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Blog Post One – Being Canadian

Home for me is not the place where I sleep, nor is it the place I visit once every few months where I grew up. Home is a place I have learned to find love for myself, and warmth in the air. A place where memories last a life time, and is a whole plane ride away. This place is only home with the right people at the right times, allowing thoughts from others into my life only when needed, and a place to guide me back to other memories and childhood. What makes it home is the light that goes into my eyes, the magical words it makes spill from my lips, the drops, lifts, and sharp turns it allows me to make, and the new memories it allows me to create, but I will not share this place. Home for me is where I am happiest, where I can be myself, where no judgement is released, and where smiles are widened.

Life brings us to unexpected places, love brings us home. – Unknown

northern lights

 

Curriculum as Literacy

Growing up I always struggled with mathematics. I always sought extra guidance from both my teachers and peers when it came to math, as succeeding was very important to me. Being able to both understand and perform the actions expected of me kept me driven when it came to making the right decisions. As middle school turned into high school the struggle continued and it was harder for me to get the help I needed as staying after school became less likely as I took on extracurriculars and a job. There are many ways to teach math, the hardest part is the educator will teach it in the way they believe is the best, but may not have been the best way for all of us. I always wonder if maybe the lesson was taken from a different approach, if I would have understood a lot easier.

Inuit mathematics takes a different approach, they are taught to understand and learn in base 20 (I did not know about this way of learning until Math 101), learning to stories/ different ways of understanding from their elders, a freedom to create and understand in a different approach than solving assigned questions out of a textbook. This opens educators up to understanding that different ways of teaching and learning should be available within the classroom to help students become more successful and understood within their learning experience.

My Upbringing

I was born and raised in Saskatchewan, Canada making this land and my community all I seemed to know. My school was located in a small town with a population of a little less than five hundred.  We had one school that held students from preschool to grade 12, and most of the time we were in split classes never in a classroom of our own. There were six students in my grade and we were all stuck together like glue, until we weren’t. Growing up both the boys and girls had the same stories, dad was a farmer, we lived on an acreage, mom was either a nurse or a banker, and after school we would all attend the exact same job at the same gas station. We were always together and believed that this is how almost everyone across Canada lived. Except if you lived in the city, then we thought they were the exact opposite of us and we swore to not ever become city people. How the times have change.

Not only do I shake my head at how small my perception was on the people around me, but of how uninviting the small town was to people that were different than us. If you didn’t wear a farmer jacket, get in your vehicle to spin donuts in the school parking lot, and hide the teachers vehicles behind the skating rink, then you were not the type of person we wanted to be around. At this time I was sure you would not have wanted to be around us and our bad attitudes either. We learned all the same subjects as the rest of Saskatchewan and learned about European and Indigenous history and the affects it had on us and our country, however we learned more about Indigenous history than anything. The school wanted us to understand what had taken place in the past and how we could create change.

We were however very invested in taking part with the Indigenous peoples who lived around the area. We would often have someone smudge the classroom, tell a story, and we held a day every year where the whole school would stay in the gym from morning to afternoon and watch them dance, sing, present songs, and tell their stories and experiences they had within residential schools. We also took part in sweat lodges and spiritual hikes with Indigenous peoples, especially during the spring. This was a huge part of the way I grew up and the topics experienced within my classroom.

 

Curriculum Policy & Politics

Politics and policies together create and apply all aspects of education. This includes resources, ideas, topics, how/whom/what education may be provided to the student. Curriculum is public policy and is shaped by many as a group. This group includes educators, politicians, parental ideas (community), government authority, etc. Politics has a high role of power within the education system that educators seem to view negatively, as this means their thoughts and opinions based around their own work are not taken as highly as a politicians views are. This, however, does not mean that educators voices are not heard, as they are after all part of the curriculum process. Educators are deserving of having more say and seats within the room when the curriculum is being discussed and applied to learning. They apply themselves to everyday life within the schools, are involved in their classrooms, students, and other members of the board, this gives teachers a great sense of what needs to be changed or needs to stay the same. Politicians are not the ones within the classroom during the day. The community plays a role within curriculum by addressing both their issues and opinions on areas that the education system provides questioning on. For example the question being asked within this article is based on the time school runs for and the community feeling negatively against the change. Personally I remember when school ran from 9:00am to 3:00pm, but while I was in middle school it became extended to 8:55am to 3:25pm for all kids in the school (kindergarten to grade 12).

All subjects should be taken with the same amount of dedication and interest, however people seem to see some subjects within school as more important than others. This leaves a negative impact against certain subjects and interests towards them by students that stays with them even throughout their time at university. The “most important” subjects are seen as: english language arts, mathematics, and science. Subjects seen as “lesser” are physical education, arts education, creative writing, and indigenous studies. This is not the case however, each subject is applied for a reason and should demand a certain amount of time for students to spend within this topics in order to learn and grow to understand that each plays an important role within balanced education.

Treaty education should be applied with the same dedication and interest by both students and educators as the “most important” subjects are. However, Treaty education is seen as confusing and even in todays day and age, some educators will not take what they are given and teach the subject. This is problematic and needs to be changed. As Canadians we live on treaty land and need to be educated on the topic of Indigenous and treaty education in a deeper sense. This will help us connect with who we are as Canadians and finding a connection with the soil we live and grow upon.

Treaty Education

The purpose of teaching Treaty Education where there are few or no First Nations peoples is as follows:

  • First Nations peoples were the original inhabitants of Canadian land creating history and understanding of where our country began.
  • We are living on Treaty land. (Regina sits on Treaty 4 lands, with a presence within Treaty 6).
  • First Nations settlers are a huge part of Canadian history, as a Canadian it is vital we understand how our country has been shaped and came to be over years of choices and decisions.
  • Being aware of what Residential schools were, and the actions that took place within them. By encouraging understanding within these topics we are teaching the next generation our mistakes and not encouraging history to repeat itself.
  • New comers to Canadian land will learn to understand the mistakes we have made in the past, and we were not always the cultural melting pot that we are in our modern Canadian society.

Teaching treaty education should be a must to educate minds on the topics of our country and actions that have been made in the past, shaping Canada into what it is today. “We are all treaty people” is an example showing a person who you are when living within Canadian territory and what it means to be Canadian. By being Treaty persons we are exposed to different rules, responsibilities, and rights that we must respect and uphold. Everything we own, including the land we live on and houses we live in or schools we attend, were all made possible because of the treaties.

Learning From Place:

Ways that reinhabitation and decolonization are introduced throughout Learning From Place: A Return to Traditional Mushkegowuk Ways of Knowing are as follows: 

  • Renaming and reclaiming locations (benefits youth by introducing and increasing the probability of seeing and bringing more Cree concepts into their lives).
  • Sharing knowledge and understanding between youth and elders provides valuing traditional territory, leading projects, becoming connected with nature and the importance of the connection for intellectual, emotional, social, physical, and spiritual development within children.
  • Both reinhabitation and decolonization are interconnected within each other.
  • Inserting and introducing the Cree language into different activities/ documents helps attention to be drawn to traditional territory creating relationships, joining communities, and also creating a historical identity. 

Personally, these ideas have been adapted into my life by learning about Indigenous history throughout my high school career, as well as both being enrolled in Indigenous and a Cree language class during my first year of university in 2018. In the future, I will be able to introduce these ideas and concepts within my classroom, teaching students to respect and incorporate Indigenous history and ideas in both their learning and everyday lives when attending class. Assisting students by understanding how to connect with nature, self, treaty land, etc., will be an important topic within the classroom. 

 

What It Means to Be a Student

According to commonsense being a “good” student means that you are dedicated and understanding of what is expected of you as a learner. We, as students, have to learn to work our way towards the answers we seek, asking questions in the classroom shows that we are engaged and wanting to carry out conversations about topics that are being taught, showing up to classes, handing in assignments on time, responding positively to feedback, being open to working with others and carrying your weight of the assignment, and putting thoughts and time into your projects are all commonsense ways of being a “good” student. Problems also arise with this image of a good student. Good students are also the quiet ones who benefit from listening to class discussions rather than participating in them, who take notes and expand on others ideas when they go home at night and do homework, a good student is someone who is just happy to be attending school and be away from home for a while, a good student is even someone who misses days of class to tend to a sick family member who has no one else to take care of them, but yet still turns in assignments on time and shows up for the final exam.

The definition of being a “good” student revolves around the individuals with a high class, mostly white privileged students. What is not taken into account is students lives outside of school. We are all “good” students, with good intentions. We all believe in ourselves or have someone who believes in us, but sometimes that is not enough. Some need more guidance than others, extra help outside of class, a strong support system, funds, different ways of having information transmitted, etc.

What is made impossible to see, understand, and believe because of these commonsense ideas are as follows: It is impossible to see how busy a students schedule may be when school, two jobs, homework, driving, cleaning, relationships, etc., all adds up, it is impossible to understand that mental health limits how a student can progress or express themselves within the classroom, it is impossible to believe that a student may be trying their best even when every assignment is late. We are all “good” students trying to achieve a better future for ourselves.

Critical Summary Proposal

For my critical summary assignment I am choosing a scholar. I have chosen a scholar named Michael Apple who is known for the following: curriculum theory and research, development of democratic schools, and also the relationship between culture and power. Michael Apple is an influential construct to curriculum and research.

Throughout reading information, specifically Critical Theory: From Michael Apples Perspective, I have learned the importance of how education is deeply connected with society. “It is unrealistic to talk about education without understanding its interconnection with the three systems: culture, government and economy” (p.132, 2016). For my critical summary we will be focusing on the relationship between Michael Apple and education paired with society, how they are interconnected and its impact on schools today.

The next step for my critical theory assignment based on the scholar Michael Apple is to find more article based (peer reviewed) information that explores relations between education and how the society imprints on it. Looking into how these observations have also effected present schools and students.