Treaty Education and the School Curriculum

 

  • Part 1) According to the Levin article, how are school curricula developed and implemented? What new information/perspectives does this reading provide about the development and implementation of school curriculum? Is there anything that surprises you or maybe that concerns you? 
  • Part 2) After reading pages 1-4 of the Treaty Education document, what connections can you make between the article and the implementation of Treaty Education in Saskatchewan? What tension might you imagine were part of the development of the Treaty Education curriculum

School curriculum is the fundamental backbone to education according to Levins work. Levin describe curriculum as “an official statement of what students are expected to know and be able to do”. While I had a fairly basic understanding of what curriculum is I never knew the processes involved with the creation of curriculum. The most shocking finding for me is that the decisions involved around curriculum has little to no input from the public. While I understand that creating the curriculum is a lengthy and tough process it is mind boggling to me that the public isn’t even consulted on what they would like to learn. Would we be better off if the public had a say in the education in which their children are receiving? 

From my perspective treaty education has definitely fallen short in terms of what is supposed to be taught and what has been taught in schools. In the curriculum there are four main goals to be accomplished by the conclusion of grade 12. I can personally say that I have not received the proper education to have completed these goals. I also find it interesting that in the final goal it states “Treaties are sacred covenants between sovereign nations and are the foundational basis for meaningful relationships that perpetually foster the well-being of all people” but from my understanding the Indigenous people were often manipulated by language in the signings of treaties thus was the well-being of all people really in mind? If reconciliation is our end game I truly believe change is needed and needed fast.

Treaty Education Today

This is a real issue in schools. As you listen to Dwayne’s invitation/challenge, as you listen to Claire’s lecture and as you read Cynthia’s narrative – use these resources and your blog to craft a response to this student’s email. Consider the following questions in a blog post:

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

Treaty education is very important in today’s society as there can be no reconciliation without the proper education. It is hard for anyone to relate to something they have no knowledge on and for many families if it was not for school they would lack the information needed to have an informed opinion on the tragedy that went on for decades in our country.  Without an informed opinion it is nearly impossible to recognize the magnitude of what went on and how it has impacted families for many generations. Clair mentions this in her lecture by stating that those flipping the pages of Macleans used to be students and without treaty education and without hearing the story from a young age it’s impossible to see or hear these stories such as a water crisis in a way that matters. So while much of the information may be from the past without the information taught it is impossible to move forward with reconciliation in mind. 

The meaning of “We are all treaty people” can be interpreted in numerous ways. To me, this means that we must live and abide by the rules and agreements set for us by those who came before us. Canada is the country it is today because of the treaties and without them who knows what it would look like. The treaties affect everyone in Canada regardless of your heritage and so it is important we understand and respect these set of rules written for us the treaty people.

Learning from place

Reinhabitation

“teach us how to live well in our total environment” is what really stuck to me in the definition given. Forming a bond with the land we inhabit is often overlooked in today’s society and so the article follows the Mushkegowuk people and their journey into reconnecting with the land. The goal of this ten day long trip was to find the traditional land and rivers meaning and purpose. Through the knowledge passed on by elders students begin to understand the history that comes with area and how they defined development by their own terms as much of the land was never given up to European settlers. It’s important that the youth learns about rich local history and by doing so one can hope they can continue to build upon these relationships with the land and one another. 

Decolonization

Decolonization is very important for many Indigenous people as colonization took so much away. Decolonization is the act of moving forward from such things that no longer belong in society. One of the examples given in the article is “renaming and reclaiming” this is the process of replacing the English given names and replacing them with traditional Cree names. Language was one thing in which the settlers tried to take from Indigenous people so being able to rename places in the traditional language is a huge step forward in decolonization. 

My Own Teachings

I remember throughout high school all of the novels in which we studied together as a class were from Indigenous authors. I think this is just one of many great ways to learn more about our local history. Another would be to use as much place-based education as possible, utilize the land around us and teach the students the importance of respecting and maintaining the land in which we live on.

The “good” students

What does it mean to be a “good” student? This is a question often asked and that many parents strive for their children to embody. According to commonsense a “good” student is one who is willing to learn, sits quietly and does not interrupt, does everything expected and as a result does well in school and the report card will reflect. Kumashiro felt pressure to produce these type of students who only think and behave in one way. However, not all students fit these standards. So does this make them “bad” students? On paper one may believe so but that is simply just not true. Just because a student can’t remain sitting for hours on end, or deflected the urge to talk to his/her neighbour does not make them a bad student. Every student will be unique, they will have different mannerisms, attention spans, study habits, etc. So to normalize a student and assume they are either good or bad based on the social norm is absurd. 

Some students are often privileged by these commonsense thinkings, these students are primarily white, of primarily english speaking families, of good financial standing, without any physical or mental disabilities and raised in the Canadian schooling system. This privilege grants students an advantage sometimes even without knowing, and as a result this often leads to discrimination in the classroom. The “bad” students often get overlooked, mistreated and judged before they have an opportunity to show their strengths. While its not always easy to see this discrimination it is important we as teacher address this issue and fight to create an equal opportunity classroom where all students feel safe regardless if they are deemed “good” or “bad” by society.

Place-Based Education

Place-Based Education by David Sobel gives the reader insight into how one can connect the classroom to the outside world. One of the many examples given in the text describes how students from a school in Louisiana used a real life mosquito epidemic as an opportunity to use ecology, math, social studies and writing skills while also working on public speaking. The students bred mosquito fish before releasing them into ponds, ditches and swimming pools. They then tracked the number of offsprings while studying the fish’s life cycle and impact on the community before turning the data into brochures and presenting the findings at other schools in the district.

Another interesting point Sobel talks about is “Why are we using textbooks that focus on landforms in Arizona when we have such amazing resources right in our backyard.” This resonates with me as often the textbooks used here in Saskatchewan are from other provinces and rarely go in depth on some of the hidden beauties of our province. No textbook I have ever used has talked about Wascana Trails yet just 15 minutes outside Regina there are some beautiful hiking trails. While it is important to study different biomes and ecological regions, I think it would be a good start to learn and use the natural resources surrounding us as a tool to help better educate our students.

Moving forward with this assignment I look forward to reading more about Place-based Curriculum/Education and gaining a deeper understanding. The better my understanding the greater my paper can be. I also would be interested in reading an article possibly opposed to Place-based Curriculum/Education, this can help me identify some of the flaws and hopefully eliminate any flaws from any possible Place-based education I use in the future.

https://kohalacenter.org/teachertraining/pdf/pbexcerpt.pdf

 

Curriculum Theory and Practice

There are four models of curriculum mentioned in Smith’s work, these four models are; curriculum as a body of knowledge to be transmitted, curriculum as an attempt to achieve certain ends in students – product, curriculum as a process, and curriculum as praxis. Curriculum as a syllabus to be transmitted is often a syllabus highlighting the major tests. While not always bad it’s not always positive as syllabus often leave out key learning outcomes and expected learning dates. Transmission of knowledge can look many different ways however as educators it’s our job to deliver in the most efficient and effective way, while keeping in mind it’s going to look different for each and every class as no two students are the same. Curriculum as a product is all about how you prep, approach and teach for an outcome. While this can benefit some by giving a clear cut structure to class, it can hinder others as the route and predetermined end goals are the same for each student leaving little to no room for variation. As previously said no two students are the same so why do we assume the whole class can take the same approach to a lesson. Curriculum as a process demonstrates how everything within the classroom is an ongoing active process. Within the classroom teachers need to be adaptable, everyday presents new challenges and it is impossible to completely predict how the day will go. This relies on a strong teacher to be able to think on the fly, make critical decisions and know when to stay on track and when it’s necessary to venture off and do a little extra. Finally Curriculum as praxis is a development of the process and involves flexibility and the ability to implement theories while placing an emphasis on judgement and mean making. 

While reflecting on my education I can begin to see how my teachers attempted to use these models. I can see structure and curriculum as a product in many classes that followed the book and approached each lesson the same, but I can also see times in which my teachers had to adapt due to the weather or certain absences making sure to still utilize the time despite only having as low as 5 people in class, this allowed for more one on one time and extra help for those in need. Syllabuses have often looked the same however as ive gotten older they begin to get more detailed including a rough timeline of each class better preparing me for each topic, assignment and test. All of these experiences will help me prepare for the teaching world and help me learn from previous teachers mistake or utilize some of the brilliant ideas I have witnessed in my past.

Common Sense

Common Sense can be defined in many ways; the one and only way to operate a classroom, to do what is considered “normal” and expected, or to do what you instinctively feel is right. Common sense is not always right or wrong, it’s not always good nor bad but it’s important to pay attention to common sense because it’s easy to fall into a rhythm and simply follow the book. This can lead to a false sense of comfort and safety just masking many of the underlying issues to the system. Why is it expected that all children have access to a computer at home? Realistically, not every family can afford a computer or internet at home so to assume a student can work on his/her homework at home is just not right. The ball is in our court how we choose to handle our classroom which will greatly impact students school experience. By paying attention to common sense we as educators can begin to change the expected classroom into a more inclusive and safe environment.

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