ECS 210: Colonialist Mathematics

1. At the beginning of the reading, Leroy Little Bear (2000) states that colonialism “tries to maintain a singular social order by means of force and law, suppressing the diversity of human worldviews. … Typically, this proposition creates oppression and discrimination” (p. 77). Think back on your experiences of the teaching and learning of mathematics — were there aspects of it that were oppressive and/or discriminating for you or other students?

Honestly, I think math is pretty clear cut in what it is attempting to do. It makes you learn numbers and equations, which I am not sure particularly leads to oppressive teaching. I have never considered math oppressive or discriminatory in anyway, besides the fact that I do not like math, therefore it discriminates against what sort of activities I like to associate myself with!

The only way I can perceive math being discriminatory is if the scenario in which the math problem is being told, is oppressive. However, I do not think that schools are so tone deaf as to write scenarios in which people are being put down on the basis of their race, nationality, sexuality identity, etc… If there are any math scenarios like that, then I can see it being oppressive.

2. After reading Poirier’s article: Teaching mathematics and the Inuit Community, identify at least three ways in which Inuit mathematics challenge Eurocentric ideas about the purposes mathematics and the way we learn it.

One way that Inuit mathematics challenge Eurocentric ideas is that they use the Inuit language counting system. As in, they do not use one, two, three, etc, they use the numbers from their own language. Another way they challenge is that they use a different measuring system, primarily made up of measurements in relation to body parts. As in, the length of an arm versus the complicated way that English has many measuring units. Lastly, Inuit education is mainly comprised from observing and listening rather than studying from a textbook, which is the norm in the Eurocentric style.

 

ECS 210: We Are All Treaty People

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 of teaching Treaty Ed has many answers. First and foremost, the first reason that comes to mind is the fact that it has been ignored for many generations. Canadian society was doing a disservice to First Nations people by basically sweeping treaties under the rug and interpreting them as they saw fit. The biggest reason to teach Treaty Ed is to do right and be true to the words our ancestors signed long ago on the treaties. No longer will people remain ignorant, and the main purpose of Treaty Ed is to ensure that they simply cannot.

The second reason that comes to mind is the fact that the treaties are intrinsically written into the history of the land of Canada. Without the treaties, the land would have been taken in much more violent means, however, the treaties were still vigorously abused. Treaty Ed will make it crystal clear for generations to come that the treaties are extremely important to this nations history, and to ignore that fact would be to ignore the truth.

Another reason that comes to mind is to combat racism or simple arrogance/ignorance when it comes to First Nation peoples. Racism has a weakness sown into its very core, and that is based on the fact that it relies on people to be misinformed about other races. Education is the main weapon against racism, and where better to utilize this weapon of the mind, than in the education system itself.

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

Where this statement relates to curriculum is the fact that we live on treaty land, therefore all students who live on this land must know they are within treaty borders. By placing it square and upfront in the curriculum, it reminds teachers of the importance of the statement. It also reminds the teachers to remain humble, that this land traditionally belonged to other people, and by not teaching that would be an insult to their memory. I think there are many interpretations of the phrase, but none as clear as my statements made above.

  • Garrett J. Bates

 

ECS 210: Critical Pedagogy of Place

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

This article had a very interesting study going on with regards to reinhabitation and decolonization. I was unaware that the two were actually exclusive from one another in terms of definition, however, it makes sense that the two are deeply connected. One of the main ways the article shows decolonization is the heavy emphasis placed on hearing from elders instead of reading from sources. It makes me question if I should seek out more personal stories instead of only reading second hand accounts from books. Furthermore, the students were provided with some experiences regarding residential schools. The more people are outspoken about their experiences, the more people are aware of the atrocities that were committed. I believe this is key in taking steps towards decolonization and reclaiming their history as independent people with independent histories.
2. How might you adapt these ideas to considering place in your own subject areas and teaching?

I was reading over the Law 30 curriculum last weekend and I was pleasantly surprised to see the curriculum advocate for the inclusion of First Nations voices. Particularly I was surprised that it said teachers should bring in elders to share experiences with injustice, as well as the traditional First Nations views of the law. Furthermore, in respect to the idea of “place,” I believe it is very important for students to have the opportunity to experience things at the places they happened. It is a good reminder why field trips are so important to the learner, because you can talk all you want about a place, but unless you literally witness it with your own eyes, you can never know how much it will really touch you. I think this would be particularly important for teaching the Numbered Treaties.

 

ECS 210: The “Good” Student

According to commonsense, the “good” student is one who quietly does their work, never raises a fuss and will strictly adhere to the rules. Although hilariously enough, I think that this is a “good” student, it’s just that it is not the only way to define a “good” student. In fact, the definition of a “good” student should be left entirely up to the individual teacher. They are going to decide what they like in a student and what they do not like. For example, I like when students can joke around with me and appreciate my sarcasm. I like when students are sarcastic to me, as it reveals we are in this together. If we can joke together, then surely we can get along.

The students privileged by this model are the ones who will strictly adhere to the rules. They will not question the teacher and simply go along with whatever the teacher says. These are the book-worm and introverted type students. I think that the privilege comes from the fact that they more easily conform to the rigid standards set by our society. Any student who does not fit the narrow personality that the school wants you to exhibit, will be discriminated against.

By viewing the “good” student in this light, it becomes impossible for teachers to realize that students can be “good” in a number of ways.

This question is kind of loaded though, I mean, shouldn’t a teacher be able to see a “good” student however they like? If a teacher thinks that this commonsense idea of a “good” student, is a “good” student, what’s the problem? Isn’t it wrong to tell someone how to feel about a certain topic? This question is putting us onto a narrow path where there really is only one right answer: for our responses to criticize this viewpoint. What if you agree with the viewpoint? Would that be considered a wrong answer? I believe this ties into a bigger problem, that being that this program is attempting to make us feel a certain way. As adults, should we not be able to feel however we want about certain topics? Of course it’s wrong to discriminate against ANYONE, but an individual’s personal thoughts are nobodies business but their own.

  • Garrett J. Bates

ECS 210: Autonomous and Ideological Curriculum

Before I start the answer, I just want to say that I don’t think every single piece of literature has an agenda. Some stories are simply stories for the sake of being stories. I actually believe it’s pessimistic to think that people are always trying to say something with their work. Sometimes, a piece of work is not trying to give off any message other than the fact that the creator wants you to feel a certain emotion (horror, joy, disgust, etc). The reason I bring this up is because this seems to be what the article is suggesting.

I’m taking a look at the ELA A10 curriculum and I can say that it is mostly leaning ideologically. The people who wrote the curriculum want it’s readers to have a certain ideological viewpoint. This is not necessarily wrong, I just disagree with the practice in itself. I think books and literature should be perceived entirely how the reader wants to. I know in my writing I don’t necessarily need the reader to agree with what I’m trying to say. In fact I think it’s actually more worthwhile for people to disagree with me, because at least that way a genuinely interesting conversation is created.

I tend to lean towards the autonomous view of literacy presented in the articles. I think that when I read things, I don’t even care what the ideological standing of the author is. I want to judge a piece of literature solely on the content it’s given me and the emotions it evokes inside of me.

The article by Brian Street says “It is in this sense that literacy is seen having such effects autonomously, irrespective of the social conditions and cultural interpretations” I don’t think an author needs to worry about the “social conditions” and “cultural interpretations” of the reader. A writer should be writing a piece of literature mainly for himself/herself.

This actually ties together to an even bigger thought that I have had stirring in my mind, and that is that we care too much about offending people. It’s literally stifling people’s creativity if they have to worry about anyone they could possibly offend. Furthermore, I don’t think we should protect children from offensive material. When they leave school, they’re going to be offended by something, and if we don’t teach them how to deal with it in a reasonable manner, we’re just creating a society of people who can’t accept people with other viewpoints.

That isn’t to say that we should show them blatantly offensive things, but I think students should be exposed to a certain level of what could be considered “offensive material.”

For an example I’ll take “To Kill a Mockingbird”

Schools are banning that book because of offensive language, however, by banning the books it’s giving the offensive language the power that the people so desperately not want it to have. This has the complete opposite effect of what is intended, and nobody seems to realize that.

If something is offensive, just say “wow that wasn’t cool.” and move on. Dwelling on it only gives it power over you.

  • Garrett J. Bates

ECS 210: How curricula is developed (after reading)

School curricula is heavily influenced by government politics, or as this article attempts to argue, is completely controlled by politics. A wide range of varying influences come together to create curriculum based on public policy. However, based on the public policy, the curriculum is shaped to teach students specific sets of values. These values are generally the values of politicians that were elected into office, and as the article states, if they did a poor job of implementing their voter bases values, they’d be kicked out of office. This allows the government to essentially decide what the curriculum stresses and does not stress, therefore allowing them to dictate how students are raised.

I had figured that curriculum would be buried in some level of bureaucracy, therefore it comes as no surprise that it is completely controlled by bureaucracy. I never stopped to consider that politics is essentially what guides curriculum though. I feel like teachers should have a lot more of a say in the matter than what the article made it seem like they do. After all, they are the people educated in how to teach education, wouldn’t they have the best professional opinions on the matter?

Most concerning to me in this article is when they stated “Curriculum documents
and policies may also endorse or support, explicitly or not, particular teaching and learning practices.” (p. 14) This scares me because what if I disagree with the particular teaching practices that the curriculum endorses? Am I forced to suck up and take it? Well, I imagine I am actually. And swallowing a pill like that disturbs me.

  • Garrett J. Bates

ECS 210: How curricula is developed (before reading)

This is a blog post that I get to cheat a little bit on. In my ELNG 300 course, my professor talks all the time about how she was on the board to renew the English curriculum for Saskatchewan in 2009 I believe.

She basically said that a bunch of teachers get together in a boardroom and are literally asked: “what do you think should be on the English curriculum for high school students?”

The teachers get out a pen and paper, then just write what they think is essential. Then they debate back and forth what is important to learn, what kind of books should be mandatory, if Shakespeare has finally lost its relevance, etc…

She also mentioned that they brought in students from time to time, to simply ask what THEY thought should be on the curriculum. I feel as though this is both a good and bad thing, as high school students don’t have the grand image in their mind. They normally only think about the immediate future instead of what the implications for their actions might be.

Beyond that information I have absolutely no idea. I imagine that the people who develop curriculum have a broad idea of what sort of outcomes they want to achieve. Or what sort of texts they want students to be able to read by the time they graduate. I do, however, imagine that what teachers in Saskatchewan want on the curriculum would differ highly from what teachers in Nova Scotia would want. Therefore I’m led to believe that texts with cultural significance would be on the curriculum.

I imagine once it is narrowed down to a few ideas here and there, the teachers debate vigorously for what they want. No one will leave happy, but as long as they can leave mutually mad, something is probably accomplished.

The nitty-gritty details of what goes on during curricula formation is completely unknown to me sadly. Hoping my next blog post will be more enlightened!

  • Garrett J. Bates

ECS 210: Educational Philosophy Quote

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”

  • Aristotle

 

As a blossoming English and Social Studies teacher I often find myself confronted with knowledge that is contrary to my worldview. However, I find this kind of information the most useful into creating me into a more well rounded educator. By experiencing different views and trying to understand why others would hold that view, it flexes my empathetic muscles that I would not have to otherwise. These exercises I often find myself in will no doubt help in my abilities to relate to students, who’s viewpoints I may be in conflict with.

This quote by Aristotle has many implications for how a teacher must instruct his class. As many totalitarian teachers we have experienced through high school hold the viewpoint of “everything I say is fact,” this quote lets us remain humble. The knowledge we pass onto students may be what we think is right, but as educators we must be able to remain outside of our fixed opinions. Aristotle’s quote essentially makes it possible for us to accept that what we say is not set in stone, rather it is what we are attempting to teach. It also encourages us to promote critical thinking within the classroom, which I think is extra important in an English class.

There is not much that this quote makes “impossible” in relation to teaching. I guess if you do think that everything you say is the “right” answer, then it will make it impossible for you to be a teacher.

This quote relates to both the student and teacher in profound ways. As stated above, it humbles the teacher, but on the flip side I also think it should motivate students. The world is how they perceive it, and that is A-OKAY. They need not agree with everything I say, but I would encourage them to think critically about what I am TRYING to say. While this quote exercises the empathetic skills of the teacher, I would argue that it likewise exercises the empathetic skills of the student. Some students have this ability naturally within themselves, but for others it is a skill that must be taught. With this quote in mind, the mental stretching would come naturally.

Aristotle’s quote mainly relates to my educational philosophy because I would say that I do not agree with everything this program has been teaching us. However, I do try to think deeply about what the program is TRYING to teach us. Likewise, as stated above, I would not expect my student to agree with everything I say. If they did, they would simply become another brick in the wall. That is not the point of education. The point of education in relation to my educational philosophy, is to create students who can think for themselves and accept what knowledge they think lines up with their worldviews. I understand that this can have negative consequences, but that is the beauty of living in a free society. The notion of freedom has the inherent possibility of people making bad decisions. And that is alright with me. If I did not have the choice to make bad decisions, then it would cheapen all the good decisions I have made.

  • Garrett J. Bates

ECS 210: The Tyler Rationale

The Tyler rationale touches most upon many concepts that help in the formation of curriculum, however it is hard to notice the ways that it touches you when you are going through school. Looking back upon my schooling, I would say that most of my classes used the Tyler rationale, but not in ways that would be noticeable unless you had prior knowledge of the Tyler rationale. Of course the main feature noticed is how centralized and focused lessons are in high school. When I was in grade 11 math, we were taught how to solve specific equations, then given examples of those equations to solve. As the Tyler rationale focuses on efficiency, this would make the most sense in how to teach. For classes such as English and other courses that require a discussion, it isn’t used as much.

This leads me into the limitations of the Tyler rationale. It leaves little room for discussion outside of subject matter. You learn something, then put it to use in an efficient manner. While this is a good process for learning new techniques, it isn’t helpful to the student who wants to know information that is outside actually learning the technique. Another limitation is how narrow the margin is for knowledge to be learned. Say in a social studies class you are learning about why countries are shaped the way they are. However, you want to know about why the world map is drawn the way it is. It is all well to ask this question, but according to the Tyler rationale, you should instead use the most efficient means to teach and only focus on the countries. By being “efficient,” you are essentially limiting the conversation and are using narrow-minded approach to only teaching what the curriculum says is necessary to learn.

On the other hand, there are major benefits to the Tyler rationale as well. Firstly, the Tyler rationale heavily emphasizes structure, which is important for the learner. Without structure, it leaves a wider margin for error for the student. Without structure, a class can devolve into simple discussion with no learning going on at all. By following the Tyler rationale, you can be sure that the student is learning their outcomes in an efficient way. Secondly, the Tyler rationale promotes the idea of learning through experience. I think this is a great benefit, as something cannot really be learned unless it is acted upon. Sure it can be understood, but it is not learned. You would not know how to shoot a puck if you were only taught what the stick and puck individually are. You must also learn the technique through the doing of the action. I believe this also ties into the concept of the formal curriculum vs the learned curriculum. While you want to teach how to shoot a puck, at the end of the day the curriculum is only words on paper. You can only really learn it if you actually do it. Therefore presenting the value of learning through experience.

While I do think that there are limitations to the Tyler rationale, I think the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. Thanks for reading.

  • Garrett J. Bates