Summary Blog

What I learned in my journey/Curriculum as a Cultural and Social Practice…..

Reflect on and synthesize your understandings of curriculum. What is curriculum? How have your understandings of curriculum changed throughout the course? Why?

Curriculum incudes a philosophy of the subject area, includes competencies that are necessary to develop in our students and also is the information that students need to know and be able to do.  It is approved by Saskatchewan Education. All of our teachers must follow the curriculum. 

Throughout the course my understandings changed as it is much more than just content.  For example, the ELA curriculum includes key areas of a language arts program, the goals of the program, and the aim of ELA.  It goes way beyond just indicating what a student should be able to do.

All teachers are simultaneously consumers, critics and producers of curriculum. In what ways you see yourself approaching curriculum?

Teachers are consumers of curriculum as they have to use it within their classroom.  Teachers are not necessary critiques of curriculum as often teachers use it without question or reflecting on what could enhance learning of students.  Teachers are sometimes producers of curriculum if they sit on a development curriculum but this is not often in our province.

I see myself being critical and ensuring that I see the value in the curriculum that I teach.  Strong instructional practices impact student learning and the curriculum needs to allow teachers to use approaches that work for them and enhances student learning. 

Thinking on your agency and approach to curriculum, how do you see yourself as a curriculum developer, curriculum maker, transmitter of curriculum content, curriculum shaper, curriculum enhancer, etc.?

I think that after I experience planning and using curriculum in a classroom, I would enjoy learning more about curriculum development and curriculum shaping.  It would be enjoyable to learn more about what is working in countries who have high student results and have leading scores in assessments.  In order to do this thoroughly, I would need to also experience more in the classroom and learn about students’ development. 

Examine how this “place,” ECS210, has shaped you? Challenged your beliefs? Made you experience some bumps or uncomfortable learnings?

We need to always consider place and context when teaching curriculum.  We need to be aware of the history of Canada and teach appropriate and accurate content.  Our curriculum supports teaching of First Nations, Metis and Inuit perspectives and teachers need to embed this into the outcomes.

We are always in the process of becoming teachers. What areas of growth do you identify for yourself?

I have identified assessment as an area of growth.  As I read curriculum and recognize the broad statements of outcomes, it will be a challenge to determine what that looks like at the different level.  How will I know when a student is achieving the outcome?  This is something that I continue to ask and learn about. Students need to be able to relate to the concept, which is being taught, or know a real life situation to relate it to or example that could support their learning of a concept.   Therefore, I also know that I want to make learning meaningful to students. 

What questions/fears remain? How will you address them?

I have two years left in my university and I hope that I will be confident in my knowledge. There is so much to learn about different curriculum and assessments.  There are ways to teach that I have not experienced and I feel that I need to know more in this area as well.  As teachers, we prepare students to be successful by ensuring that they acquire the necessary skills to be successful in today’s world and through the board areas of learning and competencies, they will develop skills that will transfer to various situations and settings so they are able to be successful outside of the classroom.  

What is your understanding of curriculum now – after taking this course?

The curriculum is not just the list of outcomes and indicators but also enables teachers to teach beyond the facts to get to the depth of deeper learning where students are able to transfer their knowledge to different contexts. 

How do you help students have a deep understanding and learn the outcomes in a useful way?

The ELA curriculum is more concept-based, this curriculum teaches students a deeper level of skills and knowledge that can be used in various learning situations throughout their life.    We as teachers need to ensure we do no teach just facts, but we teach students how to problem solve and transfer knowledge to different situations (and not just memorize facts)

The 4 Blogs:

  1. First Nations, Metis, and Inuit perspectives and content in curriculum teaching – February 27, 2019

(List some of the ways that you see reinhabitation and decolonization happening throughout the narrative)

3. Curriculum as Citizenship – March 8, 2019

Math as Curriculum – March 14, 2019


Mathematics and curriculum

  1. 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 not a very strong math student.  I remember as I entered high school, there were less female students in the higher level math courses.  It seemed normal that I was not good at math since I was a girl.  There were no girls in my grade in construction courses as well.  Males and females seemed to be separated in high school.  This came from encouragement (or discouragement) from adults.  I do feel that there is a bias towards which students will be “good” at math and who will be successful.  My teachers encouraged me to spend time on my writing and art skills. 

I appreciated that Eddie said one can learn to perceive the math around them with time and the right guidance as I think I would have enjoyed math.  I love to solve problems.  I am love to work with patterns.  However, I am not certain I had the guidance to support me in math class to be able to understand some of the more complex math. I wonder if I was encouraged more about the sense of math if I would enjoy math more now as a university student.  The comment that Eddie Woo makes about encouraging students to see patterns because the world (and math) is not chaos leads me to think that I should be good at math.  The people who are able to do this are artists and I definitely have a creative side. 

In Poirier’s article, there are ways in which the Inuit mathematics challenges the Eurocentric ideas.  Some of these are:

  1. Base-20 numeral system – the Inuit have abase-20 numeral system which is different that the Eurocentric view of base-10.
  2. Measuring – the Inuit use parts of the body as measuring tools. They would use one phalanx as a small measuring tool to measure the size of a foot.  This would have been something that was practical when making shoes.
  3. Calendar – the Inuit calendar is not lunar or solar – it is based on naturally occurring events (such as when caribou antlers lose their velvet).
  4. spatial representations – The current curriculum (Eurocentric) does not put emphasis on being able to use strategies to solve puzzles.  Inuit children “develop spatial representations that are different from the Eurocentric view”.  The Inuit have a precise language for talking about spatial relationships.

Math is cultural and thus the understanding of certain concepts of math will be different.  Language is also a challenge when teaching math as there are terms in math that would not have the same meaning and intent.  It is important to realize the importance of culture on the teaching of a subject so a teacher is able to recognize if a student is having difficulty with math or the translation of math into the native language and culture. 

Curriculum as Citizenship

What examples of citizenship education do you remember from your K-12 schooling?

I attended a few different schools and one thing that was a common theme among them was the principles/values/character education that was taught and shared.  We were taught about respect, responsibility, kindness, sharing and cooperation.  These words were used in lessons and shared at assemblies.  Schools strives to  ensure us students had these qualities.  Examples of citizenship from my school were projects that we did such as recycling paper and bottles and learning about the importance of taking care of our world.  We would visit the care home and visit with the elderly and learn that it is important to take care of others. We also regularly picked garbage from the school yard, parks and green areas in town. We would raise money to build wells or schools in third world countries.  

What types of citizenship (e.g. which of the three types mentioned in the article) were the focus?

I think the personally responsible citizenship was the focus of our projects as we did do many activities as volunteers to look after our town, how it looked, help others and also take care of the earth.  However, I think we touched on participatory as well and we were always encouraged to participate in these activities and our teachers related it back to respect and that it was our responsibility as students.  

Explore what this approach to the curriculum made (im)possible in regards to citizenship.

This approach to curriculum made possible moving away from the duty of school being about job training and moving towards shaping students as responsible people. Teachers and parents believe “schools are about making students be the best version they can be” and have them “happy and productive members of society”. It is important to have students who are productive members of the community as they move into adulthood.  Building citizenship helps students see perspectives from others and encourages them to put someone or something first.  Students learn about being respectful to our world and other people.  This is about more than just standardized tests and scores.  

First Nations, Metis, and Inuit perspectives and content in curriculum teaching

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 First Nations, Metis, and Inuit content and perspective is to ensure that we teach the history of Canada from a non eurocentric perspective to all students.  Most of us are all newcomers/immigrants to this country. First Nations, Metis, and Inuit peoples have been on this land for thousands of years. At best, the rest of the people have been here for hundreds of years.  There were many Indigenous peoples who occupied this land before immigration. We all need to recognize the First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples of Canada as the traditional stewards of Canada. Additionally

The immigrant of new people continued to displace the  First Nations, Metis, and Inuit people from their original lands and way of life.  The Europeans tried to assimilate the First Nations, Metis, and Inuit people make them “less Indian”. As we move further into the 21st century it’s important to look back and acknowledge the early atrocities that we committed against our nation’s original inhabitants.  All Canadians need to know this history.
We are often at events which will say a land acknowledgement which is an important first step in the reconciliation process between Canada’s Indigenous people and those who came later.  We cannot truly celebrate being Canadian until we recognize our history, including the shameful parts we might rather forget. Remembering to acknowledge the inhabitants whose land we have built our lives on is moving towards reconciliation.  Once we remember and teach why we are at the place where we are at now (disease, sixties scoop, colonization, residential schools) and realize the trauma

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

A treaty is an agreement between two people or two groups of people.  The First Nations, Metis, and Inuit people signed treaties with the Crown.  Both parties entered the treaty. This means that all of us (whether from a First Nations, Metis, and Inuit background or from another country) are part of the treaty agreements as both the people who were original to Canada and the Crown entered these agreements.

We need to be able to teach our students about treaty agreements and what these agreements meant for the First Nations, Metis, and Inuit people. It is important to realize that as Canadians we all are people who have entered into the treaty agreements.

The picture that I used is the medal that was given in honour of the Treaties and show the First Nations man as proud, equal, and a partner in the agreement with the Crown.

Curriculum As Place

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

Reinhabitation – identify, recover and create material spaces and places that teach us how to live well in our total environments (Restoule et al, 2013).

  • inhabit a place again (Webster Dictionary)
  • In this article, the participants went on a 10-day river trip of the traditional waters and lands to learn about traditional ways of life of Mushkegowuk people.  They went back into the natural habitat of the First Nations people (away from communities and people). By participating in the canoe trip, the participants learned about the Mushkegowuk relationship to nature, water, and land.

Decolonization – “identify and change ways of thinking that injure and exploit other people and places (Restoule et al, 2013).

  • describes ongoing theoretical and political processes used to contest and reframe narratives about indigenous community histories and the effects of colonial expansion, genocide, and cultural assimilation.
  • This project brought people together to support learning more about the Mushkegowuk knowledge and culture that was lost when the Europeans forces First Nations off their lands. This re-introduction to the land to transfer knowledge to younger generations were part of the process. This process brought together youth and Elders to learn from each other which is very important to pass on history in the First Nations culture as there are not books to learn from (oral storytelling is important).  Reconnecting youth to the land is very important to continue and preserve the culture and history of First Nations people. The teaching of traditional words were part of the project to ensure that youth did not lose the meaning from the Cree culture.

2. How might you adapt these ideas towards considering place in your own subject areas and teaching?

  • Many of the issues that were discussed during the research phase would be important to consider as I begin my teaching career.  I believe our traditional textbooks have a view of history and events that does not teach us the history of Canada. Teachers need to be aware of the history of our province and not rely on old sources of information. I will need to ensure that I learn First Nations perspectives and ways of knowing to be able to share these with my students.
  • I would definitely need to be aware and research, the Treaty Territory that the school is located on.  It is very important to acknowledge Treaty land. The curriculum areas that would be relevant would be learning outcomes that have to do with culture and community.  It would be important to build relationships with the First Nations in the community and hopefully they would support learning within the classroom. I also think place would be able to be considered as there are many historical landmarks that would be relevant to student learning (if I was teaching in Saskatoon or area, my class could visit Wanaskawun).  There would be learning to occur with First nations celebrations and powwos and these cultural pieces would fit within various curriculum (social studies and the arts).
  • I think that bringing nature into my classroom would support place.  I would be able to bring natural objects – branches, leaves and rocks to support learning of the environment.  I would be able to bring in an Elder or people for the First Nations to build a tipi with the class. I could have language introduced by someone who speaks a First Nations language. We could look at community maps as explained in the article about the Cree names on the map and the Mushkegowuk words that were alongside to share the stories of what was on the map.

Curriculum policy and the politics

Before you do the reading ask yourself the following question: how do you think that school curricula are developed? This is an entry point to this topic and whatever you write will be fine.

How do I think or maybe hope curricula are developed is interesting to reflect upon.  I would hope that there is research into best practices, child development, how students learn best, and how to ensure they students learn skills that will carry them out into the world beyond high school.  I would hope that curriculum is developed with input from experts and people who have learned along the way what makes up great curricula. Curriculum have been developed many times, by many countries, with many philosophies and I would hope there are lessons to be learned by what is developed previously.  

I also think that we would not be boxed in by a design that was created for schools that were built in the 1900s and we can think about learning differently.

That being said in how I hope curriculum is developed, I also think that the government has influence on what the final look or outcomes would be.  The government is in charge of curriculum so I would also think there is decision making at that level as well.

After doing the reading, please write your blog entry. Reflect upon:

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? IMPORTANT – Please write your blog before our lecture as YOUR OPINION will be an integral part of the lecture.

Well, the first part of the chapter does indicate that curriculum is political.  Governments change with the will of the people and they are not likely to create a curriculum that would cause great controversy.This was a surprise to me as I would have anticipated that curriculum was a non political document based on best practice and research.   It was also interesting to read that he individuals who happen to occupy critical positions influence the decisions that are made as some have more influence which leads me to think that decisions are subjective and not objective with the decisions that are made. I agree with the article when it mentions that it is reality that since everyone has attended school then they think they have an educated opinion about what should be taught in school.  

Curriculum is “organized around at least two levels of objectives—very general or broad goals and then much more specific learning activities and objectives”. This is something that I am familiar with from my classroom experiences.  There are learning outcomes and students are assessed on learning the outcomes. To revise curricula, governments generally bring in large groups of teachers and education stakeholders (such as post-secondary educators) to revise or revamp the curricula.  When curriculum is reviewed the people involved would examine the existing curriculum to determine where gaps are and what would need to be revised to strengthen the curriculum. Sometimes there is a version that is tested first in the classroom and teachers will provide feedback for revisions to occur. Sometimes there are sessions to inform parents and community people about the revisions to curriculum in order to have additional feedback.  There may be lobby groups who want various items to be included in the curriculum as well. Research also plays a role in curriculum renewal and revisions.

The politics of curriculum discussions have two main ideas – the first concerns the overall shape of school curricula: what subjects will be included (or excluded) and the other is the content of particular subjects. The course controversy would include what would the high school subjects look like and in Saskatchewan high school science and math was revamped. This may also include what needs to be included in Fine Arts – is is music, art, dance and drama and does each grade include all four areas? There is lots to consider when revamping curriculum.

In the United States curriculum is controlled mainly at the district or even school level, creating some substantial disjointedness. In Saskatchewan, curriculum is provincial and controlled by the government. Schools have influence in high schools about what optional courses to teach and in elementary schools there can be some local decisions about a course such as Core French.  Schools and divisions can also influence and decide on what professional development is needed.

The conclusion said it well “Although curriculum is a fundamental part of the framework of schooling, curriculum decisions and choices are shaped in large measure by other considerations—ideology, personal values, issues in the public domain, and interests.”  Again, this is continues to be a surprise to me. It should be more objective and not based on individuals who have various opinions not based on research.

Week 4 Blog – “Good” students

  • What does it mean to be a “good” student according to the commonsense?

A good student in a traditional classroom will follow the rules and expectations, play the games and do the activities as set out by the teacher.  A good student will listen and raise his/her hand to respond and follow sequential order. Schools and society lend itself to producing this type of student.

A good student will also be able to memorize facts and write them down for an exam in an attempt to show the teacher that the facts were learned.  The good students agree with the thoughts and ideas as presented out in class and do not question other ways to find answers or meaning.

This article indicates that mainstream society values certain behaviours, knowledge and skills and we try to reward those in our classrooms.  

  • Which students are privileged by this definition of the good student?

The students who are privileged are the ones who are able to sit, not question, memorize and regurgitate facts.  These are the students who will get the good grades. The student that is able to

do the work that is provide in classrooms as set out by the teacher is generally the one that benefits. The child that benefited would have pre-existing knowledge of the expected behaviour and skills.

  • What is made impossible to see/understand/believe because of these commonsense ideas?

This view hindered social justice.  We are comfortable with the commonsensical ideas that do not challenge the status quo.  We need to challenge oppression which addressed the broader context of society. Children need to learn that different views and practices have different implications in the larger society (it is not that a progressive view is better).

This approach would ensure that teachers value and support learning that happens through the family and culture but then teaches children how to think critically about the world and implications of different values and knowledge outside the classroom.

I think that students who enter crisis (a point where they encounter troubling knowledge that they encounter discomfort) and have the skills to think critically and analytically will build problem solving skills to apply to real life.  This is hopefully what is happening in the classroom as we challenge students to think outside the box and how concepts transfer from one subject to the next or one real life situation to the next. I appreciated the comment in the article that teachers may wish to gloss over topics that may put students in crisis (sexual orientation, religion) but we need to know how to have conversations with our students so they can explore information in a safe and respectful environment.