My name is Tristan Dashney and I am currently in my first year of the Education Program at the University of Regina. I grew up in the small, rural town of Kyle Saskatchewan. After spending my whole life in the same school, watching many different teachers coming and going, I realized that I myself wanted to become a teacher.
Here is my ECS 210 Reflection video. I didn’t get quite enough time to go into all of the things I wanted to in this video, but in the video I talk about the standout learning experiences and developments I’ve had over this course.
I grew up in a very small farming community in rural Saskatchewan. Our population is around 500. A lot of my community consisted of old, conservative, white farmers, and so i developed a lot of the same problematic view points as them. I have grown up with a hard bias against indigenous people in such a small conservative town. I remember being growing up and being told to be careful around indigenous people and to not trust them. I was taught that the reserves are dangerous and i shouldn’t even go on them. I also grew up hearing the stereotypes of them being lazy, and greedy. I know these are not true, but i am still working to fully rid myself of these prejudices and stereotypes. It is so incredibly important to shed these bias’ in the classroom, because these children don’t deserve to be given up on before they’ve even walked into the classroom. They deserve every chance to succeed and i should want them to succeed just as i would want any other child in my class to succeed. i think that the best way to help me unlearn these bias’ is to simply work closely with indigenous students and get to know them and their families better.
I spent my entire education from kindergarten to grade 12 in the same school. My town was small enough that it only really had no need to seperate elementary, middle years, and high school. And during my 12 years in Kyle Composite School, we never had a whole lot of citizenship education. The most citizenship education we received was based on building us up as participatory citizens. And this kind of education never went beyond some posters on the walls around the school, having us complete mandatory volunteer hours, and forcing everyone to participate in most school wide events.
I believe part of the reason citizenship education was never focused on very heavily was due to the fact that every class I had from grade 1 to grade 12 was split among two to three grades. So the teachers have always had to juggle between usually three different grade levels in the same subject. They simply didn’t have the time to focus on anything outside of what they needed all three grades to learn. And when they did focus on things like the mandatory volunteer hours, they didn’t give it the attention or care that it required. In my grade 10 year I just didn’t do my volunteer hours and my teacher didn’t care and we moved on anyways. And in making everyone participate in school events I think was mostly because of our small numbers. If a handful of kids refused to take part in events, that would drastically impact the number of students who did participate and then it wouldn’t be worth while for the school to put them on in the first place.
I was never very good at or interested in math classes when i was in high school. There were many math classes in which i didn’t pay attention because i was incredibly bored. However, I do not believe that my math classes were ever discriminatory or oppressive in any way. My classmates and I never hated math class because it was oppressing our culture or anything like that, we just were bored by it. After doing this reading i have had my eyes opened to the different ways that cultures such as the inuit people do math, but i don’t think how we do math is necessarily discriminatory in any way. i don’t think that us trying to teach an inuit student our ways of mathematics are oppressive, just as them teaching us their methods of math is oppressing us.
I do find it very interesting how different their ways of understanding math is when compared to our own. for example, they use a base twenty system of counting while we only use base ten. I also find it very interesting that they mostly just do math mentally and orally rather than writing everything down as we do. Never again will i allow a math teacher to demand that i show my work. And only recently were written words created to go along with their methods of using math. And even then, their words are specific for the context in which math is being used. Their ways of knowing math may be different to ours, but i don’t think either methods are better or worse than the other, just different.
I believe that teaching Treaty Ed or FNMI perspectives and ways of knowing to non-indigenous students is incredibly important for preparing them to live as adults in Canada. At the most basic level, learning about someone else’s culture or the way they view the world helps students to become better people. Through the sharing of this knowledge, the students will be better equipped to meet various indigenous people who also live in Canada and they will be able to treat them with respect. Furthermore, teaching through a lense and a viewpoint that the students may not have seen before can open up their minds to taking on problems in their lives or in the world in a new way. To me, the term “We are all treaty people” tells me that there are benefits for everyone to be learning Treaty Ed. Everyone can get something positive out of the treaty outcomes and the FNMI perspectives, so it is important to educate everyone in those ways.
During the Treaty Ed camp, i saw a few various ways to incorporate FNMI perspectives and ways of knowing in the classroom. One of the smaller breakout sessions I went to was about introducing smudging into schools. This particular session has stuck in my head ever since then for a variety of reasons. The first reason being that smudging is such a simple way for students to take an active part in Indigenous culture. Also, every student can participate if they want to. This was also the first time i had ever experienced smudging in my own life. So I think activities like these can be a fun and interesting way to show the students that it is possible to respectfully take part in a culture that is different from their own, and to begin seeing things from a perspective that isn’t their own.
Throughout the article, the researches experience many different instances of decolonization and reinhabitation in the community of Fort Albany First Nation. One of these specific instances is seen when the youth of the community were given the opportunity to interview their elders and community members. They did this not to collect research, but simply to pass down knowledge and ways of knowing through the generations and through spoken storytelling. Another instance of decolonization comes from the renaming of the Albany river to the Kistachowan river, using one of their own words rather than an english word.
In my own teaching, i’m not entirely sure how to incorporate these ideas of place and decolonization into my lessons in a way that is meaningful to the students. I believe it is important to know the the stories and the ways of knowing of the people who were here before the european settlers. It is important for the students to understand that although they learn in many history classes the story of the european settlers and of confederation through the european lense, there are other histories and peoples associated with this land. The land already had a long and meaningful history that should be taught alongside any other stories of this country. However, I don’t yet know how best to teach these lessons or how to incorporate it within my future lessons.
Before I did the reading for this week, I had a very basic understanding of how curriculum was formed. I believed it was a group of teachers and ministry representatives who generally agreed upon what goes into the curriculum. After reading however, i realize just how difficult creating the provincial curriculum can be.
It takes a whole lot of different groups of people to come together and each have their own unique ideas of what students need to know and what should be included in one course. Getting all of these people from all over the place to agree on anything is near impossible. Moreover, just combing through all of the possible content and deciding what is important or necessary and what can be left behind is insane. Then taking all of that important information and trying to squeeze it into a single course is even harder.
Finally, teachers do not have nearly as much say in the curriculum that they are being required to teach as i once thought they did. As for students, they have the smallest part in what ends up in their classes and what is supposed to prepare them for the future. And that is where i’m a bit torn. one one hand i would love for students to be more involved in the creation of curriculum for future students. They would know better than anyone what aspects of a class work and what falls flat. On the other hand, students don’t know what they need to know. I’ve been in classes where we’ve all been super lost and the teacher asks if there’s any questions, and no one says anything because we don’t even know what questions to ask. Writing curriculum is a hard and lengthy process and i do not envy those who toil away at writing it for us.
The Commonsense definition of what it means to be a good student is very much based in western values and a western view of education. In this way, being a “good student” means to be able to sit still for round an hour at a time, being quiet and raising your hand to speak, and to be able to write an exam of some kind in order to prove that you have learned what was intended for you to learn during the course. These student and educational ideals are taught to us from kindergarten and are carried through even to university. As a university student, a lot of the time we still take very mandated exams to show off what we learned and to prove that what was learned was exactly what you were expected to learn.
The only students who can truly benefit from the Commonsense understanding of a good student, are those students who have been raised in western schools their entire lives. Students coming from abroad may have very different ideas of what it means to be a good student, as seen in the very first article for this class. Because of this gap in ideals, foreign students that don’t adapt quickly may end up feeling discouraged for not understanding how western schools operate, and they may end up losing interest in even attending school.
“Washing one’s hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral.” – Paulo Freire
I Chose this quote from Paulo Freire because it is simple, but has a much deeper meaning depending on the context. When applied to the field of education, the quote draws on heavy issues such as the problem with race relations within the classroom. If a teacher decides to “not see colour” within their classroom, what they are really doing is seeing all of their students as one race. In doing this, the teacher is disregarding the unique and important cultures of all the students in the class, as well as only teaching from their own cultural point of view. When the students see their cultures being ignored because the teacher is trying to be “neutral”, then they will feel just as left out as if the teacher only focused on one specific culture.
Coming from a very small town of about 500 people, there wasn’t really a variety of cultures for the teacher to acknowledge. We all came from pretty much the same white, rural, farming background. However in much larger school environments such as many city schools, there is a much larger and more diverse student population. Regardless if the teacher feels uncomfortable teaching about all these different and possibly unfamiliar cultures, it is important to expose the students to other backgrounds and cultures in the world. It is important for the students of different cultures or races to feel welcomed and recognized as being just as important as the rest of the students in the class.