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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.