Single Stories

We have obviously been shaped by our schooling, we look up to the people teaching to teach us the good and bad in the world and for the most part a lot of them do a decent job, but at the same time there will always be biased because not everyone believes the same things everyone has their own type of views. Me as a white male in today’s society I probably look at the world differently then someone who is black and a woman because I don’t have those experiences and stories. I have grown up with my “story” and I see the world a certain way because of it. It is our job of future teachers to get rid of the single-story outcomes and give a wide variety on a problem so that our future students can be critical thinkers and be able to act in society for the best interest and not in the best interest in their personal bias. I obviously bring certain lenses that a white male from a middle-class family in Saskatchewan might have and we must learn all the different possible lenses so that we can unlearn these single stories and see them in different lights and from different experiences, because who am I to talk about racism when I haven’t been racially profiled because I’m a minority. I am part of the majority and that’s what I have to bring to the table is the understanding that I have this privilege over me even if I realize it or not but it is my job to unlearn that this is the only view and see it from that minorities view and teach my students that view so that they can become active members of society.

 

Growing up I feel like I was subject to certain single stories because I come from a school that is majority white middle-class people and the teachers were almost all the same, so I feel like, for the most part, I was only seeing it from one side with the exception of a few teachers that did try and put other groups perspective into the teachings. I feel like from elementary social study classes you were always given the same First Nations point of view for every year, how the people were one with the land and believed everything was a living being. But again we are seeing their view from someone who is not First Nations themselves and may not have all the knowledge and understandings so that they don’t offend anyone, because we put the First Nations into this one umbrella group, people sometimes don’t realize that there Are so many different groups and cultures who have their own views and beliefs and we assume that all the First Nations people have the same creation story, when really we are just learning the most popular one. We also see the story of the Iron Confederation bringing the railroad across the country to “unite” it under one government. But we rarely talk about the First Nations people that it drove from where they lived and the Asian workers that were forced in hard conditions to build this railroad. We see it as a great thing for the country yet ignore the dark corners that were involved. We need to see every side of the story before we can call it truth because history is written by the winner and it often hides or ignores some of the darkness within the story that others can bring to light.

Inuk, Inuuk, Inuit.

To start off this blog I had a bit of trouble getting going, when I looked at the prompt I was thinking well how can math not be inclusive we all add and subtract, it’s not like your taking certain world views and ignoring the rest. Then it hit me we are ignoring other world views because we are only being taught the one way the eurocentral way with the Arabic number system that they adopted, and for the last 12 years I have been learning that type of math without realizing that there were different ways to teach math and different bases to teach math in. The first time that I was introduced to these new types of bases was in my Math 101 course last semester, where I learned how to add, subtract, divide, and multiply in different bases. I learned the Aztec way to count and their number system, and I learned a few different indigenous cultures ways to count as well, and that was the first time I realized what I have been missing and other people in the school system are not being taught.

 

The Inuit way of teaching mathematics challenges the European influence way that we use today, for one they teach their children math in their native language for the first two years until they teach the western way in grade 3, another way that they challenge our way of thinking about them, they also use a lot of oral representation in their culture which is similar to other ingenious cultures around Canada. They have had to adopt the numerical system from Europeans because they did not represent the numbers with a figure like we do with 1,2,3… so that challenges our view because we are so used to knowing the number by the symbol that it represents. The third way that they challenge western ideals is in their measuring system a lot of Inuit women still use parts of their body to measure things rather than using a system of measurement like metric or imperial. The true sense of multiculturalism that not everyone does that same things the same way, and the Inuit people do incorporate western Mathematics and views even when being so isolated up north so why can’t a school in the prairies learn and understand their view and incorporate some of their mathematics.

Three types of Citizen

In school, they are preparing you for the future and to become an active member of society, but is that what a citizen is? What is the definition of a citizen and why do schools want us to become them? In the article, we read it states that there are 3 different kinds of citizens: personally responsible citizens, participatory citizens, and justice-oriented citizens. One who participates in a good drive, one who organizes the food drive and one who explores why people are hungry and acts to solve its causes.

From my schooling I remember the first type of citizen taught probably the most because the core values are to have good character, honest and be law-abiding citizens in the community, and I feel like that is the main point in many schooling systems, to become law-abiding citizens, the next one I feel is more selective it is shown in the “SGA” or “SCC” of the school, the ones who are the organizers of activities that improve society and take a leadership role, I was in these groups and the only problem with this type of citizens is that it is only a selective group of people who want this leadership role in society to make it a better place. The last type of citizens is what I see in the newer curriculums with people becoming active members of society and to bring justice to society, to be able to look at who holds privileges in our society and how we can break that cycle so that we don’t have this hierarchy even if you don’t realize it, it is there and people hold privileges and it is our job to become citizens that stop those privileges from happening.

 

You must also think if we are supposed to be taught to help the less fortunate to be a citizen in this use of the word, then what citizenship are the less fortunate? Does the core beliefs of the first citizenship make it impossible to be a citizen if they are the less fortunate? Yes and no, in some aspects they aren’t part of the group that pays taxes and helps the poor like the first Citizen wants them to be, but in other ways, they can be part of it because you can still participate in society. The third citizen is probably the one that most relates to the Curriculum in my opinion because most of the new Curriculums that I have read have been more Praxis oriented and supporting the being an active member of society. It is the most inclusive citizenship out of the 3 because anyone can become an active member of society and learn the injustices in society and learn how to get to the root of the cause, it makes it possible for anyone to be able to challenge the norm and privileges that I hold and others like me hold even if we don’t realize, the curriculum as praxis makes it so we can teach and learn about these injustices and how to right the wrongs at its source.

We are all treaty people.

Teaching Treaty Ed and other First Nation/ Inuit/ Metis peoples cultures are very important to our society because it is a very important part to our history and the history of the land that we Europeans “settled”. I came from an elementary school where there really was no minorities I can probably count on my fingers that amount of people that were part of minority groups that attended the school. And I still remember learning about the medicine wheel and residential schools, and it is important to teach in areas who may not have a population of First Nations people because even though that is not your heritage it is part of Canada’s and because Canada is a multicultural country it is important to learn about the other cultures in Canada and the First People of the country that we live in. It is also important because the First Nations culture does some things differently than our own government and can be beneficial to your health. The First Nations culture is very Intune with nature and believes that everything has a spirit and I believe can be very beneficial to our environment. I really liked what Claire had to say in the video we watched for class about treaty ed. Where she said that we must be responsible for what we say and for the future. Treaty ed. Is a conversation that must be addressed in the classroom and it is crucial for students to learn and be able to talk about the treaties in a conversation and see it from multiple angles.

What does it mean when it is said that we are all treaty people? It means that even though we may not be First Nations people or have their heritage, we still live on their land and “colonized” the area and put up our own arbitrary borders, we live in Treaty 4 territory and students aren’t taught the treaty lines when they are little. We are taught to draw in the provinces and color the 10 provinces and 3 territories, but we aren’t taught of the treaty that we live in that is older than some of the provinces and has more meaning behind it, because we are part of that treaty, First Nations or not our ancestors signed the treaty on both sides meaning we are both treaty people and must honor the document signed. We as Canadians are treaty people as well because the treaties make up Canada, they might not cover all of Canada but they still or a big part of Canadian history.

Getting back to Nature

We can reintroduce nature by incorporating it into our curriculum and everyday lives, we must be able to understand, nature and be a part of nature before it is to late, nature is such a big part of firsy nations culture and life because they believe that everything has life or has a soul. There is no doubt that being reinhabited with nature will help mental health and physical health too. To be part of nature and incorporating nature into our daily lives will only benefit our mental health better because it has been shown that it helps clear minds and relax. First nation culture is always been known for their storytelling and always past on knowledge and history orally because it is more personal, they always tell stories of nature and are always able to introduce nature within the fabric of the story. I believe that incorporating more indigenous stories will only help our reintroduction to nature and how to be more eco-friendly and help our health and well being of not yourself but others around you.

In the narrative, I saw ways of reintroducing nature and decolonization, by the way, that the students went to the elders and learned from them and the elders took them on the river to tell them about the history and importance of the land and the nature around it. Until we have an understanding of the land and its importance then we can truly start decolonizing and that what the narrative shows they are taking back nature they are not going up the river for resources or cutting down trees they are just learning from the elders about the land and how it was so important to the first nations culture. The students even create an audio file of the elders telling these stories to show. I find it very interesting that they use audio to tell the stories they don’t write down the elders stories, it shows that then students want to keep that audio way of learning of these stories and we must change our curriculum to incorporate these stories and points of views.

Reading these stories shape my teaching and change my view on things because I have always been fascinated with history and learning about history but much of the First Nations history is told verbally and not written in these books, and in that case some of it has been lost because a lot of people outside of the first nations culture have grown up learning what is in the history book and not from passed down knowledge from someone from that culture. That is why I believe that we must incorporate more of the storytelling aspect because not all students like reading out of a sourcebook and some may not be very strong in their reading capability, that’s why the verbal way is so important so these vital stories about nature and decolonization are so important by the first nations culture, because they know what it is like to be “colonized” and what the land was like beforehand and how we can get back to nature and the benefits that it gives to us.

Curriculum Process

When I first thought of the making of the curriculum I believed that it was made up by a committee in the ministry of Education that decides what is best for the students and what they should be taking. I did not know of the whole ordeal that they have to go through to make the curriculum, and the amount of revision and political interference that they had to go through. I assumed that there was political interference some might not get their views used in the making. I assumed that whoever they were they were a group of “experts” picked by the government to oversee this task and decide on what’s best for the curriculum and what should be improved and made priorities.

It is very difficult for agreement on the curriculum because there are so many different views on what should be important and what should not be so important, it is like the goals set by the government before it was reading and literacy and now it is about math and getting the overall average up, and eventually it will shift again. No one will ever completely agree on what we should be learning and what is most important, because people will always think that one is more important than the other. More business-minded and technologically minded people will more focus on the sciences and mathematics and decide that they are more important, but on the other hand, people who are more artistic may lean towards art and language being studied and more important in the curriculum. What I am trying to say is that it is very difficult for people to make a curriculum because everyone is unique in there learning ability and what they want to do in life. Who gets to decide what individuals have a say after all the discussion is done who’s voices actually get heard because of all of the trial and views it goes through people must get lost in the confusion and mess.

Let’s be honest the making of Curriculum at this point in time is a mess, they said it best themselves in the article there just isn’t enough hours and days for schools to provide all the outcomes people want the children to learn. We as teachers would have to meet at least 2 outcomes a day for 8 years for the students to meet all the requirements that we believe that they should. It just can’t be done right now. And who gets to pick these outcomes and why should they have to meet these outcomes. Curriculums are subject to political change and tampering, they are incredibly disputed between political parties and social groupings. They have to decide what is important and a mandatory class and what is not. Like if a school tried to take out a math program there would be an uproar because that is looked at as a core class and can not be taken out because it is too vital to society. On the other hand, some schools don’t even have an art program because it is seen as nonessential. We need to create a better process because it has caused some parts of the curriculum to be outdated and disputed and holding back vital learning for children like social studies and the health programs.