ECS 210-014

Summary of Learning

Week 13 – April 6

Curriculum as Process

ECS 210-014

Week 10 – 2020 Mar 16

Curriculum as Numeracy

  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?

I was average in my mathematics skills. I found math interesting because some of the examples were fun to read about. I liked the word problems that had things from every day life such as watermelons and how much each person would get when you divided the item by the number of people. When the concepts were not related to every day life, I wondered, if I really needed to understand math and where I would use what was being taught. The teachers kept saying math is vital and a skill everyone needed. Through my everyday experiences, I eventually realized that math was vital and beneficial. For example, counting the ingredient measurements in cooking, figuring out the amount of boxes needed to pack up objects when tidying up my room, and calculating someone’s age. I think math text books use mainly North American people and items in the word problems. Inclusion of diversity would be more engaging for today’s student demographic.

In high school, I noticed differences of mathematics skills being used by teachers and students. Classmates from outside North America had deep discussions with teachers about the differing ways to do mathematics problems and still get the correct answer. Sometimes the teachers did not agree with the way I calculated my answers even though they were the same answers as theirs. I began to wonder why they taught only one way and why my way wasn’t acceptable. I remember my PreCalculus 20 teacher asked a Ukrainian student if the math we were doing was the same as what he learned in Ukraine. He said some of the ways we were doing our math was different from the way he did the math problems in Ukraine. The teacher asked him to show his way and the teacher was surprised and gained new insights. She was open to accepting the different way. I wonder how many other teachers are that accepting.

2. Using Gale’s lecture and Poirier’s article, identify at least three ways in which Inuit mathematics challenge Eurocentric ideas about the purpose of mathematics and the way we learn it.

The Eurocentric mathematic ideas are systematically different from the Inuit. Inuit mathematics is focused more on collaboration research instead of individualistic research work. In Eurocentric mathematics teaching or learning, teachers do not have students involved in collaborative work as much as Inuit teachings of mathematics. Also, if teachers do have students involved in collaborative work it is for a small amount of time in a class period especially at the high school level. Here are three differences I have highlighted.

  1. Language – Inuit children’s first language, Inuktitut, is also the only language they learn in kindergarten, Grade 1, and 2. Although, they learn mathematics first in Inuktitut in those grades, from Grade 3 onward to the end of high school, they only learn mathematics in either French or English.
  2. Culture – Inuit children learn their mathematics skills in their mother tongue the first three years in school (Poirier 54). In Inuit, mathematics skills are not seen as solving an every day life problem or providing solutions. Whereas, in Eurocentric mathematics it is used in every day life to help solve problems such as financial assessment. Inuit way of teachings is also another way of  “‘enculturation'” for children to be integrated into their own culture (Poirier 55). Another is “acculturation”, which is a way of integrating children into the “southern” or Eurocentric mathematics (Poirier 55). These differences make it difficult for students to have both mathematics knowledge. So, “How can these two cultures be combined and accommodated in mathematics teaching situations?” (Poirier 55).
  3. Counting – Children learn to count in Inuktitut, which is a base-20 system, in their early years. The students only started to learn the numeric system in English and French in 2005 (Poirier 57). This will make it hard for students to switch from Inuktitut to French or English when 75% of their class is focused mainly on Inuktitut and the other 35 % is either French or English. It is also uncertain whether their counting in Inuktitut has the correct numeric counting as French or English.

Louise Poirier (2007) Teaching mathematics and the Inuit community, Canadian Journal of Science, Mathematics and Technology Education, 7:1, 53-67, DOI: 10.1080/14926150709556720

ECS 210-014

Week 9 – 2020 Mar 10

Curriculum as Literacy

How has your upbringing/school shaped how you “read the world”? What biases and lenses do you bring to your classroom? How might we unlearn/work against these biases?

My parents were born in Burma (Myanmar) and escaped political turmoil, along with many of their friends and relatives, across the border to Thailand. They lived in a refugee camp where I was born, as were my two brothers and sister. I was 7 years old when we left the camp and came to Regina. No one in my family spoke English. I started school and experienced an overwhelming amount of new information and many strange and confusing things.

My upbringing throughout elementary and high school was impacted by many wonderful teachers and the people in my community who took an active interest in helping my family adjust to our new home in the Western world. I see the world through a combination of my living here since the age of 7 and the influence of my family from my Myanmar Karen ancestry. In school, I was taught to think and view the world in Western dominated beliefs and perspectives. This is why I think or see certain things in a Western perspective instead of my own culture and family values or it takes me awhile to understand the Western perspective. For example, in high school my friends and classmates talked about moving away from home when they were out of school and living on their own. I didn’t understand why they wanted to live away from their parents even if they wanted to be independent. To me they could still be independent while living with their parents. In addition, a bonus would be saving money by not having to pay a high amount of rent for their own place. Although, I understand their way of thinking, because living with parents can be a struggle in finding personal space and not being able to show you can make it on your own. My parents made the difficult choice to leave their relatives and homeland to come to Canada as refugees with a very strong desire to provide a better life for my siblings and me. For this reason and out of respect and gratitude for their choice, I always balance my choices between the two views. I believe I can be in both worlds and of the world that makes the most sense based on my beliefs and values depending on the situation.

In my culture, respect for others is a value we are taught from a young age and especially towards adults and people in teaching roles even if they are not in a school setting. In high school, I was surprised at the “Me” attitude by many students and their lack of respect for teachers. This was illustrated by talking during class and not paying attention when the teacher was conducting a lesson. This was disrespectful to the teacher and fellow classmates that were in the class to learn. I was also disturbed by the lack of adherence and blatant disregard of the dress-code. I think these unpleasant behaviors could be reduced with repetitive education about being respectful and stricter consequences if the rules are not followed.

Which “single stories” (see Chimamanda Adichie’s talk, viewed in lecture) were present in your own schooling? Whose truth mattered?

For me the single schooling would be the story of a refugee or immigrant student from another country. People have a view that some people who are refugees do not know much or they are uneducated. These views devalue a person’s ability to learn and contribute to discrimination because they are labelled a certain way or categorized to be in a specific group. An example of this, is people I know being teachers, doctors, and nurses where they lived, but when they immigrate to Canada their education and experience is not recognized as meeting the standard. Then, they must take additional years of schooling or settle for work not related to their field. I wonder if there is a hidden bias towards colour or origin and not the attained education and experience as it appears to be?

In high school I felt some “single stories” of my race more than elementary school, though some were generalization of the known Asian countries (Philippines, China, Korea, Japan). I was grouped into that category because I am Asian. I heard jokes being made by Asian students in my school or by non-Asian students about the food we ate. I heard the “joke” about Asian people eating dogs and cats. I became self-conscious and weary of people thinking of me this way even if it was supposed to be a “joke”. On the other end of the spectrum, there were comments that all Asians are smart. This made me feel that I was expected to always attain exceptional results even though I knew that sometimes I could not based on my limits. I am glad my parents only have the expectation of me, to make sure I always show up and do the work and be the best version of myself in everything I do.

ECS 210-014

Week 8 – 2020 Mar 3

 Curriculum as Citizenship

What examples of citizenship education do you remember from your K-12 schooling? What types of citizenship (e.g. which of the three types mentioned in the article) were the focus? Explore what this approach to the curriculum made (im)possible in regards to citizenship.

In my K to 12 years in school, I experienced citizenship education from volunteering within the school and organizations outside of school that had a connection to the school such as the local churches. In grades seven and eight, I helped as a big buddy to the kindergarten children known as little buddies. There was “buddy” time throughout the month and I assisted with reading and other activities. This gave me experience in caring for younger children and being able to communicate with them at their level. I also volunteered with a school club known as Project M.A.D (Make A Difference). I was an active member of this group in grades six to eight. We volunteered at different places such as Souls Harbour, serving food to the people needing their mission of outreach. We also had once or twice a week events where we would take coffee and donuts to workers such as those in the hospital. From being a part of this group, I became more aware at an early age of social issues in my community. This wonderful experience has remained with me. It helped me realize that things the majority of us take for granted, such as food and shelter, are not readily available and a struggle every day for many.

In high school, I was a member of a club called SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions). This club was about making students more aware about mental health, destructive driving, and many more other social issues in the school and civic community. I was also an active participant in the astronomy club, choral group, and vocal jazz group. All these groups and clubs made me see everyone as one community instead of multiple communities with borders. I believe the focus of being a responsible citizen is not to be served, but to serve others and in many cases without being asked.

ECS 210-014

Week 7 – 2020 Feb 25

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 Education (Treaty Ed) is to connect with Canadian history and to explain what transpired with the European colonization of the Indigenous people and their homeland. The teaching to non-Indigenous people will increase their awareness and knowledge of this significant part of Canadian history. Teaching Treaty Ed or First Nations, Metis, and Inuit (FNMI), Content and Perspectives is to educate Canadians about how we all have a role of being legally involved in Treaty Ed. It is important for non-Indigenous to acknowledge Indigenous people are part of this land we live on and to acknowledge they are legally intertwined with each other by law.

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

When I first heard, “We are all treaty people”, I understood it as being a part of a community of people. This is what I thought it meant, which is not far off from it’s meaning. Being a treaty person means we are all treaty people even if we are non-Indigenous. We are all called to acknowledge the land we live on which is called Treaty 4 for Regina, Saskatchewan which makes us treaty people of the land we live on. In the  Saskatchewan curriculum I have noticed they do not have Treaty Ed outcomes and indicators provided in the subject or grades for teachers. Instead it is separated into a another website and document. It may seem the education system is valuing Treaty Ed by having Treaty Ed in it’s own website. In actuality, it’s separating Treaty Ed and making it less valued than subjects such as math, science, and ELA.

In response to the email, I would write to the intern to use Treaty Education as 2 to 3 weeks research in ELA and tell the students to write an expository essay about this research. It may widen their view of this topic and find out something new from writing this expository essay. After getting all of the essays from the students, discuss with the class what they found most interesting, what one thing surprised them the most, and how they felt about this part of Canadian history.

ECS 210-014

Week 6 – 2020 Feb 11

Curriculum as Public Policy

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?

In Levin’s article, he says, “Indeed, most policy decisions in education, including curriculum decisions, are made with little or no public attentions”(Levin, 8). Levin says this in regards to how the education curriculum is developed without public input. It is disconcerting that the Education ministries of provincial governments do not seek public input or openly announce the changes made to the curriculum. It is even more disturbing that not even local school boards announce the changes to the public. The decision on what is taught goes through many processes and should include different views and insights so the curriculum remains relevant and adaptable to the changes in the world. I feel that changes to the curriculum should be examined by groups representing teachers, parents, and maybe even the students. Having this broader and diverse audience would be a good step to ensure the curriculum meets the ever changing needs of delivering relevant learning. The curriculum has to be able to conform to the needs of the people and changes in social surroundings for students to be able to have guidance and knowledge of what is happening at the local, national, and international levels.

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?

Ben Levin, talks about teaching students but does not talk much about how the Indigenous history is important outside the classroom. Making a point of using and applying this knowledge outside the classroom would make education a reputable source of information when citizens of all ages seek more knowledge than the media provides when reporting about Indigenous people news and events. There is pushback from some groups, especially people of white European ancestry, who are of the opinion that enough is enough and Indigenous people should get over it and stop complaining. Other people support having Treaty Education in the curriculum as knowledge is power in a good way as it helps to make an individual more well-rounded and contributor to the wellbeing of society.

ECS 210-014

Week 5 – 2020 Feb 4

Margaret Wah Ta

“Learning from Place”

It is important to know and understand what we are teaching, and how we teach Treaty Education to our students. As teachers we need to create a learning environment where Treaty Education is the norm within and outside the classroom. All students, no matter what their cultural background, need to learn about Treaty Education and how the Treaty agreements came to be. It is especially important for students of white European descent. I have heard white European individuals and small groups strongly disagree with Treaty Education using the argument that Indigenous people always want attention and seek money from the government. Treaty Education is vital because it teaches students the perspective of Indigenous teachings, knowledge of the world, knowledge of life, and how life was before and after the European colonization.

In Claire Kreuger’s video she mentioned, Treaty Education focuses on the First Nations people even though people in Canada are aware of the historical and significance of First Nations culture and way of life. Claire Kreuger suggested that the the education system should expand to include all the Indigenous people in Canada such as Metis and Inuit.

ECS 210-014

Week 4 – 2020 Jan 28

Margaret Wah Ta

“What is a ‘good’ student?”

A “good” student based on common sense is a student who always finishes tasks and assignments on time, obeys the teacher, pays attention, and achieves high academic standing.  I think the criteria needs to be changed. A “good” student is a person who consistently finishes tasks and assignments on time, follows the rules, direction, and guidance of the teacher, shows an active desire to learn, and maximizes their gifts, talents, and abilities to perform at their highest potential. Every student has their own ability to do well even if they are not the common image of a “good” student. Each student has their own way to strive forward to achieve their goals in school. Students have a life outside of school and many times they will experience troubles and situations beyond their control which will have an effect on their school performance. There are very few students who are privileged to have a smooth straight road as they strive to meet the standard ideal “good” student.

When teachers were in elementary and high school, they observed what was considered to be a good student. This past experience and what was taught in becoming a teacher became the norm and standards they use in their teaching. Common ways and thinking can be tough to break away from because we are surrounded by it in our everyday lives. This is not a fault of the teacher but instead a challenge to be open to new ways when considering what makes a good student. Each student has their own learning style and way of understanding, even if they do not do something the way we think the teacher thinks they should. Getting the expected result using methods that were unexpected should still be considered correct and acceptable. If teachers compare every student to the high achieving student in all assigned school work, students at a slower learning level will be not be able to accomplish the goal the school has for them. I believe that a student should only be compared to themselves.

ECS 210-014

Week 3 – 2020 Jan 21

Margaret Wah Ta

My essay will focus on the topic of Reconciliation and Curriculum. My starting point article is Niinwi – Kiinwa – Kiinwi: Building Non-Indigenous Allies in Education through Indigenous Pedagogy by Lindsay Morcom and Kate Freeman, Queen’s University published in the Canadian Journal of Education in 2018. The article is a good starting point as it looks at the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada and implications for teacher and student education. This is relevant as many education institutions are placing an importance on Indigenous education and reconciliation and have drawn attention to the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians.

At this point, I have chosen two articles that I can draw on to provide connections:

  • Reshaping Canadian History Education in Support of Reconciliation by Lindsay Gibson, University of Alberta and Roland Case, The Critical Thinking Consortium. Canadian Journal of Education 2018.
  • Teaching History for Truth and Reconciliation: The Challenges and Opportunities of Narrativity, Temporality, and Identity by James Miles, University of Toronto. McGill Journal of Education, 2018.

On my initial look, both articles presented a link to the teaching of history. I expect upon more in-depth reading of the articles, I will find connections to other subjects and ways to engage with learners about reconciliation inside and outside of the classroom.

ECS 210-014

Week 2 – 2020 Jan 14

Margaret Wah Ta

“Curriculum theory and Practice”

The curriculum was systematic and highly organized. A limitation of this approach was that learners “are told what they must learn and how they will do it”. Looking back on my elementary school years I experienced this limitation. I was seven years old when my family left a refugee camp in Thailand and came to Canada and Regina. No one in my family spoke English. I started school at my neighbourhood school and experienced an overwhelming amount of new information and many strange and confusing things. I followed the instruction from my teachers the best I could. This was difficult because there were many times when I didn’t fully comprehend what was being said. The systematic instruction didn’t allow for the various levels of where each student was and different styles of learning. For example, linguistic, aural, and visual. To lessen the effect of this systematic drawback, the classroom instruction needed to be complemented with a teaching assistant or in my case an EAL class. The drawback to the EAL class was the instruction time I missed from the regular classroom. Whether the assisted support is EAL, modified instruction, or alternate instruction, the learner can be affected psychologically in a negative way. The learner knows very quickly in the process that they are different from the other learners. I persevered and my teachers were very understanding and helpful in making extra time for me.

“The success or failure of both the programme and the individual learners is judged on the basis of whether pre-specified changes occur in the behaviour and person of the learner (the meeting of behavioural objectives).” The success was based on getting the correct answer on an assignment or exam and using the steps that were instructed to get the answer. I am grateful that the teacher of my high school Workplace Math class didn’t use this criterion to the letter of the law. My teacher would show the steps to get the math result. If I didn’t understand the steps, I would try it a different way and many times get the correct result. The teacher encouraged us to show the steps and if I didn’t get the correct answer, they would show me where I went wrong and give me partial marks instead of just marking it based on a right or wrong answer.

The caution here is how the changes in behaviour are measured. The instructor needs to be cognisant that other learning and changes in behaviour can happen that were not anticipated. It is more in-depth than just a checklist.

In the article the line, “the curriculum was not to be the result of ‘armchair speculation’ but the product of systematic study”, stood out for me. The curriculum is a system to help guide students to better their learning and equip them with information and a tool kit for a changing world. The curriculum was to help construct learning for all students though it was not adjustable to the learning needs of all students. It does have its benefits and is a good starting block for curriculum teachings for teachers.

Even though the Tyler Rationale was developed in 1949 it is still followed in education today. At that time, the theory may have been appropriate as one size fits all for the classroom of the time. Over the past 70 years, culture, how we work and live, people’s views, and the population demographic have changed. Education needs to look inward and evolve to meet the needs of 2020 learners. Using the wisdom and experience from the past, and the challenges and opportunities of the present, builds an effective and sustainable vision for the future of education.