Single Stories and Worldview

My upbringing impacted how I view the world in a very interesting way, especially when it comes to issues of mental health and other health issues. Because my mom is a social worker, I got a very different perspective on life very early on, especially about certain taboo subjects when I was growing up. My mom was always straight forward with me when it came to social issues like homelessness and mental illness. Something core that she had always said was “all they want is to be treated like people”, a quote that has saved me in a few awkward situations. A friend of mine who also has a social worker for a mom always make the joke that those types of mothers are on a different mindset than a typical mother. They tend to expose you to, and educated you on a lot of different subjects very quickly on subjects that could be very intense.

On the side of my schooling and how that shaped my worldview, I found a lot of the subjects that I was exposed to a home were danced around and never really mentioned. This happened in both elementary and high school. Just recently in my education have I found that mental health is being discussed a lot more without an overlay of taboo.

The knowledge that my mom gave me and the lack of knowledge that my education provides a very helpful lens within the classroom. I know what should be talked about in a classroom and I know different circumstances that the children might be in. I also know what gaps need to be filled within the knowledge I know and what students should know about mental illness.

A lot of single stories that were present within my schooling can be found in the textbooks that we had to use for class. There was, and still is, a single narrative that textbooks are trying to push out and it leaves out so many other aspects to any story. For example, history textbooks would usually only push a more Euro-centric view point of everything that happened in the time of colonialism. If you looked into the other stories that are featured, you would see such a diverse selection of viewpoints to what happened in different places. Indigenous people are no longer viewed as “savages who need to be civilized” and settlers are not just “tyrants within a foreign land”. Though the latter is a lot more true to many people than others would like to admit, there is always more than one narrative that should be taken into account when looking at subjects, especially history. The truth that tended to matter in my schooling was that of the victors, who usually was based around the government.  Unless someone is compelled to do their own research, they are only fed the information that is around the victors within that subject line.

The Politics within Curriculum

Curriculum will always have a political underlay of what is taught and why. There is always going to be an agenda about what should be taught to youth in our country. When it comes to decisions based around curriculum, many debates are around what should be taught and how far in depth it should be taught. There is a certain ideal that different people are trying to push through curriculum that usually reflects certain beliefs and lifestyles. The people who arguably should be consulted with debate around curriculum and what should be taught are very rarely actually included in the conversation, which is quite ridiculous. It would be like asking a software engineer to plan out an open heart surgery. Though that engineer is very knowledgeable in their own field, its not like they were trained in anything to do with open-heart surgery. When it comes to formal curriculum, educators are rarely consulted for the construction of different sections of curriculum. Teachers are expected to follow through and complete teachings according to a subject’s curriculum, which is not always a fair possibility when it comes to certain subject areas for certain teachers. What is generally taught relies on how far a teacher is willing to teach their students based around the curriculum.

The Saskatchewan Treaty Education document demonstrates a lot of these similar themes to the Levin document. The document was heavily influenced by academic institutions and the government, especially focusing on the goals of the Canadian/provincial government. The issue lays within a question of “so what?”. The government never really lays out the reasons why treaty education is actually important, why it should be taught to our students, and the benefits of Treaty education in general. This can probably be traced back to political tensions within Indigenous cultures and the Canadian/provincial government and the sense of obligation that the governments might have to “represent” Treaty education. One of the main tension that were probably danced around was the presence of Residential Schools throughout Canada. Though, it could be argued that most of the push seems more obligatory than it is intentional. Again like mentioned in the previous paragraph, these lessons are also determined by how much a teacher wants to dive in to the curriculum provided.

The Importance of an Active Treaty Ed. Curriculum

Though there might not be any Indigenous students in the classroom, it is still important to teach the Treaty Ed curriculum. Just because there are no Indigenous people in the classroom does not mean that those students will never interact with other cultures ever in their life, that is highly unlikely. Claire and Cynthia both referenced to the idea of “we are all treaty people”. This idea is important in the classroom because it illustrates the fact that there are two parties when it came to the signing of the treaties and we should recognize both parties that were involved. The idea that we do not have to teach Treaty Education within the classroom if there is a lacking of Indigenous students takes an approach of tucking away the issues and trying to forget about them, instead of addressing them and learning.

To teach the subjects that settler educators might deem as not as important if their classroom is not a majority Indigenous is extremely important to learn about the country’s history and the history of the different Indigenous groups within Canada. Not only that, but these lessons will sit with the students for a long time and hopefully reshape the race-bias that they might have already developed before stepping into the class. Treaty Education is important for growing a more inclusive and less ignorant world view.

Learning from Place

Jean-Paul Restoule, Sheila Gruner, and Edmund Metatawabin’s article titled “Learning from Place: A Return to Traditional Mushkegowuk Ways of Knowing” tackles the way in which Cree youth embrace their culture and community. The entire article features many examples of reinhabitation and decolonization. The article brings attention to the different problems that need to be addressed within the culture, including language, relationships among the people and nature, and history.

The authors discuss a river trip that would help learners to understand how the concept of intergenerational cooperation. In an understanding of how to cooperate with the people in the canoe with you and nature around you, there is a development of relationships back to an older way of thinking within the concept of everything being intertwined. Teaching the students about the interconnectedness of the Earth is a very good way to have them get connected to their roots and this teaching could also bring benefits to the Earth itself. If learners are taught that they are connected to the Earth, there is more of a focus on protecting that. Another example of reinhabitation and decolonization is that of speaking in your native tongue to name places. This also includes learning the importance of the water and the land, again relating to the interconnectedness of the body and the Earth.

These ideas can be adapted into a future classroom plan. The general concept of allowing your students to know where they come from and allow them to connect back into their cultural roots is very important. This allows them to acknowledge their connections to who their ancestries are. For my field of social studies, knowing what happens in the past is very important. Students learning about their past can actually help them gain an interest in history, and not just their baseline past. Speaking from personal experience, knowing the deep  history of my family sparked an interest in me with history itself and also my culture, which a lot had been left behind in the “homelands”.

Is There Really a “Good” Student

A “good” student is supposed to be someone who does not argue with the teacher, someone who is quiet and does their work, and someone who can follow the status quo without having to be asked. Personally, this form of student was not followed a lot in my own experiences of schooling, especially in elementary school. There was always a push for a “good” student who got super good grades and could keep up with the teacher. The only student who really benefits from this “good student model” is that of the well-behaved and obedient children. The more a child is disruptive and “difficult” to handle, they were deemed as the “bad” student. Even being a “good” student could be interpreted differently depending on the teacher, expectations of the school, and the social norm of the school. I honestly think that there is no real “good” student, there are just students that fit more into the expectations of teachers than others do.

Sex Education and the Curriculum

My focus for assignment 1 is based around the curriculum and sexual education. Before I even talk about my findings, I find it very telling that I had such a hard time finding articles about sexual education in Canada in relations to its activeness in curriculum. The most recent, and really only prominent, articles that I found were about the new changes to the Ontario curriculum in reference to sexual education. The lack of change in the sexual education curriculum is alarming to see when you take into consideration how much information that has become more accessible for everyone. Sexual education should not just be about being taught in class that sex is bad and then learning from incomplete external sources about what sex is. Though external sources can be beneficial in learning about one’s self and sexual education, being able to receive proper sex education is also very important for young people.

The main article that I found to base my assignment on is “Sexual and Reproductive Health Education: Contrasting Teachers’, Health Partners’ and Former Students’ Perspectives” by Karen P. Phillips and Andrea Martinez. This article tackles the issue of how sexual education is in a constant state of change and that teachers should be adapting to those changes. Though these changes should be made, the results of the research in this study found that both Catholic and Public schools have a very closed minded look towards sexual education, mainly surrounding abstinence. One thing that I disagree within the article is the fact that they reference that the way things are being taught is a good way of teaching students about  sexual and reproductive health. I think there should be an adaptation to how those subjects are being taught that allows student to learn past the idea that abstinence is best.

My next steps for the assignment are going to be finding two other articles to help enrich my thoughts on this subject. I want to specifically look at the recent changes to the Ontario curriculum and how that might affect the people there. I am going to see if there are any curriculum similarities between the provinces.

“Curriculum Theory and Practice” Response

The four models of curriculum and their benefits and drawbacks are:

  1. Curriculum as a body of knowledge to be transmitted
    1. Benefits: For beginner teachers, being able to follow along with instructions on what to teach can be very useful.
    2. Drawbacks: One issue with curriculum just executed through the syllabus is the fact that the syllabus only really is concerned with baseline content, never really focusing on depth. Another issue is that if a teacher follows the pace of the curriculum, there is a chance
  2. Curriculum as an attempt to achieve certain ends in students – product
    1. Benefits: This method of curriculum takes the “needs” of the children in the class and then bases the lesson plans around that. This method cares a lot more than just teaching the children what they are supposed to learn and dives deeper into making sure the students are actually understanding the content.
    2. Drawbacks: This form takes a very long time and is very dependent on making a lesson plan each time. Though this form appears to try and help children learn more, it is actually a forced way on how and when to learn in the classroom. A set way of evaluation is set for all of the children and is not able to be manipulated depending on the student’s needs. Though this way appears to be helpful and organized, it is actually quite the opposite for the students.
  3. Curriculum as process
    1. Benefits: Pays more attention to the individuals in the classroom instead of a generalized basis. Also the end evaluation is no longer set before the students even enter the class, now evaluation can be flexible for both the student and the teacher.
    2. Drawbacks: It rests upon the quality of teachers, which can be a benefit but the quality of teachers can very quite drastically. It also might not pay attention to the context in which learning takes place.
  4. Curriculum as a praxis
    1. Benefits: It takes everything in the classroom into account and relates it all to each other, which can allow for a better understanding of the classroom and the different dynamics but also does not just focus on the individual.
    2. Drawbacks: Like curriculum as a practice, this process is very dependent of the ability of the teacher, which can be a very bad thing depending on the teacher.

I find that in terms of which model was promoted in my own personal schooling truly depended on who was teaching the class. In elementary the most popular out of the four was between looking at curriculum as something to be transmitted and curriculum as a product. Especially in my elementary school, there was a heavy emphasis on the fact that you better work your way up to the teacher’s goals of the classroom and if you did not meet those goals you could be held back to repeat the grade again. There was more of a concern with the teachers that the students just get through the class instead of the students actually understanding the content. This view did shift when I went to a private high school, more of the teachers were looking to actually help the class learn and proper absorbed the material being taught in class. At Luther, I found some of the teachers were very supportive in helping to learn content an based their curriculum around the idea that it is a praxis. The other half of the teachers, though, were more still focused on curriculum as a bit of knowledge that is to be transmitted.

Source used: Smith, M. K. (1996, 2000) ‘Curriculum theory and practice’ the encyclopedia of informal


“The Problem of Commonsense” Response

Kumashiro defines “commonsense” as a set way that people think that is usually shaped by their society. For example, Kumashiro compares the teaching ways in the United States and that of Nepal. Both ways of educating were viewed as “proper” within their own societies but when looked at from an outside perspective, it was described as “wrong”. Kumashiro touches on the idea of a “US superiority complex” and how that is harmful to the broadening of knowledge and removing past prejudices and bias. He discusses how there is a want to conform, thus giving into the idea that “it is just common sense that schools teach these things and students do these things”. This mind set removes mental growth from both educators and student alike.

Common sense is very important to pay attention to, especially as educators. This is because with the acknowledgment of one’s own common sense, you can attempt to remove the harmful implications around things that were viewed as “common sense”. With paying attention to common sense, there is a platform to different ways to teach students and realizing that there is more than just what we thought was the “standard” way of education. There are going to be students, peers, and coworkers that come from all different types of backgrounds and have their own ideas of common sense. To be able to acknowledge that each person has their own, we can grow in relationships and as educators to adapt into new ways of teaching. As Kumashiro mentioned, many times there are harmful and outdated bias that comes with a societal common sense. Being able to recognize that it is outdated and challenge it is important when teaching the future of society.