Mathematics

  1. When learning math, I often struggled but not enough to get the help that I needed. I was someone who understood enough to not be seen as someone who is struggling, but I wasn’t succeeding and therefore didn’t receive the help I needed. I felt like I was stuck right in the middle when it came to understanding and was often forgotten. Of course, I had high expectations for myself, but so did my family, so when I didn’t get a good enough grade, I felt very like I had let a lot of people down. This caused lots of anxiety for me for many reasons and I was unsure how to handle it. Eventually, I moved to Balfour where I was able to have a wide variety of different math teachers. In Grade 12 I finally found someone who was really good at teaching every level of understanding and I was able to finally enjoy math. I was able to get amazing grades and I was able to understand the importance of the teacher and the subject, not just the subject. From this experience alone, I believe I can say I have experienced some discriminatory actions that have had a negative impact on my grades, mental health and overall experience in math. 

  1. From Gail’s lecture, it was very apparent that there are many ways in which Inuit math is taught differently. The three that stuck out most to me were based around relationships, personal experiences and teaching it orally. These are important because if math was built based around relationships, children would be able to connect and engage with the subject much more easily. Personally, that was always something I struggled with which is why I believe I struggled so bad with math. Along with this, if personal experiences were mixed into their math experiences, they would be much more engaged. Having engaged students allows them to have a positive experience with the subject and they won’t have the unnecessary anxiety around it, which I believe many of us have experienced. Lastly, if math was taught more orally rather than having everything written down, then the educator would be able to teach math based on their students. If one student isn’t working for one student, change it, then teach them differently. As Gail said, as soon as it’s written down, it makes it seem like that is the only way to do things, especially math. Teaching it orally can allow students to understand differently, become actively engaged and just overall make it so that it isn’t only one type of student to understand and thrive in the class. The way we learn it has such a big impact on how we understand it and our relationship with the topic, which for those who have anxiety like me with math, it is not very liked. 

Biases and Single Stories

I grew up in a small town, so for a long time I had an extremely biased point of view because that’s how living in a small town can sometimes be. However, once I moved into Regina, I had my eyes opened to the truth of people, rather than racism and lies about other people. I went to Balfour which was a very diverse school in terms of the people and in terms of what languages you’re exposed to when first entering the school. As you walk throughout the school, there was Aborginal culture seen throughout and I saw more projects develop throughout my highschool career. With this alone, my biases have changed. When first entering University/the classroom, my biases were a lot less educated and aware which means I was likely bringing in unchallenged racism, sexism, etc. I say unchallenged because I didn’t even realize what I was thinking until University brought me to think about my own thoughts. I struggled through the first two years, but now I often question what I’m thinking and always asking myself “is this the truth or a bias?” Now, I’m not perfect but I am doing what I can for the sake of my students and their futures. I believe being educated and challenging is one way that we can unlearn/work against these biases because it really makes you examine yourself, your thoughts and how you were raised in terms of biases. 

There were many single stories in my school, especially in the favor of European/white people. In Social Studies, when discussing Residential Schools and Aboriginal Issues, we often discussed all of the negative things that happened to Aboriginal people, but what the European colonizers did were barely discussed or it didn’t seem as bad as it really was. As I got older, as I was more educated, there were different truths that began to unfold and those stories then had different truths to them. However, it made me really think about what we are being taught and what many educators valued as important and whose stories were truly more important. Not only does this connect to subject areas, but it can also connect to future students. Often, children who comes from a family that is struggling are often categorized as a difficult child, or a child that has no interest in being in school. Having this bias tagged on their head makes it difficult for the child to navigate through life and for future educators to view them any differently. Single stories can be a very negative, biased thing that many children, family or specific groups of people live with on a daily. Listening to all of the stories, with different perspectives allows the educators or students to hear everything that went on and how it affected everyone.

Citizenship

When discussing education, citizen education was not something I would have thought of in all honesty. I remember being told how important Pythagoras Theorem would be and how difficult it would be if I didn’t understand the math, or if I wasn’t able to write an essay on Romeo and Juliet. The importance of citizenship was never discussed in further detail. 

However, growing up in Avonlea there would be many things we did around town that would be part of good citizenship and something that became the norm every year, so we practiced it without even knowing it. All the time. According to Joel Westheimer’s article, we often practiced being The Personally Responsible Citizen who “acts responsibly in his/her community” (page 3). For us, this would include:

-Grade six trash pick up

-Grade 7 & 8 food drive

-Christmas fundraisers to help those who couldn’t afford presents

-Grade 12 bottle drive/trash pick up

-Many more things

I remember there being so much more in terms of community in my small town (or sense of community). The small class sizes made it much easier for everyone to get involved and feel like they were making a difference. In Regina, I remember doing food drives, blood donations, etc. but, the difference is, the students had a choice whether or not they wanted to do it. However, being in a city school had me open my eyes to the different diversity that there is in our society. Since that’s the case, I remember practicing being the Justice Oriented Citizen. This may be the classes I took and whose classes I was able to get into, but my teachers were sure to advocate for human rights, being mistreated in society, etc. Ultimately, that’s why I am in education today, as I wanted to change the world in one way or another and I found the best way to do that, would be to educate.

I believe that learning how to be a good citizen is crucial, but so is having the connection. Everything we learn in school should be important and making that connection is what makes it important. All of the types of citizenship that Joel mentions in his article are very crucial to learn because education is not the only thing a person needs to make it through life, being a decent human-being goes along way as well. 

Treaty Education

In my opinion, the purpose of teaching Treaty Ed or any First Nations, Metis, and Inuit content and perspectives is to bring awareness to the issues that we see in our society today. Colonialism is a big part of Canadian history and I feel as if it is very important to teach everyone, especially because history tends to repeat itself. It would be horrible if this history did repeat itself. We also need to educate people on the topic so that the relationship between Canadians and Aboriginal people can begin to start the mending process. I believe this should be taught no matter who is in the classroom because it is a conversation that needs to happen in every classroom. According to Dwayne Donald, the legacy of colonialism is the disconnect between Aboriginal people and other Canadians, we need to begin to speak to each on respectful terms. To do this, being educated about the issue is the main goal. He also mentions that pre-service teachers want to do better when teaching this topic which I relate to. I strongly believe in having this conversation with my students and having this positive attitude as an educator also plays a strong role in this relationship. Again, according to Dwayne Donald teachers will teach the topic based off of how they think of the relationship and being attentive to the relationship dynamics.
I was unsure how to answer how we are all treaty people, but as I read further into what Chambers was writing about, I began to understand better. We are all treaty people because we all have a past and stories that got us to where are, for some it was their ancestors coming to Canada from Europe and others it is the colonization and the result of this action. Those who came to Canada were promised the perfect life and were ultimately put under a spell, however, this story is much different for the Aboriginal people. I believe acknowledging both of these stories is important because again, it helps us understand how everything came to be in Canada. The quote “As long as the sun shines and the river flows” alludes to the commonalities among people, which means we are all treaty people. As an educator, my understanding of curriculum and we are all treaty people means to listen to every students’ story and understand how they got to be where they are. For some, they are newly immigrating to Canada because they are promised a good life full of potential and for others, they know the harsh history and their stories are about trying to live with what colonization had destroyed. Also, we are on treaty land which needs to be acknowledged and I believe it’s important to acknowledge that every day. Again, that’s a conversation that needs to happen and it allows the relationship dynamic to be shaped in a much more positive manner.

Curriculum and Treaty Education

According to Levin, the school curricula is developed and implemented by many, many ‘experts’. These experts are government officials, textbook companies/regular companies and teachers. This surprised me because I feel like this a lot of people, especially people who aren’t in the classroom, to have a say in what our curriculum has become. This is frustrating because teachers have a lot of expectations and need to reach these goals, but they have only some voice in what they need to teach. Unfortunately, the students are left out, so the only voices in which they have are through their teachers. Teachers have the best understanding of what they are able to teach and what their students need in terms of curriculum. Personally, I never understood how curriculum was made and I’m glad I understand now, especially because I want to be an educator, I should know how it works. As stated before, I am surprised by the lack of student voices and how teachers don’t have a louder voice. This may be off topic, but I am also surprised that throughout, sex education versus religion comes up a lot. Is there no room for both? Sex education is protection and necessary, kids are going to do it, no matter what. 

After reading both articles, I believe that a lot of people might complain that Treaty Education has too much of a place in the curriculum, as learned after the lecture. However, while I was growing up I believe that it should have been in our curriculum SO MUCH more. Unfortunately, there was information we learned that repeated itself every single year, until I moved into Regina in grade 10. Only until I took accelerated history, I learned more in depth information about the unfortunate history of Canada, which I believe is far too long. I am fortunate enough to receive that information and to have a teacher who was willing to go as in depth as they did. Unfortunately, I don’t think many people who didn’t take the same class as I did, got the same information. I believe it is important to discuss because it’s an important part of our history and it can’t be ignored. History has a tendency to repeat itself, let’s be educated to it won’t.

Learning from Place

According to the article, bringing all of the age groups together on a nature connection is great for the social, intellectual, emotional, physical and spiritual development. Since this is the case, it is easy to see how important it is for these age groups to be able to connect to the cultural dimensions. This way they get a deeper connection of the land and the territory. These practices are bringing generations of people together and this is a step towards rehabilitation, especially because these practices can be used for generations to come in the future too. Not only are these practices important, but there are many other practices that will help decolonization and rehabilitation: 

  • The use of elders teaching the youth, in order to understand roles and meaning of land
  • The use of technology by using documentaries, radio documentaries and interviews
  • Cree-language revitalization using nature (the river excursion)
  • Allowed others to connect and share linguistic, cultural, historical, and geographical knowledge
  • The use of nature (land and water rights) goes beyond institutional walls which is traditional Mushkegowuk modes of teaching and learning 

Being a future educator, it is important to understand our traditional lands and how everything has come to be. Acknowledging the land we are on is an important aspect and understanding language revitalization is important too. By acknowledging land names, languages, etc. it exposes our children to the truth at a young age and they are able to have a hand in helping revitalization and so we have no repetition in history. Establishing this relationship to land and culture is crucial for my students and myself. Personally, I believe having an elder come into my classroom is important because they are able to speak culturally and personally on the issues and they are able to offer an insight that I will not be able to. Plus, I don’t believe it is my story to tell, I am only able to teach history. Being very aware of what we are doing as educators plays a big role in revitalization.

What makes the “Good” student?

While reading Kumashiro, the definition of being a “good” student is outlined throughout. While there is no TRUE definition of being a good student, society thinks that school is able to produce the same type of student with whoever walks through the door. The article proves this to be true through the students N and M, those who were seen as the “bad students”. They were bad students because they didn’t do things the same as all the other kids and they wanted to get to the answer differently, or possibly find a different answer to the question. Since this is the case, they are the underprivileged group and are seen as trouble and are treated differently by their educators. This is really disheartening because they just need a little bit more work and eventually, they will get to where we need them to be. It is important to encourage differences instead of making them feel guilty. I appreciate this article because I have been there, where dealing with a child who doesn’t follow the norms can be frustrating, but instead of giving up, we try it different ways. I ask questions, because they know what they’re feeling. 

Students who perform what is necessary and listens to the teacher, is a good student, the BEST student and are privileged without even knowing it. Teachers are more willing to work with these students because they are the perfect product of the cut and paste human we want to see in society and in our schools.  This would be the more privileged children, teachers prefer these kids in their classroom. They engage in discussions, they don’t ask unnecessary questions and are often succeed well in the classroom. These children are never meant to feel guilty about their behaviour, because it is seen as the appropriate behaviour. 

I’m always curious to know how we get in these positions in the first place, if we didn’t have high expectations of teachers, they will feel less pressure to produce the perfect kid. There is no such thing as perfection, especially when it comes to human beings. Being an aware educator of different learns in your classroom is critical, but we need to understand why this pressure is put on them in the first place. I believe less pressure on the teacher in terms of production, will be less pressure on the students in order to be perfect, or “good”.

Gender and the Curriculum

For my paper, I decided to choose the topic of Gender and Curriculum. My interest sparked knowing that gender inequity is still prevalent in our society, so I wanted to understand how it was prevalent in the curriculum, knowing full well that I am also the one teaching it. I wanted to understand how I could make the gender issues, essentially disappear when I am teaching the curriculum. Personally, I have seen this issue as a student in a classroom. Often times, what I was wearing was more important than me being in school, learning. I was asked a couple times to change my shirt even though it was sweltering hot, and I was a kid with a sweating issue and was embarrassed about it. The novel Integrating Gender and Sexual Diversity Across the Curriculum explains that “[i]ssues of gender and sexual diversity affect everyone and do not only impact students after they have reached puberty” (2010). The author Elizabeth Meyer makes very prominent points in which I agreed with. 

In this chapter, there are many sub chapters within it. I chose to focus on one specific sub chapter, “Elementary Topics and Themes”. I felt that this is necessary, because I wanted to teach elementary education. It discusses gender roles in which the teacher unknowingly provokes on the children through the curriculum and other gender roles that are prevalent throughout their education career, just being a student in that school society. For example, what girls are wearing and how boys are behaving, “boys will be boys”. It is also discusses parents and family relationships which shows us the students come in with gender norms from their family in which we need to break them apart from. They struggle to understand other students who have gay or bi sexual parents and in many cases, teachers get back lash discussing these topics in their classroom. 

I am hoping to move forward and have an understanding of gender inequities within the classroom and curriculum and how I can limit or erase it in my own classroom. I’m hoping to find two other articles sharing their knowledge of Gender and the curriculum, in which I will compare or contrast the articles. Elizabeth Meyer raises very strong points in her book/article and I’m hoping the other two articles (even though I’m choosing them) raise equally as strong points. I’m excited to learn and research this topic of discussion as I feel it is one that I have personally been influenced by, being a female in the school system.

Are we limited?

I personally have experienced the Tyler rationale through my own schooling by the way in which my teachers would educate us. Obviously, they had their curriculum goals in which they had to get us to, but they all took us in different ways. By the end of what they had taught us, evaluation then took place. My success in evaluation often relied on how the educator was able to teach us the information. In high school, evaluations are much more important for the future, but evaluations are still very apparent in elementary schools. In my elementary school career, we would often get our spelling words of the week which consisted of 10-15 words that I had to learn how to spell by Friday. Every Friday, we had a spelling test which then determined who was the better speller. For some teachers, they would have us look up the words in the dictionary to have a deeper understanding of the words, but for others they would just give us the words and to have us write them out 10x each. Either way, they had their own ways of us practicing the words to be evaluated by the end of the week.

I find that this limits students who don’t often do well with evaluations or who struggles with the information. Most often, from personal experience, students try and shove the information all in their brains and try and run with it, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. It really only benefits those who are good at being evaluated, but it limits those who struggle. So, because they are unable to do this testing, they are unable to be seen as successful and really limits the students. 

However, despite the negatives about this, there are some benefits to this as well. Overall, an educator may have a better understanding of where their students are in terms of understanding the information that is being presented. I feel like there are many more benefits for the educators rather than the students, but these teaching styles are are supposed to be made to benefit the students as well. For the students, they learn a great deal of information in a small amount of time and it really makes sure that the students are understanding and retaining the information being taught.

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