Lenses and Biases in the Classroom

  1. 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?

My upbringing/schooling has shaped how I read the world in many different ways. I was raised in a middle class white family that owned a small business in Prince Albert, SK. The way my upbringing has shaped how I viewed the world is that my family has always told me that there is good and bad people in the world no matter how they look or where they come from. I do understand that I have white privilege and will never fully understand how other people with a different coloured skin would feel as I will never live in their shoes. In my opinion growing up in Prince Albert has allowed me to see better on both sides of the matter as we shared stories in class of what went on in our lives through different lessons and could see the gaps in what I experienced. In this I had classmates of mine asked to join a gang where that has never personally happened to me. Many different situations came up in the city and I learnt a lot through the process. I was able to grow up in a community and schooling system where all around me were different groups of people. During my time at school we learnt in class and went on field trips every year to an elder or speaker of indigenous descent and learnt the history of what happened before and after colonialism. I do believe for the most part it was oriented around creating personally-responsible citizens and nothing more really. I also got to witness the many different forms of racism and the things different cultures say towards one another just because of their skin colour. This was eye opening when I first started to witness it and could do little about it as I was a child and did not have the voice to stand up and fully understand what people older than me were truly saying. In a sense my upbringing has shaped me to believe that we will never get away from racism as it is evident in most and is engrained in us as we hear it daily or every other day. The different biases that I bring are from my experiences throughout life and that I am a white settler. The different lenses I bring are the gender lens as I am male who cannot personally look at it from a females perspective but try to look at both sexes neutrally. The lenses and biases I bring to the classroom will always shape me and the way I look at the class but I will always try to be neutral towards them. I will try to unlearn and work against my biases by learning more about the different perspectives from me and talking to people that could help me see differently.

 

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

I do not remember doing any stories on these matters in school. I do remember my teacher briefly talking in my one class that we should watch what we say regarding local news as we do not know who those peoples families are and the people that event impacted the most. One of these stories was about a murder and a man committing suicide which the siblings of that individual went to our school. Before that I do remember people making horrible comments about that person and cannot imagine what those siblings were feeling if they heard what I did. This really made me think that I do have to watch what I say and know that every event impacts others and that I cannot think that these events are not impacting anyone I know or around me. Also that we may not know the full story of what happened.

 

 

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Mathematics a Universal Language?

The way I was taught mathematics back in high school was very oppressive and discriminating towards students as it only focused on doing the problems individually and then regurgitate that knowledge by a unit test. Also this way of teaching did not go into anyone’s culture or ways of knowing just sticking to the way the textbook said it has to be done. This shows how Eurocentric my learning was and further shows how distant it is from Indigenous ways of knowing. Indigenous knowledge has been spread throughout the generations in the stories they tell and this math did not incorporate any background or even vocalizing what you know. Another way this is off from the indigenous people is how they internalize what they know verse western knowledge which externalizes everything. The indigenous people work in generalization of their communities so they know enough about everything while western people work on specialization such as being a doctor, teacher, tradesperson and so on. This shows how our ways of math are formed as we look at the subjects found in school being workplace, pre-calculus, foundations, and so on. Indigenous people would definitely only be looking at the general instead of picking particular areas to specialize in. Everything that is taught in mathematics only focus on the ways western people have done it and needs to come to a conclusion on ways to incorporate both ways of knowing.

There are many ways that the Inuit mathematics challenges the Eurocentric ideas of mathematics, even their numbering system. The Inuit people go off of a base 20 numeracy system as the Eurocentric mathematics go off of a base 10 system which people thought math is a universal system. This is just one of the reasons that math is not. Additionally the Inuit children were very good at spatial mathematics and knowing the strategies with a game where Eurocentric math puts little importance showing the cultural difference in what they see as important. One huge difference in math between the two is between the ways we teach as Inuit students learn through observing an elder or listening to enigmas, while Eurocentric learning is set around pencil and paper exercises. All of these ways show the differences and complexities of math and how it is not a universal language.

Drawing me to ask what is the better way to teach our students is it one or the other? Both? Is one way of teaching better to teach certain areas?

Connecting a Denied Relationship

As part of my classes for my three week block I have picked up a Social Studies 30 course. This past week we have been discussing the concept of standard of living and looking at the different standards across Canada . I tried to introduce this concept from the perspective of the First Nations people of Canada and my class was very confused about the topic and in many cases made some racist remarks. I have tried to reintroduce the concept but they continue to treat it as a joke.

 

The teachers at this school are very lax on the topic of Treaty Education as well as First Nations ways of knowing. I have asked my Coop for advice on Treaty Education and she told me that she does not see the purpose of teaching it at this school because there are no First Nations students. I was wondering if you would have any ideas of how to approach this topic with my class or if you would have any resources to recommend.

 

  1. What is 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?

The purpose for teaching indigenous knowledge even when there are no indigenous students is essential as it is mandatory for Treaty Education to be taught in all grades and subject areas. Also students need to know where there country comes from and what history it was made both the good and even the ugliest parts of our history. Claire suggested that it is essential as we owe the little or few indigenous students to teach about relationships and stories of their background.

  1. What does it mean for your understanding of curriculum that “We are all treaty people”?

From my understanding we are all treaty people because treaty’s were built on relationships between Canada and the First Nations people. So we are all treaty people as we live on the land that was signed under a treaty and have continuing relationships with Canada as a country and one’s interactions with the indigenous population. This further shows how important it is to build and even repair relationships. In Dwayne Donald’s speech he talked about how in order to look at the future we need to look at the backwards on all the events that has taken us to this point and only then will we be able to look at the future. This is a great way to look at it as reflection from the past with consultations of both the Canadians and indigenous people need to start to look at the treaty’s and the groundworks to see what needs to be put forth and made visible so the healing and change can begin.

  1. Spend at least one paragraph making some connections to TreatyEdCamp – What did you hear/see there that might help you to enact treaty education in your future classroom?

As I was a volunteer I was not able to see the Key Note speaker and other components but I was able to go into two sessions as a note taker. This allowed me to see different aspects and ways to bring indigenous knowledge into the classroom in different areas of study. I looked at two different subjects being French and Mathematics. The French subject area was seen as them intertwining all three languages in their teachings being English, French, and Cree. The Speaker talked a lot about looking at teaching through a two eyed seeing. Two eyed seeing is a way of learning in seeing through both the Indigenous knowledge and ways as well as the Eurocentric knowledge. Also viewing the ways both of these groups view the world around them. We further talked about how broad and maybe irresponsible the curriculum is to indigenous knowledge as some of them point towards a negative light of those people as one talks about the folk tales for example the wendigo. A wendigo is basically the comparison of a werewolf and is known to eat people. This is why we need to further look into the curriculum and make sure that the content we teach is necessary and bettering the connections students have with indigenous knowledge. Also making sure it is shined on in a positive light.

The session on Mathematics was more an open discussion where many people talked about the ways they may be able to incorporate indigenous and western knowledge together and if it was even possible. This was an area that never seemed to have the same answer to even two of the same individuals. From this session I have begun to open myself to further think and evaluate how it is possible and will continue to seek out others opinions on the matter. This could then further me a long in making sure I incorporate indigenous knowledge but make sure to come from it with knowledge from First Nations representatives or even have guest speakers for the class.

Response to Email:

I would tell her that it is all of our duty to incorporate that knowledge into the classroom. Tell the teacher that teaching Treaty Education is mandatory in Saskatchewan for all grades and subject areas. Tell her that it is important to teach Canada’s history and indigenous content is largely connected in Canada and who we are as a country to this day. I am glad you made an effort and I hope to see you continue this as it is our duty too. Lastly, leaving her with a note on Dwayne Donald’s as he beliefs colonialism is a denial of relationship as for many years Canadians and First Nations people have been two different perspectives missing each other. If we do not do something to stop this disconnect or denial of relationship we will never move forward as we need to because even the smallest step forward is a step in the right direction.

Seeing Place

  1. List some of the ways that you see reinhabitation and decolonization happening throughout the narrative.

The decolonization that is happening in the narrative is how the Mushkegowuk have lost their paquataskamik which is a Cree word for traditional territory, the entire environment and everything it contains, as well as their language, and identity. They have lost their traditional territories as excavation companies have come in and disrupted the natural order of the land. During the years the younger generation has lost their language as they use simpler words to define something that have less meaning. They are decolonizing by renaming and reclaiming names of places to allow the language to be in peoples everyday lives. Also, trying to get back to the relationship with the land as they once had as the excavation development in the area has changed the way they use to do things and their connections with animals and plants. They are now trying to create places to learn and go back to their old traditional ways which is the reinhabitation of the culture.

  1. How might you adapt these ideas to considering place in your own subject areas and teaching?

In my own area of teaching I would definitely want to add reinhabitation and decolonization into my class room to provide students with the traditional knowledge of the indigenous people to what they use to be as a culture. This would put a focus on learning about the traditions that the indigenous people have and use their ways of knowledge to integrate it into the class room. I would use place as using a two way sight approach of teaching about how Indigenous and Eurocentric people view place. From this it will allow my students to see the two ways that people view situations and see what has happened over the years and how we need to keep changing for the better.

Decisions on the Curriculum

Before

I believe that the school curricula are developed by what the government sees important to have as future citizens. They will collaborate with teachers and people in the community to make it, but then change it into what they want if necessary.

After

The school curriculum is developed by the government through actors, processes, and influences. The government is trying to put forth a document that fits what they want in their agenda but have to make sure it will pass as oppositions will try to stop and criticize it and voters play a vital role in re-election. Generally the development of the curriculum arises from the government asking experts of the field to collaborate on what is important. In some degree will be directed by the government through someone in the ministry of education. The school curriculum is made by looking at the weaknesses and strengths of the last curriculum and changing it, once the new curriculum was made and then revised the curriculum will then become implemented.

The concerns I have are how little influence really any one has because at the end of the day the government will have the last say and the whole renewal of curriculum is always guided by a person in the governments best interests. One other thing is how students have zero say in what they will be learning even though the biggest effect is on them. Additionally I also think that it should be based off the teachers belief but then shown to the public before any concerns and that the concerns are addressed before implementation.

 What really is the best solution to building a curriculum that is best suited for the students?

The “good student”

          The meaning behind being a good student according to commonsense is by following the norm of society deems to be a “good student”. Additionally, suggesting that a good student will follow what is expected of them and does not deviate from the social norm. The students that are privileged in any society are the ones that follow what is asked of them and do not like change. A “good student” will become a lifelong learner and succeed in life. The students that are privileged in our society are the ones who are great at reading, writing, and arithmetic. These students are the ones that get the best jobs as they follow what is expected of them by society. From Kumashiro’s perspective we have difficulties challenging the commonsense ideas because it is difficult to see what ideas are prescriptive and it gives us comfort. Over the years it has been normalized when we should be at school, what we should learn, how teachers teach and everything around school. For this reason we have become accustomed to all these practices and to change them now would be hard to challenge as everyone sees this as the right way. Although commonsense and the “good student” should continue to change with future knowledge and education, it has become the norm and simply easier to maintain the same rules.

From this I wonder which culture’s commonsense will benefit students most and how could we claim this without bias?

 

“Learning the treasure within” -UNESCO

          From this quote I can see it packs a large meaning that can go multiple ways. An important thing that comes to mind when unpacking this quote is it shows what we have to offer ourselves: what we have and what we can do with it is endless. The “treasure” is the knowledge that we get from education and our surroundings. It allows us to grow as individuals as well as grow our “treasure”. Consequently showing that the possible and impossible is all due to the student and the knowledge they get from their environment and the teachers in it. This quote shows how important it is as a teacher to provide valuable knowledge to the students and make them feel like the treasure that is within them. As a student it is important to know that knowledge is valuable and that the more you grow in “treasure” the better you can express yourselves to others. It is important to see what you have to give to the world from within. This relates to the curriculum as the curriculum wants the students to be engaged citizens, lifelong learners, and have a sense of self and community. Furthermore, the students will keep learning throughout their lives helping to engage, learn, and develop a sense of self and community; which in turn develops a more valuable treasure within.

 

Purpose of the Tyler Rationale

From my experience, the Tyler rationale was the way my teachers taught. We would be set up in rows, most of the time not allowed to speak. This was to ensure that we stayed on task as well as learning all the same topics. The teacher would write on the board, tell us what to do, and then we would do it. This process was to ensure that we were efficient and tried to make us come out all the same. The problem with this is that all of us are different and come from different experiences and backgrounds. If we were supposed to be a steal-rail at the end, not all of us would look the same coming out as Tyler thought in the Social Efficiency Theory. The limitations of the Tyler rationale is suggesting that all of us are the same which is the total opposite as every student has their own individual experiences, genetics, background, culture and more. This rationale is also limited in regards to how teachers should teach the same to every student as that is not the case since students all learn differently and lacks the ability to allow students to reflect, inquire, and think as an individual. The benefits of this rationale are it makes it easier for teachers to be able to teach. It also simplifies everything to allow one to see what needs to be taught to help students in the real world. As the years progress and the world changes, we will constantly be changing and discovering more efficient and innovative ways to create and use the curriculum to benefit our students.

 

Common Sense and how it changes

From the reading of Kumashiro’s (2009) The Problem of Common Sense I got to the conclusion that common sense is ever changing and is different in many cultures. Because people believe that everyone should know and follow a certain way of life and believe that everyone else knows to follow. Kumashiro’s (2009) words states that common sense is not what schools could be doing it is what schools should be doing. In reading Kumashiro’s work I now understand why it is important to pay attention to common sense wherever you are because that is the way people live and one needs to know all things that are common sense in order to live a proper life in that community. It is also important to know common sense because sometimes you have to think outside of the box and see ways that it may be able to improve and how you may do that. Another thing is that common sense does not tell us about the oppression that is happening in the schools. So as a teacher we have to make sure to try and stop oppression. This could be done by taking a stand in the four approaches talked about in this reading to deal with the types of oppression in the schools. I wonder how my part as a teacher will make an impact on the common sense or if I will just be following along?

Kumashiro. (2009). Against Common Sense: Teaching and Learning Toward Social Justice, pp. XXIX – XLI

 

ECS 210

Hi everyone,

This is a post to see if the category is working properly.

Sincerely,

Brayden Ruszkowski