 2012).
This paper is a critical summary of ‘place-based curriculum’ as positioned by education writer David Sobel. David is a co-director of the Center for Place-Based Education at the Antioch New England Institute. He has published numerous books including Childhood and Nature: Design Principles for Educators (2008), Place-Based Education: Connecting Classrooms and Communities (2004), and Beyond Ecophobia: Reclaiming the Heart in Nature Education (1996)
One critique of traditional product curriculum has been its absence of recognizing context in the delivery of education; such as environment, demographics, socio-economic conditions, and the like. To strengthen and enhance the discussion of place-based curriculum, I will examine indigenous land-based curriculum, and “Reality Pedagogy” by Dr. Christopher Emdin, as these broaden the definition of “place-based curriculum.”
I will flesh out the definitions and ties between indigenous land-based curriculum and place based curriculum. I’ll introduce the subtleties of Emdin’s work, that I feel would enhance the creating and planning of a unit of place-based curriculum. If I can find the resources, I’ll tie it up with a couple critical opinions, if any, of the practice.
Sobel, David, et al. “Look, Don’t Touch.” Orion Magazine, 2012, orionmagazine.org/article/look-dont-touch1/.
Respond in your blog to the following writing prompt: Curriculum development from a traditionalist perspective is widely used across schools in Canada and other countries. Think about:
(a) The ways in which I may have experienced the Tyler rationale in your own schooling – It’s been 32 years since highschool. I can’t recall that education experience. This education experience at the UofR, I see that assessment is quite similar – primarily completed through writing research papers. The practical part of the program mixed with the theoretical speaks to Tyler’s assertion regarding organization. There’s definitely a ‘program’ or ‘pathway’, and an attention to a mandatory selection of content.
(b) What are the major limitations of the Tyler rationale/what does it make impossible. The experience in internship made me acutely aware of the importance of optics between teachers and within sight of administration. This being the hidden curriculum spoken to in the article, “The focus on pre-specified goals may lead both educators and learners to overlook learning that is occurring as a result of their interactions, but which is not listed as an objective.” In the education of a teacher at the post secondary level, I don’t feel there is proper time allocated to ensuring the “principles on which to diagnose the strengths and weaknesses of individual students and differentiate the general principles … to meet individual cases.” My experience in the 1980’s was an education devoid of the arts education, one geared towards a curriculum “largely imported from technological and industrial settings.”
(c) What are some potential benefits/what is made possible. It provides direction for the majority who requiring a template. It certainly maintains the status quo. I think it could allow for vocational education, as everything needs an order, a system, and organization with a larger social goal in mind.