What Should be Learned in Schools

Part 1) 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? 

There is a whole process towards developing curriculum before it is taught in schools. I didn’t realize the amount of politics involved and the many factors or steps taken before creating the curricula. Levin describes “most curricula are organized around at least two levels of objectives—very general or broad goals and then much more specific learning activities and objectives” (p.14) A problem that arises in this article is the pressure towards teachers and what they are expected to teach. There are continuous debates about what should be taught and included in the curriculum, but is there even time to include it? As stated, “There simply are not enough hours and days in a 12 year schooling to accommodate all the areas people want children to learn” (p.14). In addition to the curriculum, topics such as bullying, obesity, racism, equality, etc., are expected to be taught. More pressure is put on instructors when topics like this arise because of the lack of education received when they spend their time concentrating on the curricula. There is no one way to satisfy everyone’s wants, but I think it is important that people are knowledgeable about the process of curriculum to understand the pressure that is put not only on educators, but everyone involved in the making of curricula. 

Part 2) 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?

After reading the Treaty Education document, I think this is one course that people look at if it is important to teach or not, like how Levin described what subjects should be included and to what extent. In developing the Treaty Ed curriculum, I don’t think there was a big emphasis on it in schools, as the document said it was introduced in 2007. It also states that it is a mandatory subject and by looking at the outcomes, I think I have only achieved one. Recently, I do believe there have been more efforts in introducing Treaty Education, but I also think it should be introduced to parents/guardians for them to understand the importance of knowing what the treaties are, their identities, and Canada’s dark past of colonization. Moving forwards, Treaty Education should be implemented in earlier stages of schooling, like grade 6 or 7, because of the many layers that are involved. 

Purpose of Treaty Ed

Even though some schools may not have any First Nations, Metis, and Inuit (FNMI) peoples, does not mean Treaty Ed is insignificant. It is more than just the people, but the history that comes with Canada and how Canada has shaped. One purpose of teaching Treaty Ed is learning about the treaties being signed, without the treaties, the European settlers would not be here. To Non-Indigenous Canadians, this may seem like it doesn’t matter, but it is something that should be discussed in class and to generate a conversation about the importance of acknowledging the treaty we live on. In addition, a major part of Canada’s dark history is Residential Schools and how they treated FNMI people for years. Knowing about this dark history allows for Canada to reshape those relationships towards reconciliation. Recently, schools have been educating their students about residential schools, now it is time to educate them on the Treaties. Topics like this should not be unfamiliar, teachers should put in the effort to incorporate these materials because it is part of our history and it makes us all treaty people.  

“We are all treaty people” means that I recognize the land I am on and I respect how the Treaties were signed. Indigenous and Non-Indigenous people share the land and acknowledging that the Indigenous people negotiated with the Non-Indigenous people, we need to respect their land like our own property. Every house, road, business, etc., that exists was possible because of the treaty signing. As a future educator, I believe Treaty Ed is a must for students to understand that the land they are living on was not a one-time transaction. The following is a blogpost I found about an Indigenous person from Manitoba and when she first heard the expression “We are all treaty People”:

“Treaties and agreements require at least two parties. How did Settlers forget that? How did I forget that?
I forgot because colonization and settlement have been normalized. Simultaneously, the depictions of Indigenous peoples as “freeloading,” “angry,” “on welfare,” “criminal,” and “lazy” have also been normalized. Truthfully, these two normalizations are the different sides of the same coin, they need each other to exist. As a result, Settlers are able to sleep easy with a sense of entitlement to the land and the governance structures that have been placed upon it. In their minds, treaties were a one-time transaction that guaranteed an eternity of good nights’ sleeps for them and their future generations. Of course, in the minds of Indigenous peoples, the treaties are living, breathing agreements that we are reminded of every day, that we cannot forget, because we live displaced in our own territories every day” (Blog found here).

Reinhabitation and Colonization

Reinhabitation is shown where the articles explain the 10-day river trip that included youth, adult, and elder participants. As they travelled through traditional waters and lands, the adults and elders shared their learning about the relationship between the people to the lands. Connecting with elders and people who have been through many experiences can bring an abundance of knowledge relating to their culture and history. The river itself also holds historical importance and bringing the youth there helps them realize that it might be part of some of their identities and connecting to the land. One author noted that the connection to nature helps with children’s intellectual, emotional, social, physical, and spiritual development. This type of place based learning develops deeper relationships between the students and the environment, where the students become more appreciative of their past.

One thing that stuck out to me was the “naming and reclaiming” section from the article that is one that represents decolonization. English names that were given were being changed into the traditional Cree names. Also, Paquataskamik was an important traditional word that is used for traditional territory, all of the environment, nature, and everything it contains. Paquataskamik was rarely used by the young people because it was not a common term or they did not understand the importance of the word. By defining the word and teaching the young, this supports a step towards upholding the language of the land.

It is definitely important that I include place-based because learning as a future educator. There is a greater connection to learning from the land than in a classroom, especially when teachers introduce Indigenous culture and land.