How has your upbringing/schooling shaped how you “read the world?” What biases and lenses do you bring to the classroom? How might we unlearn / work against these biases?
In my schooling, there were rarely any other Asian students around me. Since I was one of few, or sometimes even just the one Asian student, I was always called out on it. Being constantly called out for being Asian, I was always conscious that I was different from the other students. At the time, I did not realize that it was okay to be different so I would try my best to try to be “White”. As I have matured more, I realized that it was okay to be not White and that it was okay to be Asian. I have come to embrace myself more and using that “different” part of me to shape my identity. Since I am trying to embrace my Asian side more, I will be sure to bring my lenses as an Asian-Canadian teacher. While I am not going to seclude the non-Asian students or give special treatment to the Asian students, I know what it may feel like for the Asian students and hope that I will be able to connect with them more than other teachers. I do not feel like it is a bias, but an ability to be able to see from a different perspective than other teachers and that I do not think I need to work unlearn/work against this. I believe it will be okay to keep these lenses as long as I do not become biased to a specific group of students and I treat all students equally.
Which “single stories” were present in your own schooling? Whose truth mattered?
The only “single story” I can remember is about the Indigenous people’s history. All the materials that have been taught to me has been one-sided. All we have been taught were what the Europeans did to the Indigenous people. This “single story” made it seem like the Indigenous people were powerless against the Europeans. However, that is not the case. There were many times that the Indigenous people retaliated and won. While the Indigenous history was being taught in accordance with treaty education, it was being taught in a way that made the Europeans to be the far superior force and the Indigenous people the losing force.
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?
When I think back to my learning of mathematics in elementary and high school days, I cannot remember anything being oppressive and/or discriminating. As a younger student, I had enjoyed mathematics because it was easy for me. For most of the parts, I easily understood the subjects and the methods they were being taught. However, there was one math class that I struggled more than others. I had previously talked about this moment in my previous reading response. The math teacher asked me to what shape this looks like while pointing to a shape that looked like a rectangle with half a circle on top. I stated it looked like a window, but that was not the answer that the teacher wanted and immediately shut me down. The teacher even went so far as to question why I was acting stupid in class. I believe that my answer was not wrong. Yes, it was a rectangle with half a circle on top, but many windows are designed to look like that. Instead of shutting me down, he should have encouraged me to look deeper into the shape and to see if there were any geometric shapes. The teacher did not like the way my mind worked and oppressed my way of thinking, instead of trying to guide my train of thought to the answer he was looking for.
Identify at least three ways in which Inuit mathematics challenge Eurocentric ideas about the purposes of mathematics and the way we learn it.
For the Inuit people, mathematics was used more for practically, compared to the Eurocentric ideas that used mathematics as something abstract. Poirier’s article states that “[t]hey do not perceive mathematics as something that can help them solve everyday problems” or, using Woo’s wording, abstract problems. There were many times that I had thought to myself, when am I ever gonna use this mathematic formula outside of school? Why am I solving for what x is in a quadratic equation? How will this help me in real life that is not mathematics related? To this day, I do not know. I am constantly using it because I am aiming for a secondary mathematics education degree, but if I was not in university, where would I have used all these knowledge about solving for x, formulas, etc? Another way the Inuit people are practical is by looking at their calendar. The days of the months change according to the current state of nature. Looking at Regina right now, it is above 0 degrees Celcius and the snows are melting. It can be said that we are in spring, but Reginians know that we don’t often get this sort of weather in March. The conditions of nature are constantly changing but the Eurocentric calendars do not account for those changes.
It was interesting for me that the Inuits used a base 20 numeral system. It was only recently that I learned about the many bases that numbers could be and how hard it was for me to fully grasp the content. Imagining how the grade 3 Inuit students had to switch from the base 20 system to the Eurocentric base 10 system, I could see why they had struggled so hard. It is also noting that the Indigenous people are very oral. Add on to the fact that it would be taught in a secondary language. The Inuit school students were doing better than the other schools, so why is it that the Eurocentric methods are favored?
To the best of my knowledge, I did not receive any type of citizenship education in my K-12 schooling. With no citizenship education from my schooling to write my blog post on, I wondered where did I receive some form of citizenship education? The number one thing that popped into my mind was comic book heroes. There have been so many comic book hero movies lately and are gaining worldwide recognition. I am a big fan of the MCU and am eagerly waiting for the next movie. When watching superhero movies and looking at superheroes as role models, it teaches people to be the justice-oriented citizen. Looking to superheroes like Thor who is constantly fighting for justice in both his world and earth, makes you want to do something for your world, doesn’t it? Looking at Iron Man who is just a regular person who had made himself to be what he is and putting his life in constant danger to save the earth, it really does inspire awe. For me, I developed my justice-oriented citizenship mostly by looking at superheroes. When I see them push themselves to the limit, putting their own lives on the line for the greater good, it makes me motivated. It makes me motivated to push myself, strive for that greater cause. While I am not quite ready to put my own life on the line but maybe if I keep watching more superhero movies, I will gain enough motivation to do so.
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?
As an immigrant who had immigrated to Canada when I was in grade 2, one of the many things I learned about Canada is that Indigenous people had a negative image. As an impressionable young boy, I immediately believed the negative stereotype of Indigenous people and would constantly look for Indigenous people who would behave in such a way that would reaffirm the negative image I had of them. While I attended school, I would learn bits and pieces of Canadian history. A small part of what I learned was about Indigenous people. It was not until late high school that I had learned about the tragic parts of histories like the treaties and residential schools, but even then the material was skimmed over. In university, I had learned more in-depth about Indigenous history. I did not know residential schools was still running when I was born, I had not known how cruelly the Indigenous students were treated, and the byproduct of what had happened to Indigenous people. It was not until I was in my 20’s that I had learned that many Indigenous people have been so traumatized by what had happened to them that they had to rely on substances just to get through them. This is the negative image I have been seeing and all this time I had just been thinking “Oh it’s just because they’re Natives that they are like this”. I never knew that they were made this way by colonialism. This is why I believe Treaty Ed is important; because of the ignorant people, like me. If people keep seeing Indigenous people as a troublesome race, not a race that needs healing, then the discrimination the Indigenous people receive will only push them farther away from healing. This is only going to keep damaging future generations. We must help to let Indigenous people heal and reconciliate. We cannot repeat the past.
2. What does it mean for your understanding of curriculum that “We are all treaty people”?
For me, it means that everyone is a part of the treaty and that treaty ed has to be a part of everyone’s education. You may think that it is not relevant to you but that is not the case. Everyone who lives in Canada is living on treaty land, therefore a treaty person.
List some of the ways that you see reinhabitation and decolonization happening throughout the narrative.
One way I saw this was when they talked about going on the 10-day river trip with the youth, adult, and elder participants. On the trip, they would share knowledge. This is one of the ways I see reinhabitation in the narrative. Doing so the elders are given a chance to share their knowledge of the lands or perhaps even learn about it if they have no prior knowledge. While the youth may be the ones who learn the most on the trip, the adults and the elders may learn new knowledge as well. The Indigenous people are spiritually connected to the land, so being out in nature may help them connect to the land again if they felt they were distant or disconnected. I know from prior knowledge that was is an important symbol for them. It represents many things but one of the things it represents is cleansing. While it may seem just like a river trip, it may have a significant spiritually meaning when they decided to do a trip at a large body of water.
How might you adapt these ideas towards considering place in your own subject areas and teaching?
Since I aim to be a math teacher, one of the was I could incorporate Indigenous aspects in my classroom is to make math questions based on the history of Indigenous people. One example would be like the 10-day river trip. A question like “If the Indigenous people traveled on foot 10 km per days for 10 days, how far did the travel?” It may seem like math has no connections, but connections can be made very easily with a little effort.
I think that the curricula are developed by the school board in cooperation with the other school boards from different sections, provinces. The government does have some influence on the development of the curricula.
It saddens me to find out just how much the government and the industry has so much say in education. I had hoped that the government had very little say on curricula but it appears that they have a lot of power when it comes to developing curricula. Not only that, big companies have a say in what is taught to. Just like we talked about in lecture, Pearsons will cater to the province who is willing to buy the most textbooks. I had always thought that the textbooks were made as a collective of the education boards but now I realize that it is just made according to the highest buyer. It had made me realize that I was quite clueless about the world of education. I had this utopian vision of education, where the main focus is the students’ learning but that is not the case. The students who are the most affected by the curricula have the least amount of say in the development. I had not realized that there was so much political influence involved in education. This article was an eye-opening article for me and it makes me question if I will ever be able to teach the way I had always hoped to or will I be suppressed by the political influences and made to conform to their ways
What does it mean to be a “good” student according to the commonsense?
After reading the chapter, I believe the article’s definition of a “good” student is a student who is compatible with the teacher’s teaching methods. A good student is willing to learn new knowledge but also willing to unlearn knowledge he/she had learned prior. A good student will learn to handle “crises” and to learn from them.
Which students are privileged by this definition of the good student?
The students who are not a minority are privileged by this definition of the good student. People with a physical or mental disability will have trouble learning by the conventional methods of teachers. Like the students M and N in the article, teachers will see them as the “problem student” instead of trying to understand that some students simply have different methods of learning. Students who have trouble understanding English are also heavily impacted. The traditional method of teaching does not allow for a student to thrive if they do not have fluency in the English language
What is made impossible to see/understand/believe because of these commonsense ideas?
Students who are unique and need different ways to cultivate their knowledge and talents are made to believe that they are failures. Just because the standard method of teaching that is forced upon them do not suit their needs, they are marginalized as the failures or people who will not succeed in life. Just like student N in the article, N excelled in writing a short story that had no restrictions. With the given freedom, N was able to impress the teacher with his/her “complex, long, and lucid” short story. On the other hand, the essay that N handed in, which would have had many restrictions, seemed like it was done in “last-minute efforts”. N would excel at writing book, novels, stories, and should be guided or helped to cultivate his/her skills. N had a mind that could critically think about what he/she was being taught and the manner of the way that it was taught. Should one of the goals of teachers be raising a student that is capable of thinking critically? Instead of encouraging, all the teachers except Kumashiro would punish N for questioning their teaching methods. By following these “commonsense” ideas it is made impossible to realize the potential of a student.
I chose Paulo Freire’s quote for my reading response. I chose his quote because as a minority I had some disputes with many of the founding people of education. Like talked about in class, the majority of these people are pale, male, stale and their views on education were heavily reflected on those three traits. Paulo Freire was the first person I have come across in my education studies that account for the cultural difference of people who were not born in North America. This view of Paulo supports the individuality of the students and is respectful of it. As an Asian minority, I had always felt that I needed to abandon my cultural background and adapt to the Canadian culture. Not once in my elementary school and high school days was I ever encouraged to express or embrace my cultural background. This reminds me of the Kumashiro that we read as a class in the first week. It reminded me of Kumashiro trying to colonize the students of Nepal. Kumashiro believed that the “advanced” methods of teaching that he had learned in the United States of America were far more efficient than the “outdated” teaching methods that the education system of Nepal was using. Kumashiro had started using the American way of teaching that the Nepal students were unfamiliar with. This had caused some students to confront Kumashiro and other teachers because they felt that they were not getting a proper education and they rightfully felt so. The Nepal students had grown accustomed to the Nepal way of teaching and would learn more efficiently by the way they were accustomed too, rather than the more “efficient” way of America. Kumashiro had failed to “respect the particular view of the world held by the people [of Nepal]”. Although he had taken a course on their culture to prepare for his teaching job, although his entire article is based on “commonsense”, Kumashiro does not show any signs of commonsense when he was teaching the students of Nepal.
I hope to learn more about Paulo Freire because he accounts for the different cultural backgrounds of the students and respects it.