Week 10: Curriculum as Numeracy

Honestly, I do not think there was ever an aspect of mathematics that were oppressive to me. Some notions were harder to grasp than some others but in general I wouldn’t call it oppressive. Maybe the only discriminative thing I saw was the fact that every formula, every mathematical discoveries were of the “Europeans”. Whether it be Thales or Pythagorus…it was always an European. But we all know that Egyptians were good in Maths, invented lots, and many Greeks mathematicians actually studied there. But never were we introduced to any Egyptian mathematician. I also heard that many of the ancient Greek formulas were actually originally from Egypt. In one word the Greeks got all the credit and the Europeans were also the ones that sort of wrote history, so….

 

maths

 

I taught maths a lot too in elementary, and some kids liked it while some others did not. For those who seemed not to like it too much, I noticed that it was mainly a matter of language (language barrier); indeed, it was the Immersion Program and I was teaching in French. I noticed that as soon as I switched into English (to those students), they would grasp the thing right away. But I tried not to do it too much because they were in Immersion to improve their French.

Concerning ways in which Inuit mathematics challenge Eurocentric ideas about the purposes mathematics:

Inuit children develop spatial representations differently than the ones in Southern Canada. Differently yes, but also more advanced. The only problem is that their strengths are not integrated into the curriculum.

-Furthermore, their mathematical ways goes by learning at the feet of an elder. The elder would give enigmas and that’s how the kids would get clues for mathematical problem solving.

-Lastly, I would be talking about the way they measure. Till today, Inuit people use part of their bodies to measure (completely different than the European system).

Week 9: Curriculum as Literacy

I grew up pretty much immersed in the French culture (since the country I was born in was colonized by France) but also Hollywood (movies) and american HIP HOP music. The books we read were all french, american or belgian (Tintin, Superman, Mickey Mouse…) and black people were either nonexistent or depicted as bushmen with massive red lips hunting wild animals. Even though that was not the Africa I knew (bushmen half naked hunting, starving children…), I was not too offended because I assumed that they did not know. Another aspect of common sense was that white means intelligent, smart, rich and prosperous, while black meant poor, dumb, unable to innovate. Even though there were writers and philosophers from the Republic of Congo, we barely studied them or their works. On the curriculum it was the truth from France that mattered the most.

africa

Because I grew up travelling a lot (mainly to Europe), I was aware of many people’s cultures and ways of doing things. So I was able to socialize (on a very personal level) with many foreigners settled in the country. Indeed the Republic of Congo is an oil producer, so we find lots of europeans, americans, canadians, and chinese corporations.

 

offshore

 

Seeing an American or  an European was therefore not a big deal, they were everywhere. However, I still had many stereotypes, regarding mainly countries I hadn’t yet visited. Canada for instance, I thought was a land of snow and only snow: snowy forest, a cottage in the middle of it, and someone outside cutting wood. I was so surprised when I googled Toronto and saw skyscrapers. And it goes on with several cultures/countries.

The biases I might be bringing to the classroom will be due to lack of knowlege. I might be biased towards countries I haven’t visited yet and cultures I haven’t yet been in contact with. Travelling I think is a great weapon against stereotypes and biases, if not the greatest. One could read books or watch movies but still can be very biased. Taking the opportunity to talk to people we don’t really know (about) and asking questions is also in my opinion another weapon. Better take those informations from themselves than CNN or Fox News, or a book written by another biased person (like most European books I read growing up showing Africans half naked or starving).

Curriculum as Citizenship

I did not have my grade 12 schooling in Canada so it will be hard for me to comment on the question. Neverthless, in the country I grew up in (Republic of Congo), patriotism isn’t  very big. I remember us singing the national anthem very rarely at school. Being a citizen was simply to hold the citizenship and , not much and not less. Nothing really was in the curriculum apart from history and geography. Even then, the history we learnt was WWII and the French Revolution. So there was not much in term of citizenship. Citizenship talks I remember were taught in elementary (being a good citizen, national anthem…).

The Sask curriculum though makes social studies as well as Aboriginal languages available to grade 12 students, which is good in regards to citizenship. As an immigrant it did not take me long before I started learning a bit about First Nations’s past. I think it is a duty as citizens (to know at least the very bit).

Week 7: We are all treaty people

To the person that wrote to Mike, I would ask them for more details when they say “racist remarks”. It is not good at all that the school does not teach Treaty Education simply because they don’t have First Nations students, because  first of all, a treaty is between two parties. So whether they like it or not, they are part of it. Second of all, isn’t it part of the curriculum? There are many schools across the province that “omit” to teach about Treaties, I personally have met countless classmates that have told me that in their classes they never learnt it.

treaty people

(The signing of Treaty 4 in 1874 between Saskatchewan’s Indigenous peoples and the Government of Canada marked the beginning of a relationship that is supposed to endure endure as long as the sun shines, the rivers flow, and the grasses grow. Today, united by the agreements made in Treaty 4, we are all Treaty people. In this exhibit, see Treaty 4 presented in a rare document: Canada’s only known written record of Treaty promises from the viewpoint of the Indigenous people.)

I agree with the definition of colonialism given in the video: “an extended process of denying relationship”. It is very important that we understand that we are all Treaty people because without any knowledge of the past, we are unable to construct our future.

Many promises were broken and most of those that got kept are not very helpful (like the $5 deal, or how much is funded on First Nations reserves’ schools); so I don’t think it is something we can just hide under the table. There are some mistakes of the past that we do not want to reproduce, so we need to educate ourselves. Looking at Indigenous people’s past and where they come from (and have been through), it becomes very hard to judge them. One can easily talk about a cycle of abuse. Certain issues go in cycles, so unless we understand the root of the issue, we will never be able to break the cycle. It takes time certainly, but also tolerance and understanding. In one of my classes the professor was saying that it will take up to about 7 generations for First Nations people to start to really move on from the trauma caused throughout history. At the same time, I believe that as teachers when we explain those things to our students, it is important that we do not blame them for the mistakes of their ancestors. Many kids because of that blame would tend to shut down in front of the issue, so it is important too to know how to convey the message. Neverthless, they need to be kept aware; yes we do not blame them, but the message at least should leave them with a sense of “oh now I am more accountable, I can do things differently and do not have to repeat the same mistakes”.

friendship

(Photo credit: the Dan Kellar/Toronto Media Co-op. For more information, visit: http://april28.net.)

Week 6: Curriculum as place

  1. Reinhabitation (which teaches us how to live well in our total environment ) in the narrative is happening in many ways:
  • Kids are being taught Cree words. Even though for sake of language level they are not taught the hard words, at least they know some words. Hard words like paquataskamik for instance that were used back in the day, are now being replaced by noscheemik (easier words for youths).

numbers

  • The people of the land somehow know and understand where they come from and are at peace with that. They are also trying to inform younger generations about their identity and their past.
  • Huge honour seems to have been given (by the visitors) to the people of the land.
  • The way the people of the land relate to the river is very interesting. It is part of who they are.

 

CultureChart-English-Bradley-Robinson

 

Decolonization too happens in many ways:

  • The fact that in the narrative Cree words are used and a recognition of the Cree people, is itself a form of decolonisation. The desire to understand them as well as the realisation that the site belongs to them are forms of decolonisation too.
  • I liked the part where the elder explained that hearing frogs for instance by a river for instance was a sign that the river was clean. That brings an awareness as to making sure that we respect nature.

decolonize

2) I really like the fact that they went and collected data and information through interviewing people, that approach is very good in my opinion. I will be doing the same: asking questions, interviewing, listen to suggestions (from students, parents, and other teachers).

Also, I will promote critical thinking in my classes so students are not just taught what to think but how to think for their own. I will be asking them very intentional questions, questions that would make them think and question a lot of things. That way we will see decolonisation and reinhabitation happening.

To stand for and try to understand minorities will also be on the menu (could be people with special needs, or immigrants..).

Week 5: Curriculum as Public Policy: Critical Engagement with the Politics of Knowledge

I have always thought that school curricula were developped by the government. The ministry of education more specifically. Universities too because they set a certain standard (of who comes in and the conditions).

After reading the text, we are to note that first of all education works provincially in Canada, which means that every province has its own general curriculum. There are many stakeholders in that which are the government itself, teachers, experts, parents (on a very small level), bureaucrats… Two kind of discussions take place: the overall shape of school curricula (which subject needs to be taught, which ones should be taken away, should we have religion or sex education…) and the content of particular subjects (at different level of education, what should be included in each subject, how much load, methods..). General preferences are taken into consideration, curricula somehow reflect societies.  These groups of people are brought together (representatives of each sector). Sometimes the implementation of a curriculum takes years. These processes are sometimes smooth, and sometimes too contentious.

This reading gave me more information concerning the disagreement teachers sometimes have with experts (of a subject). I did not even know experts were also stakeholders because to be honest, nobody is at their level, it is not because they know something that they are able to teach it. I also never expected bureaucrats to be part of that list,  to me they were just like machines executing orders. Apparently I was wrong: even the ones typing have a say apparently.

What concerns me though is that students are not really consulted. Of course it is hard to take them into consideration due to their young age, but at least to have surveys and polls then based on that, find out what might be best for them. I also wanted to see parents have a better say, apparently very few only are part of that whole process. Maybe we should raise the awareness? Because many parents complain saying that they do not like this or that part of the curriculum, but at the same time they do not take part of any process. My guess is they are just not aware, so we need to raise the awareness (tv, internet, letters…).

Week 4 (definition of a good student according to common sense)

According to the common sense a good student was a student that was doing everything he or she was taught in class. To challenge that could have been seen as bad. That student had to dress properly, be punctual, polite. Good grades too are very important, students with good grades usually are seen as the good ones.

The privileged were usually the white student, especially the wealthy ones.

My only question is what if a student is not punctual but has good grades? Or bad grades but listens to teacher? That brings some foggyness to the definition of a good student I think.

Some understanding of curriculum and school (Assignment 2, ECS 210)

 

“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.”
Fred Rogers

Playing for too long has been downplayed, looked down, labelled as “not serious” but I think kids learn best that way. What they learn with pleasure will be very hard to forget. Personally I still remember course contents from relax and fun teachers; they were hardworking yes, but fun and easy going too. The so called “serious” / “grumpy” ones, my classmates and I would usually forget their course contents once their final was over.

When it’s fun kids like it and ask for more. So many kids hate school and this needs to change (I was and still am one of those, unless when a specific class was fun and enjoyable).

On a kindergaten level, I think a four year old should be playing. Many end up lacking social and life skills because they were never allowed to play.

 

Assignment 1: ECS 210. Tyler rationale

a) I’ve experienced the Tyler rationale through many ways in my own schooling. That approach consisting in focusing on the end result can be flawed because there were times when I understood class material but did bad on final (bad day, stress, being nervous…). Judging from the end result can be deceptive and tricky at times.

There were also students that had a hard time with teacher’s methods  and therefore were left behind because the majority was fine. The teacher was more concerned about finishing the curriculum rather than being slowed down by a few students who had problems understanding.

 

b) There are many limitations to that approach: some teachers for instance might want to take a different route but are bound by the way things have to be done. In one word, Tyler’s model in my opinion can be too fixed and linear, lacking creativity.

Also, when it comes to setting fixed objectives at the beginning, it can be hard to have all of these goals fulfilled because of the complexity and unexpected situations of the profession.

 

c) Concerning some benefits of that approach, Mr Schiro says “…it is essential to assess curricula, learners, and teachers. Key concepts during evaluation are accountability and standards.”

Tyler’s model shows a certain level of accountability (towards parents, principal, school board, students themselves…).

Also, those clear and fixed objectives can be helpful in case there was a sub teacher.