Summary of Learning

Below you will find the link to my summary of learning video! I hope you enjoy it!

ECS 210 – Summary of Learning:

Perspectives on Mathematics

  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 worldviews…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?

I definitely think there were aspects of math that were oppressive. Looking back at my high school days in math class, there would be 1-3 different methods in solving one problem. In most cases, we got to choose the method that best suit our learning abilities. The next, we get a different teacher and they show us one way of solving. Someone questions using a different method and the teacher says no. To only use the method that was being taught. Now, I have learned from an early age that everyone has their own ways of learning, so why do teachers sometimes restrict that? In fact, I don’t really know the answer. It was definitely oppressive to those who did not understand this new concept, when they can figure it out another way that suits their needs. With certain equations, there may only be one way to answer, but when given a choice or when we know there are alternatives to answering a question, students should be given that opportunity. It is the teachers job to recognize their needs and do everything they can to help them achieve. If a student wants a challenge, or if the teacher thinks they should try, there is nothing wrong with challenging them for their benefits. 

  • After reading Poirier’s articles: 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. 

Base 20 system: As mentioned in the article, “the numbers 20 and 400 are pivotal numbers, as other numbers are built from these two numbers” (p. 57). Imagine integrating this into our own math curriculum, confusing, right? It challenges the way we see math compared to other countries. Like how Inuit children learn to count in their language, until grade 3. The way they see math, makes sense in their world context, compared to European views, it’s about adding, subtracting, formulas and more. 

Measuring: Their way of measuring is pretty cool. Instead of using rulers and tape measures, they use parts of their body. I think this ties in with commonsensical ideas of how to measure things. Since, the European way is, unfortunately, dominant, we use what they see as the normal. 

Traditional Calendar: The Inuit’s traditional calendar is neither lunar or solar. Instead, it is based on “natural, independently reoccurring yearly events” (p. 61). Each name of the month comes from animal activity or from nature, for example:

Coldest of all months = January
When birds lay their eggs = June
When male caribou fight for a female = October
The length of the month depends on how long it takes for the natural event to occur. 

Reading the "Real World"

  • How has your upbringing/ schooling shaped how you “read the world?” What biases and lenses do you bring to the classroom? How might we unlearn/ work against these biases?

I grew up in a lower-class neighborhood and attended a community school. I thought our school was rich because we had hot lunches and food for the students that didn’t have anything. We were given snacks and lunches and I thought that was normal. But then I moved to the south side of the city in a middle-class area. All I could think of is the kinds of snacks and meals they have compared to my old school, but they didn’t have that. I only understood when I graduated and reflected back on my experiences in elementary school and wondering why a middle-class school didn’t have the “luxuries” of a lower-class school. That time in my life gave me insight to the real world and I didn’t even know. So, I guess I didn’t really have any biases or lenses growing up. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have any biases now, I do for sure and I didn’t realize I had any until high school. I am not proud of the biases I have formed, but I think it is a learning experience for everyone and to work towards diminishing these biases from an early start. 

  • Which “single stories” were present in your own schooling? Whose truth mattered?

I only remember stories about European and privileged families. I never, and still have not read a book that I can relate to. A middle-class Filipino girl whose family came from a third world country or anything about a Filipino girl in fact. Maybe I didn’t look hard enough, but that’s beside the point. What I want to talk about is the real-world problem of the Canadian history many of us have learned about. The history of Residential Schools. This single story was only present in my high school years and thankfully has continued to my university years. Single stories are dangerous, we see the dominant side only or what society “believes” is important. With all two-sided stories, both truths matter. Depending on your values and beliefs you may disagree or agree with one or the other. 

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.

The “Good” Student

A “good” student, according to common sense, is a student fitting the standards that the school and society frame. Behaviour is the most common aspect looked at when it comes to being a “good” student, which includes someone who can listen, answer questions, gets high grades, raises their hand, etc. Common sense blocks our ways of thinking causing teachers to look at students and define if they are “good” or “bad” because of the way they perform in class.

Students that are privileged by this definition are those who understand what the teacher expects, which can vary. Students that can sit in a desk for hours and listen when the teacher is talking. They are involved in class and the do not question what is being taught. Students that are also privileged by this definition include people that do not have disabilities and have a good home life. Growing up, I wanted to be that “good” student and it kind of sucked. Reading this article made me look back and realize how much I struggled and how it affected me. I conformed to what my teacher expected leaving little to no room for personal growth and learning.

Having the mindset towards a “good” student makes it difficult to see the needs of the other students. As we know, students learn in a variety of ways and when they do not meet expectations they can feel upset and angry with themselves, which can lead to all types of feelings like failure. When this happens, teachers are too busy praising the “good” students and ignore the needs of the “bad” students. This also creates an environment where students may not be able to express themselves or ask questions because they want to avoid embarrassment or being ridiculed. As a future educator, I will not categorize students as “good” or “bad”, but to recognize students’ needs in order for them to succeed.

Arts-Based Education

Arts-based learning encourages expression though art, such as drama, dance, music, visual art, film, poetry writing, and literature. This was of teaching can be powerful because art taps into the affective side of humanity and evoke emotions. Additionally, learning has the capacity to engage learners personally, emotionally, and even spiritually. Furthermore, art-based learning can help students develop confidence and self-esteem, and build effective communication and interpersonal skills.

In the article, Arts-Based Educational Research Dissertations: Reviewing the Practices of New Scholars, by Anita Sinner, Carl Leggo, Rita Irwin, Peter Gouzouasis, and Kit Grauer, the authors review over thirty dissertations across practices and methods of inquiry. In addition, the authors identify three pillars of arts-based practice – literary, visual, and performative practices of Arts-based education. What peaked my interest in this article was the vast dissertations created over a decade at the Faculty of Education at the University of British Columbia. The authors review the methods and practices of new scholars which results in pushing boundaries of institutions in ways that were inconceivable in the past.

My critical review will include how arts-based education was like in the past and how more scholars are looking towards this method more often. I will use the article motioned above and include two other sources that include an optimistic and pessimistic opinion. Personally speaking, an arts-based education can benefit all, for example, instead of writing a reflection responding to an event, students can respond in different ways using art. Perhaps painting, a form of song, or dance, etc., instead of writing which some students might have trouble with. This allows students to creatively respond and respond with what makes them comfortable.

Curriculum Theory and Practice

The four models of curriculum are the following:

  1. Curriculum as a body of knowledge to be transmitted
  2. Curriculum as an attempt to achieve certain ends in students – product
  3. Curriculum as process
  4. Curriculum as praxis

Curriculum as a body of knowledge to be transmitted:
This model explains how curriculum relates with a syllabus. It includes the contents and subjects that outline upcoming events, such as assignments due and examinations, which is a helpful tool in organization. In addition, it outlines the way the topics will be studied in, allowing students to be prepared for future classes. With this method comes the importance of content, but that comes with a drawback. Smith (2000) states that “[those] who still equate curriculum with a syllabus are likely to limit their planning to a consideration of the content or the body of knowledge that they wish to transmit” (p.3). In that case, students may be limiting themselves from further understandings or considering ideas beyond what is listed in the contents of the syllabus.

Curriculum as an attempt to achieve certain ends in students – product:
This model looks at how outcomes are set, planned, applied, and the results evaluated.  On the bottom of page four we see the productive thinking set that consist of seven steps. This model has an organizing power that provides a clear understanding of the outcomes so that it can be evaluated. It may include pre-specified goals to benefit both teachers and learners. However, there are some issues with this approach like how some will feel like “they are told what they must learn and how they will do it” (Smith, 2000, p.4). This causes problems for both the learners and the programmes. In addition, sometimes things have to be broken down into smaller components in order to evaluate. With this, the smaller parts are taken into account rather than the whole when focusing on curriculum theory and practice. It is like having a to-do list and when all items are checked off, that is when they have finished the course, which does not show their progress.

Curriculum asprocess:
This model focuses on how curriculum is the interactions of teachers, students, and knowledge. It is focused on what happens in the classroom and how people prepare and evaluate. When teachers are in school they know how to think critically on the spot, know their role and what is expected of them, and a plan. This model is an active process that includes conversations between, and with, people in the class to spark thinking and action. It is an ongoing process of evaluating and what their outcomes are.

Curriculum as praxis:
This model is an expansion of the process model and actions is not informed, but also committed. It is an ongoing evaluation and process that does not focus on an individual, but as a whole. This allows great conversations between students and teachers which keeps it engaging.

Throughout my education, I find that it focused on curriculum as a body of knowledge in my elementary years. I usually found myself answering questions on sheets where the questions were already generated by whatever source the teacher got it from. No one really questioned why or how these sheets would benefit us besides new information. It did not really give people a way to discuss with one another. The sheets would usually have a key to the answers, so most of the questions were either right or wrong. This model did not work for those students who like to question things and who had opinions on certain topics. Whatever answer was on the sheet was the only answer and there was no room for discussion. Reflecting on this now, I think students need the time and opportunity to question what is being taught and to be able to converse about subjects in school. This would benefit students who have a hard time expanding on ideas and are able to hear other opinions.

Common Sense

In general, common sense is from the knowledge we already know and have become accustomed to. However, our common sense may not be the same as others in different parts of the world. In Kumashiro’s article, it explains that common sense is “what everyone should know” (p. XXIX), but that is not always the case. As we grow up, we learn manners such as listening when someone is speaking, no talking with food in your mouth, waiting your turn, saying “please and thank you”, etc., and we grow up accustomed to those teachings. When I see people doing the opposite, such as talking out of turn, I see that as a sign of disrespect. Maybe somewhere in the world speaking out of turn is like getting the answer and having to say it because they want to be first. In this case, my common sense would not apply. This then challenges my common sense because what is obvious to myself may not be the same to another. This is like when Kumashiro talks about teaching in Nepal and how they were not doing what they were “supposed” to, like how some of the children encouraged Kumashiro to his one of the misbehaving students. Our common sense blocks our sense of reality and when we see something done “incorrectly” we have the urge to fix it. Sometimes we need to learn new teaching methods and others need to learn from us. As explained in the article, we need to create an anti-oppressive education so that we do not undermine or marginalized the vast teaching methods. Sometimes we do not question the common sense and become glued to the society we are in obeying what we have learned in those environments. This challenges future educators to be better and understanding that there is no right way and how perspectives are a factor in how we see or do without thinking.

It is important to pay attention to our common sense in order to create an anti-oppressive education. There is not one way to teach, but many and in order to discover those methods more people need to pay attention to their common sense. When we pay attention to our common sense and become open to new methods, we expand our knowledge and are able to not conform to our own ideas. We need to be aware of who or how our common sense affects people because This gives us opportunities to collaborate or get know educators in areas where education is not funded and to know their ways of teaching children in those areas. We can learn from the oppressed to become more knowledgeable about their teaching methods and customs like what has worked in the past and what has not. Sometimes it will create challenges for whoever is involved because some people may see certain methods as doing harm, rather than good and they do not see that. There is always room to grow and learn new things, we just have to keep our common sense open to new things.